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Mon 21 May 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?

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 21 May 2018, 23:04:37

Tags: Fredrik Wester; Obsidian Entertainment; Paradox Interactive; Shams Jorjani; Tyranny; Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines

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Paradox Interactive held their annual PDXCON conference this weekend, where they announced a number of new strategy titles. While most of the world's attention was focused on these announcements, the guys from PCGamesN thoughtfully took the time to ask CEO Fredrik Wester and VP Shams Jorjani what Paradox is up to in our genre these days. Namely, regarding their relationship with Obsidian and the possibility of another Tyranny game. Despite what a certain former Obsidian owner may have revealed recently, it doesn't sound like there are any hard feelings between the two companies. I quote:

“Obsidian wanted to do Pillars of Eternity II on their own because they had ideas on business terms where we couldn’t agree,” Paradox CEO Fred Wester tells us. “It’s nothing more than that. I really like the Obsidian people and I’m a big fan of their games as well.”

At last year’s PDXCON, the publishers told us that Tyranny sold below their expectations; that “everyone was hoping that it would do better.” But Paradox and Obsidian never fell out according to Wester. In fact, their relationship is perfectly healthy.

“I’m going to have a beer with Feargus Urquhart at E3 this year as usual,” he says. “It’s more that, they want to be more independent and do their own things, and we want to publish things where we are in control. It’s not really compatible on a corporation level. On a personal level, there’s no problem.”

To understand that publisher demand for control, you need to look at the nature of Paradox’s recent success. Part of their explosive growth over the past half a decade has been down to patience - Crusader Kings, Cities, and Europa Universalis are all names that didn’t find a wider audience until two, three, or even four entries in. In order to repeat the trick, Paradox want to own what they work on.

“We always work super long-term,” VP of business development Shams Jorjani says. “If we have the choice of investing in our IP and ourselves, rather than Games Workshop or somebody else’s IP, we’d rather choose ourselves. Us owning IP ends up being just a direct result of us paying for everything. We’re taking all the financial risk, so we should see most of the financial upside as well.”

Reasonable though that might be, it means Obsidian aren’t steering the future of the world they made. If the developers never hash out another deal with Paradox, they’ll never work on Tyranny again. The publishers, meanwhile, don’t yet have any concrete plans to make a Tyranny 2, either internally or with another studio.

“We could do more in that world [but] we haven’t really decided what to do with that IP,” Wester says. “We’ll see where we end up.”

Tyranny might end up in another genre entirely. The game was set in the ugly aftermath of a war, and its opening Conquest Mode had you define the consequences of that conflict on an overworld map using miniatures. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine one of Paradox’s internal teams - the ones behind Crusader Kings and Europa Universalis - running with that premise as a fully-fledged game.

“Just the other day on Twitter, somebody was talking about setting a grand strategy game in the Tyranny universe,” Jorjani notes. “I think that would be cool. We’re absolutely interested in exploring grand fantasy in the strategy space.”

It’s especially intriguing that, without prompting, Wester mentions the same concept too: “If someone in the studio says, ‘I want to make a grand strategy game out of Tyranny’, I would approve that day one.”
In a separate article, PCGamesN posted Fredrik's thoughts about the prospects of a new Vampire: The Masquerade game. It doesn't sound any closer than it was last year:

The future of the Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 franchise will rely on the implementation of a “seven-to-ten year cycle,” according to Paradox Interactive’s CEO. In an interview with PCGamesN at PDXCon this weekend, Fred Wester said the company were considering ongoing possibilities for the franchise.

Wester says “we are experimenting with a couple of the White Wolf brands right now,” but are aware that a new franchise can’t be immediately started from scratch ("if you’re going to build a big franchise you need to think in a seven-to-ten year cycle”) and that if the Vampire IP was to receive that kind of attention, “we need to know what the next ten years are going to look like.”

A new Vampire game does seem to be something relatively high on Paradox’s list - Wester acknowledges that a second Vampire game “is an obvious choice” - but it’s not something they can begin yet - “it needs to feel right, it needs to be the right team [...] for the game.”

Wester also suggests it’s unlikely that a new Vampire game would be Bloodlines 2, but that it could be “something Vampire RPG.” However, he also states that “the first game [in the new franchise] is probably going to be the worst game from us that they ever see in this franchise, because the [second] one will improve on the first one.” If any of that sounds familiar, it’s because this isn’t the first time Paradox have discussed the possibility of a new Vampire game - at last year’s PDXCon, they said they said they’ll make a Bloodlines sequel “when the time is right.” That’s definitely good news, even if there’s nothing to say when that time could possibly be just yet.
The PCGamesN guys also met Harebrained Schemes' Jordan Weissman at PDXCON. In addition to BattleTech, it looks like they may have spoken a bit about Shadowrun as well. Here's a preview - the full interview will be published later.

There are 59 comments on Paradox's Fredrik Wester and Shams Jorjani on Tyranny 2 and Bloodlines 2

Thu 17 May 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 17 May 2018, 21:55:31

Tags: 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

inXile have published the first new Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter update since the well-received alpha release in March. Unfortunately, there's no news yet about the beta, nor about the Practitioner archetype we've been waiting to see details about since February. Though I won't quote that part here, I would say the main highlight of this update is actually the news that the original Bard's Tale trilogy remaster is back on track with a new developer by the name of Krome Studios. They're hoping to have the first game in the trilogy ready by summer. What I will quote here is the FAQ inXile put together to answer some of the questions people have had about Bard's Tale IV over the past few months. Parts of it, anyway:

Q: How many dungeons will BT4 have & how many locations/zones will BT4 have?

A: The combined count is 25 dungeons or dungeon-like areas. That said, it's a dungeon crawler - you always have to be on your guard!

Q: What races will be playable in BT4? The Trow have been mentioned as a new race, but what others are confirmed?

A: Dwarves, Elves, and Trow, and there are different variety of Human cultures (Baedish, Fichti, Einarr, and Outlander).

Q: Will it be possible to create your full party?

A: Yes, though not all at once. You start off with one character, and you'll be able to swap that one out during the introduction if you wish. Over the course of the game, you'll be able to grow your party up to six.

Q: Will BT4 be a continuous world where all locations connect together as one big world, or will it have a travel map between locations like Wasteland 2?

A: Yes, you can access the entire world by walking, or you can utilize our fast travel system to warp to previously explored areas. For those old school types, you are never required to use the fast travel system – it's just there for convenience.

Q: Will there be references to the other cities outside of Skara Brae (such as those you visit in The Bard's Tale II)?

A: Yes, there will be references to the other cities outside Skara Brae. You may even get to visit one.

Q: Will BT4 be akin to BT1 in forgoing automatic regeneration of SP/HP in dungeons, so there's an element of longer term resource consideration?

A: The answer is yes - HP does not regenerate over time like the originals. HP doesn’t regenerate over time automatically but can through the use of items and abilities. We also added checkpoints in the form of Luck Stones. These strategically-placed artifacts will save the game and restore your party's HP, if you can survive to reach them. This gives the game that feeling of tension as you delve deep into the dungeons, but without needing to backtrack all the way back to the Guild every time you need a breather.

Q: How will attributes work? Will we roll for random attributes like the originals or will we have a point +/- system like WL2? Will attributes go up automatically when a character levels up, or will we get points to raise the attributes of our choice?

A: Everything about your character, including your attributes, comes from your skill tree. Your starting attributes depend on your starting archetype, and you can customize them via the skill tree as you level up. Each time you level up you get to choose how you spend that skill point. You might choose to upgrade an attribute like intelligence, learn to craft a new potion, or learn a new passive ability. Some of these skills, however, are locked behind advanced tiers that only the Review Board can unlock for you.

Q: Are the party's total action points based on party size?

A: Your party gets more opportunity as a quest reward for completing major plot points. You tend to get larger parties as you get more opportunity, so while they aren't directly linked, they do develop along a parallel track.

Q: The AP system shown in the alpha seems to be favor smaller parties. Is it still worth bringing more party members?

A: More characters is generally always better (except in a few rare circumstances), as it provides more HP on the battlefield to soak attacks, more abilities to chose from, and more people in the right place at the right time to perform key plays in combat.

Q: What is the maximum party size?

A: Six is the max party size. We also leave open two slots for summoning creatures if you have a full group. It can be 6+2, 4+4, 5+3... whatever party configuration works best with your play style.
In other news, yesterday we learned that inXile have decided to again partner with Deep Silver (now a subsidiary of THQ Nordic) to publish both Bard's Tale IV and Wasteland 3 - apparently confirming that there was indeed some sort of behind-the-scenes drama going on with Techland last year. Brian Fargo even made a video appearance at THQ Nordic's investors conference, along a with a short new Bard's Tale IV teaser trailer. Weird that there was no mention of this in the Kickstarter update.

There are 41 comments on Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter Update #44: Dev Team Q&A, Remastered Trilogy Update

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 17 May 2018, 20:40:49

Tags: Dark Crystal Games; Encased

Dark Crystal Games announced their post-apocalyptic turn-based RPG Encased back in March. It was a pretty meh announcement, which is why they've decided to re-announce it, this time with a more detailed description of the game's backstory including a trailer. It actually sounds more pre-apocalyptic than post-apocalyptic, but the Fallout influence is obvious:



We proudly announce the impending arrival of Encased: an isometric RPG in a sci-fi post-apocalyptic setting. This game tells the story of a disastrous research project inside an anomalous zone – the Dome – built in the middle of a desert by an unknown civilization.

Encased will hit early access in early 2019.

Story

The events of the game happen under the Dome – an artificial construction of unknown origin that is shaped like a sheer half-sphere with a small aperture at the top. The Dome is indestructible. Technology, items and relics can be extracted from it, but people who enter the Dome cannot leave. Beneath the earth, yet more mystery awaits, as the Dome is just the cap of an enormous complex hidden under the sands. Ancient underground labyrinths contain bountiful artifacts, weapons and artificial intelligence systems that control the whole complex… not to mention lethal traps and curious anomalies that guard these riches.

Research and exploration of the Dome are conducted by staff of the C.R.O.N.U.S. Foundation – an international corporation and a state-within-a-state. To the outside world, little is known about the inner workings of C.R.O.N.U.S. Those that sign up for a life within the Dome do not speak of their experiences, and those managing the Foundation from outside speak even less. Thanks to the bounty extracted from the Dome, C.R.O.N.U.S. have become powerful enough to hold sway over the leaders of the world. Now, the fate of the entire planet rests in the hands of the soldiers, businessmen, scientists and even criminals who comprise their ranks.

However, within the Dome, something is changing. Another power has arisen – something never faced by explorers before. As a direct result of actions performed by the expedition of the player’s character, an intelligent entity has awakened in the depths of the underground complex – an unstable AI nicknamed Maelstrom. Upon breaking loose, it will change the world under the Dome beyond recognition – all connection to the outside world is lost, and the denizens trapped within the Dome become desperate and split into warring factions.

Maelstrom

The unstable AI Maelstrom is one of the unique features of the game. Maelstrom is intelligent, it can interact with the player and even fulfill their wishes (but everything comes at a price, of course). However, Maelstrom is more than just a character: it’s an enigmatic power that destroys the minds of intelligent beings. Its influence is especially potent within the center of the Dome, so wise players will stick near the borders at the beginning of the game. In addition to the above, Maelstrom affects the performance of some skills and perks.

Character Creation Prototype

Although the game isn’t ready to play yet, you can already take a sneak peek at character creation and make a lasting impact on the finished game in the process. Our character creation system includes choosing stats and making a biography for your character. Each and every character created in the Encased character creation prototype will be added to the records of the C.R.O.N.U.S database, leaving a permanent mark on the finished game. The best biographies will also be used as prototypes for C.R.O.N.U.S. employee NPCs.

https://cronus.darkcrystalgames.com
The writing could still use some work, but this is starting to sound compelling. Fallout meets Lost? Be sure to click that CRONUS brochure link for even more details.

There are 6 comments on Post-apocalyptic RPG Encased re-announced, maybe not so post-apocalyptic


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Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 17 May 2018, 19:36:14

Tags: Bandai Namco Entertainment; Divinity: Original Sin 2; Larian Studios

Last month Larian announced that they were working on a console edition of Divinity: Original Sin 2 to be released this August. At a pre-E3 event this week, they revealed new details about this release, which has now been dubbed Divinity: Original Sin 2 - Definitive Edition. As expected, it will include more than just user interface changes, the main new feature being an overhaul of the game's underwhelming third act. GameSpot has the most detailed summary of these improvements:

The critically acclaimed RPG Divinity: Original Sin II is coming to PS4 and Xbox One this summer, and along with a remapped control scheme, the console version will come with a number of significant changes. At a preview event, Bandai Namco revealed a list of adjustments being made to the RPG to tailor it to consoles and improve the overall experience.

Most notably, developer Larian has "completely reworked" Act 3 of the game. The Arx region now features new dialogue, NPCs, and quests in order to improve the story and overall flow of the game. Additionally, seven new combat encounters were added to Arx to resolve some questlines.

To ease new players into the game, Larian is introducing an optional tutorial level in the console version of Original Sin II. There's also a new, more welcoming difficulty setting called Story mode. This mode gives players the ability to flee from battle at any time and resurrect their party members an unlimited number of times.

Larian has also reworked the interface of the Journal and inventory screen. All Journal entries have been completely rewritten for extra clarity and are now divided into quests, lore, and origin quests. New map markers have also been added to help players better track quest objectives. In terms of inventory improvements, players can now select multiple items at once to more easily manage their inventory, as well as add unwanted items to wares.

Rounding out the changes are a number of balance and AI adjustments. Some underused skills, such as Petrifying Touch and Sucker Punch, have received buffs to make them more useable. The game economy has also been reworked so that armor prices reflect their usefulness, and the difficulty balance in Explorer mode and Hardcore mode has been improved.

Divinity: Original Sin II Definitive Edition launches on PS4 and Xbox One in August. Ahead of its release, Xbox One owners will have a chance to try the game out early. Starting May 16, the first three hours of Original Sin II will be playable for free via Xbox Game Preview. Those who purchase the game on Xbox One will get early access to the entire first act, which is approximately 20 hours of content. Any progress made can be carried over to the full game when it releases.
PC Gamer and USgamer have also written about the Definitive Edition, the latter revealing that a Kickstarter update should be out sometime before E3 with a comprehensive list of the introduced changes. Needless to say, like the first game's Enhanced Edition, all of this will be free for existing owners on PC.

There are 19 comments on Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition Details Revealed


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Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 17 May 2018, 00:28:52

Tags: Ink Stains Games; Stoneshard

Stoneshard is a cool-looking roguelike from a Russian indie studio called Ink Stains Games that we first learned about last June. It's no "roguelite" but a fairly classic turn-based roguelike inspired by the likes of ADOM, with caravan management in a procedurally generated open world as its main distinguishing feature. Oh, and awesome pixel art graphics, because of course. The devs have been posting detailed development updates on the game's Steam page and things seem to be progressing well, but like many other indie studios they've decided to try to raise some funds on Kickstarter to make it even better. Here's the pitch video and overview:



Stoneshard is an open-world roguelike RPG with immense tactical freedom, survival elements and in-depth follower system, set in a grim medieval world.

Inspired by legendary classic titles such as Diablo and ADOM and modern games like The Banner Saga and Darkest Dungeon, Stoneshard invites you to shape the future of the kingdom of Aldor… And die a lot.

We need your help to bring Stoneshard to every modern platform with Steam Early Access as a starting point.

Key Features
  • Embark on the adventure through a vast procedurally-generated medieval world
  • Lead a Caravan of valiant allies and expand your following
  • Struggle with physical or psychological traumas and aid them with medicine or drugs
  • Upgrade and customize your character any way you want to
  • Wage war to vampires, undead and mercenaries with 100+ weapons
  • Follow the will of ancient Gods and gain some of their power in return
  • Return to the journey with a new hero after your character dies in battle
Ink Stains are looking to raise $30,000 to finish Stoneshard, which seems doable. You can get yourself a copy for $15. The plan is to release the game on Steam Early Access later this year, with a final release sometime next year. For now there's a free "prologue" build you can try, which is available for download here.

There are 11 comments on Open world roguelike Stoneshard is now on Kickstarter

Wed 16 May 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 16 May 2018, 18:29:31

Tags: Fallen Gods; Mark Yohalem; Wormwood Studios

In this month's Fallen Gods development update, Mark Yohalem describes two of the game's monstrous creatures - the witches and the dwergs. The latter are a more loathsome take on the traditional fantasy dwarf archetype codified by Tolkien. Indeed, before he begins the update proper, MRY engages in a long digression about how he constructed the Fallen Gods setting by tracing a path back to the original Norse sagas that inspired Tolkien and going back down another route to create a sort of parallel interpretation. But there's no room for that here, so I'll get straight to business. Meet the witches:

The witches of European folklore and fairytales are terrifying beings, but most of that terror has been lost over the centuries. Perhaps that’s for the best, given the awful historical consequences of that anti-witch hysteria. But it still seems to me that something has been lost when witches are relegated to buffoonery, as in the children’s books Room on the Broom or The Big Pumpkin.

So thoroughly have witches been defanged that we are comfortable reading stories to children in which they do the most awful things. For instance, in the children’s classic Little Brother and Little Sister, a witch curses all the water in a forest so that if the runaway titular siblings (her step-children), desperately thirsty, drink from them, the brother will turn into a predatory beast and eat his sister. (Note for a moment that the title itself emphasizes that these are not merely children but little children.) The siblings last long enough to reach a stream that merely turns the brother into a stag, at which point he succumbs. Years later, after the king nearly kills the stag, he falls in love with the sister, marries her, and conceives a child with her. The witch then boils the sister alive and disguises her own hideous daughter to take the sister’s place in the royal marital bed. This is not a “children’s classic” in the sense that it’s buried away in the original Grimm Brothers’ collections; it was sold as a standalone read-aloud children’s book well into the 1980s.

LB&LS encapsulates some (but not all) of essential “witchiness.” Witches strike at our most sacred institutions and most powerful taboos: the bonds of family (supplanting the children’s mother; attempting to cause a brother to kill his sister; interfering with the sister’s marriage and maternal relationship—the newborn must suckle from a ghost, presumably since the faux mother has no milk to give); the taboo against cannibalism (it is not enough to cause sororicide, it must be cannibal sororicide); the order of good governance (insinuating her witch-daughter onto the throne); the boundary between man and beast (dehumanizing the brother who not only loses his human shape but also his able to restrain himself by reason). Of course it’s just one story. I could cite Hansel and Gretel (caging children like animals and then eating them; enticing the children to eat sweets that, in at least some tellings such as Humperdinck’s opera, are made from other children) or Macbeth (spoiling Macbeth’s friendships, upending his marriage, and inciting civil war) or any number of other sources. Even the more quotidian crimes of witches (curdling milk in a cow’s udder or afflicting a maiden with acne) have a similar quality of attacking what is good, clean, wholesome, beloved, or holy precisely because it is good, clean, wholesome, beloved, or holy.

As I talked about in a recent interview with Chris Picone, these same qualities in witches give them a kind of countercultural appeal. By defying social norms and by living beyond the margins of society (often in a cave, a forest, a swamp), they can occupy the role of an off-the-grid iconoclast or a gadfly. Whether the ones who first told the tales intended it or not, it’s hard not to read into them the sense that witches exploit our flaws when they strike at our virtues such that they are exposing, and punishing, our hypocrisy. For instance the same king who (1) is too stupid to notice that his beautiful bride (Little Sister) is now an ugly hag-daughter also (2) betrothed that bride at first sight in a hut in a forest knowing nothing about her. Has he not invited the possibility of being wedded to a witch? (In the Saga of the Volsungs, Byrnhild warns Sigurd against exactly such reckless behavior.) Is it not Hansel’s gluttony for sweets (and not just his hunger) that drives him and his sister into the witch’s clutches, and does this piggishness perhaps invite being roasted like a suckling for dinner?

In Fallen Gods, we have tried to capture both halves of the witches. They are physically and magically powerful, vulgar, independent, and rich in hidden lore. They claim to be daughters of a “tenth sister”—the other Nine being the Singers who sang the world into its shape—devoted to thwarting orderly fate to create the chaos in which freedom can exist. (The association of witches with wyrd, fate, is an old one, that shows up not just in the modern usage of weird but in the Weird Sisters of Macbeth. The valkyries delivering the nightmarishly prophetic “Darraðarljóð” in Njal’s Saga (Brennu-Njáls saga) certainly seem like witches, too.) Because witches are defying an order that is very flawed, their defiance has a certain nobility to it. But they are ugly, evil creatures, and their help almost always involves the kind of fundamental wrongs discussed above.
And the dwergs:

Dwergs are our “dwarfs.” Their name is a rare instance in Fallen Gods in which we’ve used an obscure word where colloquial English retains an accurate Anglo-Saxon term. The reason, alluded to in asterisk-bracketed digression above, is that “dwarfs” and “dwarves” simply hold too powerful a connotation of stoic, stubborn, hard-drinking, brogued, axe-wielding, orc-bashing, underground-city-building nobility. English has held onto the old word but its modern meaning is strongly contrary to what I want to convey. “Dwerg” (from the Old English dweorg and Norse dvergr) can be recognized quickly enough and pronounced easily enough, but has just enough distance to let me dress it with different connotations.

Dwergs were one of the first beings I “defined” for Fallen Gods, and they established my methodology for others. I started by looking for what seemed the essential qualities of mythological and folkloric dwarfs: they are small (though scholars question whether they were viewed as small when the myths were first told); they live underground; they covet gold and beautiful women; they are master craftsmen and cunning cowards. Notably (and lampooned in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings adaptation), they seem to have no women. And, indeed, per the eddas, they were conceived without a woman’s involvement, directly from the dead (male) giant Ymir: either spawning spontaneously from his rotting flesh like maggots (in the Prose Edda) or being made from a mixture of his blood and bones (in the Poetic Edda).

Even if it has become dissociated from dwarfs themselves, our culture routinely invokes the symbol of the ugly, stunted, sexually deprived, technically gifted, darkness dwelling social pariah who is belittled by, and bitterly plots his revenge against, handsome heroes and their beautiful paramours. For instance, how many times have people who enjoy computer games been reviled by their critics as unattractive nerds who live in their parents’ basements, doomed never to have a girlfriend? This is one of the milder examples for how this symbol is used as a weapon.

The sum of these flaws is a being that is rightly unloved. This is vacuum so awful to basic decency that when it appears, we rush to fill it: witness the need to humanize those who seem least worthy of love (tyrants; serial killers; etc.). Norse dwarfs were never nursed by a mother; never kissed by a lover; never admired by a child. They live away from green, blue, and sunlight. The softest thing in their world is gold, and inevitably it is stolen from them. And before it’s stolen, they cut the gold from the earth, burn it in fire, strike it with hammers. They have brothers; their brothers kill them. They foster sons; their foster-sons kill them. And this is their just deserts, the myths and folklore teach us. Alone; unloved; cut off.

So that is where we started with our dwergs: the lonely, bitter yearning of stunted beings beneath the earth. Our dwergs were born when the threefold goddess Karringar was killed and broken open. Inside her was the gold of the Golden Maiden (taken by Orm to make Skyhold); the iron of the Iron Crone (left to rust beneath the sleet and snow); and the quicksilver of the Silver Lord, which spilled to earth and begat the dwergs upon the dirt and rock.

The moment of their birth was thus the moment at which they were separated, forever, from the mother and maiden they loved. They crave what they have lost, and clutch for it in gold (which they eat) and stolen maidens: This girl will never meet the need they feel, the half-crazed craving for their golden third—sister, lover, lost when the quicksilver seed spilled from Karringar’s shattered womb and spawned them in the filth. And when they work in iron and grovel before an iron-willed witch, it the fond approval of maternal love they want and will never get. For they are unloved, rightly, and in all their craft is bent, at bottom, on wrighting (not righting) wrongs: cursed gifts; wicked schemes; cruel traps; kidnappings and killings.
As usual, a sample from the soundtrack is also included in the update. The next update sounds like it's going to be about the game's combat system.

There are 20 comments on Fallen Gods Update #5: Witches and Dwergs

People News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 16 May 2018, 12:48:49

Tags: Colin McComb; Larian Studios

Six days after announcing his departure from inXile, Colin McComb reveals that he too has been hired by Larian Studios, where he'll be joining fellow Torment: Tides of Numenera writer Gavin Jurgens-Fyhrie.


What started as a story about possible trouble at inXile increasingly looks like it's actually a story about Larian, who also recently hired Rock Paper Shotgun's RPG writer Adam Smith. What are those crazy Belgians up to? Unfortunately, it sounds like it might be a while before we find out.

There are 122 comments on Colin McComb has joined Larian Studios

Mon 14 May 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 14 May 2018, 21:59:29

Tags: Aterdux Entertainment; Bastard

Since the release of its Road to Iron Forest DLC back in November 2015, Aterdux Entertainment's strategy RPG Legends of Eisenwald has been sold alongside a $15 season pass promising two additional DLCs. The first of these turned out to be a standalone expansion that was crowdfunded and released a year later, just in time for a certain election. Today, Eisenwald has finally received its third and final expansion, also standalone. Its name is Bastard, and it too appears to be inspired by certain real life concerns, as the game's trailer and description will make clear:



Have you ever thought about the price of being good, even in bad times? Bastard is an adventure that puts an emphasis on decision-making. A realistic medieval world is waiting for you - tactical combat and a detective story included. And most importantly: people whose problems and questions have been the same for centuries.

Game features
  • Experience a deep story that reflects on the cost of being a good person in a bad world.
  • Enjoy a fresh take on the classic medieval setting.
  • Take a stand on social issues that are challenging yet essential up to this very day.
  • Your choices determine how the plot unfolds - and into which of its many possible endings.
  • Immerse yourself in a unique narrative system.
  • Master tactical battles combined with RPG elements known from Legends of Eisenwald.
You can get Bastard on Steam or GOG for a cool $9, with a 10% discount until next week. What comes next for Aterdux, I wonder?

There are 22 comments on Make tough choices in Bastard, the final standalone expansion for Legends of Eisenwald

Thu 10 May 2018

People News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 10 May 2018, 20:21:25

Tags: Colin McComb; Gavin Jurgens-Fyhrie; InXile Entertainment

Something is happening at inXile Entertainment. Within the space of a month, the studio has quietly lost both Colin McComb and Gavin Jurgens-Fyhrie, the two principal writers on Torment: Tides of Numenera. Both announced their departures on Twitter:


This is weird because Gavin was supposed to be lead writer for Wasteland 3, and both he and Colin featured prominently in the game's Fig pitch video. Of the three developers "recruited" by Brian Fargo in that video, George Ziets is now the last man standing, with inXile mainstay Nathan Long and recently hired ironic cannibal Cassandra Khaw presumably replacing Gavin and Colin in their roles as writers. Gavin has since announced that he's moving to Ireland to join Swen Vincke's growing Larian empire. Where Colin will go after this is still unknown.

There are 256 comments on Colin McComb and Gavin Jurgens-Fyhrie have left inXile

People News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 10 May 2018, 00:57:39

Tags: Chris Avellone; Obsidian Entertainment

May 1st, 2018. A date that shall forever be remembered in the annals of the RPG Codex. It all started that morning when I received a private message from Eric Fenstermaker, former Obsidian writer and lead narrative designer of Pillars of Eternity, requesting that I post some of his remarks in reply to our recent interview with Chris Avellone. Little did he know what firestorm he was about to trigger. On the evening of that day, Chris replied for the first time to the interview thread with this absolute whammy of a post:

I didn’t get anything when I left Obsidian. There were no share payouts, no equity, and this was in addition to the other logistical problems around the departure – the sudden cancellation of my health insurance, problems with my 401K, errors in Obsidian’s accounting, and several existing independent contracts they refused to uphold.

Realizing my family issues and the debts therein, however, they did make an attempt to leverage that into a far more confining separation agreement that would remove my right to work on RPGs, and my silence on all issues that could pertain to Obsidian or any other company they were involved with or the CEO had a % in (Fig, Zero Radius, Dark Rock Industries, etc.). This included an inability to critique games I’d worked on – much of my critiques on my own games tend to be blunt, and not being able to speak to them felt unnatural to me.

The company involvement silence worried me more, however, as it meant that if anything illegal happened with any of those companies (these could include serious charges like accounting issues, silence on harassment issues with regards to employees, perjury related to company documents and payments), I couldn’t speak about the issue, even if I felt strongly against what was being revealed.

While all this is good for Obsidian's upper management and is what is sometimes considered "good business," I did feel it showed a lack of ethics.

Still, that attempt at leverage did cause me to re-evaluate aspects of my life. Realizing debt was affecting my decision, I instead focused on working as hard as possible to make up for the amount Obsidian tried to use as leverage to force a signature – and succeeded.

When that happened, I realized I was free of the situation – completely free, for the first time. Feargus and the owners had no hold on my voice, my time, and my creativity any longer. And it was great.

When they made me an offer to contract me to write for Tyranny (which might seem to be an olive branch, but it turned out to be something they needed for contractual reasons with Paradox, but no one had ever communicated it to me), these were the reasons I refused – I didn’t wish to be part of Obsidian’s upper level development process and their pipelines any longer, as these processes were coming from a bad place, and it showed.

Also, realizing there was no restitution for the issues mentioned, I made a promise to myself that nothing I would do would ever cause Feargus and the owners any further financial gain. If my silence was that important to them, then there's no need to be silent because that right hadn't been signed away. Simply put, I like the developers at Obsidian very much, I work and correspond with many of those who are there or have left, and I would work with the developers again. I do feel upper management at Obsidian has serious flaws that need to be addressed, and I stand by that statement.
Over the next week, a completely unplugged Chris Avellone would answer question after question from our users. Frequently staying up into the small hours of the night, he unleashed a torrent of shocking accusations against Obsidian Entertainment and its owners, alleging all manner of ethical misconduct and business malpractice. In particular, this included details about the circumstances of his departure from Obsidian, which is now revealed to have been both forced and uncompensated due to contractual shenanigans. Along the way, Chris also found the time to put one (admittedly obnoxious) Codex user on ignore, accuse another one of being a shill and a "colossal fuck", and troll the site's editor-in-chief (that's me). All that in a thread that is now over 200 pages long, full of inanity and thoroughly impenetrable to the casual reader.

Fortunately, Codex user TT1 has thoughtfully collated all of Chris Avellone's posts into a Google Doc, so that no one need go without learning about this historic event. (Psst, that includes you, mainstream gaming journalists who have conspicuously avoided reporting on it.) Chris seems to be taking a break from answering questions now, so it's a good time to catch up. Enjoy!

There are 626 comments on ObsidiLeaks: The Chris Avellone May of Rage Archive

Tue 8 May 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 8 May 2018, 23:20:26

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

The run-up towards the release of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire has been considerably less dramatic than that of the first game. Mechanically, Deadfire can be described as putting more focus on tactical depth - encounters, abilities, AI - while de-emphasizing traditional strategic resource management elements. The latter change has been a source of worry for fans since the game was announced, and after the beta was released many believed Josh Sawyer would never be able to get it to feel right, but in the end he seems to have converged on something decent enough. With systems and mechanics seemingly in good order, the question that remains is whether the Obsidian of 2018 can deliver on narrative. At this point, they have no more excuses. The return to a Fallout: New Vegas-style open world faction-centric campaign is promising, but the proof will be in the pudding. Without further ado, the launch trailer:


And the launch day reviews, which are quite positive:

Windows Central 5/5
MMORPG.com 10/10
GameSpace 9.8/10
Worth Playing 9.5/10
CGMagazine 9.5/10
Ragequit.gr 92/100
GamesBeat 92/100
Shacknews 9/10
Wccftech 9/10
USgamer 4.5/5
TheSixthAxis 9/10
RPG Site 9/10
Hardcore Gamer 4.5/5
PCGamesN 9/10
Game Informer 8.75/10
PC Gamer 88/100
IGN 8.5/10
Guardian 4/5
GameSpot 8/10​

Pillars of Eternity II is available now on Steam and GOG for the price of $50. If you're playing, don't forget to unlock all the scavenger hunt bonus items.

P.S. We never did get that audio team Fig update...

There are 170 comments on Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Released

Thu 3 May 2018

Game News - posted by Zed on Thu 3 May 2018, 07:53:17

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

The latest Kickstarter update from Corey and Lily Cole announces the beta release for Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption. Eligible backers can expect to play it as soon as they receive an email from BackerKit.

The time has come! Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is completely playable and ready to enter Beta testing. Alpha testing was challenging, but wonderful - we have never previously had the time and opportunity to find and fix the rough spots in the game. Beta testing will help us add the final polish that will make Hero-U a great game.​

And there's more:

What does this mean for the release date? Most likely that will happen 6-8 weeks from now, which puts it in June 2018. That will give us time to fix problems found in Beta, finish the opening cinematic, reach out to reviewers and influencers, and do final polish on the game.​

Hero-U has been in development for quite some time now. If you need a refresher, check out the game's website.

There are 18 comments on Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption Enters Beta; Full Release in Summer 2018

Tue 1 May 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 1 May 2018, 20:14:41

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

The latest monthly development update for The New World offers an in-depth look at another of the game's factions. This time, it's the mysterious monks of the ECLSS, who were first introduced back in 2016 and whose leader Ava Miller was introduced in December. As Ava's appearance suggested, the monks are heavily augmented - in fact, they're all superhuman cyborgs. The update explains:

[​IMG] [​IMG]

Exploring and dealing with different groups and societies is the main focus of The New World. The core political factions (representing totalitarianism, revolutionary democracy, and theocracy), along with the freemen and various armed groups, are familiar enough from our real world. More science fictional are the mutants and the monks, as they’re commonly known.

The former are the result of an evolutionary mutation that allowed the first “mutants” (those born deformed due to radiation) to adapt to highly toxic and radioactive environments. The latter represent not a biological change but a technological one: cybernetic augmentation.

Keep in mind that augmentations are fairly common on the Ship, and you’ll be able to outfit your own character with up to seven implants, if your body can handle that many. So sporting a datajack and a shiny new eyeball won’t make you stand out. Much like having an artificial heart valve or a titanium knee today, such implants don’t make you any less human.

The monks, however, went far beyond that. Out of necessity, they found a way to overcome the limits of the flesh, becoming something more – and something less – in the process.

* * *

When the Mutiny broke out, the Chief Technical Officer promptly sealed the Environmental Control and Life Support System center, declaring that neither side will use the ECLSS in their war. Those who wished to leave were allowed to do so; the rest remained with CTO Miller, committed to supporting life on the Ship.

Miller knew that the warring factions would be coming for ECLSS. They might come with guns, they might come with butter; ECLSS had always depended on outsiders for both its safety and its supplies. There might be a promise to keep providing that help, but at a price. Or there might be raw force. Either way, the outsiders would want control, power over life and death on the Ship, something their enemies could never permit. The fight for ECLSS would make the fight for Mission Control look like a border skirmish, and Miller knew how it would end: with destruction of the Ship’s essential systems, the failure of the mission, the death of every man, woman, and child aboard the Ship. That, he could not permit.

The only hope lay in true independence. But how? They would need strength of body, to resist force. They would need strength of will, to live apart from all society. And they would need all the intelligence they could get, not only to maintain Ship systems put under terrible pressure by both the civil war and the mere passage of time, but also to navigate the Ship’s shifting politics. Outsiders would need to believe the inhabitants of ECLSS to be above petty human concerns; and inside, they would need to be above petty human limitations.

The answer lay buried in the Ship's databanks: augmentations meant only for the most extreme circumstances, for small or even individual deep-space maintenance missions, augmentations that would make a man more than a man, and less – able to survive alone, smart enough and strong enough to deal with any challenges that might arise on years-long expeditions.

These augmentations went beyond the artificial eyes and reinforced bones common to the Ship, and amounted to a fundamental reworking of the human body. Functions inessential for long space missions, such as reproduction or immune response, would be removed altogether, freeing the body’s resources for more practical needs. A person who underwent this process would not really be a human being at all any more, but something as much inorganic as organic.

With this transformation, the ECLSS crew would become what they needed to be: just as the God of Ecclesiastes was above human struggles for power, for fame, for wealth, so too would the superhumans of ECLSS be above the Ship’s passing struggles, devoted solely to its survival. Outsiders would be able to see them as something other than a foe or friend; and they would have the strength to carry out the heavy task before them.

* * *

Due to their extensive augmentations, the monks are stronger, faster, tougher, and smarter, at least when it comes to data processing, than any human. Yeah, that’s a lot, but keep in mind that they are few in numbers so need a “natural” edge. A human’s natural stat limit is 10. A ‘monk’s stat limit is 12. If you start the game with STR10 and then get yourself a high-end Exo-Spine implant, your strength will also go to 12, so the monks don’t have access to tech that you don’t (whether or not you manage to get your grabby hands on such tech is a different story). They’re just wired differently (literally) and can handle more implants without having to worry about their bodies rejecting them.

On the design end, our goal was to create a very different faction with a very different culture, unique place in the Ship’s ‘ecosystem’, and an existential threat.

The monks will be directly affected by the main quest, which can bring either doom or salvation to ECLSS. Choosing salvation will put you at odds with everyone else but gain you a Liaison Officer who will show you how to make friends and influence people.

Liaison Officer 1st class Eli Brown’s augmentations were geared toward combat and communications. To Eli, the Ship's inhabitants are a volatile cocktail of 27 distinct emotional ingredients, a naked chemical equation to be balanced or imbalanced as the situation requires, whether with a word, or a look, or a bullet.
It seems that the concept behind the ECLSS has evolved since that vague introduction back in 2016. Perhaps that's due to the influence of Primordia creator Mark Yohalem, who Vault Dweller thanks for his suggestions and contributions in a postscript to the update. A pleasant surprise!

There are 37 comments on The New World Update #26: The Monks

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Tue 1 May 2018, 00:38:44

Tags: Mikey Dowling; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Obsidian have finally published a new Pillars of Eternity II Fig update, over two months after the last one and just eight days before the game is due for release. It's not the audio update that they originally promised! It turns out that's been postponed because Justin Bell's wife had a baby. Instead Obsidian have fallen back on their reliably standby, the feature compilation video update. This time, they asked various members of the team to cite their favorite new features, although it's only Mikey Dowling who actually presents them. Some of the features worth mentioning are throwable firecrackers that can distract guards, the ever popular reverse pickpocketing, the option to rename ships and even various small islands you discover, and Modwyr the sultry talking sword. Watch the video here:


The update itself recounts all of the Pillars II news of the past two months, but since you read the Codex you already know about all that. Note that Obsidian are still promising to release that audio update "soon", so this last week might be a busy one.

There are 8 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #46: Developer Highlights Compilation

Mon 30 April 2018

Codex Interview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 30 April 2018, 01:09:31

Tags: Chris Avellone; Pillars of Eternity; Planescape: Torment; System Shock (Nightdive Studios)

Back in 2016, Codex community member Fairfax began a correspondence with RPG writer extraordinaire Chris Avellone, for the purpose of interviewing him about some questions that many of us had at the time about his departure from Obsidian, his work on Pillars of Eternity, and related topics. For various reasons this correspondence ended up lasting months and years, and in fact it continues to the present day. The lengthy interview I present today is only the first part of a larger piece that we hope to publish in its entirety someday. Even though some of the questions now feel a tad outdated, there are still some juicy new details to be gleaned here. For example:

Eric Fenstermaker said Durance and the GM had a lot of "creative energy and research" invested in them. You seem to rely on getting approval every step of the way, which makes me wonder how that happened. Was there a miscommunication on the approval of your drafts and/or outline? And would you agree that the content had to be cut, or would you have tried to save it if you were at the helm? (Including Ulysses in FNV, not just PoE).

Companion Design - not always. Usually, it's paragraph, page, then dialogue. In Durance and Grieving Mother's case - and this I can say - the Creative Lead told me after my departure that the Project Lead had interfered but didn't specify the reasons. I don't even know what the reasons were (although I couldn't tell if I did, to be fair). In short, the Creative Lead said he should have handled the whole matter differently and didn't, regretted it, and apologized for it.

It doesn't matter - what's done is done - cuts don't bother me (they rarely do, if you're a writer in the industry and aren’t willing to make cuts, you probably won't be a game writer for long), but how it was handled overall was an example of how upper management can get tangled up and despite any problems, perceived or otherwise, you can be the last one to know, which makes the whole situation more fucked up than if you'd gotten a direct critique, fixed everything that was requested, and then it's put to bed. It's not a huge deal unless you make it one.

Fenstermaker specified the reasons in his Codex interview:

The cuts came for length. The three limiting factors were time to implement, art resources for the dream sequences, and VO budget. There was a target length we had set upfront for all companions, and we had to stick to it. Otherwise we'd be, for example, voicing maybe one out of every six lines for Durance and the Grieving Mother, and it'd be conspicuously incongruent with the other companions, who had maybe 2/3 of their lines voiced. Unfortunately in this case it meant cutting down characters that had had a lot of research and creative energy invested in them, and there were some good ideas there that it would've been interesting to explore. It was a shitty thing to have to do, but we'd never have been able to implement the original versions in time to ship.

Since you can't comment on PoE's case in particular: is having similar lengths and amount of voiced lines a priority for you in companion design? In Torment and KOTOR2 some companions didn't have nearly as many lines as others, but neither game suffered for it, if you look at how they were received.

I can confirm some of the elements - there’s still people I can ask, so if I can’t remember, it’s easy to find someone who can jog my memory (I can’t check the details on my own). I also managed to get some clarification on some of the points, which was welcome, so…

Of those three reasons, the first was the only one I ever recall communicated to me (I had to get confirmation on it and these other points, since it’s been a long time). The other two reasons weren’t, and I actually got multiple other reasons from multiple people – and some of those people admitted they were just the messenger. This confused things, since they couldn’t articulate what the critiques were since they either didn’t understand them or hadn’t read the material (both our CEO and Parker among them – ironically, after a long speech ending with his admission he hadn’t even read what he was arguing against, Parker did go back and read the companions and found nothing to object to, which cost even more time – to his credit, he did admit his error, but things like that happened a lot).

There were other people who apparently didn’t like Durance’s swearing (easy fix), and the original tie in the GM and Durance backstories were they had violated each other physically and mentally and that’s what broke both of them, which I then cut – although I don’t know if the GM one got removed completely – the intention was the Watcher could fix it mentally by repairing their souls by walking through their minds in stages. I think some of this is still mentioned in the strat guide.

In the end, I just wanted to fix whatever the problems were and move on to the next task, because there were a lot of tasks that needed doing. I had done the best work I could, and it was up to the Pillars team to decide what fit best (which is fine, it’s what vision holders do), but no one was articulating what the problems were.

To speak to the implementation part, it had been promised by multiple people on Eternity (producers and Lead Creative) that they would set aside (their own) time for implementation and make sure it got done.

When the project ran over – and this happens, I don’t blame anyone for that – it was apparent they ran out of time for their own character implementations – and some companions even required two designers to implement. As such, other developers took on what tasks they could to try and make up for lost time. Things that could definitely have helped (hire an editor, like they eventually did for Tyranny) were refused in light of putting more devs from other projects rather than trying to fix the missing personnel. I was later informed that this time was not paid back, which was the hope but not a surprise, and I don’t think Paradox was ever fully aware the Tyranny team had been gutted (in general, publishers don’t like hearing the resources they’re paying for they aren’t getting).
Read the full article: RPG Codex Interview: Chris Avellone on Pillars Cut Content, Game Development Hierarchies and More

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Sun 29 April 2018

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Sun 29 April 2018, 20:29:16

Tags: Ceres Games; Realms Beyond

Realms Beyond, Ceres Games' rightful heir to the Chaos Chronicles throne, was announced back in December. Since then, the game's development blog has received a bunch of updates promising all manner of nostalgic oldschool RPG goodness. Most of them have been a bit on the vague side though, and there have been no new screenshots or footage since the game was announced. That changes today with the release of a short but sweet gameplay video, described as a preview of the first playable iteration of the combat system. It shows a group of goblins being fried by a mage's fireball. Here's the video along with the accompanying development update:



We haven’t posted much lately because we focused all our efforts into developing the first playable iteration of the combat system. This combat prototype (or let’s say Combat Pre-Alpha) will include almost every action and spell of the classes Fighter, Barbarian, Cleric, Wizard, Ranger and Rogue (about 100 actions and spells in total).

Along with animations, character models and visual effects, we already implemented the sound for various weapons, spells and hit effects.

Until we can show you a detailed insight of the combat system, this little preview video will give you a first impression of the Fireball spell at a higher character level. Those poor Goblins never had a chance and died many deaths during the development.

Except for the combat grid, we completely hid the user interface because it’s still work in progress.
Relatedly, one of the more interesting updates from last month describes how Ceres intend to deal with the problems of engaging in turn-based combat against large enemy groups such as these. I quote:

In an earlier post (Combat System #1) that discussed the combat system of Realms Beyond, we wrote that from the beginning, our aim was to make a turn-based game. However, we also mentioned that we carefully evaluated other variants, such as the Real-time-with-Pause (RtwP) combat system of Baldur’s Gate in particular. We are grown-ups that make games in an industry that still focuses mostly on kids as their key demographic and most of us were still teenagers when turn-based RPGs vanished and made room for the new era of real-time games.

Even if the pros and cons of different systems sometimes come down purely to personal taste, we believe that no one would argue that turn-based games tend to be less “action-packed.” It is the nature of the beast. Occasionally, combat can become a drag, as you are forced to wait until every goblin, kobold, and what-not-minion has finished its turn. In large crowds, this can become particularly aggravating. Watching opponents move around the battlefield is kinda boring and it is the reason why some turn-based games have sped up movement, or rather the respective movement animations, to the brink of sheer ugliness.

Players are eager to see their characters’ turns and they are also excited to see whether the main opponent will kill their party during his next turn. And while there is something intensely gratifying in wiping out 12 goblins with a single fireball, no one really cares to watch each of them move and attack, one after the other. In fact, frequently, some of us were tempted to reload and see whether their wizard has a higher initiative this time around, just so he could get rid of the masses of little annoyances in one swoop before combat starts in earnest. So, what to do? It was this particular problem that made us sit down and think about possible solutions to handle crowd movement in combat for less relevant opponents.

The Temple of Elemental Evil attempted to tackle the problem with a menu option that, once activated, allowed enemies within the same initiative group to move simultaneously. It turned out to create cool packs of hobbling and wobbling goblins but, as mentioned above, did not always help. In a battle with a small number of semi-bosses that happened to be in the same initiative group, say, a giant, a werewolf and a demon, you DO want to anticipate their attacks separately. Not to mention that it looks somewhat awkward, if not to say, nonepic, when these individuals go through their moves all at the same time like synchronized swimmers.

Our approach was to properly categorize opponents. Boring minions go in one group, more epic enemies are treated separately. We decided unilaterally, that our level designers would be responsible for choosing which opponents should be grouped together and which ones shouldn’t. Thus, the concept of ‘minion crowds’ was born and we found the idea to provide several, additional advantages.

Rather than rolling the initiative individually for each opponent and then grouping them up accordingly, we reversed the approach and instead group them up beforehand and then roll their initiative only once, as a group. This prevents a group of minions to ‘spread out’ over the initiative list and act individually—a case that the The Temple of Elemental Evil approach didn’t prevent.

Further, we are adding some additional ‘identity’ to the members of such a group that goes beyond the simple fact that they act simultaneously. This means that we are tweaking their AI to make sure they stay together and all attack the same target whenever possible. Not only does this seem more natural, but we also think that it might add to the strategic depth of our combat system—and even if it won’t, it will still be a great deal more atmospheric. As an additional side effect, it will give the player the opportunity to predict a mob’s behavior to some extent. As far as we’ve implemented this, (grouping and movement already look good, but the accompanying AI is still very basic) our idea feels great and we hope we’re well on our way to make turn-based combat a little more appealing.
It looks like things are starting to come together. JarlFrank tells us that Realms Beyond will be making its way to Kickstarter later this year, so I guess that's when we'll see the game in a big way.

There are 66 comments on Watch some goblins get barbecued in Realms Beyond

Fri 27 April 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 27 April 2018, 14:56:45

Tags: Black Geyser: Couriers of Darkness; GrapeOcean Technologies

In case you haven't heard of it, Black Geyser: Couriers of Darkness is an upcoming Infinity Engine-like fantasy RPG by an international team of indie developers who call themselves GrapeOcean Technologies. For the past three years, it's been amusing us with its obviously amateur writing, bizarre fantasy terminology, clueless "evangelists", and a constantly delayed Kickstarter campaign. Not to mention that title, ahem ahem. And yet, GrapeOcean are clearly more than just a bunch of kids with a website. They've released two gameplay videos revealing a functional and fairly attractive game, albeit one that's hilariously derivative of Pillars of Eternity. And they've tried to go beyond the typical high fantasy setup by centering Black Geyser around the thematic element of greed, depicted as a divine curse that affects the entire world and is impacted by the player's actions, similar to Chaos in the Dishonored series. Which also sounds like it could be pretty annoying, but hey.

Back in 2016, I promised that if GrapeOcean ever launched their Kickstarter campaign for Black Geyser, I would write a newspost about it. And what do you know, yesterday the absolute madmen actually did it. Here's the pitch video, which after a short introductory cutscene reveals a few of the faces behind this unlikely project.



Inspired by Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale and other classics, Black Geyser: Couriers of Darkness is an isometric, party-based, single-player RPG set in the new fantasy world of Yerengal. The story focuses on Isilmerald, the largest, most racially diverse kingdom in Yerengal ruled by a human lineage. The game is coming to Windows, Mac and Linux on Steam and GoG. Key features include:
  • Greed. It's spreading all the time in the kingdom, directly affecting gameplay. You can slow this process with your actions—or speed it up if you prefer.
  • Party of up to 5 characters. You start with a single protagonist. Additional NPCs join you later if you choose to accept them. Every NPC boasts a rich, complex personality and past.
  • Choose from several races, classes and skills during character generation.
  • Real-time-with-pause (RTwP) gameplay: pause the game at any time.
  • Rich lore and storyline. Hundreds of quests.
  • Tactical combat. Powerful magic. Clear, slot-based spell system.
  • Deep NPC interactions. Complex dialogues and persuasion.
  • Hand-made, beautiful graphics.
  • Free-roaming exploration in wilderness and subterranean areas.
GrapeOcean are looking to raise €50,000 to complete the development of Black Geyser: Couriers of Darkness. If you'd like to be infested by greed too, you can secure a copy for just €16, with beta access available at €85. Maybe if we reach a stretch goal we can get them to bring back the Crushmaster.

There are 132 comments on The Black Geyser shoots its load all over Kickstarter

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Fri 27 April 2018, 00:30:00

Tags: Aarik Dorobiala; Josh Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Josh Sawyer did another one of his Pillars of Eternity II Q&A streams last night, once again showcasing an area of the game that's not part of the backer beta. The area in question is a small island which is one of the stops on Fulvano's Voyage, the "mega-island chain" that was unlocked by backers during the Fig campaign. Most of the action takes place in the Drowned Barrows, a dungeon that appears to be the lair of a cult that's menacing a nearby village of boreal dwarves who have made their homes on the island. It's our first look at high level content, with a party that's well-equipped for the challenge. Watch for the tactical broom quarterstaff about 16 minutes in.


As for the Q&A, it was enjoyable but it didn't reveal anything too special, other than a confirmation from Josh that yes, there are Durance references in the game. If Fereed from Reddit does a transcript, I'll be sure to post a link to it here.

There are 9 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Q&A Stream #12

Tue 24 April 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 24 April 2018, 20:29:51

Tags: BattleTech; Harebrained Schemes; Paradox Interactive

Two and a half years after its highly successful Kickstarter campaign, Harebrained Schemes have released BattleTech to the world. We've covered BattleTech despite the fact that its status as an RPG is in dispute - because it's turn-based, because it's tabletop, and because it's Harebrained Schemes. It's the biggest project they've ever done, and its fate will determine what comes next for the studio that gave us three Shadowrun RPGs. You've read the updates, you've watched the streams and dev diaries, so all that's left is to post the launch trailer:


Reviews of BattleTech have been quite positive, one notable exception being the review by Rock Paper Shotgun's Alec Meer, who finds the game ponderous and lacking in variety. Some of the other reviews echo similar concerns, but don't seem as bothered by them. Here are all of the reviews I was able to find:

It's become clear from developer Q&A that Harebrained have had to leave a lot of mechanics on the cutting room floor, and the Codex's tactical combat grognards have been unhappy. What I'm interested in, though, is how our horde of Dragonfall fans will receive the game. If you didn't back it on Kickstarter, BattleTech is available now on Steam and GOG for the price of $40.

There are 262 comments on BattleTech Released

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 24 April 2018, 19:18:31

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - Beast of Winter; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - Seeker, Slayer, Survivor; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - The Forgotten Sanctum; Versus Evil

Obsidian have revealed details on the three planned Pillars of Eternity II expansion DLCs, which we first learned about back in January. All three are content packs and will be released at 2-3 month intervals over the course of this year. Here's the announcement:

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Irvine, California – April 24th, 2018 - Obsidian Entertainment, developer of critically acclaimed role-playing games, in partnership with indie publisher Versus Evil, today announced plans for three exciting, in-depth expansion packs for Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. The expansion packs will include new quests that will add to the lore of the Deadfire, new areas to discover, new secrets to reveal, and a whole host of new characters to meet and challenges to overcome!

The first downloadable-content pack (DLC), "Beast Of Winter" will be available in July 2018, and will take your party to an island populated by a mysterious doomsday cult, that hides an ancient secret. Players will get to experience adventuring in "The Beyond," a mysterious dimension populated by ancient souls and filled with devilish challenges.

The second DLC "Seeker, Slayer, Survivor" available in September 2018, is a combat-focused expansion taking place on a previously undiscovered island that will challenge the martial prowess of your party, and your tactical skills as a commander, as you embark on a mission to rediscover ancient relics, and pit your party against Eora’s most skilled and savage.

The third DLC, "The Forgotten Sanctum" available in November 2018, will test your party’s allegiance and morality in a quest to help (or obstruct) the great wizards of Eora. Will you befriend, betray or befuddle these venerable mystics as you uncover secrets lost to the generations? The consequences of your actions will be felt across the Deadfire Archipelago whatever you decide.

All three packs are included as part of the Obsidian Edition of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire which is available for sale now. A Season Pass including all 3 DLC packs will also be available for purchase when the game launches for $24.99. The expansion packs will be sold individually for $9.99 as they are released. FIG Backers that backed at the Collector’s Edition tier or above or included the Season Pass as part of their backer pledge will also receive the Season Pass.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire launches on May 8th, 2018 on Windows PC, Mac, and Linux platforms and is currently available for pre-order through Steam, GOG.com, Obsidian.net and Versus Evil, as well as other digital retailers.
With that amount of development time, I'd estimate that these DLCs will be about half as large as the White March expansions. Let's hope that Obsidian can pack them with content that's on par with the best parts of the White March - as opposed to something that just feels small and inconsequential like the Tyranny expansion.

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