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Thu 28 August 2014

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?

Dead State Kickstarter Update #47: Beta Released!

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 28 August 2014, 01:31:16

Tags: Dead State; DoubleBear Productions

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If you have the Dead State Early Access installed, you may have noticed that it just received an update. That's the game's beta version, which has just been released. The game's latest Kickstarter update has the details. Oh, and there's also a spiffy new trailer:

The Dead State Beta is finally here! If you've activated your Steam key, your copy of Dead State should automatically update. If you never received your key or lost it, please message us on Kickstarter and we'll try to get back to you with your key as soon as we can.

Don’t skip off gleefully to launch the game just yet, though - read on to learn more about what you should expect when you fire up the Beta.

About the Beta

First, we want to remind everyone that the Beta is not the full game. While the Beta includes tons of new content and features, there are also content and features still missing, and most of those that are in the Beta still need balancing and optimization. There are also still going to be a host of bugs and technical issues that we’re still actively fixing behind the scenes. Similar to other prominent recent betas on Steam (Wasteland 2, Pillars of Eternity, Divinity), Dead State’s Beta doesn’t include all the final story, dialogues, or levels, but it’s sure got enough to keep you busy for quite some time! The idea behind the open beta is to expose as much content to you as we possibly can and get your feedback on both design and technical issues before we move on to the final release.

Speaking of your feedback - we need it! The community is full of passionate, motivated, and clever people and we humbly ask you to use your powers to help us improve Dead State. On the design side, we especially need feedback about combat, supplies, loot, and dialogue. On the technical side, we especially need to know about crashes, soft locks, exploits, and any progress-blocking bugs. Of course, all other game feedback is welcome too!

To provide bug reports and feedback, please use the subforum located here: Early Access Beta. Don’t mind the old posts - we had a very small number of people helping us do internal testing of the beta, and we’ve converted the forum we used to communicate with them into the full Beta bug-reporting/feedback forum. (And most of those reported issues from that time are fixed in the Beta you're playing!)

You can also use our "Bug Reporting and Feedback” board on Steam to report issues if you’d prefer.

Please make sure to read the “Known Issues” thread first and review other people’s posts before reporting your issue; that makes it easier for the devs and mods to keep track of everything!
Read the full update for a changelog and a sampling of the game's currently known issues, of which there are many. If you've decided you'd like to check out the Dead State beta for yourself, you can grab it on Steam, now for the price of $30.

There are 2 comments on Dead State Kickstarter Update #47: Beta Released!

Wed 27 August 2014
Book on the Making of Jagged Alliance 2 Published, Excerpt Available

Information - posted by Crooked Bee on Wed 27 August 2014, 23:04:48

Tags: Chris Camfield; Darius Kazemi; Ian Currie; Jagged Alliance 2; SirTech

SirTech's strategy-meets-RPG Jagged Alliance 2 gets a lot of love here on the Codex, so some of you may be interested to know that one Darius Kazemi has just published a short book about how the game came to be ($14.95 paperback, $4.95 ebook).

The turn-based tactical role playing series Jagged Alliance has been sequeled, expanded, modded, optioned, multiplayered, and kickstarted, but the series’ many fans usually point to Jagged Alliance 2 as the high water mark, and one of the finest turn-based video games of all time.

Jagged Alliance 2 brings to the table a wicked sense of humor, simulation-driven character design, a combination of strategic overworld and tactical battles reminiscent of the X-COM series, and a surprisingly deep open-world RPG experience reminiscent of the Ultima or Elder Scrolls games.

Focusing on JA2′s development history and basing his book largely on new personal interviews with the game’s developers, game designer and web technology developer Darius Kazemi delves deep into the legacy of a game that still has much to teach gamers and game-makers 14 years after its release.​

There's also a fairly lengthy excerpt available online, from which I'll only quote a short part here, having to do with Ian Currie's lack of RPG experience as contrasted with the game's programmer Chris Camfield's love for PnP RPGs and how that influenced JA2's gun design:

Ian Currie, Co-Designer: "For some reason, and I don’t know why, I sort of latched on to a more military type of situation. I didn’t think of the fantasy thing where you can have magic and the various classes. I think that was my lack of experience, to be honest. I hadn’t played that many RPGs. I’d only played Eye of the Beholder at this time. But I remember thinking, you’ll have grenades for your spells, and you’ll have ranged [attacks], and some melee stuff."

After JA1 was released, the team realized very quickly that the game they had built appealed to a core audience of gun enthusiasts and self-styled survivalists. In the development of JA2, they tried to appeal to this audience by populating the world with a massive roster of “realistically” modeled guns. Programmer Chris Camfield was in charge of implementing the tactical layer battle mechanics. A lifelong player of pencil-and-paper role-playing games as well as strategy board games, Camfield instinctively turned to RPG sourcebooks (tomes of information compiled to assist role players in creating more vibrant worlds) for more detail, taking advantage of the meticulous research published by other designers.

Chris Camfield. Programmer (JA2): "There was a difference between the fan culture and the developer culture. When Shaun and Ian and Alex made JA1, they didn't know a lot about guns. That said, neither did I—just some things I'd read in books. I remember looking at the JA1 code and the way that the gun damage was defined was your basic gun did 10 damage, the next gun did 12, then 14, 16, 18, 20 and so on. [...] Ian and Shaun were really approaching it more from the point of view of trying to translate the experience of an 80s action movie into computer game format.

I used a couple of pen-and-paper RPG books about different guns to make it more realistic: Palladium Books’ The Compendium of Contemporary Weapons [by Maryann Siembieda], and the other one was from R. Talsorian games, called Compendium of Modern Firearms [by Kevin Dockery]. Now that I think about it, there may have been numbers in there that listed rate of fire, cartridge type, and bullet grams. I think I tried initially to estimate the damage value of a gun based on the listed muzzle velocity of the gun and the weight of the bullet. [Compendium of Modern Firearms] also has all these different ranges of probabilities of hitting a target of a certain size or how wide the spread would be for bullets for a particular gun. That probably got factored into accuracy values. But those numbers still had to go through kind of a pass to make the progression better."​

The excerpt as a whole "focuses on the curious relationship between semi-fictional mercenary culture, 'macho adventure' magazine Soldier of Fortune, and gun-toting video games." Read it in full here.

There are 16 comments on Book on the Making of Jagged Alliance 2 Published, Excerpt Available

Tue 26 August 2014
Shadowrun: Dragonfall Director's Cut gets an official trailer

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 26 August 2014, 20:44:53

Tags: Harebrained Schemes; Shadowrun: Dragonfall

In a new Shadowrun Returns Kickstarter update, game director Mike McCain presents the official trailer for the Shadowrun: Dragonfall Director's Cut.

Hi guys! Mike here again. I’m excited to share with you our official trailer for Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director’s Cut*. Check it out!

In addition to the new trailer, we’ve also released a full feature list for the game on our brand new “coming soon” page in the Steam store. If you have friends that haven’t experienced Dragonfall - or even Shadowrun - before, give them a heads up!

Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director’s Cut at PAX Prime

And one more thing: Dragonfall will be at PAX Prime in Seattle this weekend! Harebrained Schemes will be on the 2nd floor of the Convention Center, Room 209. We’re sharing the space with Green Ronin Games, and we’ll have both Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director’s Cut and Golem Arcana available to play. Myself and other members of the dev team will be there Friday through Sunday - come by to check out the games or just to say hi!

I hope you enjoyed last week’s dev diary with Andrew about all the new missions and content we’ve added to the Director’s Cut. Check back this Thursday to hear more about the new music with composer Jon Everist - who may even give you a sneak peek at one or two of the new tracks.
The update also comes with wallpapers of the Dragonfall companions, though poor Blitz is missing.

There are 21 comments on Shadowrun: Dragonfall Director's Cut gets an official trailer

Mon 25 August 2014
Dead State Interview with Brian Mitsoda at RPGWatch

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 25 August 2014, 23:06:45

Tags: Brian Mitsoda; Dead State; DoubleBear Productions

There's a new interview with Brian Mitsoda over at RPGWatch. The interview starts off with a few questions about Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, but most of it is dedicated to asking a large number of questions about the game mechanics of Dead State, to which Brian answers in detail. It's a good interview! Here's a short excerpt:

RPGWatch: For me (and hopefully some of my readers!), deep RPG systems are the most important thing in an RPG, and the more complex the system, the better! What type of RPG stats, skills and perks can we expect to find in Dead State? Can you give us some examples of their design?

Brian: All of our stats and skills are fairly straightforward and have been cut down to be as useful as possible so that you don't feel like you put points in a useless option. Melee and Ranged are straightforward combat skills, while Mechanical, Medical, and Science have combat and Shelter applications, specifically building upgrades, healing allies faster, and building new armor or items. Survival is all about getting around the map quicker and more safely while also opening up potential wild sources of food. Leadership has dialogue applications, but can also be used to issue commands that can change your odds in combat. Negotiation helps you keep order at the shelter, but also allows you to more successfully deal with the demands of enemies and allies. Each skill has a choice of perks at levels 3 and 6, with a very useful perk unlocked at level 10. Pretty much whatever skill you pick is going to give you better odds of survival, but your specialties and perks will change your game experience quite a bit.

RPGWatch: What can you tell us about the companions in Dead State? Are there any hidden companions that require effort to get to join your crew, such as a character hidden in a hard-to-find location, or requiring some certain prerequisite to be met to get them to join?)? Will different characters have different classes, if classes are even in the game?

Brian: There aren't classes in the game, and allies use the same types of skills that the player does. Every ally has different stats, skill, and perks that make them useful in different ways. Some allies are better off utilized at the Shelter, while some are more suited to combat. A few allies will show up automatically, but many of them must be found out in the world. There are a few that will only join your Shelter if you take certain actions. And, of course, if you piss them off out in the world, there's always the chance they might just attack you rather than join you. Not all of them start out willing to join you immediately.

RPGWatch: Vampire - Bloodlines seemed like it had significant player choices around every corner, and it made for a very re-playable game. What type of choices will there to be made in Dead State, and how heavy will the consequences be? Can you fail some quests because you chose the "wrong" dialog? Will the game adapt to your choices and change based on them? Do quest outcomes differ based on your choices?

Brian: The consequences range from altering an ally's mood to losing supplies to provoking certain allies to take an action against you. Dealing with certain groups can lead to attacks on your Shelter's fence or the chance of encountering more enemies out in the world. There's also Crisis Events - major events or disasters that require a vote by the Shelter's leadership - that change the entire mood of the Shelter and can have far-ranging consequences when it comes to the respect of the sub-leaders there.

As far as failure, it's possible to result in less than optimal situations from your decisions, but you'll never instantly be killed or anything that severe. We always give you the chance to alter the situation inside your Shelter yourself - such as making an ally have a "convenient accident" that day. You'll never be able to please everyone at the Shelter with your decisions, so the best thing to do is to balance your actions toward the majority or try to tweak the allies in the Shelter to be more likely to side via bribes and negotiation.

There are several major factions you deal with in the game world, and the options you take with them can vary quite a bit. Some of them might even be willing to work with you or at least respect you enough to leave you alone. Most of the day to day in the game is going to be working with your own people and keeping up the morale of the Shelter. The endings of the game will be dependent on the number of allies you have and some other factors ranging from faction relationships to the skills of you and your fellow Shelter residents. Our hope is that every player writes their own story of survival within the actions that they take.​

Crisis events, eh? That sounds familiar.

There are 20 comments on Dead State Interview with Brian Mitsoda at RPGWatch

Sat 23 August 2014
RPG Codex Gamescom Report, Part 1: Tacticool Goodness and Adventures Galore

Preview - posted by Crooked Bee on Sat 23 August 2014, 22:51:19

Tags: Blackguards 2; Daedalic Entertainment; Fire; Gamescom; Paradox Interactive; Runemaster; The Devil's Men

It was a fine August day when, anticipating mountains of Doritos and rivers of Mountain Dew, esteemed community member Darth Roxor stepped into the nerd-filled halls of Gamescom 2014. Rest assured, he found what he was looking for, enough to write his report in 3 parts. In today's Part 1, Roxor recounts his 2-hour presentation with Daedalic Entertainment -- which included such games as the tactical RPG Blackguards 2 and the adventures Fire and The Devil's Men -- as well as his impressions of Paradox Interactive's Runemaster.

Since most people here are probably (hopefully) interested in Blackguards 2, I'll quote a snippet that has to do with that game:

Daedalic have introduced several changes to the The Dark Eye ruleset. Apparently, the spell failure and hit chance mechanics have been overhauled in some way, making it less likely to miss if a dude is just standing motionless next to you, although it beats me what the specifics of that are. Furthermore, Daedalic apparently got a bit sick of Aventuria's generic bestiary, so they introduced a bunch of their “own” creations – mostly demons, chimeras, shapeshifters, etc. Two of these were shown, one an insectoid creature with four arms (each one can hold a different weapon), and the other a “leaper” demon that loves to jump into mobs of characters and knock them down (careful around ledges!).

Big changes have also been made to the character system, though I must admit I’m not exactly sure of the specifics. Apparently, Blackguards' basic attributes were too confusing for the average player, so they've been streamlined into even more basic attributes like “offence” or “defence”, although Kai said the original stats are “still there” somewhere. Basically, they figured this was a better way of handling them because it was dumb how three different attributes could influence the same derived stat. This is something that I don’t quite like because, personally, I find abstract values like “offence” to be much more opaque than three different attributes that might (or might not) do the same thing, but are properly described. Maybe it’ll look better in motion. Nevertheless, you still get adventure points for battles, and you still assign them to talents and skills, just like in the original.

Taking into account these changes and the expanded bestiary, I asked how difficult it was to convince the Dark Eye license owner to incorporate them, considering how protective some of them can be (hello, Games Workshop), but apparently, it only took one long meeting of discussions and negotiations.

Now that we're done discussing the game's tactical layer, let’s say a few things about the geoscape. The original game’s chapter-based storyline is gone, replaced instead by what could be described as a “conquest mode”. The whole of southern Aventuria is now visible from the start of the game, and you must go on a blitzkrieg to conquer all of it and become its new ruler. Every location taken over will grant some bonus to your characters or mercenaries, and unlock further “nodes” that you can pillage. That doesn’t mean the “adventure” layer is gone, though, as each city you liberate™ can be entered and checked for quest opportunities, just like in the original Blackguards. Furthermore, you also get your own HQ in the form of a travelling base camp, where you can consult with your advisor, buy equipment, etc.

There are many significant things going on in the game's strategy view, as well. You are not the only force in the land, and just as you conquer lands, the enemy will try to reconquer them. If you fail at defending them, they will need to be re-reconquered, and these reconquest battles are meant to be very hard. I just hope this won’t devolve into GTA San Andreas taggin’ da hood – Blackguards edition.

The final part of the presentation was about the general changes to the narrative and reactivity. As I said, the game is no longer divided into chapters; instead, the storyline changes “dynamically” depending on the course of conquest you take. A playthrough where you first take the southern part of the map under your protection™ might be very different, both in terms of gameplay and narrative, from another where you first scorch the north. Moreover, over the course of the game, you’ll have to make many decisions that will impact the story and gameplay. Fiebig said that this time they are “real” choices, that may lead to all sorts of hilariously bad outcomes, and it’s “very easy to fuck up completely”. A few examples of these decisions include whether to torture prisoners during interrogations, and what to do with captured cities - raze them to the ground, intimidate their citizens through mass murder or leave them alone? Which is the best and why? Discuss!!!

That very much concluded the presentation. I was offered a hands-on of the demo, but it was cut short by the incoming unwashed masses with their scheduled presentations. I didn’t mind much, though - as I said, the game does pretty much look and play exactly like Blackguards, so I doubt I’d have derived any new information.​

For Darth Roxor's further impressions, be sure to read the full piece.

There are 28 comments on RPG Codex Gamescom Report, Part 1: Tacticool Goodness and Adventures Galore

Age of Decadence August Update

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 23 August 2014, 12:20:28

Tags: Age of Decadence; Iron Tower Studios; Vault Dweller

The Age of Decadence Early Access has received its eighth update. The accompanying monthly update has the details on the additions and improvements in the new version:

Welcome to update # 8. It’s a big update that adds all kinds of things but very little new content, unfortunately.

1. You can return to Teron now. There isn’t much to do there yet as the unfinished quests have been resolved without you (thanks for nothing) and new content will be triggered by the events in Ganezzar, which hasn’t been released yet.

So much like Caer-Tor, the new Teron maps (there are two actually, one where the Imperial Guards took over, the other where House Daratan reigns supreme and the town is swarmed with mercenaries) are nothing but a foundation on which new content will be build.

Still, you can walk around, chat with people, admire Antidas’ grave, stop in front of crucified Miltiades, meet a mercenary captain who will replace Mercato if you had him killed, and report any bugs and consistency issues (people who should be dead being alive and kicking, etc).

2. We split the Teron map into 3 to improve performance. The old map included the mine and the raiders’ camp, which wasn’t the best way to handle it. Now Teron, the mine, and the camp are truly separate locations, which - in theory - can cause all kinds of issues but hopefully won’t.

We tweaked the mine location a bit, replacing the old tower with something equally Roman but more combat-friendly, plus made it easier to explore it outside of text adventure. Overall, there is less ‘teleporting’ now.

3. We tweaked Alchemy as per very helpful players’ suggestions
  • Added more reagents to Maadoran and Teron alchemists' inventories
  • Increased poison damage by 1 point for all levels.
  • Bombs and liquid fire no longer miss.
  • Bombs critical chance (knockdown effect) is now 50 - (victim's constitution - 6) x 15.
  • Alchemy level 9: Black Powder Bomb (Frag) has vsDR 5.
  • Alchemy level 10: Berserk potion homeostasis gives 3 DR and takes 5 HP at the end of the effect.
  • Alchemy level 10: Neurostimulant (Eagle Eye) gives 25 THC bonus.
4. Difficulty

As many of you noticed the difficulty takes a nosedive in Maadoran. One of the reason for that is that the metal bonuses greatly increase your offensive and defensive capabilities. Each metal adds 2 points. Whereas in Teron adding 2 points is a good bonus (and iron weapons are harder to find), it's relatively easy to buy high quality gear in Maadoran and increase your damage output and/or DR by 5-7 points, which is too much.

So, the no-name crafted items are removed from trader inventories (if you want them, invest in Crafting). Some of them have been replaced by much more expensive unique items. Coincidentally, each metal now adds only 1 point, so getting your hands on some blue steel will increase your damage/DR by 3 instead of 6.

We also tweaked some stats of unique items to make sure they are consistent with the overall balance.

5. A number of bug fixes and minor improvements.

* * *

As always, thank you for your continuous support and patronage. This update is a stepping stone toward a much larger update which will include 3 new locations, so your feedback and suggestions will be much appreciated.
A return to Teron, eh? I hope that doesn't take too long to implement. See the full update for a few new portraits and inventory item icon images.

There are 20 comments on Age of Decadence August Update

Fri 22 August 2014
Josh Sawyer Explains: How to Balance an RPG

Editorial - posted by Infinitron on Fri 22 August 2014, 21:00:40

Tags: J.E. Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity

In these days when his professional aptitude as a system designer is under attack from certain quarters, Josh Sawyer has made the interesting choice of publishing an extensive guest editorial over at Kotaku. The topic? How To Balance An RPG. It's actually a highly technical treatise, which should be of interest to all of you prospective RPG developers out there. I'll quote a fun snippet from the introduction:

"Trash" or "trap" options are a time-honored tradition in RPGs, both tabletop and computer. Trash options are choices that are intentionally designed to be bad, or that don't get enough attention during development and testing to actually be viable in the game.

It is now 2014 and, friends, I am here to tell you that trash options are bullshit.

In a computer RPG, any trash option that goes from designer's brain to the shipped product has probably gone through a few dozen cycles of implementation, testing, and revision. In the end, the trash option is the proverbial polished turd. Any seasoned RPG veteran that looks at it in detail realizes it's terrible and avoids it. Those who don't look closely or who aren't system masters may wind up picking it for their character under the mistaken impression that it's a viable choice. In any case, it's a bad option that the team spent a bunch of time implementing either for misguided schadenfreude or simple lack of attention.

While big RPGs always let a few of these trash options slip through unintentionally, the best way to avoid the problem on a large scale is simply to ask why well-informed players, acting with eyes wide open, would want to pick any given option over a different option in the first place. There should be a good conceptual/aesthetic reason as well as a good mechanical reason. If one of those falls short, keep hammering away until you feel you've justified their existence. Sometimes, it's not possible. In those cases, at least you've had the good fortune to realize you're stuck with trash early in development — whether it doesn't fit aesthetically or doesn't work mechanically — and can justly dump it before more effort goes into it.

As an example from Pillars of Eternity, we have maces and padded armor, two things that generally get short shrift in a lot of RPGs. In most RPGs, maces are slow and do poor damage with few elements in the "+" column. In Pillars of Eternity, they don't do any less damage than other one-handed weapons and they have the advantage of negating a portion of the armor on the target. Swords can do a variety of damage types, spears are inherently accurate, and battle axes do high Crit damage, but maces are a viable mechanical choice among their peers.

Padded armor suffers even worse in most RPGs: in many games, there are literally no worse options than padded. The suits are often aesthetically ugly and mechanically awful—the quintessence of a pure RPG trash option—and if players are forced to wear padded armor at the game's opening, they'll gladly ditch it as soon as anything else becomes available. In Pillars of Eternity, padded armor actually offers reasonably good protection. It can easily be argued that our padded armor is more protective than is realistic, but the first goal is not verisimilitude, but justifying the player's interest.

And, while heavier armor absorbs more damage, the heavier a suit of armor is in Pillars of Eternity, the longer it takes a character to recover from making an attack or casting a spell. A character in mail armor can absorb more damage than a character in padded, but the character in padded armor will perform more actions over a given period of time.

This fundamental tradeoff is both easy to grasp ("take less damage vs. do things faster") and has universal implications for all characters. All characters perform actions, and performing actions more quickly is always better. All characters also need to be protected from damage. A tradeoff like damage reduction vs. movement speed would have dramatically different implications for a melee-oriented barbarian than a long-range wizard.

We also intentionally avoided the classic RPG armor tradeoff of damage avoidance (i.e. dodging) vs. straight damage reduction. While it's easy to grasp conceptually, it's mechanically uninteresting and unengaging unless you get into spreadsheet-level minutiae of how the damage reduction curves play out over time. Spreadsheet gaming can be enjoyable on its own, but there should be a more obvious tradeoff that the player can directly observe in-game for the choice to feel meaningful.
Read the full article to learn how Sawyer does what he does. Now, excuse me while I go get my popcorn...

There are 174 comments on Josh Sawyer Explains: How to Balance an RPG

Frontiers Interview at RPGWatch

Interview - posted by Crooked Bee on Fri 22 August 2014, 15:59:00

Tags: Frontiers

Frontiers is the open-world, Daggerfall-inspired first person exploration RPG that got funded on Kickstarter in 2013 and that everyone's favorite Codexer villain of the story used to mass PM all of us about. The developers have been churning out updates at a reasonable pace, but the undertaking is massive so the end isn't quite in sight yet.

Meanwhile, our RPG Watch colleagues have done an extensive interview with Frontiers' Lars Simkins and Ryan Span. It focuses on many things, from their inspirations to Kickstarter to the development progress, so I'll just quote a short snippet here:

RPGWatch: Are you aware of the issues that open world games face that makes the story feel completely secondary and not immersive? Do you consider this a problem?

Lars: Yes, but I see those issues as strengths in this game, not problems. That sounds like a ‘my biggest weakness is my perfectionism’ answer. But most of the problems I’ve seen with open-world stories (at least in my experience) stem from the developers trying to tightly control the player’s experience. That ends up feeling flat - there’s no such thing as urgency in a sandbox game unless the player is supplying it. So in FRONTIERS we’ve tried to tell a story that lets the player drive the action. It expects you to travel large distances and to take pit stops along the way. It allows for you to talk to people out of order and to get lost between destinations. If you build a story around exploration and it starts being an either/or thing, where you’re either playing the game or playing the story, that’s when the story becomes secondary.

Ryan: It's only a problem if you make it one. When the goals of the story don't align with those of the player, of course it's going to feel secondary. We've deliberately made the goals in Frontiers stuff that the player will want: More areas to explore and cool new ways to get around where you've already been. We put as few barriers as possible between you and the lovely world you came to see, and give you even more reasons to go out into it.

RPGWatch: You've said you are inspired by Daggerfall. What features does Daggerfall have that are missed or under-represented in today’s games?

Lars: The main thing I loved about the game was the way it dropped you into a world and said absolutely nothing about your place or role in that world. You had to figure that out for yourself. If a dungeon was important it gave you no external sign. There was no beacon on your map - you had to roll up your sleeves and kick in some doors. That total indifference to the player’s actions made the world feel very real to me. I think some of it was accident rather than design, but I enjoyed it whatever the cause.

Most large game worlds tend to revolve around the player, who is usually some messiah - you get the sense that behind every closed door characters are just checking their watch waiting for you to show up and advance the plot. In Daggerfall I felt like they were going about business that had nothing to do with me. Planning murders or writing poetry or whatever. I loved that feeling.​

Daggerfall's world "that had nothing to do with me" may sound a bit at odds with telling "a story that lets the player drive the action", but I guess they mean the feeling of an independent living world in the first case and a kind of "emergent gameplay" in the second. In any case, I'm quite interested in the end result myself. Can two guys make a compelling open-world game? I hope we'll see some day.

There are 7 comments on Frontiers Interview at RPGWatch

Thu 21 August 2014
Shadowrun: Dragonfall Director's Cut Dev Diary #1: New Missions & Content

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 21 August 2014, 23:03:27

Tags: Harebrained Schemes; Shadowrun: Dragonfall

As promised, the folks at Harebrained Schemes have published the first of four dev diaries describing the new additions and improvements in the Director's Cut of Shadowrun: Dragonfall, in today's Kickstarter update. The first dev diary, by writer Andrew McIntosh, goes straight to the good stuff - the Director's Cut's new missions.

Companion Story Missions - From the very beginning of our work on Dragonfall, we wanted to include missions that would tie directly into the back stories of the game’s major companion NPCs - Glory, Eiger, Dietrich, and Blitz. Unfortunately, during the development of the campaign, it became obvious that we weren’t going to have enough time to really do justice to the concept. Ultimately, we decided that if we couldn’t do these missions right, we shouldn’t do them at all.*

After Dragonfall was released, it became clear to us that our players wanted to experience these missions as much as we wanted to write and design them. This is why, when we decided to move forward with the Director’s Cut, companion story missions were at the top of our to-do list.

A location from Glory's mission.

In Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director’s Cut, you will find three new full-length missions that tie directly into the personal stories of Glory, Eiger, and Blitz. These stories range from supernatural horror to techno-thriller to dark comedy, and each mission touches on a different aspect of the Shadowrun universe.

Your companion characters can also earn unique rewards for completing their story missions. Blitz, for example, can gain the ability to corrupt hostile IC in the Matrix, forcing it to fight with him rather than against him. There are two different rewards for each story mission, but you’ll only be able to obtain one of them on any given playthrough. These rewards are separate from those gained in the Crew Advancement system (see below).

*The only concession to this idea that made it into Dragonfall was Dietrich’s involvement in an early mission of the game. By the way, don’t worry - we’re adding a unique reward for him, too.

Crew Advancement - You wanted more control over how your companion NPCs progressed in Dragonfall, and in the Director’s Cut, we’re delivering! Because Eiger, Glory, Dietrich, and Blitz are their own people, we aren’t giving you complete control over their character sheets; Eiger will always be a deadly ranged combatant, and Dietrich will never decide to give up magic and embark on an exciting new career as a decker. Instead, we’re implementing a system that will allow you to choose one of two all-new, unique enhancements for each of your companion characters every time they advance in skill.

For example, on a skill-up you might choose to grant Eiger the ability to fire a Dragon’s Breath round from her shotgun, penetrating armor and setting opponents on fire. Or you could give her the ability to fire an Interdiction round from her sniper rifle: a discarding-sabot HTI shot that completely ignores armor. Under this system, you will have the flexibility to choose how you would like to specialize your characters within their existing roles.

We’re also giving you the ability to customize the weapon, spell, and consumable loadouts for your companion characters, but I’ll leave the details on that for a future Dev Diary.

Additional Missions - In addition to the Companion Story Missions detailed above, two other full-length missions have been added to the game.

In “Trial Run,” you will undertake a mission for the mysterious Lodge, one of the side factions in Shadowrun: Dragonfall. Over the course of the run, you’ll learn how the organization conducts its business… but the Lodge will learn even more about you.

In “Lockdown,” you’ll get the opportunity to delve into the checkered past of the Kreuzbasar’s resident cybersurgeon, Dr. Xabier Ezkibel. Successfully completing this mission will unlock a variety of bleeding-edge bioware upgrades in Ezkibel’s clinic. Ever taken serious damage while out of range of a healer? Those shiny new Platelet Factories are just what the Doctor ordered… assuming, of course, that you have a big enough wad of nuyen to afford them.

Additional Endings - Without delving into spoiler territory, I can say that we’ve always wanted to explore some “what if?” scenarios related to Shadowrun: Dragonfall’s ending. There are two additional endings in the Director’s Cut; these new endings have been designed to give players even more agency in deciding how the story should unfold.

More Character Development - Several side characters from Shadowrun: Dragonfallhave had their roles significantly enhanced, from the enigmatic Absinthe to the anarchistic Lucky Strike.

More Lore - There’s even more great Shadowrun lore in the Director’s Cut, including more easter eggs for long-time fans of the pen-and-paper game.
Sounds really good - it's like one of those Unfinished Business mods for Baldur's Gate. And that companion customization capability will be a welcome addition as well.

There are 49 comments on Shadowrun: Dragonfall Director's Cut Dev Diary #1: New Missions & Content

Legend of Grimrock 2 enters beta, gets a teaser trailer

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 21 August 2014, 17:06:44

Tags: Almost Human Games; Legend of Grimrock 2

The latest post on Almost Human's Legend of Grimrock 2 development blog announces that the game has finally entered beta, with a little teaser trailer to mark the occasion.

Big news indeed! Oh boy we’re super-excited to tell you that we are now officially in BETA! And it’s about time! We have been burning the midnight oil for so long that all our dreams are now filled with visions directly from the Isle of Nex. The game, a raw diamond which we have been carefully chiseling and polishing so long, is now finally coming together and it’s starting to feel really good. That doesn’t mean that the work ends here. Beta is actually a beginning, a beginning to make the game meet all your high expectations. It’s time to balance all the thousands of gameplay parameters and finetune the gui and optimize the game, and… You get the point! All the features we’ve planned are in and just waiting for some TLC

But before you mail us offering to kindly join the beta-test team… It’s going to be a closed beta again, sorry. Closed beta worked really well with LoG1 and we’re looking to repeat the process. By giving beta access to a carefully selected group of people, we can personally interact with the testers much better and thus get better and more accurate feedback.

The game has been playable from the beginning to the end for some time now and now that we have had one complete playthrough and several cheated speed-throughs we have some idea about the length of the game. It’s looking like Grimrock 2 is going to be around 25% longer than Grimrock 1 but more testing by us and our betatesters is still needed to confirm this.

Like mentioned, all the features of the game are in, but there’s still much work to do. Our Venerable List of Things To Do is constantly getting added with new entries even as we are hammering on the things at the other end of the list. But we are fighting hard to empty the list before the launch. Btw. on top of the list we have things like memory and performance optimizations and tutorial. Below that lots and lots of smaller tweaks and fixes and then of course testing, testing and more testing…

To celebrate all this, we have published a new teaser trailer for Legend of Grimrock 2. Here you go:

If I'm not mistaken, the game was in alpha for around two months, give or take, so the final release might not be far off. There's still no official release date, though.

There are 14 comments on Legend of Grimrock 2 enters beta, gets a teaser trailer

Wasteland 2 Kickstarter Update #54: Release Date - September 19th

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 21 August 2014, 01:36:55

Tags: Brian Fargo; InXile Entertainment; Wasteland 2

Today's Wasteland 2 Kickstarter update has the official announcement of the game's final release date, which you may have seen on Brian Fargo's Twitter feed yesterday already.

Hello Rangers!

It took a while to get every moving part settled down whether it was physical boxes or waiting on ratings from different agencies, but now we're finally ready to name a solid, final release date: Wasteland 2 will be coming your way September 19th!

We won't be sitting on our hands until that date. While the disc gold master is done and set, it's all hands on deck for the day 1 version and we're working hard to ensure that is the best version of the game possible. Bug-hunting and balance passes are our major focus in the month leading up to release.

With the ship date closing in it is now vital to ensure your reward and shipping info are up to date on your Ranger Center account. Log in (or activate your account here). Check under the Rewards tab and verify your reward choice (it is possible no reward choice has been input so please check this), we will lock reward choices on Monday 25th of August.

If you're receiving physical goods, check your address listing and click the confirm button to lock and confirm your address with us. The deadline for updating your shipping info is one week from now: Wednesday 27th of August. If you do not have any info listed or need to make changes after that date we will not be able to ship the game to you in the first batch. Please check your Ranger Center info as soon as possible, if you have any more questions don't hesitate to contact us there.

Late Backer Store Closing

As part of our locking up for shipping, we will be closing the late backer store next week on Monday. Last chance to back this game and grab this style of big box! ​

The update also contains a shout-out to Obsidian for their Pillars of Eternity beta release. Speaking of Pillars and inXile, it's come to my attention that they've given backers of Torment: Tides of Numenera at the $750 and above tiers a complementary copy of the beta. That's a pretty bro move.

There are 25 comments on Wasteland 2 Kickstarter Update #54: Release Date - September 19th

Pillars of Eternity Beta Preview at Rock Paper Shotgun

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Thu 21 August 2014, 01:10:26

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity

It looks like Adam Smith has replaced Nathan "nth notch on Zoe Quinn's bedpost" Grayson in the role of chief Kickstarter RPG reporter over at Rock Paper Shotgun. Today he posted his impressions article on the recently released Pillars of Eternity backer beta. Have a snippet:

If Pillars of Eternity were nothing more than an attempt to recreate the past with a new paintjob, I’d be happy enough to play but might not be quite as curious about the end result. The Infinity engine template forms the outline for Pillars and the broad strokes are D&D-ish, but the deviation is in the details. Rather than pulling apart every alteration to the expected systems, I’m going to focus on camping, resting and healing.

It’s an integral part of the game and an aspect of adventuring that has traditionally been an afterthought or means to access a ‘quick heal’ button. Obsidian have made it part of each player’s personal narrative, by adding flavour and building a set of healing and buff mechanics around the need for rest. Checking into the beta village’s inn provides a choice of rooms, each named and some with implied backstory.

One of the rooms looks out onto a stinky workshop, which means that you’ll do little more than recover while you rest there. Other rooms, pricier rooms, provide buffs to stats, which last until the next time the party rests. That provides an incentive to utilise inns whenever the chance arises and to spend as much time between bouts of snoozing as possible. This seemingly slight change creates a tension – venturing out into the wild unknown leaves the party reliant on their limited supplies and requires intelligent management of short-term and long-term damage, as well as any abilities that are reliant on resting.

On higher difficulty levels, the limit on camping supplies is stricter and with party member permadeath enabled, Pillars is the rare RPG in which combat has consequences and mortality makes itself known.

The classes are immediately recognisable but skillsets and playstyles are very different from one to the next, which provides a variety of tactics to master, and raises the potential value of a second or third playthrough. Sawyer says the game has been designed to provide paths for any character build and reckons each should be as interesting as the next, or thereabouts. A high Might stat is as likely to open up dialogue/interactions options as a soaring Intelligence, and a clumsy wizard should be as viable a character choice as a muscular rogue.

The proof of all that will be in the pudding, of course, and the beta is little more than a spoonful of sugar. Mechanically, Pillars is close enough to an Infinity engine game to be mistaken for one, but it’s shot through with novel ideas and tweaks to the formula. The same is true of the setting, which is packed with all the usual fantasy bits and bobs, but appears to be at least aspiring to thematic coherence and interesting inventions.

As with the rest, the deviation is in the details. There may be an ogre stomping around the place but don’t presume to know exactly what ‘ogre’ means in this new world. There’s a lovely sense of rediscovery while uncovering lore and filling in the bestiary. New thoughts and histories attached to traditional types and tropes. The first time I saw the beta content, Obsidian were playing through it themselves, and a combination of overconfidence and haste left them with two maimed party members as the presentation drew to a close. Outwitted by spiders and limping toward the end of a quest, they answered my questions about permadeath and injuries while keeping some of their attention on the screen.

“What happens if the player character gets maimed? Is that a permanent injury?”

“Here, we can show you.” They instructed the party’s warrior to attack the leader. Evidently the spiderbites had taken their toll because the blow didn’t knock her out or maim her, it killed her outright. Death of the party. I’ve fared somewhat better but I’m picking each class apart as I go, learning the tricks of the trade. The possibilities in battle can be slightly overwhelming at first but that’s at least partly due to plunging in with a full set of characters at level 5. Less time to learn each ability as it is gained.

Nostalgia may be the initial draw, for some of the audience at least, but Pillars doesn’t map directly onto any of the Infinity engine games. The layers of interaction and intricacy of class roles are evidence of a developer comfortable with the familiar, and able and willing to flex the creative muscles where appropriate. It may be partly an exercise in nostalgia and looking backwards but, along with Original Sin and a few other potential bright spots, Pillars is making me super excited about the future of CRPGs for the first time in years.
I think it's safe to say that he likes it.

There are 40 comments on Pillars of Eternity Beta Preview at Rock Paper Shotgun

Wed 20 August 2014
TSI's Seven Dragon Saga CRPG website revealed, confirmed to be crowdfunded

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 20 August 2014, 20:02:17

Tags: Seven Dragon Saga; Tactical Simulations Interactive

Well, well, well. Shortly after we posted about Tactical Simulation Interactive's Seven Dragon Saga pen-and-paper RPG website the other day, they locked it down, password-protecting most of its pages. Tsk tsk. However, what they failed to hide was the website of their computer RPG, which was located by Codexer LESS T_T using the almighty powers of Google. Here's what it says:

Seven Dragon Saga allows the player to create and customize a full party of adventurers and maneuver them in detailed, turn-based tactical combat. You won’t find any rat-hunting farmers here- characters begin with a suite of talents. Rather, the characters are ‘Touched by the winds of chaos’, and destined for great successes or spectacular demises.

Explore a rich world, uncover lost treasures, deal with challenging social and political situations. The player’s choices alter the world in meaningful ways, both physically and socially. Sent by the Empire of the Seven Dragons to the minor Kingdom of Afelon, the party must uncover who is driving the land to civil war and whether that conspiracy might pose a threat to the Empire at large. What mysteries lie in the surrounding, monster-infested peaks? Who is worthy of trust and who only of death?
The website also has a news blog, which already has three posts. They're not long, so I'll just post them here:

TSI started out as a dream. A dream many of you seem to share. It’s the return of a company you could depend upon to consistently deliver a meaningful RPG experience. While there are many classic RPG franchises and several talented studios, SSI and the Gold Box games delivered, time and again, a new adventure using the same type of compelling, tactical experience. You knew exactly what you were getting: proven technology, a great system/setting, and strategic, party-based combat. Our company, TSI, was formed in that same spirit. While we’ve quietly been working for several months, it’s still early in the overall scheme of things, so please be patient as we role out assets and additional details for what we have planned. We are thrilled to finally be able to share information about our company and our projects.​

TSI is a new enterprise. Naturally, there are a lot of questions including “what took you guys so long”?

Honestly, it took time for the industry to mature and for us to find the resources. Three things had to happen:

1. The technology and costs had to allow for the opportunity to make sense. The shift from PC to consoles was a contributing factor to SSI being sold, as was, PC RPG’s falling out of vogue for publishers. However, digital distribution and terrific tools like Unity3D have lowered the barrier to create quality games.

2. There needed to be a clear demand. Reaction to titles like “Legend of Grimrock” and “Wasteland 2” has demonstrated that there IS an interest for classic RPG gameplay.

3. Getting a passionate team together was vital. Like many of you, David Klein grew up playing SSI games on his Apple IIe (then AppleIIGS/Amiga2000/PC). David’s the one that raised an initial round of funding, and then set out to create a company that could recapture the classic games he loved to play. He sought out David Shelley, a lead designer on many of SSI’s games, to lead the design on TSI’s first project. David Shelley was part of a close circle of alumni friends, and he brought in Paul Murray, an engineer and designer of Wizard’s Crown, Eternal Dagger, many Gold Box games, as well as, the Panzer General series. Every member of the team is excited about creating a compelling experience. We’re fortunate to have several former SSI members and other artists and engineers contributing to the ground work for Seven Dragon Saga, a classic RPG for the modern age​

People will ask “why aren’t you (re-)making (insert favorite here)”, instead of Seven Dragon Saga?

The short answer is that it isn’t entirely up to us. We are, however, incredibly excited about the new endeavor we’ve chosen.

Once our core team decided to embark on this venture, the very next question was: “what should we do for our first project?” We knew initially that we wanted to do a fantasy RPG but, we also needed to take a hard look at how the landscape has changed and what our development roadmap would look like. Fortunately, we had an immediate opportunity to work with a robust rule system and game world. The Seven Dragon Saga is the brainchild of David Shelley and Keith Brors (also an SSI alumni and veteran engineer). Both have been part of a weekly tabletop role-playing since before SSI formed. Being engineers and designers, David and Keith have created and refined their own system over the years. Licensing the game to TSI and getting to work on the computer game itself became a tremendous opportunity. TSI gained a developed system to work from, access to its creators, and the creative freedom to make the ideal game.

Opportunities to work with (insert favorite game/RPG system) are a definite possibility for the future.​

The website has an illustration of one of the game's classes, a "Dwarf Knight", who is dressed in an Arabian-styled garb (and is decidely non-animesque, if you were worried about that). There's also a "Pledge Now" button, that currently just leads to Kickstarter's main page. But I guess that confirms this is going to be a Kickstarter.

There are 27 comments on TSI's Seven Dragon Saga CRPG website revealed, confirmed to be crowdfunded

RPG Codex Retrospective Interview: Toshio Sato on StarCraft Inc., Phantasie IV and Tunnels & Trolls

Codex Interview - posted by Crooked Bee on Wed 20 August 2014, 14:12:19

Tags: Phantasie IV; Retrospective Interview; StarCraft Inc.; Toshio Sato; Tunnels & Trolls

Today, Japanese role-playing video games are usually associated either with "JRPGs", exemplified by the likes of Final Fantasy, or with niche Wizardry-inspired dungeon crawlers. The first Dragon Quest game may have been famously conceived as a cross between Wizardry and Ultima, but since then JRPGs have evolved in a different, distinct direction.

There was a time, however, when it seemed that some of the other, more "advanced" kinds of Western computer RPGs might also take root in Japan. The Japanese company that ported the early Ultima games to Japanese computers, StarCraft Inc., also localized other important WRPGs — from Might and Magic to Phantasie to The Magic Candle — which even sold fairly well in the Land of the Rising Sun. In this interview, we talk to Toshio Sato, who worked with StarCraft and programmed many of their important titles. In a way, this is a continuation of our interview with Winston Douglas Wood, the Phantasie creator, since Mr. Sato was part of the team that made the Japanese-only Phantasie IV (which Doug Wood designed himself). Aside from that, Mr. Sato worked on New World Computing's Tunnels & Trolls: Crusaders of Khazan, the only Western RPG to be coded in Japan first and then ported to the West, as well as on many of StarCraft's localizations. There isn't much information in English on StarCraft's history, so we also talk about that in the interview, as well as about the difficulties they had in porting English-language CRPGs to Japanese computer systems. Here are a few snippets:

RPG Codex: You worked on two projects that should be of particular interest to our readers, the Japanese-only Phantasie IV and the Japanese version of Tunnels & Trolls: Crusaders of Khazan. We have a question about Phantasie IV first. In his interview with us, Douglas Wood said that StarCraft were the ones to contact him about doing a fourth game. What were the reasons why StarCraft decided to reach out to Douglas Wood to make a new game - and why the Phantasie series in particular?

Toshio Sato: In comparison to the Japanese RPGs of its time, the Phantasie series had plot, dungeon crawling, events, etc., that were miles better than what was being done then. It was also featured a lot in magazines, and thus its popularity was on the rise. StarCraft ported the Phantasie series starting from the first game. Phantasie III especially got a Macintosh Plus-like interface with icons, mouse and windows which caught the eye of the users. I heard it also received praise from SSI.

With such potential, responding to the fans' enthusiasm, the director made the decision to continue releasing sequels and thus, after the release of Phantasie III, I believe he went into negotiations with SSI and Doug.

RPG Codex: On the projects that you were involved with, what were the main challenges when it came to localizing and porting the Western role-playing games? Was it mostly a smooth process, or did it involve many technical or other difficulties?

Toshio Sato: One of the company's mottoes was "Never make lifeless copies". At that time, Japanese PC monitor resolution was quite high. It felt like a waste to simply port the games, so the main challenge was to make something that would surpass the original [from the technical standpoint].

We had some technical problems with the memory size and the drawing speed. As the resolution was higher, we had more graphical data to compute and so we needed to figure out how to make the drawing speed faster. Again, window and icon systems were new and experimental. We had to match the mouse cursor to the terminal's scan lines refresh timing, meaning we had to find a way for the process to take very little time. Oh yes, we also worked on the data organization to lower the number of floppy disks necessary.

There were other difficulties too. For example, in Might and Magic II, in order to learn how the experience system and the item selling calculations were done, we had to learn the 6502 assembly language from scratch.

Regarding the question about porting, at the time we couldn't just casually get in contact through the internet. We usually met once in America, and then the rest was done by fax... Isn't it hard now to believe how it was done back then?

RPG Codex: To what extent do you think these RPGs that you worked on managed to influence the Japanese video gaming landscape? In retrospect, what do you think came of StarCraft’s efforts to bring Western-style, non-Wizardry-like RPGs to Japan?

Toshio Sato: If you look at the Japanese game industry as a whole, I don't think my work had a big influence. However, I think what we did was make the yet-unknown game company New World Computing into a recognized name in Japan, although I don't think that's such an achievement.

RPG Codex: To build on the previous questions, although they were a huge fever in the late 80's and early 90's, Western RPGs' popularity in Japan seems to have declined afterwards. What changed, the games or the audience?

Toshio Sato: I cannot tell you much about that, but I can at least tell you three things:

-First, the RPG genre was getting overcrowded, game development was rushed and the product quality dwindled.
-Secondly, the new fad was simulation games.
-Then there is the hardware. In the 90s, Sega and Sony changed their business from consumer goods to game development platforms. Nintendo also released the Super Famicon, but as far as small development companies are concerned, the fact was that the best platform to develop for became the Playstation.

Furthermore, as the players' age group shifted, mature RPGs became less and less popular.​

Read the full interview: RPG Codex Retrospective Interview: Toshio Sato on StarCraft Inc., Phantasie IV and Tunnels & Trolls

There are 12 comments on RPG Codex Retrospective Interview: Toshio Sato on StarCraft Inc., Phantasie IV and Tunnels & Trolls

Tue 19 August 2014
Serpent in the Staglands Kickstarter Update: Pre-buffing, Incantations, New Video

Game News - posted by Crooked Bee on Tue 19 August 2014, 21:24:13

Tags: Serpent in the Staglands; Whalenought Studios

The good-looking pixel art, Darklands- and Baldur's Gate-inspired RPG Serpent in the Staglands has a new Kickstarter update, talking about pre-buffing, incantations, and the upcoming beta. Oh, and it also includes a new video. Here's a little something:

Incantations and Imps

The two aptitudes in the video below demonstrate some ways of augmenting your character and surroundings, of which all of the aptitudes can do with their non-dialogue uses. The incantation book can be used by those with linguistics, and it allows you to type in curses against people, monsters and the environment. The imp is for philosophers, and it allows you to drain stats from fellow party members and boosts your own.

Embracing tactical creativity and giving you fun systems to use/abuse on anyone is an undertaking, and you can bet that’s been taking a while to test properly, but we think has been worth the development time. We’re setting up the game to be a good DM to any party, whether they want to burn down an entire village or kill the one thief hiding out in an inn. Nothing levels with you, so wandering into a high-level area with some good tactics to use can net some well-earned XP.

Pre-Beta and Beta Testing

As we prep the rest of the beta areas, we were hoping to get some help in the form of us sending out our original vertical slice, augmented with all the polish up to this point, to get a few folks thoughts on controls and layout. We’ll pick a few backers at random for this, so if you’re interested in playing around with mechanics, leave a comment letting us know and include the operating system you’re using. Much obliged in advance!

We know we said that the beta would be ready around end of summer, but we decided to re-arrange our timeline a bit and move some polishing and testing to before the beta, so that the game and it's many features would be fully functional and included. With this change, our testers would get the best representation of the game possible for testing the things we'd like them to and what they'd like to give feedback on. Primarily that would be skills, balance, and how many ways they can find to OP their party. This means we'll ultimately have less polish to do down the road than originally planned, and hopefully the beta delay won't affect the release plans by much.​

Check out the full update (which also includes some nice-looking gifs) here, and be sure to vote for SitS on Steam Greenlight.

There are 12 comments on Serpent in the Staglands Kickstarter Update: Pre-buffing, Incantations, New Video

CD Projekt post the full 35 minute Witcher 3 gameplay demo

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Tue 19 August 2014, 21:08:08

Tags: CD Projekt; The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

So, all those Witcher 3 gameplay demos that have been posted lately, that seemed to be part of a larger whole? CD Projekt have finally uploaded the complete, uncut 35 minute demo where they were all taken from. Well, almost all of them - it's actually a continuation of the E3 demo from June. If you've watched all the previously released videos, though, then the new stuff starts at around 29:00, following what we saw in the Downwarren video from last week.

After killing the werewolf, Geralt climbs into a cave where he finds the heart of a twisted "tree spirit". Although it claims to be benevolent, Geralt chooses to kill it. In return, he receives a rather gruesome token from the ealdorman of Downwarren, and on his return to the abode of the Ladies of the Wood, he discovers that they aren't quite as nice as they looked in that tapestry. I'm thinking maybe that wasn't necessarily the right choice to make...

There are 34 comments on CD Projekt post the full 35 minute Witcher 3 gameplay demo

TSI's project revealed to be adaptation of Seven Dragon Saga, a sci-fi wuxia-inspired PnP RPG

Company News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 19 August 2014, 03:18:49

Tags: David Shelley; Seven Dragon Saga; Tactical Simulations Interactive

So, the Tactical Simulations Interactive countdown we reported about last week expired today. In its place, came...another countdown, this time 15 days long. Perhaps realizing that was a bit silly, the TSI folks quickly altered the countdown's website. There's still a countdown, but now something of the nature of the game that will be announced has been revealed there - a reference to something called Seven Dragon Saga. What is Seven Dragon Saga, you ask? Evidently, a pen-and-paper roleplaying game developed by the people behind TSI, an additional SSI veteran by the name of Keith Brors, and a non-SSI vet named Gil Colgate. The latter two also work for MMO developer Cryptic Studios, so I guess this is more of a hobby for them. But don't take my word for it, check out the game's website.

A blog post by David Shelley explains:

Seven Dragon Saga (SDS) is an unpublished paper and pencil fantasy RPG, which and I my friends have been developing for many years. I may a convert it to a single player computer game in the near future, so I thought I would talk about some of the choices we made and the reasoning behind them. I’m hoping the insight into our processes may help others who want to tweak their favorite system or even create their own.

My friends and I are all designers and engineers in the computer game industry, so we approached things from a technical perspective. The system is designed to model many of the cool effects seen in anime and wuxia (foreign martial arts) films. So the feeling is over-the-top fun, but still balanced to provide challenge and interest.
An additional post explains the system's design philosophy:

SDS falls squarely in the simulation category of RPGs, meaning that we have detailed rules covering most aspects of play. Considering our background as computer game designers and engineers, I suppose it isn’t surprising we came down on that side. We find narrative games, where rules are simpler and adjudicated by the GM at play time are fun, but they favor those who can talk best, or manipulate the GM best. Several of our core players are deliberative and structured rules help them get the best out of their characters.

Of course, we have to fight the temptation to create a new algorithm, or create rules which only a computer would keep track of. In a computer version we can have plenty of conditionals, and take into account more variables, but it drains the fun from tabletop play.

We once allowed players to build their attacks from a lot of components (armor piercing x2, extra damage, extra target, etc.), but the min-maxers stopped play to evaluate every situation, and the casual players stuck to the one technique they could remember working. Slow play, big advantage to the min-maxer. Now we allow a single Stunt to modify attacks during the turn. It adds a bit of color and flexibility, without confusing things. And in a computer version we can automate the selection process and give the player just a few attack styles for a given situation.​

You can view all of the system's rules and details on the website, including a brief overview of the campaign setting. Now, how all of this weirdness will come together in the form of a nostalgic Gold Box-like CRPG? That remains to be seen.

There are 23 comments on TSI's project revealed to be adaptation of Seven Dragon Saga, a sci-fi wuxia-inspired PnP RPG

Pillars of Eternity Kickstarter Update #84: Backer Beta Released!

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 19 August 2014, 02:39:15

Tags: J.E. Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity

As you've probably heard by now, the Pillars of Eternity backer beta is finally here, and is already being played by those backers who pledged for it. If you're eligible for a copy, go get your Steam key from the game's portal and join in! The accompanying Kickstarter update has all the details, plus this little greeting from Josh Sawyer in Cologne:

The Nuts and Bolts

The Backer Beta is initially being released only through Steam and only for the Windows platform. We are working hard on bringing Mac and Linux to you guys in the next few weeks. Note that if you are concerned about linking the Backer Beta to the final product, you need not worry -- the Backer Beta is considered a separate product. If you want to participate in the Backer Beta, your final product will not be locked into Steam or Windows.

The first release of the Backer Beta is the build we have put together for the Gamescom convention in Cologne, Germany. What you will be initially playing is what we are showing there. We plan to update the Backer Beta over time to test performance improvements, bug fixes, balance passes, and other changes we'd appreciate your feedback on.

There are no NDAs for those who are participating in the Backer Beta. If you want to share images, videos, or general feedback on content with the public, we appreciate your thoughts and criticism.

To keep up to date on the latest announcements and information on the Backer Beta head over to our Pillars of Eternity Backer Beta announcements forum.

Backer Beta Content

The content of the Backer Beta encapsulates the village of Dyrford and surrounding wilderness and dungeon environments. You will begin by choosing basic difficulty settings (Easy, Normal, Hard, or Path of the Damned), optional modes (Expert and Trial or Iron), and building your character. In the Backer Beta, you have access to all character races and subraces, all classes, and all starting cultures and backgrounds.

You build a character at 1st level, but you will start the game with enough experience to advance to 5th. While we have very few Talents in the Backer Beta, you should be able to get a very good idea of the core functionality of all eleven classes. It is extremely important to us that the fundamentals of each class feel solid before we implement more Talents or move Abilities around.

In addition to the character you make, you will start with a list of four pre-made, intentionally (extremely) generic party members: BB Fighter, BB Rogue, BB Priest, and BB Wizard. The characters are lightly equipped with Fine (quality) gear and set to level 5. None of these characters are companions in the full game and they are under-equipped in terms of overall gear (rings, cloaks, booties, consumables, etc.).

The quests available in the Backer Beta have an artificially-inflated amount of experience points associated with them to ensure you can advance from 5th to 8th level assuming you do everything offered. We want you to advance your characters significantly within the Backer Beta so you get a sense of how the different classes change from level to level.

Other than exploration, conversation, combat, and loot-grabbing, there are other systems you can experiment with in the Backer Beta:
  • Crafting and Enchanting - Crafting allows you to make consumables (food, potions, and scrolls). Enchanting allows you to modify weapons, armor, and shields. Even unique items can have additional effects added.
  • Hiring Adventurers - If you speak with Dengler at the Dracogen Inn, you can ask to hire adventurers, allowing you to make additional party members.
  • Camping Supplies and Inns - Pillars of Eternity primarily uses a resource-based rest system. While "in the field", you can rest using a limited number of Camping Supplies (the number in the corner of the campfire icon near the center/bottom of the main HUD). The number of supplies you can carry is limited by your level of difficulty. However, you may also choose to rest at the Dracogen Inn. Resting in the stables is cheap but provides no additional benefit. The more expensive rooms provide the party with long-term benefits in the form of buffs.
What's Missing?

First, nothing in the Backer Beta has a direct connection to the critical path/main story of Pillars of Eternity. We have intentionally excluded any spoiler content so our backers can play the beta worry-free. None of the quests are connected to the crit path and none of the pre-made companions are going to be in the final game.

Second, the stronghold mechanics aren't in the Backer Beta. The stronghold includes a lot of additional maps, characters, and content, some of which are part of the critical path. Including them would have been difficult and the scope would have increased a great deal.

Finally, no content above 8th level is in the Backer Beta. If some bits and pieces wind up in the Backer Beta data, they have not been a focus for us at all. You may, through the magic of h4x, find a way to access them, but they are out of scope for these tests.​

The full update has details on the sort of backer feedback Obsidian is particularly interested in, a list of currently known issues with the beta, and also a plea for civility in the forums. Yeah, good luck with that, Obsidian. Let the fun begin!

There are 5 comments on Pillars of Eternity Kickstarter Update #84: Backer Beta Released!

Mon 18 August 2014
Dead State Kickstarter Update #46: New gameplay video, beta next week

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 18 August 2014, 23:05:11

Tags: Dead State; DoubleBear Productions

Today's Dead State Kickstarter update is mostly about the game's upcoming second showing at the PAX Prime Indie Megabooth. It does, however, also have some information more relevant to the average gamer. I quote:

We're very excited to announce that DoubleBear Productions will joining the Indie MEGABOOTH at PAX Prime again this year, showcasing Dead State alongside 60+ other awesome indie developers!

You can check out our Indie Megabooth page here: Dead State at IMB Take special note of the new gameplay video, too - it's sort of a sneak preview of new content and features coming in the public beta :) We'll have an exciting professional trailer coming soon that we can't wait to show off, too!

If you'll be at PAX and you'd like to check out the demo, buy a Steam code for a friend, or just say hi, you can find us at Booth #29 in the Indie MEGABOOTH, towards the back of the 4th floor exhibitor area. We're conveniently located by an exit aisle on the right so you can make a quick escape in case of sudden apocalypse ;)

Oh, also be sure to check out Annie's panel while you're at PAX: "Be So Good They Can't Ignore You: Tales of Successful Indies" at the Sandworm Theater on Friday, Aug. 29, at 11:30 a.m. Annie will be talking about her experience in the trenches of the industry along with Fryda Wolf, voice actor; Michelle Juett Silva of Ska Studios; Megan Fox of Glass Bottom Games; and Alix Stolzer of Robot Loves Kitty.

But wait, there's more!

I'm happy to say we appear to be on track for releasing public beta next week, barring any unforeseen complications. We've been working double-time to make sure both Dead State's public beta and our booth at PAX would be as awesome as possible, and we're pretty dang excited to show you everything we've done in the last couple of months! Next week is going to be really crazy for us, so forgive us if there's a bit of radio silence in the meantime. I promise the end results will be worth it :)
Here's that "new gameplay video", which was actually uploaded back on June 4th according to YouTube:

Looks pretty interesting. Why'd you hide it for so long, guys?

There are 10 comments on Dead State Kickstarter Update #46: New gameplay video, beta next week

Sun 17 August 2014
Dex Released on Steam Early Access

Game News - posted by Crooked Bee on Sun 17 August 2014, 12:02:40

Tags: Dex; Dreadlocks Ltd.

Dex is a cyberpunk "sidescroller open-world non-linear RPG" with action combat, which looks kinda Shadowrun Returns-inspired to me and has now been released on Steam Early Access.

Explore the futuristic city of Harbor Prime and meets its many inhabitants, answer the challenges the city has to offer, roam the neon-lit streets, and augment your character with skills and implants.

Designed as a tribute to the classic RPGs from the ‘90s, updated for a modern audience, Dex invites you to become part of a living, breathing cyberpunk universe as you decide which ultimate path you will embrace.

The current version is limited in both content and features. Right now it is a small tour of the cyberpunk universe we are crafting. You can do a couple of quests and visit a handful of locations in the city of Harbor Prime. After that you’ll be able to follow along with the development as we progress.

We expect the final version of the game to be released by the end of 2014. However, the exact launch date and total development time will depend, to some extent, on the input and feedback we receive from the community.

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The current Early Access version is still very early in development, though, with only a handful of NPCs, quests, etc., available.

Thanks almondblight!

There are 29 comments on Dex Released on Steam Early Access

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