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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?

Pathfinder: Kingmaker Codex Fundraiser - Better Late Than Never

Community - posted by Infinitron on Tue 11 July 2017, 21:44:28

Tags: Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

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Chris Avellone and some crazy Russians are colluding collaborating to develop Pathfinder: Kingmaker, the world's first Pathfinder CRPG, and as usual the Codex has decided to get involved. Yes, we're starting this a day before the end of the Kickstarter campaign. Hey, I'm new to this shit. Our fundraiser is already off to a good start, though. Here's what we stand to get:

$750 - Create an Item
$1,000 - Create Party Banter
$1,500 - Create a Spell
$1,750 - Create a Book
$2,000 - Create a Creature
$2,500 - Create an NPC's Face
$3,000 - Create a Statue
$4,000 - Create a Quest
$5,000 - Create a Building or NPC
$7,500 - Create a Secret Lair
$10,000 - Moscow Golden Shower Party
The possibilities are endless! But wait, you ask, what's in this for me? The answer is "everything"! The generous folks at Owlcat have agreed to grant our donors exactly what they would have gotten for an equal-sized Kickstarter pledge. That means:

$28 - Digital Download
$40 - Premium Digital Download
$55 - Boxed Edition
$95 - Early Access
And numerous additional tiers which you can read about on the Kickstarter page. The great thing is, Owlcat have also promised to provide donors with accounts on their backer portal, which means you'll have complete control over your pledge and won't have to bug us for your keys when the game comes out. What's not to like?

Donate now, and let's make the Stolen Lands great again. The fundraiser will run for a month, until August 10th.

There are 169 comments on Pathfinder: Kingmaker Codex Fundraiser - Better Late Than Never

Tue 25 July 2017
Copper Dreams Kickstarter Update #16: Ticks and Tiles

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 25 July 2017, 23:52:31

Tags: Copper Dreams; Whalenought Studios

Joe and Hannah of Whalenought Studios broke the summer daze this morning with a new Copper Dreams Kickstarter update. It's all about the the game's combat system, which has continued to evolve and is now quite unrecognizable from its original concept. The elaborate turn schedule of previous iterations has been replaced with quick micro-turns that Whalenought are calling "ticks". The result is a combat system that resembles nothing so much as an isometric, tile-based version of the experimental shooter Superhot. The update includes numerous animated GIFs of the tick mechanic in action, although only one of them shows a combat situation:


As we mentioned in the last update, the gameplay wasn't feeling as impactful towards the goal of being able to react to enemy turns on the fly. There also wasn't a way to clearly visualize these elements. It was competent on paper and execution — turns for players/NPCs just take a variable amount of time on the combat bar to execute, however, wait times, lack of clarity of predicting enemy turns and not wanting to get stuck in a long turn during combat was hampering player actions, encouraging you to play too carefully. There was the promise of reactivity in turns, but gameplay and use of time just wasn't allowing it. Ticks, tiles and shorter phases allow the player to have the intel to make more calculated and reactive decisions.

The ruleset we had described in our original Kickstarter pitch has been a difficult one to find just the right gameplay for. The original idea had the essential premise of the turn-based model with just staggering turn order. Players and NPCs took turns when they were able to, and these took various amounts of time to perform and recover from, and could be temporarily interrupted. These actions were all displayed on a single timeline.

What we've implemented instead is a solution that replaces the general idea of ‘time’ with chunks of time for actions we call ticks. We also brought back tiles to quantify distance, in the pursuit of clarity.

Ticks are represented by a quarter second of gameplay, but are abstract in that longer animations can play-out during these, or multiple hits shown off individually. So behind the scene, these play out like regular turns where gameplay they appear as more linear time.

Importantly, on a bar with other combatants these are super easy to compare. If an enemy is targeting you with a pistol and takes 3 ticks to aim, and 4 to recover from, you have the insight to know to start running and to attack after their bullet is airborne, as it obviously won't follow you. So with ticks, you can quantify how long your action will take compared to your enemy’s actions, allowing you to plan your moves and have the payoff of dodging and taking cover.

In Turn Mode, which can be toggled whenever you want and is automatically turned on in combat, after any action you take recovers, the world pauses for you to take another turn. We’ve somewhat reformatted the UI to make this snappier, and there’s no longer a confirm button for using an action. Once selected, your actions cannot be interrupted or changed, so gameplay is quite a bit quicker.

The new layout also makes it simple to assess when and where bullets and thrown objects are headed. When it’s your turn you can see what direction they’ll be flying at and start to get the feel for how fast they travel.

With these changes the gameplay really has hit its stride, and we’re very happy with it. We hope you enjoy the flow of combat and all intense roll-under action during the alpha.​

Also included in the update is an overview of some of Copper Dreams' new features (which include swimming!) and a very thorough description of its damage and healing mechanics. Classic Whalenought stuff. They're promising a proper gameplay video in the next couple of weeks.

There are 4 comments on Copper Dreams Kickstarter Update #16: Ticks and Tiles

Wed 19 July 2017
Larian Studios RPG Survey

Company News - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Wed 19 July 2017, 09:31:19

Tags: Larian Studios

Achtung, citizens of RPG CODEX.

It has come to my attention that, according to this twitter post, Larian Studios is currently conducting an RPG survey. We love surveys.
It is important to teach them the eternal truth that isometric, turn-based, tactical combat games are the bestest RPG games, so everybody go there and give them this valuable advice.

You can find the survey here.

Thanks, jerf.

There are 81 comments on Larian Studios RPG Survey

Sun 16 July 2017
The New World Update #17: Status Report, Art Pipeline Overview

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Sun 16 July 2017, 16:45:53

Tags: Colony Ship RPG; Iron Tower Studios; Vault Dweller

What, another The New World development update after only two weeks? Yes, indeed. It's another technical update - I guess those don't take too long to put together. It includes an overview of how the game has changed since June and a description of Iron Tower's new and improved art pipeline.

Our next milestone is the combat demo (don't ask me when), which is practically a game in itself as it requires pretty much everything: the character system, the combat system (attacks and NPCs' AI and pathfinding), the armor system, the gadgets, inventory, two hundred items (give or take) just to get the ball rolling, the interface, and god knows what else. It's a very complex task with a lot of moving parts that take awhile to define and even longer to implement. Here is Nick's status update:

Now, more detailed changelog since end of June:

- The core element of combat system - attacks, stored and edited in a data table. Open "AttacksDB" asset in ContentGameplayCombatAttacks to check it out. Configure an attack, then when editing a weapon, assign all the attacks it supports;
- General TNW animation system setup;
- Game states and player input states: game running, paused, busy (like when you see the hourglass cursor). The AI shouldn't think when the game is not running, the player shouldn't spam commands when PC is in the middle of attacking, that kind of stuff;
- Interactive cursor, proper cursor scales and hotspots;
- Setting up the human animation state machine. Simply put, it's a network of nodes and connections between them, where a node is animation type (idle, aiming, attacking, dying, etc) and the connection is a rule which controls the transition between nodes;
- Added idle animations, implemented triggering idle variations;
- Coded in combat structure, phases, implemented combat start/end;
- Added pistol and rifle animation sets;
- Implemented relative aiming and full body rotations towards enemy, wrote a framework of math functions to support that;
- Unified the world interactive objects within one class hierarchy;
- Pathfinding update: made characters path around each other in realtime movement, instead of bumping into one another. Finally got to implementing characters occupying (owning) tiles in the combat mode (see red squares on grid), updated grid object instanced mesh components to visually reflect that;

As you can see, most of this stuff sounds pretty basic, but every item on this list is a leap forward and a critical piece of game infrastructure.
Now that "where the game's at?" question has been answered, let's look at our art pipeline. Years ago Brian Mitsoda asked me about our art pipeline. I proudly told him that our pipeline's name is Oscar, but that was a long time ago and things have changed since then:

Step 1 is a rough Excel layout. Step 2 is a rough in-engine layout. Step 3 is painting over each building to define the overall look, lights, and assets needed:

[​IMG] [​IMG]

Step 4 - the assets:

[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

Step 5 - put it all together but we aren't there yet (we won't do it until the entire location is defined and all the assets are done, which would take a couple of months).

While it's not what Obsidian is doing with Deadfire, it's a big improvement over AoD and not just in terms of the overall visuals but also in terms of making the ship's environments more memorable. Hopefully you'll be pleasantly surprised.​

Sounds like the basics are coming together nicely. There's an official website now, too. Hopefully things will continue to progress smoothly.

There are 23 comments on The New World Update #17: Status Report, Art Pipeline Overview

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Tower of Time, Early Access Release

Game News - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Sun 16 July 2017, 12:01:46

Tags: Event Horizon; Tower of Time

Event Horizon, a small Indie developer from Poland (the land that gave us Mirek Klose and The Witcher) released their game Tower of Time on Steam Early Access.

Tower of Time is a classic RPG with a unique real-time combat system where tactics are as important as equipment. Explore the Tower, buried underground for millennia, and uncover the history of times long gone and the mystery of why your land is dying.​

Here's the trailer:

The game has orsum graffix and some additional features:
  • Engaging story – set in a world where technology met magic with devastating consequences. Hundreds of lore books and scattered pieces of information slowly reveal the history of Artara as the protagonist approaches his fate.
  • Find secret locations, cleverly hidden in the environment. Travel through hand-crafted levels where every single place is carefully designed. Discover forgotten scrolls and guess their powers based on the cryptic description. Meet various NPCs, some native to the world and some coming from… strange places.
  • Advanced combat system – unique real-time action with a slow-time feature, where each match is played on one of many separate tactical maps and where even most powerful champions can fail without refined tactics. Plan ahead and position your party accordingly. Use slow-time to react to new threats or negate enemy skills. Converse your magic energy and survive all enemy waves. No two encounters are ever the same.
  • There are seven classes to choose from, and your party can be adjusted at will and anytime, depending on the challenges you face. Each champion has unique skills that can be upgraded and re-trained at will. Those upgrades often change the nature of the skills. For example, your Summon Elemental skill can either be a durable melee Ent with high health and armor or a fragile Water Elemental with devastating range attack. (In Early Access six champions are available, as the seventh joins your party at lower levels).
  • New character progression system: there is no experience to gain. Instead, discover ancient knowledge to unlock new skills and carefully design your characters. Each character could be turned into a powerful and durable attacker or a skill-based champion.
  • Defeat powerful elite enemies wielding diverse skills and spells. Assess their strengths and weaknesses carefully to succeed. Complete combat challenges for item rewards and unique enchanting recipes, or just to test your new party setup.
  • Gather crafting crystals of various types to create items of different power. Discover ancient enchanting recipes that, while very expensive, can change the nature of the combat, granting regeneration aura or immunity to special effects.
  • Upgrade your city as the main training/equipment hub and repository of all the lore you find.
Thanks, Goral.

There are 22 comments on Tower of Time, Early Access Release

Fri 14 July 2017
Underrail Dev Log #53: Expedition Gameplay Video

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 14 July 2017, 01:11:20

Tags: Stygian Software; Underrail; Underrail: Expedition

Today Styg published the first new Underrail development update in quite some time. It appears that development on the Expedition expansion is well underway. With no more new features to introduce, the only thing left is to show some gameplay footage. The video is a rough sequence of various scenes from the expansion, starting out with an expedition into the depths of a monster-infested cave and finishing with what appears to be a stealthy rescue operation in a pirate base. Check it out:

Hi guys.

Just wanted to let you all know that, even though we've been quiet, we're working hard on getting all the content for the expansion done, now that all the new mechanics have been implemented. The good news is that the the bulk of the main quest, including all the heavy scripting, c&c, etc, is complete and functioning (for the most part, it needs further testing, of course).

For those who just can't wait to get to explore the Black Sea themselves, here's a short video from the recent internal testing that we've done (this is NOT a trailer). It does contain some spoilers, though we tried to censor the important stuff, so be warned.

Anyway, that's it for now guys. Let us know what you think.
I hope this means the expansion is still coming out this year. The first half of 2017 has come and gone.

There are 32 comments on Underrail Dev Log #53: Expedition Gameplay Video

Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates, a phase-based RPG set in a flooded Neo-Victorian New York

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 14 July 2017, 00:09:55

Tags: Coin Operated Games; Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates

Suddenly, a new challenger appears on the oldschool RPG scene! A New Hampshire studio by the name of Coin Operated Games has announced Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates, an isometric RPG set in an alternate Neo-Victorian (steampunk basically) New York City that has been utterly flooded by rising oceans. Empyre's unique feature is what the developers are calling a "hybrid Real Time/Turn-based System", which seems to be similar to Frozen Synapse's phase-based combat. All of this is explained in the announcement trailer and accompanying press release, which are available on the game's official website:

Auburn, New Hampshire – July 12, 2017 – Coin Operated Games announces today that its upcoming Neo-Victorian RPG Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates, will be coming to Steam players this fall. Currently in development by a team of industry veterans from such influential companies as Crytek, Codemasters, Gameloft and Creative Assembly, Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates is a top-down isometric RPG that takes place in a Neo-Victorian New York circa 1911. The game’s first trailer can be viewed at

water is everywhere but none of it to drink…

Featuring a top-down isometric presentation, Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates will rekindle old-school PC RPG fans with feelings of some of the classic story driven RPGs of the 90s. While the combat should feel familiar to veteran players, there’s a new twist in that the game uses a hybrid Real Time/Turn-based System. Players can enter a “Planning Mode” where they choose actions for each character in their party while combat is paused, and when entering into the “Action Mode” all characters will perform simultaneously, giving players complete control over their party while presenting a streamlined combat system that eliminates waiting for each character to act in sequence.

Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates is the story of an alternate New York in which the entire city is flooded by rising oceans and the citizens must learn to live in a new reality where there is water everywhere, but none of it possible to drink. The player must make their way in search of a fresh water supply source, picking up companions along the journey. But the trip won’t be easy, as there are many threats both human and inhuman that players will encounter.

“One of the things we strove for when designing Empyre is authenticity during an ‘Age of Technical Wonder’ in the United States, the Gilded Age,” said John Randall, Creative Director of Empyre. “For example, the New York City we all know is the city in this game, and history buffs will recognize many iconic locations that existed in the city during the 1910s, but with a unique, waterlogged twist. People and society exist and act as they did in the early 20th Century. We feel this level of detail will give players a one-of-a-kind experience that they haven’t seen anywhere before.”

Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates pays homage to historic accounts by adding authentic items such as patent medicines including poisons or tonics made from dangerous ingredients. Many of the games’ objectives and side quests will tie directly into the experiences that someone in the 19th century would have. The game’s authenticity reflects scenes from New York during the 1900s, while tying the storyline to current day themes such as global warming and the rising of the oceans.

Currently in development by Coin Operated Games, Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates will be available via Steam this fall. More information will be shared in the coming weeks once the waters die down…

For more product information, visit, on Facebook at, Twitter at #nowatertodrink and on YouTube at
That's right, the game is coming out this year. I'm not sure what to think about it right now, but I suppose we'll be learning more about it very soon.

There are 58 comments on Empyre: Lords of the Sea Gates, a phase-based RPG set in a flooded Neo-Victorian New York

Thu 13 July 2017
Pillars of Eternity II Josh Sawyer Q&A Stream #6

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Thu 13 July 2017, 22:06:58

Tags: Aarik Dorobiala; Dimitri Berman; J.E. Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Josh Sawyer ran another Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Q&A stream on Twitch last night. His guest star this time was lead character artist Dimitri Berman, so in addition to the usual assortment of queries about the game's new features, mechanics and balance, there were also a bunch of questions about character hairstyles (including orlan fuzz). I didn't stay up to watch the entire thing, but it looks like it was fun:

Once again, Fereed from Reddit has provided a transcript, so you don't have to watch the stream yourself to get all the details. Somebody should give that guy a reward.

There are 3 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Josh Sawyer Q&A Stream #6

Warren Spector Interview on IGN Unfiltered

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Thu 13 July 2017, 21:42:33

Tags: Deus Ex; Deus Ex: Invisible War; Ion Storm; Looking Glass Studios; Origin Systems; OtherSide Entertainment; System Shock; System Shock 3; Thief: Deadly Shadows; Thief: The Dark Project; Ultima Underworld; Underworld Ascendant; Warren Spector

With Matt Barton's show seemingly on semi-hiatus, IGN Unfiltered has unexpectedly become one of the best sources for in-depth RPG developer interviews. This month they interviewed Deus Ex creator and industry veteran Warren Spector. This time, the interview was published as one long 65 minute video. It runs the gamut of Warren's career, starting from his beginnings as a D&D enthusiast who one day had a fateful meeting with Richard Garriott. The interviewer spends some time on Ultima Underworld, System Shock and Thief, but the bulk of the interview is dedicated to two topics - the development of the original Deus Ex (interesting) and Warren's lifelong relationship with Disney (not so interesting, but Warren strongly disagrees). Did you know that when Warren received the offer from John Romero to join Ion Storm, he was literally moments away from signing a contract with EA to develop a Command & Conquer RPG?

The interviewer spends only a few minutes on Warren's latest work with OtherSide Entertainment, but he does have a couple of things to say about it. First, like of all Warren's games, System Shock 3 will do something that no other game has done before, and he's already figured what that is. Second, Underworld Ascendant's vertical slice will be coming out "soon" and it looks totally different and much better than what we've seen until now. We shall see, Warren, we shall see.

There are 12 comments on Warren Spector Interview on IGN Unfiltered

Wed 12 July 2017
Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #34: Funded, Goblin Companion Unlocked

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 12 July 2017, 23:00:03

Tags: Alexander Mishulin; Alexey Drobyshevsky; Oleg Shpilchevsky; Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

Just a few days ago some people were sure the Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter campaign wouldn't reach $800k of funding. Well, the campaign concluded last night with a total of $918,313 including PayPal. Chris Avellone's goblin companion is in. Owlcat's celebratory Kickstarter update explains what'll happens next:

After 35 days of the most intensive ride in our life, 18,508 backers (157 from backer portal), over 4,000 comments, and a final total of $918,313 (plus $9,256 from PayPal), the Kickstarter campaign for Pathfinder: Kingmaker has come to an end!

Simply saying that we are grateful would me a massive understatement. We're not gonna lie - of course preparing for our campaign felt exciting, but the very idea can also be rather scary! You can never be completely sure whether or not people will like your idea. Will people be as passionate about a Pathfinder cRPG as we are? Will we have enough time and reach to gain credibility? All these concerns made us very nervous. When we clicked the "Publish" button on Kickstarter it was a leap of faith.

You filled us with a new level of motivation. Every single day of the Kickstarter campaign your enthusiasm and support has reassured us and given us hope. You have eradicated all doubt - we know for sure that our ideas are appreciated. It's like learning that you are not alone in the universe. :)

And all your comments and feedback - we feel extremely excited to read and collaborate on what you share with us. That was one of the main dreams of the entire campaign - to bring the future community of fans into the heart of the development process.

By any measure, you helped us exceed our expectations and we are grateful beyond limits to you for you present us with chance to spend a magic year developing the game we dreamed of!

What's Next?

Now comes the best part - we have to complete the game! We had a strong vision, an experienced team and great support from Paizo. Now with your endorsement, the last part of the puzzle is put in place. We feel a lot of responsibility to both deliver on our vision and satisfy your expectations. That won't be easy but with your help we believe nothing can stop us.
Some of you asked if there will be any delays to our planned release, now that we've knocked out all those stretch goals. Fear not! We are going to involve some new people in the coming months to be able to implement new features and content and and do the best to keep the deadline intact.

Alpha tests

We will strive to start alpha tests as soon as possible. As inevitably as Fall comes, those of you who have access to the alpha test stage will receive an invitation to share your thoughts with us about our early version. If you're a Mac or Linux player, please understand what there won't be enough time to release an alpha client for your version.

Backer portal

For those of you how wanted to support us, but didn't have a chance, we will also continue to raise money on our own portal. Right now not all tiers are represented - we are going to complete our tier list and add limited tiers on the portal in several days after the Kickstarter campaign will be over. Our preorder page accepts PayPal and other means of payment. We will continue to add new stretch goals as we can. Please be aware that reward prices will be changed after the Kickstarter campaign ends.

Pretty soon all backers will be able to manage their pledges on our portal. You will get an e-mail with a link to the Pathfinder: Kingmaker backer portal and all required instructions. On the site, you will be able to confirm your pledge and customize your options, like shirt sizes, for any reward you have chosen.

Of course, we will continue to openly post about development, as we do during the campaign. And if you want to stay informed, please follow our: Facebook page, Twitter and YouTube channel.
As I said yesterday, this was definitely a content-dense campaign, and it's hard to fault it even if it didn't blow up as much as other crowdfunding campaigns have. Owlcat even lined up another stretch goal for $1.1M an hour before the campaign ended, to expand the game's lawful evil Hellknights faction. It makes me wonder what they would have added if the campaign had broken into the millions of dollars. I don't know if there's any chance of reaching that goal with post-campaign PayPal funding, but the $1M new race stretch goal might still be a possibility. You can help Owlcat reach it by contributing to our fundraiser, which is now apparently the cheapest place on the Internet to acquire a copy of Kingmaker. Tell all your friends about it!

There are 19 comments on Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #34: Funded, Goblin Companion Unlocked

Tue 11 July 2017
Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #37: Josh Sawyer Social Media Feature Compilation #2

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Tue 11 July 2017, 23:58:53

Tags: J.E. Sawyer; Katrina Garsten; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Obsidian promised there would be another Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Fig update in mid-July and they've delivered. It's another compilation video of the various new features that Josh Sawyer has teased on his social media feeds over the past month. Highlights include spell effects that become transparent when you pause the game, birds that fly or walk on the ground depending on the distance they need to travel, and my personal favorite, beer-chugging flamethrower ogres. Katrina Garsten once again presents, although not without unexpected intrusions:

As stated in the previous update, Josh will be on Obsidian's Twitch channel tomorrow at 16:00 PST to answer questions, joined by lead character artist Dimitri Berman. Deadfire's next Fig update will be in a few weeks and will offer an in-depth look at the game's main city, Neketaka.

There are 17 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #37: Josh Sawyer Social Media Feature Compilation #2

Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #31: Archetypes Unlocked, New Race Stretch Goal

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 11 July 2017, 20:27:33

Tags: Alexander Mishulin; Chris Avellone; Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

Last night Owlcat Games broadcast some Pathfinder: Kingmaker on their Twitch channel. It was a solid hour and fifty minutes of gameplay, with commentary from Chris Avellone and creative director Alexander Mishulin. It's about time - if you ask me, they should have been showing the game off from the very beginning. It looks nice, with a deliberately slow pace that will appeal to some people. The stream was uploaded to Owlcat's YouTube channel a few hours ago:

Now we're in the final stretch of the Kickstarter campaign. It hit $800k of funding earlier today, unlocking the archetypes stretch goal. I'm not sure there's time to reach the $900k goblin companion stretch goal that was announced on Sunday before the campaign ends, but that hasn't stopped Owlcat from following their routine and announcing one final $1M dollar stretch goal. Should the campaign somehow raise that amount (perhaps after the campaign via PayPal), a new race will be added to the game. Which race, you ask? The backers will decide that. The Kickstarter update explains:

WOW! It took just a little more than one day to fund the Archetypes! You are absolutely incredible!

Now, not only the narrative designers run around the office with ideas about the Extra chapter, but all system designers also rub their hands in anticipation — oh those mighty builds they would love to add to the game. Post your comments and let us know what would you prefer to play!

Our excitement goes through the roof - with your overwhelming support, we feel like there are no limits to the expansion of the game! And as we start our race towards the Goblin companion, it is time to reveal one more stretch goal for you. It is just one day left on Kickstarter, but let’s see how far we can go!

We believe that a maximum character variety is paramount, and races are an aspect we haven’t addressed yet in the stretch goals. We are happy to cover the basic set of playable races - human, dwarfs, half-elves, elves, half-orcs, gnomes, halflings – nevertheless, we would love to deepen the character customization even more.

So (drumroll!) the $1.0M stretch goal is… a New playable race!

And to make it even more fun, we have another surprise for you. It seems we can't make up our minds about which race to add; too many temptations... So let us turn to YOU for this decision! We will provide three options that match the Pathfinder: Kingmaker best, and let you select your favorite through a poll. The races to choose from are still in discussion with our partners from Paizo, but we will come up with the available options as soon as we start funding for that goal.
Determined to make as much of their time as possible, Owlcat published another Kickstarter update today to discuss the art design of Kingmaker's characters. This has definitely been a high effort campaign. Sometimes it was strangely amateurish, but it always had something to show. This is probably the last update we're going to post before the game is funded, but the Codex isn't done with Kingmaker yet. We've arranged for a last minute Codex fundraiser to get something cool into the game. Stay tuned for more details about that.

There are 5 comments on Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #31: Archetypes Unlocked, New Race Stretch Goal

Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #29: Book Events, Upcoming Gameplay Stream

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 11 July 2017, 02:00:55

Tags: Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

The Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter campaign is about to enter its final 24 hours, and is well on its way towards reaching the coveted $800k archetypes stretch goal. Owlcat are amping up their promotional efforts now. They recently concluded another Reddit AMA with Chris Avellone and Alexander Mishulin, and in a few hours they're going to stream some gameplay from the prototype on their Twitch channel (also with Chris and Alex). As far as regular updates go though, there have been a few things worth pointing out as well. This morning Owlcat published a Kickstarter update with a new music track. It's a folk-inspired tune by a local musician named Dmitry Silantyev that will play in one of the game's cities.

And later today they published another Kickstarter update that goes into detail about Kingmaker's "book events", Owlcat's take on Pillars of Eternity's scripted interactions. Here's an excerpt:

There are two main types of interactions in the game aside from battle: dialogue and manipulating various objects. These interactions are usually further enhanced with elements like skill checks (try Disable Device on a locked chest) or small puzzle-like elements (figure out the sequence of a combination lock). But sometimes even combinations of these things are not enough to depict the event. When we were playing Pillars of Eternity a lot of us enjoyed their approach to special narrative events that were presented on scrolls, which didn't just contain text, but also used pictures. So it was natural that when we started discussing how we wanted to make events in Kingmaker come to life, we decided to take a similar route for some of them. And we wanted to take this approach even further.

Let us travel to the River Ford in South Narlmarches where gnomes are under attack by kobolds. Not only are they desperately trying to save their lives, but they also struggle to protect the cart of Jubilost Narthropple - leader of their expedition. Initially, you will come across several kobold squads, which will confront both the gnomes and your party. After you deal with the kobolds, a new challenge appears - saving the cart that is toppling into the water.

Interaction with the cart starts a new type of event, something we refer to as a "book event" in our game. You can try to help the gnomes right away, but it's not an easy task. While the gnomes are still holding the cart, you can explore the whole location to find items that can help. In this case you may discover a crowbar and a rope - or, being the resourceful adventurer that you are, perhaps you planned ahead and already thought to bring these valuable items along with you. Looking around the area you can also find ponies, which ran away from the cart. Your party may attempt to calm them with a skill check. All those actions will improve your chances to save the cart by decreasing the difficulty as well as providing new actions in the book event for the final check (for example by using the crowbar as a lever with a successful <Physique>/<Strength> check).

Your actions in battle can also have an impact on the event. While fighting the kobolds, you can make sure to protect the gnomes. Of course you could also just nuke the kobolds with area effects and take down a few gnomes along with them as collateral damage. However, each surviving gnome can lend their strength to your effort so save the cart, further decreasing the difficulty check, so you better think twice before blowing up some potential helpers!

By offering you all these possibilities we're letting you handle this encounter the way you want. If one solution doesn't work for you, we're giving you other options. If, for instance, your party fails to calm down the ponies, you could still enhance Amiri's strength with magic and let her use the crowbar. Compensate for your weaknesses in some departments with your strengths in others.
The rest of the update describes the evolution of the book event UI. The black & white art is pretty great. Kind of reminds of the mission briefing art from Myth 2: Soulblighter.

There are 4 comments on Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #29: Book Events, Upcoming Gameplay Stream

Mon 10 July 2017
DEMIURGOS, an alternate history RPG-adventure set in a modern Ancient Greece, now on Kickstarter

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 10 July 2017, 23:42:38

Tags: DEMIURGOS: Path of the Leviathan

The eagle-eyed CryptRat first spotted DEMIURGOS: Path of the Leviathan on Steam Greenlight back in May. It's an "RPG-adventure" set in an alternate history in which the cultures of the ancient Greek world exist in a noirish mid-20th century industrial dystopia. It's a world riven by philosophical and social conflicts. To be honest, there's no other way to describe this game but "pretentious". It makes No Truce With The Furies look like casual fare. But it's not all talk. DEMIURGOS' creator, a German (because of course he is) known only as Daniel Bill, has just launched a Kickstarter campaign for it, and instead of a pitch video he's delivered a 21 minute(!) alpha gameplay demonstration. It reveals a remarkably impressive-looking game, focused mainly on dialogue and choice, although unlike No Truce it does have a turn-based combat system.

DEMIURGOS: Path of the Leviathan is a semi-historical, story and decision driven, dislinear game about Social Science, Politics and Philosophy that is set in a gradually opening, detailed and large world. The player roams this world and interacts with his environment like in an adventure game. At the same time, a large variety of RPG-Elements and -Mechanics like skills, quests, shops and turn based battles are implemented. The game's universe itself is a composite of the political ancient Greece during the Persian wars and the European "long 19. Century"; a time of political and social disturbances. After the downfall of the feudal system, great persons tried to build a completely new order upon its ruins that was to be ruled not by god or tradition, but by the ingenuity of mankind itself. Dominating questions and tendencies of that time ranged from Collectivism and Individualism on one side, Pluralism and Totalitarianism on the other. To take his place in history, make important decisions, struggle for the true order and change the world in its foundations: these are the tasks the player is destined to tackle in the course of the game.

  • Experience a gripping action thriller with 9 varying and 3 distinctly different endings.
  • Nearly every action influences the course of history – often considerably and sometimes substantially.
  • You are no nameless hero.
  • You are Achos Polikron – first commissioner of messenai –known to the Politeia for his zealous fervor and great virtue.
  • As a powerful individual you step into an unstable world and it is your destiny to fight for true order on this planet.
Turn-Based Battle System
  • Fight for your cause, using a turn-based battle system that is easy to learn but tough to master.
  • Actions available to you during battle are influenced and determined by your equipment, your surroundings and your prior decisions.
  • Vaporize your enemy using Teslas lightning cannon, seek a dialogue with your ideological adversary or frighten him with your reputation based on past achievements.
Alchemy & Crafting
  • Use the powers of alchemy for your purposes. Prepare potions, explosives or ointments that are essential for your physical and psychological condition.
  • Combat the results of mental maladies with the means of modern medicine; for depressions and anxieties can haunt even the emotionally strong - if entangled in constant fighting and suffering.
  • The odds in combat can be increased by improving your armory.
  • Construct new weapons or modify the ones already available to you.
This game is really something. I almost can't believe it exists. The Kickstarter is seeking only €8,000, and you can get yourself a copy for just €10, but barely anybody has pledged. I really hope more websites pick up on this. If the campaign does succeed, DEMIURGOS is scheduled to come out on February 2019.

There are 135 comments on DEMIURGOS, an alternate history RPG-adventure set in a modern Ancient Greece, now on Kickstarter

Sword Legacy: Omen, a tactical RPG set in a weird Arthurian Britain

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 10 July 2017, 21:45:56

Tags: Firecast Studio; Sword Legacy: Omen; Team17

Sword Legacy: Omen is an upcoming turn-based tactical RPG from Brazilian indie developer Firecast Studio, that's set in a weird technologically advanced ("candlepunk") version of Arthurian Britain called "Broken Britannia". Well, pre-Arthurian actually. It appears to be a kind of prequel to the legend of King Arthur, with a grimdark Uther Pendragon as its main character. The game has actually been in development since 2014, but only popped up on our radar now due to the recent announcement of a publishing deal with Team17 (yeah, the Worms guys). It's got an official website and there's a press release with more details floating around, but the best source of information about Sword Legacy I've been able to find is this old press kit site. But first, the new trailer:


A once-thriving kingdom full of alchemical and technological advances, now fragmented by intrigue and deceit. When murder and betrayal assault the lord of Mercia, a guilt-ridden knight and an eldritch sorcerer set on a journey of vengeance to discover the mysterious origin of a plague and dispense justice by fulfilling an ancient prophecy.

These are dark times. The lord of Mercia has been assassinated, your love kidnapped, and your home is no more. As the leader of the party, you assume the role of Uther and his seven companions. Throughout your quest, you will have to face many trials and forge uneasy alliances in order acquire the mythical Excalibur sword and defeat the sinister and power-obsessed duke of Wessex.

Prove your worth as a tactician by exploring all five realms and dangerous locations, such as villages, dungeons, forests, and much more. Survive ambushes and rescue those in need by making use of each character’s abilities to solve riddles and vanquish your foes. It is up to you define the fate of Britannia… but at what cost?

Combat in Sword Legacy: Omen is always a challenge. As a strategist, you will need to plan your course of action with four characters at a time per quest. However, be ready to adapt and improvise because combat results always change based on the chosen abilities and the chances of landing an attack.


  • Tactical Combat: Learn the importance of strategic positioning to unleash powerful talent combos.
  • Free Exploration: When not in combat, investigate the environment, find treasures, solve riddles, and uncover secrets.
  • Party Customization: Adapt characters to your play style, manage your team, and progress by unlocking over 70 unique skills.
  • Hordes of Enemies and Unique Bosses: Fight a variety of vicious mobs and face powerful monsters in grueling battles.
  • Stress System: Use all your might to become victorious, but deplete your willpower and witness your heroes fall prey to panic.
  • Old-School Art Style With a Dark Twist: Relive the beautiful aesthetic of classic animations fused with the visuals of obscure and gothic comics.
  • A Different Take on a Classic Myth: Experience the Arthurian legends as never before, as classic characters and places are revamped, in a mature storyline of vengeance, alchemy and retro technology.
  • Positioning Matters: Strike from high ground, flank your opponents, and use overwatch to always have the upper hand.
  • Interactive Environment: Study your surroundings and make deadly moves by blowing up explosive barrels and pushing enemies off edges.
  • Your heroes are special: Their might exceeds those of ordinary people, so use their willpower to increase stats and get extra Action Points!
  • No one is safe: Be warned, deplete your willpower and risk the consequences of having your heroes fall prey to panic.
  • Overkill: Deal massive damage and perform gruesome assassinations to strike fear into your enemies.
What do you think, Codex? I'd say it could be interesting, or it could be shovelware. Sword Legacy doesn't have a Steam page yet and has apparently missed several previous release dates, but is now supposed to come out sometime this year.

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Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #27: Extra Chapter Unlocked, Goblin Companion Stretch Goal

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 10 July 2017, 01:15:53

Tags: Chris Avellone; Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

The Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter campaign is entering its final 48 hours, and the big money has started pouring in. Earlier today, Owlcat published an interesting Kickstarter update about the Stolen Lands, the region of the Pathfinder world that the game is set in, and the various factions operating there.


To the north lies Brevoy — a turbulent land of byzantine intrigues and generations-long feuds. Stitched together from two different nations, Brevoy never became truly united. Two centuries ago a ruthless warlord known as Choral the Conqueror has taken over Issia and Rostland. These two countries shared a long history of wars, and the warlord united them into a single kingdom, held together by little more than the iron grasp of Choral himself and his noble house Rogarvia. For the following two centuries, the Brevic politics became an undercover power struggle between two former nations' ruling elites: Issian noble houses and Rostland's Aldori Swordlords — a loose association of noble families, bound together by the secrets of the Aldori school of sword fighting and an agreement known as the Swordpact. Decade after decade, these uneasy bedfellows smiled at each other, secretly waiting for the ideal moment to stab each other in the back.

A decade ago, every member of house Rogarvia suddenly disappeared without a trace, leaving behind a power vacuum pregnant with strife that could easily turn into a civil war. Running out of options, the Aldori Swordlords made a risky political move: they helped an unknown adventurer to establish an independent nation in the unclaimed Stolen Lands, hoping to nurture an ally for themselves. Only time will show if this plan will save them, or backfire terribly.

River Kingdoms

A chaotic conglomerate of large and small domains, united by a vast river system, collectively known as the great river Sellen, and by their taste for freedom. There are more than a dozen "kingdoms" with vastly different political systems, ranging from tyranny to anarchy. While the fledgling nation you establish isn't technically one of the River Kingdoms, once you prove yourself a force to be reckoned with, your neighbors will turn their eyes to you.

Your southern neighbor is Mivon — a nation established by Aldori Swordlords who preferred a life in exile to Choral the Conqueror's yoke. Mivon proudly calls itself a meritocracy — a place where only the best are allowed into the positions of power. How do they decide who is the best? Why, by a fair duel, of course! To take a governmental position, one has to fight their way up the List of Suitors, then challenge and defeat the current official.

Beyond your western border is Pitax — a flourishing center of culture and commerce, or a wretched den of smugglers, swindlers, gamblers and talentless hacks, depending on whom you ask. It is ruled by king Irovetti, who won the crown from its previous holder in a game of cards. Cunning, ruthless and vain, Irovetti has expanded Pitax's influence and established the Academy of Grand Arts, hoping to go down in history as a benevolent patron of high culture, not just another crime lord. Unfortunately, his favorite genre of art is "praised be the great lord Irovetti", so the Academy ended up becoming a choir of boot-licking sycophants where it's hard for a talent to flourish. Nevertheless, Pitax has attracted its share of artists, and some of the Academy's former students proudly wear their expulsion from it on their sleeves, as a sign of artistic integrity.


To the northwest lies Numeria — a harsh, unforgiving realm of barren wastelands, littered with wreckage of a metal star ship that crashed here in time immemorial. Numeria has few permanent settlements, as it's populated by nomadic barbarian tribes. Some of them struggle to survive on their own. Some bow to Kevoth-Kul, the self-appointed Black Sovereign of Numeria, and his allies, the mysterious Technic League. Less scrupulous tribes resort to piracy, banditry or even slave trade. More noble tribes sell their blades to the highest bidder. Ferocity of the Numerian mercenaries is well known in the River Kingdoms. And if you hold to your throne for long enough, you'll inevitably meet them — the only question is, will they fight on your side, or against you? ​

That update also includes a video demonstrating the dynamic spell audio system that Owlcat have developed. But there are more important matters to attend to now. The $700k extra story chapter stretch goal has just been unlocked, and it looks like the crucial $800k archetypes stretch goal might just be within reach. For now though, Owlcat are announcing the significantly less likely $900k stretch goal. Taking a page out of Siege of Dragonspear's book, if the campaign reaches that amount, a new companion will be added to the game - Nok-Nok the goblin rogue. Sound silly to you? Well, the new Kickstarter update has a description of him by none other than Chris Avellone.

The goblins of Golarion have a bad reputation, to be sure. Of course, that’s usually the perspective of someone who hasn’t spent much time around goblins and has never seen the positives goblins have to offer.

For example, goblins can be especially devoted. Whether to their four goblin hero-gods, or to you. Of course, their attempts to earn your favor can be much like the family cat leaving dead animals on your door step, except it might be someone’s fingers. Such is the way with our goblin hero Nok-Nok, which is much like the sound his skull makes when his tribesmen beat it with clubs. (Which happened enough that he was mistaken for a drum at times.) He’s not only eager to help, but he’s incredibly effective in tormenting your enemies until they beg for mercy – or a swift death.

At the start of Kingmaker, however, Nok-Nok’s fallen on difficult times – very difficult times, as his tribe intends to use him as a sacrifice. You’re the only one who can save him… and as far as Nok-Nok is concerned, your arrival is divine proof that he’s destined for greatness. He should know, because as he explains, he’s the fifth goblin god, and you’ve earned his favor.

As it turns out, Nok-Nok aspires to be more than a warty, scabby head-drum – he is convinced that he is a deity-to-be. He’s just having some difficulty making anyone else realize it. He can recite many tales of heroics and can expound at great length on how he’s bravely fled from dogs, how he set fire to his own hair when he couldn’t find firewood (he neglected to cut it from his head first), and how he’s learned how to block kicks and punches by using his head as a shield. And that’s just the beginning of his legendary journey to greatness.

Nok-Nok is a skilled thief. He excels in scuttling about, valiantly stabbing enemies in the back, and setting off every trap in the area (so much so, Nok-Nok’s attempts to disarm a trap come very close to being literal – the trap usually threatens to dis-arm him). He does, however, have an incredible resistance to pain, attracts an unusual coterie of “pets,” and embraces various junk and trinkets you find on your journey as if they were hard-won trophies of his heroics.

If you lend him a helping hand, Nok-Nok’s quick to call you family – play your cards right, and he might even let you be among his worshippers of Nok-Nok (the Fifth, or in his words “the Fith” or sometimes, in other’s words, “the Filth”).
The update doesn't outright state it, but I'm guessing that Chris will be writing this guy. It sounds like he could be fun, but the archetypes are probably still more important. If the campaign doesn't make it to $900k, then maybe they can reach him with post-campaign PayPal funding.

There are 3 comments on Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #27: Extra Chapter Unlocked, Goblin Companion Stretch Goal

Sun 9 July 2017
Beamdog can't make Icewind Dale 2 Enhanced Edition because the source code is lost

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sun 9 July 2017, 19:58:56

Tags: Beamdog; Icewind Dale 2; Trent Oster

I've always assumed that Beamdog would never release an Enhanced Edition of Icewind Dale 2 because it wasn't worth the investment. It was after all a fairly marginal game, and one that used a very different system than its Infinity Engine peers, so Beamdog's work on them would not be transferable. This week however, we learned that what has stymied an IWD2:EE is not a business decision, but the fact that the game's original source code has disappeared without a trace. The news was properly announced on Beamdog's blog on Thursday, and followed by an interview with Trent Oster on Kotaku which went into more detail:

The people who make enhanced editions of old role-playing games like Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment want to do the same thing for Icewind Dale II. There’s just one problem: nobody knows where to find the code.

Beamdog, a Canadian publisher best known for releasing snazzy new versions of old Infinity Engine RPGs like the ones mentioned above, is looking to re-release Icewind Dale II with enhanced graphics and other improvements. But Beamdog’s CEO, Trent Oster, says his team can’t find the source code for Icewind Dale II. Without that code, he says, they can’t make any sort of enhanced edition of the game.

“We’ve searched all the archives we have access to, including all the data handed over to Wizards of the Coast from Atari and there is no source code for Icewind Dale II,” Oster told me in an e-mail. “We’ve reached out to our friends at Obsidian, as many of them were the development staff behind Icewind Dale II, and they do not have any source code. We’re stalled on the project without source and the project won’t move forward until we can find it. We’ve naturally moved on to other things until there is a change in the situation.”

Icewind Dale II, released in 2002, was the last game built with BioWare’s iconic Infinity Engine, a set of code used primarily to make isometric RPGs. The game came out during a time of financial turbulence for its publisher, Interplay, which would go on to shut down the game’s development studio, Black Isle, a year later in 2003. (Some of Black Isle’s staff then left to found Obsidian Entertainment, which is now making its own Infinity Engine-inspired Pillars of Eternity games.)

Perhaps as a result of that turbulence—or confusion over who owns what—Icewind Dale II has simply disappeared. “Icewind Dale II was created by Interplay working off a customized version of the BioWare Infinity Engine,” said Oster. “They took the Infinity Engine variant they used to ship Icewind Dale and started from there. Somewhere along the path of the Dungeons and Dragons license moving from Interplay to Atari and then reverting to Wizards of the Coast, preserving source code and transferring it to the new rights holder, somehow data was lost.”

While developing enhanced versions of Baldur’s Gate, Planescape: Torment, and the first Icewind Dale, Beamdog was able to get source code directly from BioWare. “I drove over to the BioWare offices and dug through hard drives and backups for a day and a half, building a big pile of everything I could find,” Oster said. “We pulled some of the Planescape source from BioWare archives and some from the [Wizards of the Coast] archives which came to them via Interplay and Atari. The Icewind Dale source code was also from both sources... When we’ve searched for the Icewind Dale II code, there is nothing, not even a pre-release version. We’ve done the math and without source code it is simply too expensive to attempt to reverse engineer from an existing version of the game data.”

Although anyone can buy and download Icewind Dale II on GOG, there’s no simple way to extract the source code from finished copies of the game. Because the code is all compiled, the data is inaccessible. “There is really no way to go backwards from a compiled game to the source code to rebuild it,” said Oster. “You can decompile the game, but the difficulty of digging through the decompiled blob and extracting anything useful is much too high.”

So Icewind Dale II remains in limbo—at least until someone finds an old floppy disk in their attic. Or goes to the right garage sale.
Regardless of one's opinion of Beamdog, it'll be pretty sad if Icewind Dale 2's source code is really lost. The game's D&D 3E implementation made it a unique artifact that could have been expanded in interesting ways. It's interesting that BioWare had the Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment source code. Maybe if Interplay's relationship with them hadn't been severed after the loss of the D&D license, they would have had the IWD2 code too. I don't suppose Herve might have it? >_>

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GMDX 9.0 Released

Mod News - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Sun 9 July 2017, 12:09:20

Tags: Deus Ex; GMDX

Give me Deus Ex 9.0, a large scale mod for Deus Ex, has been released.

GMDX offers new player mechanics, refined AI behavior, reworked weapon mechanics, balanced RPG elements, enhanced artistic direction, expanded level design, overhauled audio design, new interactions and simulated effects, improved user interface, and hundreds of bug fixes. All changes are made in deep consideration of Ion Storm’s vision for the game. A brief overview of features is given below, which is by no means exhaustive.​

You can learn more about the mod on its wiki page or the official website.

Release trailer:

Thanks to Ash for the heads up!

download here

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Fri 7 July 2017
Bard's Tale IV Preview at PC Gamer

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 7 July 2017, 19:59:30

Tags: Bard's Tale IV; Brian Fargo; Chris Keenan; David Rogers; InXile Entertainment

I recently wished that inXile would show us more of The Bard's Tale IV, which is due to come out sometime next year. Today they've obliged that wish by offering a hands-on preview to the lucky folks at PC Gamer. Much of the preview article is dedicated to describing the game's combat system, supplementing what we learned in the recent combat video. I'll quote that part here:

Like most dungeon crawlers, you roam the halls of The Bard's Tale 4 in first person, and control and represent a whole party—up to six characters, in this case—not an individual protagonist. Once you get into combat, though, The Bard's Tale 4 does combat differently than any dungeon crawler I've seen. Suddenly it's like a mini tactics game: a 4x4 grid slides into view, and battles place a heavy emphasis on positioning. Your heroes get eight spaces, and the enemy party gets eight spaces. Every character has a 'move' ability, but some attack abilities also integrate movement.

I start to get an idea for how complex these battles could become when Rogers runs into a bumbling crowd of goblins. Combat starts and the goblins bicker with one another in an example of a 'flavor moment' inXile plans to build more of into combat. Rogers uses an ability called Passing Slash to slice one of the goblins as he moves past it.

"That's really great for focusing fire, because I get to select a target to move through, and sort of like a sword dancer they're able to leap to another position and change places with another character, putting them in position to attack," he says. "So we do a lot of positional play. I can knock enemies away, levitate and move them. There's a dagger attack called Slinking Strike that advances them backwards, so it's really great to have a rogue in the front row, and he uses that attack and that can switch a Fighter or something into position to guard for him."

Keenan offers another example: bleed an enemy, causing them to take damage whenever they move, then ping-pong them around the map with other strikes to compound the hurt. It's a huge shift from traditional dungeon crawling, where your individual heroes have no positioning to account for whatsoever.

"When you think about the Might & Magic 10s and those types of games, the design space is already set up for you. If you're going to play a priest or a wizard, they're going to be in the back row," Keenan explains. "There's never a good situation where you put them up front. Same thing with warriors, they're always going to be in the front row. It really only left a couple classes that you could kinda switch around. That's when we started thinking, it doesn't leave for a lot of room for possibilities. So that's where the movement came from. Now we kinda tempt the player to take their cloth, weak-armored characters, move them up to the front row for a huge attack, and put them in harm's way as well."

It's a bold challenge to convention for a sequel to a game that essentially defined those conventions. But another core concept in Bard's Tale 4 is even more heretical: getting rid of basic attack and defend. You equip each character with four abilities ('move' is a universal fifth). Each turn, you'll have a limited pool of 'opportunity points'—Rogers likens these to mana in Hearthstone of Magic: the Gathering—which you can spend on the abilities of any character in the party. If you want to spend an entire turn blowing through your Fighter's entire repertoire of attacks and ignoring the rest of the party, that's up to you.

This opens up some exciting risk-reward tradeoffs. Focus on certain party members too much and you might blow through all their ability cooldowns, leaving them helpless later in the fight. But if half your party goes down in a tough battle, you'll still have just as many opportunity points to use with the remaining characters, an advantage you don't have when every party member gets a single-action turn.

In addition to opportunity points, there are also spell points magic users spend to cast abilities. These attacks will be low cooldown, but wizards will have to meditate to build up spell points in battle, limiting how often they can fire off powerful spells. It's a simple system, but again quite a departure from the usual RPG setup, where each character enters battle with a mana pool that balloons as they level up.

Also simple: there are three basic types of damage in The Bard's Tale 4. Physical, mental, and true. Physical damage has to surpass armor, while mental damage can circumvent it. Crucially, mental damage also affects a mechanic called focus. Units can go into focus when they trigger a defensive stance or a powerful charge-up attack, and hitting them with enough mental attacks can break them out of it. True damage, like poison, can't be reduced by armor or buffs and has no effect on focus.

In one of our first battles, a goblin huddles into a focus move called a coward's defense, and Rogers uses a bard's attack—fueled by drinking a little elven wine on the battlefield—to break its focus and open it up to physical attacks. Later, a lumbering enemy called a Fachan charges up a powerful blast attack that will clearly decimate any of our units lined up in front of it. He's got to break its focus or get out of its way. He chooses the latter, using a levitate spell to move it to another row, where its attack will fire off harmlessly.

The numbers driving all this are easy to calculate—in the battles I saw, most attacks were in the single digits and health pools were in the low double-digits, and those won't be growing exponentially. InXile wants the math to be discernible at a glance.

"We wanted to make sure a lot of it was about the kit you have equipped," Keenan says, as Rogers barely scrapes by in a battle against a handful of goblins and two more powerful Fachan. "He would have access to way more skills than he has placed on his bar right now. As you go through dungeons you get a sense of what things are working and what aren't, and you change your kit around a little bit."

"You can't switch them out in combat, but as you progress your character you gain access to new and different weapons, and the weapons carry abilities with them," Rogers adds. "So you might be using this one skill combo you've been using for awhile, and you like it but you've been doing it over and over again. That's when we hand you this new type of weapon with objectively better stats. It's really tempting for you to now bring that in, because it's better, but now you have to think about how can I incorporate this clearly better weapon and this new ability into my combo, and what new things can I really switch around to optimize it?"

As if the tactics game connection wasn't blatant enough, you learn new abilities from weapons and get to permanently equip them once you've mastered them, just like Final Fantasy Tactics.

"Which, for the record, is my favorite Final Fantasy of all of them," Rogers grins. "I actually borrowed my friend's PlayStation to play that."
The article also has a description of Bard's Tale IV's world design, which will consist of over 20 interconnected dungeons plus two non-combat hubs called "culture centers", as well as some information about its items and puzzles. There are a couple of what appear to be new screenshots, but it looks like inXile aren't really ready to show the new content yet. It's mentioned that the much-criticized 2D character portraits, first seen in the February video, are still in the game - though it is unclear when this preview actually took place.

There are 13 comments on Bard's Tale IV Preview at PC Gamer

Thu 6 July 2017
Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #23: Skills System, PayPal Available

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 6 July 2017, 20:24:19

Tags: Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

Owlcat Games have published an interesting Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter update today regarding their plans for adapting Pathfinder's skill system. Taking inspiration from an optional rule from the tabletop game, they've decided to merge Pathfinder's 30 skills into a smaller number of "Consolidated Skills". Some of the consolidated skills will still have multiple "use categories" corresponding to the original skills. For example, the Persuasion skill will allow one to use Bluff, Intimidate or Diplomacy. Owlcat intend for all skills to be useful both inside and outside of dialogue. Here's the full update:

Skills are an incredibly important part of most pen and paper RPGs, including Pathfinder. What are skills? Skills represent some of the most basic and yet most fundamental abilities your character possesses, like, for example, Perception – a skill to take note of details around you, to timely notice a deadly trap or to hear the muffled breath of a hidden adversary. Be it finding your way through the unknown lands or high court intrigues, be it searching for forbidden knowledge in the academy library, in a dusty tomb or a shady tavern – all of this is what skills are for. Without them, characters would be mere murderers. It is the existence of skills that allows them to resolve challenges and conflicts without resorting to bloodshed.

While it is a daunting, perhaps impossible, task to make skills just as useful in the CRPG as when playing Pathfinder on the table, it is not our goal to replace the original Pathfinder RPG, but rather to provide you with an experience similar to the fascinating atmosphere of pen and paper gaming. To do that we need to make the application of skills at least as frequent and at least as important as it is in pen and paper, if not as varied.

For our skill list, we decided to use our own approach to what is known to Pathfinder players out there as Consolidated Skills – a system where most skills from core Pathfinder are aggregated into bigger, wider skill groups. Our approach to this also includes our idea that skills should not only be used in dialogues but also in common gameplay and that these skills should be useful and applicable to the characters that archetypically should have those skills.

For this reason we, for example, made Lore - Nature, the archetypical skill of Rangers and Druids, to be based on Wisdom, and to include the knowledge about animals and insects, survival in the wilderness, handling of animals and tending to companions who were wounded or had succumbed to sickness. For that reason, we had made Lore - Religion to include knowledge about both Gods and their servants – outsiders, and plan to make it possible to use Lore - Religion to heal afflictions of the mind.

For those, who rely more on scholarly education, there are the branches of academic knowledge. Knowledge - World studies Golarion and everything specific to it, be it races and cultures that live there, their history and current interactions, trade and politics. Knowledge - Arcana deals with research and knowledge about various unnatural phenomena, eldritch spells, enchanted items and otherworldly entities such as elementals and magical beasts.

For those who crave action, there are Athletics and Mobility, the first of which deals with the skillful application of physical strength, mostly to surpass obstacles or to remove them from your way altogether, and the second deals with avoiding those obstacles and hazards through graceful movement and acrobatic feats. And those more cunning may find for themselves skills like Stealth, which allows you to move unnoticed behind the enemy lines, and Trickery, that allows you to pass through more complex obstacles like locks and traps.

For those of you, who, like kings are supposed to, rely on the world and its inhabitants to act according to your royal decisions, there are also skills like Persuasion, which is the mastery of manipulating others' thoughts and actions, through both subtle, direct or sometimes even forceful means and skills like Use Magic Device, which deals with the usage of magical items and tools in creative ways and bending even the most stubborn and complicated of them to your will.

The skills of your character and your companions may be used in combat, to demoralize the enemy with a disheartening threat using your Persuasion or to lull the enemy into thinking that you are not a threat with a timely use of Trickery, only to then catch him flat-footed for your next attack. Skills may be used when camping, to forage for food using Lore - Nature or to guard your sleeping companions better by having high Perception.

And, of course, skills can be used in dialogues and other events. For example, you might need to use your Knowledge - World, to remember some information crucial for the current conversation. You can try to use your Perception to gauge whether the person you are talking to is trying to swindle you. Or why not try to swindle them yourself by using Bluff, a specific use category of your Persuasion skill? Use categories are a type of actions that can be performed with this skill, in which Pathfinder fans may find familiar names. Intimidate, Bluff and Diplomacy being use categories of Persuasion, and some character traits, feats and class features may give bonuses to certain use categories only. Some character traits, feats, class features, and other abilities may give bonuses to use categories instead of a broader consolidated skill - it makes sense for a half-orc to have a racial advantage in using Intimidate, and not to Diplomacy and Bluff.

In many cases, you may also improve your odds by carefully preparing for the challenges ahead. You can find items that can be used in a specific skill challenge, like an encyclopedia just about the subject you need to have Knowledge about. Or have more common tools at hand, like a roll of sturdy rope or a trusty shovel. Or you may acquire a fine and specialized set of instruments just for a particular skill, for example, a box of masterfully crafted lockpicks. And sometimes your decisions and actions will affect the difficulty and bonuses to your skill use, for instance, by either providing you with a helping hand of someone you have saved before or depriving you of it in your moment of need. And, for certain, you can use spells and potions to make yourself stronger or quicker for the task before you.
In other news, after a long time during which it was unclear whether it would ever become available, Owlcat have finally opened PayPal funding on their website. There's not a lot of time left for the campaign now, but better late than never.

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