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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?

MS Paint your way into receiving a copy of Serpent in the Staglands + Physical Journal

Competition - posted by DarkUnderlord on Mon 25 May 2015, 07:50:52

Tags: MS Paint Competition; Serpent in the Staglands; Whalenought Studios

Visit our sponsors! (or click here and disable ads)

The guys over at Whalenought Studios have a spare Leather Journal up for grabs and they're offering it to us! Because they're such nice guys, they're also throwing in a copy of their DRM-free game along with the digital art book as well.

If you missed out on the KickStarter, or on our own campaign for the game, this is your chance to grab what must surely be one of the sexiest god-damned physical journals a game developer has ever made.

It doesn't have 30 hours of footage of us traveling, but it has a neat wax stamp and some fancy leather, with some game related secrets and other goodies inside. We put up some pictures of it here for reference.


Oh yeah, and don't forget you get the game as well, which looks like it's shaping up to be pretty sweet¹.

All you have to do to score yourself this waxy, leathery prize along with digital game and digital art book is:

- Create a drawing in MS Paint depicting a new monster or art asset for the game.

Quite how you interpret that exactly is up to you... Given past efforts.

Post your entries in the comments of this news thread. Our esteemed panel of judges will pick a winner on June 1, shortly after the game is released - which is only 4 days away, so get cracking!

Multiple entries are being allowed, so don't be shy.

¹No doubt pending Darth Roxor's loathsome review.

There are 113 comments on MS Paint your way into receiving a copy of Serpent in the Staglands + Physical Journal

RPG Codex Interview: Umbra

Codex Interview - posted by Zed on Fri 22 May 2015, 15:22:53

Tags: SolarFall Games; Umbra

Umbra is a hack-n-slash action RPG from the frenchies over at SolarFall Games. RPG Codex would normally not bother too much with a game of this sort, but Umbra is an unusually interesting game. At least to me, and that's all that matters (haah!). So I sent them some questions, and I received answers from their Game Director and Lead Programmer Daniel Dolui. I should probably mention that they're currently running a successful Kickstarter campaign for Umbra, and that it's a good place to read up more about the game.

Here are the first two questions and answers – mostly because it's the norm for us to post small interview snippets. You really should just read the interview in its entirety!

RPG CODEX: SolarFall Games is a new studio. You seem to have a lot of experience with visual technology and CryEngine. What else can you tell us about yourselves? And what led you to creating an action RPG as your first title?

DANIEL DOLUI, SOLARFALL GAMES: Well since we are on RPG Codex, it is important for us to let you guys know that we are also classic pen & paper RPG players. It has helped us a lot designing some of the cool feature of Umbra, like the Apocalyptic Form and the universe of the game. We are also huge video game players. Among our favourite games are Diablo, Morrowind and Dungeon Keeper.

Umbra’s development started as a modding project. At the time, Crysis modders were looking for a way to change the FPS into an RPG game, but didn’t have programming skills to do so. I decided to create an open-source “platform” for people to use and develop their own mod. The project evolved a lot, and quickly oriented to a Hack & Slash system. Then it soon became clear that Umbra should become a game it in its own rights.

We chose to develop an ARPG simply because it is the kind of game that we enjoy the most, and we had several cool ideas that have never implemented before. That’s how Umbra was born!​

Aside from the graphics – what sets Umbra apart from the legions of other action RPGs?

The Apocalyptic Form is the feature I am the most excited about. Apocalyptic Form is a customizable ultimate power every player will get. It allows you to turn into a personalized Avatar of Destruction for some time. It is built from up to three “Apocalyptic Upgrade” options, unlocked by your character according to your play style. Apocalyptic Upgrade can very different, for example, getting horns on your head to rush and knock down every enemies, or getting wings to make huge leap and access unreachable areas, having a third hand to equip with a new weapon and fight, or having an Aura of Death raising undead everywhere you walk. I can’t wait to see the combos that players will find and how they will manage to get the most out of it!

The freedom of development, allowing you to pick any skill from any specialization will also bring a lot of interest to me. I always wanted to be a barbarian with a huge mace walking in the middle of my zombie horde!

Our crafting module is also really cool, and quite a bit different from other games. We hope that people who don’t enjoy crafting will actually like ours, since it is a quite addictive and rewarding skill based mini-game.

Elemental Effect Interaction, managing the effects of Lightning / Fire / Water / Ice is also a very cool addition to the gameplay and will bring tons a great combos to the game.​​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Interview: Umbra

There are 17 comments on RPG Codex Interview: Umbra

Mon 25 May 2015
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III Released

Game News - posted by Crooked Bee on Mon 25 May 2015, 20:37:38

Tags: Neocore; The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III

The final part of the Diablo-like Van Helsing trilogy, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III, is now out on Steam:

In Van Helsing III, the civil war is over in Borgovia, but the future looks grim. The city of weird science is in ruins, squabbling factions and criminals fight for power and a strange cult prophesizes the coming of “The end of times.” And they might be just right: A wave of uncanny events shakes the land, and it’s all connected to a mysterious creature, a former ally turned into a fearful arch-villain. Which means that Van Helsing will do what he does best: He wields weapons, prepares his deadly tricks, and hunts down the most dangerous monster who has ever lived… and this time it’s personal. He’s prepared to do anything to achieve his goal, even to face the darkest secret about the birth of the modern Borgovia.

Main features
  • Story - Prepare to meet your darkest fears in the conclusion of this gothic-noir adventure trilogy. This is the finale, the darkest chapter of the adventures of Van Helsing.
  • Classes - Choose from six playable classes: defeat your foes as the melee-specialist Protector, be the most accurate shooter as the Bounty Hunter, master the weird science as the Phlogistoneer, engineer your tactics as the Constructor, control the magical forces as the Elementalist or become a dark, stealthy killer as the Umbralist.
  • Leveling - Become more powerful as you advance through the game: the level-up customization is more detailed and diverse than ever.
  • Exploration - Explore new areas in this war-torn land of darkness - both in the physical world and the Ink.
  • Camaraderie - Engage in witty banter with your loyal follower, Katarina - and finally, find out her secrets: the story of her past.
  • Combat - Fight hordes of bloodthirsty enemies, now more feral and terrifying than ever. Take all the weapons and tools you need: choose from plenty of new powerful items for this adventure.
  • Multiplayer – You and your friends can test your skills against each other via the PVP mode (8 players) or join forces and complete the story in the co-operative campaign (4 players).
Apparently, from what I've heard, the first game wasn't too bad if you enjoy this kind of action RPGs, and the second one was brought down by the addition of tower defense elements. If anyone actually plays this one, do let us know what you think of the third part.

There are 14 comments on The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III Released

Thu 21 May 2015
Shadowrun: Hong Kong Kickstarter Update #32: Screenshots, Teaser Video, Steam Pre-Order

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 21 May 2015, 21:41:33

Tags: Harebrained Schemes; Mitch Gitelman; Shadowrun: Hong Kong

It doesn't feel that long since Shadowrun: Hong Kong was Kickstarted, but we're now entering summer and the game isn't far from release. Today, Harebrained Schemes have finally released some proper screenshots, along with a teaser trailer. The game now has a Steam page, where you can currently pre-order the "Deluxe Edition" for just $20 - a 33% discount on the release price. The update has the details:

Howdy! Mitch here. Is it mid-May already? Time flies when you’re making games. I just pulled my nose out of the project long enough to give you a quick update on our progress.

Shadowrun: Hong Kong is on track for an important milestone at the end of this month: Feature Complete! That’s when the code for all our new features is working in the game. There will still be a little placeholder art remaining for some of the new interfaces we’ve added, but the underlying code works like it’s supposed to and everything will be in the hands of the artists and the designers after that. For the engineers, it’s all bug fixes, tweaks, and polish for the rest of the project!

On a different front, we’re pretty excited because as of today, Shadowrun: Hong Kong has its very own Steam page, complete with our first set of screenshots and a teaser trailer! Take a look!

[​IMG] [​IMG]
[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

When you go to our Steam page, you’ll see that the Deluxe Version of Shadowrun: Hong Kong is now available for pre-order at $19.99. (It’ll go for $29.99 once the game launches). The Deluxe Version comes with the original soundtrack and The Art of Shadowrun: Hong Kong PDF. Tell your friends who missed out on our Kickstarter campaign!

And, for our 3 year anniversary, we’re also offering Shadowrun Returns and Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director’s Cut at blowout prices - $2.99 and $4.50!!! This is a great weekend for new people to see what all the fuss has been about.
Yep, that's a Shadowrun game all right. It's looking good, but it's a shame there's no screenshot of the revamped Matrix.

There are 34 comments on Shadowrun: Hong Kong Kickstarter Update #32: Screenshots, Teaser Video, Steam Pre-Order

Torment Kickstarter Update #42: New Gameplay Video - "A World Unlike Any Other"

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Thu 21 May 2015, 12:21:49

Tags: InXile Entertainment; Kevin Saunders; Torment: Tides of Numenera

Once again, inXile surprise us with an unexpected Torment: Tides of Numenera gameplay video update. I guess the relative insubstantiality of yesterday's update should have been a hint. The video is entitled "A World Unlike Any Other" and true to its name, it focuses on showcasing some of the Ninth World's more bizarre locations, including the "moving floor" area described yesterday. There's also a brief look at combat near the end. Check it out:

Kevin here. It’s our pleasure to share with you some of what we’ve been up to. You may recall from our Kickstarter that we defined four pillars as central to a Torment game – the video below focuses on the second one: A World Unlike Any Other. This video doesn’t show final content, but should give you a sense of the diversity and wonder of Torment’s corner of the Ninth World.

We hope you enjoy these glimpses of more of TTON’s environments.
Outstanding. I bet this'll drive up those Bard's Tale IV pledges, same as that first Wasteland 2 gameplay video did for Torment back in 2013. I wonder if they're planning to produce three more videos for the other three pillars.

There are 156 comments on Torment Kickstarter Update #42: New Gameplay Video - "A World Unlike Any Other"

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Pillars of Eternity Kickstarter Update #96: "The Road to Eternity" Making Of Documentary Released

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Thu 21 May 2015, 01:03:14

Tags: Brandon Adler; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity

Obsidian released a small Pillars of Eternity Kickstarter update today to announce that the full "Road to Eternity" Making Of documentary has been released to backers and buyers. Actually, it's been available on the backer portal since almost two weeks ago, but now you can get it on Steam and GOG too. I quote:

The long wait is over! We have officially released our documentary, The Road to Eternity. The documentary covers everything - from before the Kickstarter to after the game's release. It was an incredible journey, so take a look if you have the time.

Our next update will come when we release our next patch in a couple of weeks.


We are shipping out game DVDs to tiers that get physical disc rewards very shorty. To ensure that your DVD will go to the correct location, please make sure your address is updated on our site. Next Tuesday, May 26th is the final cutoff to make sure that you have your address entered correctly.


To access your documentary reward head over to your Products page on the Backer Portal. From the "Making Of Documentary" entry you can click the "Watch Video" button. If you prefer to download the documentary directly you can do so on Steam, GOG or Origin. In the future we will allow direct downloads from the Backer Portal. Steam and Origin currently have the documentary live and GOG should have the documentary live in the next day or so.

If you would like more information about redeeming rewards on the Backer Portal please check out our previous updates.
The update also contains a shameless plug for some books written by two Obsidian employees...but no Bard's Tale IV shoutout? Tsk, they'd better make up for that when the Kickstarter launches.

There are 19 comments on Pillars of Eternity Kickstarter Update #96: "The Road to Eternity" Making Of Documentary Released

Torment Kickstarter Update #41: Ray Vallese Novella, Moving Floors

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Thu 21 May 2015, 00:31:49

Tags: Brother None; InXile Entertainment; Ray Vallese; Torment: Tides of Numenera

inXile released a new Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter update today. Like yesterday's Wasteland 2 update, its primary purpose seems to be inform people of the upcoming Bard's Tale IV campaign and all its implications:

We’re very excited about our upcoming Kickstarter for The Bard’s Tale IV, which we recently announced will kick off on June 2nd! Follow our countdown on our official The Bard’s Tale IV site or sign up to get notified when we launch. We have also provided an early viewing of the Kickstarter tiers we plan to make available, you can join the discussion on our official forums.

If you’ve been with us along this wild crowdfunded ride, you may recall we funded Torment: Tides of Numenera while Wasteland 2 was still in production. This is grounded in our business philosophy going back to Brian’s days at Interplay. Running production cycles one at a time, only starting one as you close another, leads to redundancy in different departments at different times. For a small company like ours, but even for larger companies, this hiring-firing cycle can be par for the course even though it is undesirable and harmful to people and companies. But just as crowdfunding helped us make the kind of games publishers were not interested in, your support also helped us avoid this cycle. By having a small pre-production team focused on the next game while the current one is in full production, everyone is kept productively busy.

The majority of inXile’s staff is working on Torment: Tides of Numenera, and this will continue to be the case until it launches. No one is transitioning off of Torment until their work on the game is complete. A few people have been working on the Wasteland 2 Game of the Year Edition improvements, and as that moves through finalization and testing we’ll have those team members shift over to Bard’s Tale IV. As with Torment, Bard's Tale IV will have a pre-production period where a small focused team can work on the game’s story, concepts, systems, and look, getting us ready to jump into full production as soon as the time comes. But rest assured, until Torment is in your hands, it will continue to be inXile’s main focus.

Meanwhile, our work on Torment: Tides of Numenera has been progressing very well, including updating the game to use Unity 5. We’ll have more on the game’s production soon.

As a small but significant aside, our pledges counter on our official website now has us over 90,000 pledges! It’s exciting to see your support still carrying on so strongly, and we’re curious to see what the future brings.​

The update also announces that Ray Vallese's From the Depths: Indigo, the next novella in the pentalogy based on Torment's metaphysical Tides, has been released. Adam Heine's novella, released last year, was quite good, so I have high hopes for this one as well. There's also a technical segment by Nathan Fabian, a backer who has been been assisting inXile with the game's animation system, about the creation of animated floors via texture manipulation. I won't quote any of that here, but here's the result:

Not really a gameplay video, but we'll take what we can get.

There are 17 comments on Torment Kickstarter Update #41: Ray Vallese Novella, Moving Floors

Wed 20 May 2015
Logic Artists reveal Expeditions: Conquistador sequel - Expeditions: Viking

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 20 May 2015, 14:08:26

Tags: Expeditions: Viking; Logic Artists

It took them a bit longer than a week, but today the Logic Artists have officially revealed their sequel to 2013's Expeditions: Conquistador - Expeditions: Viking. Here's the announcement trailer and accompanying press release, courtesy of Gamasutra:

Copenhagen, Denmark -- May 20th, 2015 -- Danish indie developer Logic Artists announced today that they have begun development on the second installment in their historical RPG Expeditions series, Expeditions: Viking. Set in the late 700’s A.D., Expeditions: Viking is a tactical RPG where players inherit the leadership of their clan. Charged with elevating their clan’s status, players must seek adventure in far-away lands and defending their home from their enemies, both foreign and domestic.

With the announcement, Logic Artists has also revealed some details about the game. Building upon the original designs of their first game, Expeditions: Conquistador, the Logic Artists team have also taken player suggestions to heart, announcing that the Expeditions Sequel will have an upgradable player village, which they must return to between expeditionary raids to build and protect. Over-land travel and combat will now exist as part of the same layer, transitioning from unrestricted, exploratory movement to turn-based combat smoothly. Additionally, players will see their character manifested in the game world, not just as a role-playing character for conversations and decision making (as was in the first of the Expeditions series), but also visibly represented in travel and combat as a custom character.

“We are very excited to return to our roots in the RPG genre, and as developers from the Nordic region, to make a game in a setting that is a lot closer to home than anything we've done before”, said Jonas Wæver, Creative Director for Logic Artists .“We're improving on the Conquistador formula with deeper and more dynamic systems for character progression, combat abilities, role-playing, choice and consequence, and expanding on our favorite part of Conquistador: camping and wilderness survival”.

About Expeditions: Viking

Expeditions: Viking is a Historically-themed RPG set in the Viking Age. As the new leader of a humble clan of farmers and fighters players must adventure into the unknown lands to the west to raid and/or trade their way to wealth, fame and glory. Will you rewrite history as a peaceful and benevolent trader? Or pave your road to Valhalla with the treasures and bones of your fallen enemies? Experience choice and consequence as never before in the much awaited addition to the Expeditions Series, Expeditions: Viking.
I guess they have the home advantage this time (is that accent authentic?). Maybe Paradox can publish it as a replacement for their cancelled Runemaster.

There are 74 comments on Logic Artists reveal Expeditions: Conquistador sequel - Expeditions: Viking

Serpent in the Staglands Kickstarter Update #20: Launch Trailer

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 20 May 2015, 13:22:16

Tags: Serpent in the Staglands; Whalenought Studios

With the release of Serpent in the Staglands only a week away, Joe and Hannah of Whalenought have put together a launch trailer for the game. It's got a Dracula accent! The latest Kickstarter update has that and more:

With the release just a little over a week away, we’re excited to show off our launch trailer! It showcases new areas you haven’t seen before, some new spells, neat puzzles and some of the voice acting from a wonderful VO that will be in the game, so we hope you’ll check it out!

GOG and the Humble Store!

Last week we signed on with GOG to distribute Serpent in the Staglands, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of their catalog! The game will be for sale there on May 28th as well as on the Humble Store! Getting the game DRM free is something we hold dear to our hearts, and we're excited to have these avenues to distribute the game through!​

Whalenought plan to showcase various fun character build examples over the next few weeks. The update comes with the first of them:

Part of the fun of a classless system is combining skills to create interesting builds for all your party members that work as a unit, and we’ll be showcasing some fun examples over the next few weeks on Twitter to help inspire you to create your own. The first is a favorite for ranged characters, and has some utility options for swapping Pin Shot or any other buffing or battlefield control skill: “The Poison Bombardier,” who's goal would be to proc as much unblockable damage as possible as a strafing archer instead of relying on raw physical damage.

We'll be adding Grade 3 Skills and Spells to the Manual soon so you can check all out and get some ideas rolling.
They're also raffling off one of their fancy physical journals to one of the people who comment on the trailer on YouTube, so go over there and give them some love. Coming up in the next update - the Serpent in the Staglands demo (that's right, a demo) as well as a walkthrough/combat advice video. Whalenought does it all!

There are 24 comments on Serpent in the Staglands Kickstarter Update #20: Launch Trailer

Wasteland 2 Kickstarter Update #62: GOTY Edition Improvements - UI and Quirks

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 20 May 2015, 00:27:03

Tags: Chris Keenan; InXile Entertainment; Wasteland 2

With the Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter campaign just two weeks away, inXile are making an extra effort to show their backers just how much they love them. In a new Wasteland 2 Kickstarter update, Chris Keenan describes two of the improvements which will be introduced in the game's upcoming GOTY Edition. There's an update to the interface, which includes the addition of a squad overview screen and a rearranged character creation GUI. And there's the Quirks system, which is the part I'll quote:

[​IMG] [​IMG]

The idea of a unique defining quality for your character has been a common and well-loved one in CRPGs for many years now. Quirks have great role-playing value by letting your characters have distinct personality elements from each other, which give them a special bonus that only they have. In a party-based game, we think it's important that all your characters feel unique, and that's what quirks will let you do.

When we approached quirk design for Wasteland 2, we wanted to achieve a few different goals. It was important for us to avoid quirks that you "have to pick" in order to play your character the right way, or create quirks that are so good you'll always want to pick them on all your characters. By giving each quirk both an upside and a downside, we can make sure that they are interesting to play without becoming overpowered. This also means that quirks are optional – you can choose to go quirk-free if you want to, and you won't feel disadvantaged in doing so.

We also wanted to have quirks that go beyond your typical stat tweaks, and act as fun or unpredictable gameplay modifiers. While some of our quirks take a simpler approach, some will give you a more radical change to gameplay that might require you make careful trade-offs and considerations. Of course, giving them a unique or compelling personality-based theme also means you'll definitely want to try them out.

One such example is Repressed Rage. Some people are more mild-mannered than others, but sometimes it's the quiet ones you need to be careful about. With this quirk, you'll keep your anger bottled up inside, but you can only keep it that way for so long. When you take a critical hit in combat, you become enraged and gain a heavy damage bonus, in addition to a higher chance of scoring a critical hit. But on the flip side, your mild-mannered self won't be able to inflict "normal" critical hits. Obviously, this will have some implications for how you choose to build your character throughout the game.

Another quirk we've had a lot of fun making is Two-Pump Chump. With this one, you live life fast – but perhaps a little too fast at times. You'll start combat racing for the finish line, and on those crucial early turns will have some bonus Action Points and a higher damage output to help you eliminate the enemy quickly. But after a few turns, your character will start to lose stamina and will suffer decreasing effectiveness over time. You'll want to make sure your initial zeal is powerful enough to take care of business before you become much less useful.

And that's just a very small sampling. We have 20 quirks in total, and we hope you'll have as much fun building out your squad with these new modifiers as we had coming up with all of them.
Pretty nice. Hopefully the Perks will be described in a future update.

There are 29 comments on Wasteland 2 Kickstarter Update #62: GOTY Edition Improvements - UI and Quirks

Tue 19 May 2015
The Witcher 3 Released

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 19 May 2015, 00:49:36

Tags: CD Projekt; The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

After years of hype and numerous delays, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the pride of the Polish nation, is finally released. It's now available for purchase on Steam, GOG and numerous other digital retailers (but definitely not GMG) for the standard price of $60. Here's the game's launch trailer, which has many familiar faces and a kinda faggy soundtrack:

Well, that's that then. Ever since the Kickstarter age began, we've all but completely phased out news coverage of AAA RPG releases. Only The Witcher 3 remained, mostly because I enjoy CD Projekt's approach to writing...and because the Codex readership demands a little graphics whoring now and again. Now that it's released, I guess we can go full-time oldschool. Or at least until gameplay videos for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided or CDPR's own Cyberpunk 2077 start showing up...

There are 82 comments on The Witcher 3 Released

Mon 18 May 2015
Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter campaign launching on June 2nd

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 18 May 2015, 17:57:08

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

inXile launched a coordinated media campaign to promote the upcoming Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter today. Here are the basic facts. First, the Kickstarter is launching on June 2. Second, the funding goal is going to be $1.25M, to be supplemented by an equal amount from inXile. Finally, the game will not be using Unity but rather Unreal Engine 4, with a particular focus on an impressive graphical appearance, which perhaps explains the higher-than-usual goal. A whole bunch of sites have reported on this, but the most in-depth coverage is at Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, PC Gamer, and PCGamesN, all of which got the chance to interview Brian Fargo about it. All four are worth reading, but it's the PCGamesN interview by Jeremy Peel that explains most clearly just how faithfully oldschool the game will be. I quote:

You’ll build a six-strong party of adventurers - creating bards, magic-users and thieves from scratch. But in the time-honoured tradition of dungeon crawling, they’ll share just one pair of legs - exploring maze-like environments as a congealed mass behind the camera. Whether that party will appear in battle as portraits or fully-rendered characters is a question of budget, to be settled by the Kickstarter campaign InXile will launch on June 2nd.

The game will snap to a grid for combat which some might call turn-based, but which Brian Fargo calls phase-based - a back and forth exchange of blows and buffs that sees the player cycle systematically through each of their party members. By the time the sixth gets to throw a punch, they might be facing an entirely changed situation.

“You may tell person number one to do whatever he does,” explained Fargo. “But something’s going to happen over the other side of the board which is going to affect what you tell the person in slot number two to do.”

Players aren’t forced to keep to 90-degree angles during exploration - they can unhinge themselves from the grid and stretch their necks in all the ways contemporary first-person games have taught us to expect. But InXile’s environments will be designed at severe right angles, in accordance with the limitations they’ve set themselves.

“The grid does force us to design it a certain way,” said Fargo. “There’s a pureness to it, and a quick understanding of things which is nice. When I’m exploring a world that’s more structured, it’s easier for me to put it together in my head.”

While The Bard’s Tale IV will feature plenty of NPCs and a certain amount of civilisation, it’ll be predominantly subterranean. InXile have set the game around 160 years after the events of the first Bard’s Tale, and in a poetic touch the original city of Skara Brae is now one level down - a ruin buried beneath another, newer metropolis. For inspiration, the team visited Mary King’s Close in Edinburgh - a warren of 17th century streets found beneath the Royal Mile.*

Below the new city, players will find further dungeons, including recognisable locations from the trilogy. That network of caverns will be home to secret doors, and buttons that click but offer no immediate explanation of their function. It’ll house unlabelled teleporters, and areas of total darkness. Levels will be built one on top of the other and make spatial sense, to the extent that falling through a trapdoor will plant you in the logically-appropriate space on the floor below.

Fargo expects that some players will want to map them out on graph paper, “down to a square”.

“You have your smaller puzzles that are right there in the room, but then you have this macro puzzle of how the design of the dungeons are,” he said.

The grid-based conundrums of Legend of Grimrock spring to mind, and Fargo says he’s appreciated the design of more recent attempts at the genre - but believes there hasn’t been a “big, ambitious attempt at doing the dungeon crawl in some time.”

The only contemporary influence he cites by name is The Room - the tactile puzzler about feeling your way into sealed tomes or locked cabinets (“That kind of physical manipulation of the world, I think they did an excellent job”). InXile want some of the same interactivity for The Bard’s Tale, with optional puzzles and riddles that’ll reward patient players with better gear.

That philosophy will extend to item design. Fargo imagines a perfectly ordinary sword you might carry in your inventory for most of the game - until you happen notice a latch on its hilt which, when flipped, causes it to set aflame.

“That constant discovery, within the environment and in your inventory, I think there’s lots of things to be done with that,” he said.
So, can a dungeon crawling blobber based on a 1980s IP make millions of dollars on Kickstarter in 2015? We'll soon find out. It's worth noting that Rock Paper Shotgun's Richard Cobbett got a look at the game's prototype footage, and according to him, it makes Grimrock 2 and MMX "look as retro as the games they’re building on". I imagine that will help.

There are 136 comments on Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter campaign launching on June 2nd

Fri 15 May 2015
Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter Update #44: Tim Stellmach on Magic

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 15 May 2015, 21:27:42

Tags: Joe Fielder; OtherSide Entertainment; Tim Stellmach; Underworld Ascendant

In this week's Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter update, lead designer Tim Stellmach talks about the work he's been doing on the game's magic system, which we heard preliminary details about during the campaign. As with everything in Ascendant, the goal is maximum systemization:

In this early stage of Underworld Ascendant development, the fundamentals of the core game systems are a major design focus. We are fleshing out systems for movement, combat, character abilities, object interactions, and more. Right now, I’m up to my elbows in the magic system. The details are constantly changing (here I am, changing them), but the goals and overall approach are constant. So this week, we’d like to share a little bit about our direction for the game’s magic system.

As longtime fans will know, players chose spells in Underworld 1 & 2 by selecting sequences of collectible rune stones. One such sequence could be prepared at a time, indicating a spell that could then be cast repeatedly (while the character’s mana held out). Each rune was associated with a meaning such as “light” or “harm,” and the rune formulas for different spells had a kind of logic based on those meanings. This helped it to feel that certain laws of magic underlay the system, and players could even guess a few undocumented spells based on rune meanings.

The magic system in the original Underworlds was very well received, and a lot of things about it still hold up well today. There are also aspects of it that didn’t work as well, and things people liked which we hope to do even better. So, Underworld Ascendant takes that magic system as its jumping-off point, changing and improving the system where it seems appropriate.

First, as with every other aspect of the game, we’ll be modernizing the user interface. I’m developing systems now to reduce the large mouse-clicking overhead, making casting more streamlined and making it possible to switch prepared spells more smoothly.

Other changes in our approach to magic reflect the wider context of what we’ve learned about character progression in our years of development experience. The skill and progression systems in the 90’s took a lot of cues from pen-and-paper RPGs that don’t necessarily work as well through the veil of automation. As a simple example, maybe you have to make a die roll to successfully cast a spell in a tabletop game. You can see all the die rolls, because you’re the one rolling. But on a PC, if you try to cast a spell and it doesn’t work, the veil of automation can make that failed die roll hard to tell from a lost mouse click. So in Underworld Ascendant, the whole character skill system will be getting an overhaul to reflect the last 25 years’ advancement in user experience, and the magic system is no exception.

More fundamentally, we’d like to capitalize on the strong concept of the game’s rune language. As evocative as it was in the original Underworld games, players were ultimately still limited to a set of pre-authored spells. In Underworld Ascendant, we’ll be experimenting with using the runes as a true language for varying different aspects of players’ spells procedurally. For example, some Underworld spells had more powerful versions tagged with the “Vas” rune. But what if you could change the power level of any spell? Maybe change the way a spell is delivered to its target, or how it draws its mana? We have a number of ideas to try out, and these kinds of tests are a great opportunity afforded to us by our early access backers.

Finally, what it even means to be a wizard has changed as our culture has developed new ideals about adventurers of every kind. Gamers in the early 90’s had never seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. We can’t help but be influenced by Thief and the explosion of other stealth-action games since 1998. Truly fantastic abilities in RPGs are no longer the exclusive domain of spell casters. So the whole spell list is being reconsidered top to bottom, to make sure that each character building strategy has its own distinctive style and advantages. Hint:spider climb will not be a wizard spell, but not to worry, they’ll have other options of their own.
Also included in the update is the news that writer Joe Fielder, following the failure of The Black Glove project, has been promoted to full-time "Design Director" on Ascendant. The OtherSiders' next Twitch outing will be next Wednesday, playing Arkane's Dark Messiah of Might & Magic, so perhaps melee combat design is next on their agenda.

There are 3 comments on Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter Update #44: Tim Stellmach on Magic

Divinity: Original Sin Kickstarter Update #67: Enhanced Edition Officially Announced

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 15 May 2015, 11:56:19

Tags: Divinity: Original Sin; Larian Studios; Swen Vincke

We all knew this was coming, but now it's official. The latest Divinity: Original Sin Kickstarter update announces Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition, a comprehensive upgrade to Larian's 2014 hit that includes console/controller support, full voice acting, an improved ending, and more. I quote:

Today we are very excited to announce Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition for PS4 and Xbox One as well as PC, Mac, SteamOS and Linux. This isn't just some patch or minor content update to the game you all know and (hopefully) love; it's a whole new experience! With controller support, local co-op with split screen, fully voiced characters, a totally reworked story (with a brand new ending), and much more, we're very proud to finally be able to share what we've crafted here at Larian.

In the update video below, Swen reveals a little more about the fantastic new features you can look forward to in Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition.

We've also included controller support on PC, so now you can kick back and explore Rivellon from the comfort of your sofa with Steam's Big Picture. We've put a lot of effort into streamlining the experience and have designed a slick, new UI that makes playing with a controller just as intuitive and fun as playing with mouse and keyboard.

As well as local co-op, split screen and controller support, the Enhanced Edition also features:
  • All characters are now fully voiced by AAA-voice actors
  • New quests, new characters, and new content
  • Entirely new gameplay modes and character builds
  • A heavily rewritten story with a brand new ending
  • Massively reworked visuals and sound effects
  • And much more to be announced in the coming months!
A Gift For Our Fans

In appreciation of all the fans who helped make Divinity: Original Sin the success that it was, the Enhanced Edition will be completely free to everyone who owns Original Sin. This is a reflection of our immense gratitude to all of you. We deeply appreciate your support, and the feedback we received from you helped us create and polish this game into something that we're extremely proud of.

A Whole New Game

Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition is a completely separate game: not an update to Divinity: Original Sin. Both games will remain available on PC and Mac, and it is important to note that they are totally different entities, so if you've already bought Original Sin you'll see separate listings for Divinity: Original Sin and Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition in your Steam Library. This means that saved games can't be transferred from Divinity: Original Sin to the Enhanced Edition. This is largely because of the technical changes we've made to how the game looks and feels, but the story has also been rewritten so heavily that most saved games would no longer be compatible with the plot. (After all, it wouldn't make sense to load a game in which you're halfway through a quest line that's been replaced with something different.)

From the very first day of production, we designed the Enhanced Edition to be optimized for DirectX 11 graphics. For our Windows players, this means that Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition will require a 64-bit system and a graphics card with DirectX 11 hardware support. However, both editions of the game will remain available to everyone on Steam, so Windows players with 32-bit systems and DirectX 9 will always be able to play Divinity: Original Sin.​

There's no release date for the Enhanced Edition yet, but perhaps we'll learn that at E3 next month. Note that the EE is not one of the two RPGs that Larian is known to be working on, so we're getting that and two additional Larian games. What a year!

There are 148 comments on Divinity: Original Sin Kickstarter Update #67: Enhanced Edition Officially Announced

The Witcher 3 "A Night To Remember" Launch Cinematic

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 15 May 2015, 00:37:23

Tags: CD Projekt; The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Here's the latest in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt hype, a cinematic entitled "A Night To Remember", which CD Projekt are calling the game's "launch cinematic". It shows Geralt having a nightly encounter with a lady who isn't what she seems. He actually gets beat up pretty bad in this one, but proper use of alchemy saves the day.

Alas, poor monster. That was definitely a cooler and more Witchery cinematic than that rather lame one CDPR released last year. Maybe they listened to people's complaints?

There are 50 comments on The Witcher 3 "A Night To Remember" Launch Cinematic

Legends of Eisenwald to be released on July 2nd, gets cinematic trailer

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 15 May 2015, 00:12:15

Tags: Aterdux Entertainment; Legends of Eisenwald

Today we learned that Aterdux Entertainment's Legends of Eisenwald finally has a release date. If all goes according to plan, it should be arriving on the virtual shelves of its Kickstarter backers and Steam Early Accessors on July 2nd, which according to the latest Kickstarter update puts the game at five and a half years of development. Here's a cinematic trailer that Aterdux commissioned in honor of the occasion, with characteristic Eisenwald vocals courtesy of singer-composer Ressa Schwarzwald :

In case you're curious, according to the update, those are all in-game assets, which allowed Aterdux to produce the trailer relatively cheaply. Anyway, good news.

There are 15 comments on Legends of Eisenwald to be released on July 2nd, gets cinematic trailer

Wed 13 May 2015
Dead State gets Reanimated

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 13 May 2015, 23:45:11

Tags: Dead State; DoubleBear Productions

We know that Dead State didn't sell very well, but DoubleBear have nevertheless made good on their promise and developed a comprehensive balance update for the game, which they released today. Like many of the other "Enhanced Edition"-style updates that are so popular nowadays, it comes with a subtitle. Here are the details on Dead State: Reanimated:

We’ve spent a couple of months of solid development time making Dead State stronger, smarter, and faster, and we’re happy to say that the results are fantastic. We’ve brought new life - or is it unlife? - to every aspect of the game. This isn’t just Dead State anymore - this is Dead State: Reanimated! DS:R isn’t just an update - it’s our definitive enhanced edition with brand-new content, full of improvements and fixes requested by you, our community!

The Highlights
  • Major overhaul of combat balance! Core combat systems have been thoroughly reworked to take advantage of all the data and feedback we’ve gathered over the months since Dead State’s original release. Ranged weapons, melee weapons, armor, special attacks, ally / PC healing, and more have been reworked and carefully tested to create an engaging and challenging combat experience. Even the core combat system has been tweaked so that AC is calculated before damage reduction; this change makes combat more consistent and more fair.
  • Smarter AI! Medic, Guard, Grenadier, Sniper, and more - New AI behaviors and schemas exist for human enemies, making them more interesting and more challenging to fight! Enemies will notice your presence more quickly and fully utilize all of their tactical options, thrown weapons, and special attacks.
  • New PC Infection option on New Game menu! Create a new game with PC Infection checked and your character will be as susceptible to infection as your allies are. Carefully manage your antibiotics and change your combat strategies to ensure your own survival!
  • Hardcore Mode! In Hardcore mode combat becomes more dangerous, allies consume more resources and heal more slowly, and Morale is harder to keep up. Turn on Hardcore, Iron Man, and PC Infection for the ultimate challenge!
  • Alarms! That’s right - we’ve added alarms to buildings in several areas. Red, blinking lights warn you that there’s an active alarm on a building. Use your Science skill to deactivate an alarm and prevent a looting distraction from becoming a noisy attraction!
  • New areas and random encounters! Several new levels and random encounters have been added. Make sure to keep an eye out for the Chemical Plant, an area with a unique twist…
  • New combat sounds and animations! We’ve added new special attack, reloading, and healing animations and sounds. Special attacks feel smoother and more impactful now!
  • Stability improvements! We’ve rooted out every crash and progress blocking bug to make sure you have the smoothest possible experience. Several popularly requested usability improvements have been added, such as friendly fire conformation, looting piled up bodies, and an option to toggle Live Shelter movement on and off.
  • Pathfinding improvements! Both allies and the undead have received major pathfinding adjustments that will reduce lag some people have experienced as well as make movement more consistent and natural.

Impressive, right? And that doesn’t even cover the many smaller miscellaneous fixes and improvements we’ve made, which I’ll list below (or at least all the ones I can remember - there were just so many!)

We can’t possibly thank our community enough for the thousands of feedback messages, balance suggestions, and bug reports that have been indispensable in getting DS:R into the shape it’s in today. We couldn't have done this without your support, and from everybody on the team we want to give you a sincere Thank You.

We hope that you’ll agree that there’s never been a better time to visit Splendid, Texas.​

Very nice. The full changelog is available for viewing in that Steam announcement. Hopefully we can get somebody to give the game a second look and see how much it's improved.

There are 48 comments on Dead State gets Reanimated

RPG Codex Retrospective Review: The Elder Scrolls: Arena (1994)

Review - posted by Crooked Bee on Wed 13 May 2015, 15:06:44

Tags: Bethesda Softworks; Elder Scrolls: Arena

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away from Australia, there was a good company called Bethesda Softworks. During that fabled time, Bethesda used to release computer role-playing games, mostly open world (like their masterpieces Daggerfall and Morrowind) but also dungeon-crawling (like the underappreciated Battlespire). Unfortunately, the company went (creatively) bankrupt just after the release of the last Elder Scrolls game, Morrowind, in 2002, and all that remains of it now is the name.

It wasn't the 1996 Daggerfall that started the Elder Scrolls series' rise to fame, though. It was the simpler, half-forgotten The Elder Scrolls: Arena from 1994. In this look back at the often neglected title, esteemed community member Deuce Traveler tells you why Arena can, despite its shortcomings, be worth playing today - and how the experience of playing it differs from its less than stellar reputation. Have a snippet:

I had originally never intended to play The Elder Scrolls: Arena, as I'd heard enough about this imperfect creation from other RPG fans to keep me away from it. It was said that the game is unbalanced. That it feels incomplete. That its main quest and characters are shallow when compared with that of contemporary RPGs such as the Ultima games or Betrayal at Krondor. But in the end, I decided to give the game a go as part of a larger project I am working on, in order to ascertain these facts for myself. What I found was a game that is indeed quite unbalanced, with many gameplay elements that feel rushed and incomplete, and a main story arc filled with cliche fantasy tropes. And yet, the game was a total joy to play, like a B-movie that manages to be greater than the sum of its faults.

[...] Arena's main quest dungeons are surprisingly evocative. Certainly not the initial dungeon, which is a simple exercise in hacking and slashing, but the game's later dungeons are scattered with clues, which deliver deeper lore and all sorts of tales of tragedy. These tales speak of better times and ancient kingdoms felled long ago through wars and betrayals. For example, one memorable moment takes place upon entering an early dungeon, an abandoned keep where you find a sign forbidding violence and promoting peace within, followed by bloodstains and skeletal remains on the floor further down the hall. Deeper inside, you find messages suggesting that the last defenders of the keep were retreating further in hopes of finding safety. You find no further messages by them, a grim reminder that Tamriel is quite the dangerous world despite the power of the Imperial government.

The main quest dungeons are also fairly diverse in terms of aesthetic presentations. There's the initial dungeon which looks like a cross between a prison and a sewer, dungeons which take place in fallen and decrepit keeps, towers, outdoor gardens, and the game's final dungeon which starts in a palace. As the game progresses, your enemies change and become more difficult, though the last third becomes a bit repetitious through overuse of the same difficult monsters. Exploration is rewarded, with randomly generated treasure laying in hidden vaults off the direct paths. Sometimes keys have to be discovered before you can progress, and environmental hazards such as pits and lava are not uncommon. At times, you might even have to answer a riddle in order to proceed through a dungeon unmolested, encouraging even veteran players to fall towards the habit of saving the game constantly in case a mistaken reply has dire consequences. Often, failure to answer a riddle correctly will result in a tough combat encounter from which you can continue on if you survive, but there is at least one occasion where failure to answer correctly can break the quest line. In summary, dungeon explorations ranges between the interesting and the frustrating, but rarely is it boring.​

Read the full article (with pictures!): RPG Codex Retrospective Review: The Elder Scrolls: Arena (1994)

There are 43 comments on RPG Codex Retrospective Review: The Elder Scrolls: Arena (1994)

Witcher 3 10/10 GOTY Review Roundup

Review - posted by Infinitron on Wed 13 May 2015, 00:13:27

Tags: CD Projekt; The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

The PC version of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt became available for preloading on Steam and GOG today. There's a review embargo on it until the release date, but the PS4 version began getting reviews today. And those reviews are very positive indeed. GameBanshee has thoughtfully provided a roundup so I don't have to:

GameSpot, 10/10.
Kotaku, YES. ("Come for the epic showdown between good and evil; stay for the unicorn sex.")
Game Informer, 9.75/100.
IGN, 9.3/10.
Metro, 9/10.
The Telegraph, 5/5.
AusGamers, 10/10.
GamesRadar, 4/5.
GameReactor UK, 9/10.
Impulse Gamer, 5/5.
Official Playstation Magazine, 4/5.
GameTrailers, 9.8/10.​

Add to that this Eurogamer preview, which calls the game "a masterpiece of world-building". So, bestest AAA RPG evar? We'll know for sure once a representative of Codexia gets his hands on a copy.

There are 103 comments on Witcher 3 10/10 GOTY Review Roundup

Tue 12 May 2015
The Coles Return to Kickstarter with Hero-U Mk. II

Game News - posted by Crooked Bee on Tue 12 May 2015, 13:30:20

Tags: Corey Cole; Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption; Lori Cole; Transolar Games

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is back on Kickstarter, with the funding goal of $100,000. Since Corey and Lori Cole, creators of the legendary Quest for Glory series, first kickstartered the game back in November 2012, the project has had nothing but hard times. Initially envisioned as a 2D tile-based game, Hero-U ran into programming issues, had key team members leave the project, and in November 2013, the switch to 3D characters was announced. The September 2014 update then revealed the move to full 3D scenes as well as summed up the evolution of Hero-U's art style:

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption has gone through many changes in art direction. Originally we envisioned it as a 2D top-down “dungeon crawl” game in the style of MacGuffin’s Curse. We upped the ante on the art by bringing down the camera for an isometric look, but still using tiles to build the images. Then we made it look more like a classic Sierra game, but still isometric. Since then, the look of the game has continued to improve and evolve. Earlier this year I announced that we have abandoned 2D animated characters in favor of full 3D characters modeled by Concept Art House. We have been using a mixture of 2D and 3D props and furniture, with the code going through contortions to make the 2D props look 3D.

Then along came Chris Willis, former Sierra artist and 3D specialist. Chris has done an amazing job modeling 3D scenes that duplicate the feel of JP’s painted backgrounds. As a result, we are moving farther and farther away from the concept of using tiles to create our scenes. Each scene is now a unique piece of 3D art.​

[​IMG] [​IMG][​IMG]
Hero-U: 2012 and now

As a recent (backer-only) update from May 7 disclosed, about half of the money spent on programming "went to work that proved unusable by team members who later left the project." The switch to 3D also necessitated working with new artists, programmers and modelers, which obviously entailed further costs. Furthermore, however, even the initial amount of Kickstarter funding Hero-U received was not really enough to fund the game fully in the first place. Already in October 2013, the Coles had to take a loan and cut the team's salaries to fund the development:

Lori and I decided to self-fund the game by means of a personal home-equity loan. We will use that to pay our living expenses so we no longer need a salary, and we will fund other costs out of our "pocket". Some say this is a big risk – We might lose our home. We see it as much less of a risk than promising a bestseller that we can't guarantee. Several of our developers have also agreed to defer some or all of their contract income until after we release Hero-U.​

This is also confirmed again in the May 7 update:

Lori and I are personally covering all expenses beyond the crowd-funding amounts. In fact, we’re literally betting our house on the project - Since we have no income from the project, we are using a $150,000 home equity line of credit to cover Hero-U development and pay our living expenses. We are completely committed to finishing Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption and making it a game that players will love.​

At least the dedication is there - a less dedicated developer would have abandoned the project already; I just hope they do not lose their house in the end. In the May 7 update, the Coles blame "programming issues" for the changes Hero-U's art and gameplay went through. I do believe them on that, and the September 2014 update explains that in more detail; however I do not think that is the only reason. As Lori Cole's blog post from October 2014 shows, one of the reasons why Hero-U has been through so much trouble is that, right from the outset, the developers didn't really have a precise, fleshed-out vision of what style of game they wanted to make, what it would look like, and how much money they would need for that.

In any case, after a very, very bumpy road, Hero-U has a brand new demo - and a brand new Kickstarter campaign:

Why a Second Kickstarter?

It is unusual for the same project to raise funds on Kickstarter twice, but it is not unusual for a game to need additional funding. We have talked to many adventure game developers, and nearly all of their projects went over budget. They have either absorbed the costs themselves or obtained venture capital. We chose not to seek outside funding because we want Hero-U to be a game of, by, and for our many heroes. Kickstarter is where we began, and we would like this to be a wholly crowd-funded game.

In October 2012, we had very little to show, but many amazing fans pledged to support our vision. We now have so much more to share. Check out the game art examples here, and try the combat and game play demos for yourself! If you like what you see, please contribute to this project. We will use the funds to finish developing the game, add new art and music, and polish everything to a quality level where all of us can be proud of the game we made together.

What Happens Next?

We will have a fully playable version of the game by late 2015. The actual release date will depend on the length of the beta testing and game polish phases. What happens after that? If Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption is successful, we plan to make several sequels with new dialogue, character classes and skills, story, art, and music.

In the meantime, we will use the funds from this Kickstarter to "fill in the corners" and make every aspect of Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption immersive, fun, exciting, and beautiful. We want to add even more art, create additional 3D environments, and make sure Hero-U is strong in every way you like to play adventure and role-playing games.​

A lot of people are understandably bound to be put off by this entire second Kickstarter thing. On the other hand, the Coles do have their dedicated fans as well, and as one of those I'll chip in another $20 myself. So, we'll see how this one fares.

Two things are clear, though: good project managers they are not, and kickstarting the same game twice is a bad tendency, however legitimate the reasons. Also, the Coles say they "have talked to many adventure game developers, and nearly all of their projects went over budget." However, the two recent Quest for Glory-inspired adventure games, Heroine's Quest and Quest for Infamy, were both made on a much lower budget. Granted, those were 100% "retro" in terms of graphics, resolution, etc. But did anyone seriously want flashy graphics or a fully 3D game from the Coles?

Again, the Kickstarter is this way and the demo is available at if you want to give it a whirl.

There are 23 comments on The Coles Return to Kickstarter with Hero-U Mk. II

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