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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?

pinned
Let's raise $1500 for Codexian monsters + NPC + island + dungeon/item in Serpent in the Staglands

Community - posted by Crooked Bee on Tue 1 April 2014, 12:02:13

Tags: Serpent in the Staglands; Whalenought Studios

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

[Post updated as of April 17 - new stretch goals at $1500.]

You know that pretty Serpent in the Staglands thingy? We're actually running a campaign to raise $1000, with the following rewards, some of them Codex-exclusive:

REWARDS

1. Digital Copy: Everyone who donates at least $15 to the Codex fundraiser gets a digital copy of the game.

2. NEW! $1500 GOAL: Location/Dungeon for NPC OR Mega Item (with questline)

Location/Dungeon for NPC
Even if we don’t get the island expansion (though I think we’re well on our way), I think it would be awesome if you wanted to expand on your NPC/Monster(s) to be included into one of the larger side-quests. We can collaborate on Aptitude-oriented branching paths, narrative ones, and involve some other basic NPCs to flesh it out. You can choose an area to make it happen in and lay it out if you’d like (or design the island and have it there instead of just theme it).

-OR-

Mega Item

The player can get an awesome item from the NPC that does something crazy. Teleports them like a Myst linking book to somewhere else on Vol, turns into a potential party member, or opens the gate to the Codexian sanctuary. Some cursed box, a chalice, a golden sword, anything you can think of that can have a story/quest revolved around it.​

3. $1000 GOAL: NPC + minions

If you get to $1000 we'll throw in an NPC with minions on top of the monster or location of the previous amount, you can decide a story/quest to go along with that of course to make it your own. ​

4. $750 GOAL: 2nd Monster Race OR Personal Island

Since right now you can definitely design a monster, if you get to $750 you can do a second monster, or if we make it to our next campaign goal [= the $25,000 stretch goal] you can theme your own merchant island that can be sailed to. ​

5. $500 GOAL: Monster Race

Pledge $500 or more: Besides our undying gratitude for your amazing contribution, you'll get all previous tier rewards, plus the opportunity to work with us to design a race of monsters that inhabit the Staglands coast. We'll discuss with you privately what that can involve, and work to turn your vision into something the Stagland's children whisper frightful tales of in the night. You'll be listed in the credits as a Dungeon Master, and have a special ancient crypt holding your Spirit.​

Contributing to this campaign will also get you a new collectable banner you can display under your avatar, just like in the campaigns we've done previously, if you care about things like that.

Donate! Discuss!

There are 198 comments on Let's raise $1500 for Codexian monsters + NPC + island + dungeon/item in Serpent in the Staglands

Sat 19 April 2014
Wasteland 2 beta gets an update, now supports Linux

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 19 April 2014, 21:11:33

Tags: InXile Entertainment; Wasteland 2

Here's a press release from inXile that we didn't get yesterday because it got lost in the mail somehow:

Wasteland 2 Early Access Now on Linux
Major Update Released


Newport Beach, CA – April 18 2014 – Today inXile is proud to add Linux support to Wasteland 2 Early Access, making it available on all three platforms promised in the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter: Windows, OSX and Linux.

Along with Linux support, the beta version of Wasteland 2 has seen a major update, adding another major area in Arizona, the new vendor screen, and numerous tweaks, fixes and optimization passes. The full patch notes list roughly 400 such changes: http://wastelandrpg.tumblr.com/post/83039841274/wasteland-2-early-beta-update-39080-notes

With these major systems implemented, Wasteland 2 is in the final stages of development. The Steam Early Access Release now includes over 40% of the game.
We already know all about this update, since it was described extensively in the previous two Kickstarter updates, but for completeness' sake, here's a list of the main improvements from the changelog:

High Profile Fixes:

The Titans have been released! A new area is available.

The vendor screen has been completely redesigned!

Tutorials have been added

New Mark Morgan tracks

Large balance pass on weapons and dropsets across the world

Large armor penetration pass on weapons and armor class pass on enemies

Many optimizations and compatibility fixes

Tons of new ambient tracks and in-world sounds added to all AZ levels

Ag Center/Highpool/Prison now unlocked from start

Ag Center and Highpool can both fall now

Reduced loading times across all scenes​

Thanks to Brother None for informing me of the press release that wasn't.

There are 3 comments on Wasteland 2 beta gets an update, now supports Linux

Let's learn how not to make totally useless characters in vastly updated UnderRail

Game News - posted by SuicideBunny on Sat 19 April 2014, 16:27:19

Tags: Stygian Software; Underrail

Styg has been rather busy with UnderRail development since our last update, so here are some highlights in easily digestible form:
  • Oddity XP System: Gain XP solely (or additionally, selectable at game start) from finding odd bits and bobs hidden all over the world.
  • Energy shields that work better against higher impact speed attacks.
  • New major urban area and a lot of smaller map additions.
  • A lot of tweaks and additions to the already nicely complex crafting system.
  • Plenty of new feats and many tweaks to the old ones.
  • Many map- and bugfixes.
If you haven't done so already, now's as good a time as any to check this surprisingly good game out and support its continued development.

In other UnderRail news, resident codexer Pope Amole II has started working on a series of videos about character build advice and decided to start with UnderRail:


Read more on UnderRail or complain about getting killed by Rathounds on easy difficulty here.

There are 46 comments on Let's learn how not to make totally useless characters in vastly updated UnderRail

Fri 18 April 2014
Josh Sawyer on Pillars of Eternity at PC Gamer

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 18 April 2014, 15:44:24

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

Obsidian's Josh Sawyer recently gave a nice big interview to PC Gamer on the topic of Pillars of Eternity. Besides the usual discussion of game mechanics, this particular interview also has some newish information about the game world itself. Here's an excerpt:

PC Gamer: There are two large cities in the game. What can you tell me about them?

Josh Sawyer: The first big city that we made is called Defiance Bay, and that’s the bigger of the two cities. It could be compared to a city like Baldur’s Gate or Athkatla. It wouldn’t be thought of as modern, but it’s a more contemporary type of city. It has renaissance-style architecture, it’s very cosmopolitan, it has a lot of regular trade and traffic, it’s a port city. It has a number of big districts full of quests and characters you can interact with.

In contrast to that, Twin Elms is the second big city. It’s somewhat smaller, but still pretty big. It has a very different look and feel to it. The people who live there have built on top of ancient ruins, and their architecture looks more Anglo-Saxon, from the 9th or 10th Century, with a lot of wood used. Very different shapes and a different feeling to the environment. The culture is different too. It’s a much more religious community overall. Religion and temples pretty much dominate the lives of the people who live there. The artists and the designers did a really good job of creating two communities that are very big and have a lot of content in them.

PC Gamer: How will players be able to traverse it besides walking?

Josh Sawyer: It’s pretty much just walking, but we do have a world map much like the Infinity Engine games. We wanted to make a world where if you want just explore from the edge of the map to another map, you can do that. There are a lot of opportunities in the wilderness where you can go from map to map by going to the border and seeing what’s in the next zone. But as time goes by and you want to rapidly travel, we do have the classic type of Infinity Engine map where you’ll click on an icon on the map, and it’ll tell you how long it’ll take to get there, and time will elapse. You might get fatigued, or it might be night or morning when you arrive.

PC Gamer: Will you be able to combine spells and abilities in any interesting ways?

Josh Sawyer: Those aren’t explicitly built in like hard combinations. In most cases it’s situational. A big one is that rogues get sneak attacks and backstabs, but they get it from a wide variety of conditions. If the target is blinded, stunned or prone, all those things allow a rogue to immediately sneak attack on them. A lot of different characters can inflict those status effects, including the rogue. Fighters can knock down targets, druids have spells that can paralyse. So instead of being combinations of effects, it’s mostly about looking at how each of the classes can be maximally effective, and then using the general abilities in classes to bring out the best in those characters. A rogue can do a lot on his or her own, but other classes can also coordinate with them to create neat effects.

In other cases, it’s mostly about using the different characters’ abilities to manage battle spaces better. The fighter has an ability called Defender which allows them to kind of act like flypaper. Something that was a big hassle in the Infinity Engine games was that characters couldn’t really be sticky. It was very hard to get an enemy to stop moving. Often that was a big deal, because if a fighter made a beeline for one of your squishier characters, especially casters, you were in trouble. But now you have to think about where to position them, to maximise their benefit for casters, rogues, and other characters that might not be able to take a beating.

PC Gamer: What kind of fantasy RPG standards or cliches are you trying to avoid or subvert?

Josh Sawyer: I just try to avoid doing things that I don’t personally like. For example, the class balance stuff was done because I’ve made a bunch of these games, and I’ve been playing D&D for most of my life, and I keep seeing very strong trends towards behaviour that I don’t think makes players happier. It doesn’t give them as much choice as the systems claim to give them, and I think we can do a better job. If someone wants to make a brilliant, weakling fighter, that is a build that is viable in our game, and it’s rewarded within the conversations and the fiction of the world. That’s not something that’s really true of playing Dungeons & Dragons.

If you want to make a muscle wizard, who is mighty and powerful and a stupid idiot, you can do that. Mechanically what happens is that you’ll do a lot of damage, but their durations and areas of effects will be very small. Then in conversation they’re total idiots. [laughs] You can bully people and you can pick them up off the ground and slap them around. It’s not like I’m setting out to subvert stuff. I play tabletop games with a lot of people who have really great ideas for characters, but mechanically they’re shitty characters. So when I try to fix that stuff, it’s not because I think it’s inherently better, but that it gives more opportunities to players to create more diverse characters, and feel rewarded for doing so.
The full interview has more information on lore, classes, combat, companions, difficulty options, and more. Check it out, it's a pretty good overview of the game in its current state.

There are 16 comments on Josh Sawyer on Pillars of Eternity at PC Gamer

Thu 17 April 2014
Ossian Studios Interview at GameBanshee

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Thu 17 April 2014, 13:52:43

Tags: Alan Miranda; Ossian Studios; The Shadow Sun; The Witcher: Outcast; The Witcher: Scars of Betrayal

There's a new interview with Alan Miranda of Ossian Studios over at GameBanshee. In case you didn't know, Ossian are the long-suffering developers of the NWN almost-premium module Darkness over Daggerford and the severely delayed NWN2 expansion pack Mysteries of Westgate. The interview discusses their latest release, the unfortunately mobile-exclusive The Shadow Sun, but also devotes some space to their little-known cancelled Witcher expansion, which was going to be titled The Witcher: Scars of Betrayal. Here's an excerpt:

GB: Before working on The Shadow Sun and somewhere between Darkness over Daggerford and Mysteries of Westgate, you also worked on an expansion pack for the original The Witcher called Scars of Betrayal. How did that project come about, exactly? Did CD Projekt RED approach you to develop the add-on?

Alan: Working on The Witcher franchise with CDPR was a great experience - they are such down-to-earth and passionate people. How it came about was that we were demoing Darkness over Daggerford at GDC 2007 because we’d won the Best RPG Mod award for our mod at the IGF, and Marcin Iwiński walked up to me to introduce himself. He said that BioWare had recommended Ossian Studios as a good developer to make post-release content for RPG games. Marcin was interested in creating additional content for The Witcher (a game that wouldn’t be released for another 7 months), in the same way that the Premium Mods were made for NWN. We were excited about the idea and by the end of 2007 we had entered full production for Scars of Betrayal.

GB: What was its overall premise of The Witcher: Scars of Betrayal and what was Geralt's role to play in the storyline?

Alan: Scars of Betrayal (SoB) was a stand-alone story that didn’t tie in with the main story of the original game. It was very much like one of the many monster-hunting adventures that Geralt had pursued in his extensive travels in Andrzej Sapkowski’s books. As reference, Marcin sent me a book of Witcher short stories entitled The Last Wish, and these are what inspired me to write SoB’s story.

Set in the Mahakam Mountains, to the east of Vizima, Geralt arrives in the small village of Kurcova, where trouble is afoot and not all is as it seems. This wasn’t going to be a simplistic plot of “go to the cave to find and kill the monster” - Geralt was to be caught in a web of intertwined intrigue and complex interpersonal relationships, with tough choices to make. I wanted to give it the same flavour as the best of The Last Wish short stories and stay faithful to the lore. CDPR was very pleased with our story, and suffice it to say it involved werewolves.

GB: Was the add-on going to be set up primarily as additional post-completion content, or would it have added items, alchemical recipes, skills, and other elements to the base game upon a restart?

Alan: The expansion’s focus was purely on the story and adventure, so we weren’t adding in new kinds of recipes or skills. CDPR’s aim was to give additional content for gamers to play after finishing the main game.

GB: Were you aware of the fact that there was a The Witcher: Outcast expansion also in development at the time that you were working on Scars of Betrayal? If so, were there any considerations you had to make in your add-on to accommodate for possible tie-ins or content overlap?

Alan: Yes, we were aware of it, but it factored very little into our development. I believe Roxidy (the devs of Outcast) had approached CDP about doing an expansion shortly after The Witcher’s release in October 2007. But I’m pretty sure we had been the first developer CDPR reached out to for post-release content, with them even flying to Vancouver to show me the game in the Spring of 2007. So our expansion seemed to have been given first choice on story setting, monsters, etc.

GB: Why was Scars of Betrayal ultimately cancelled and how far was the project from completion at the time of cancellation? Was Outcast cancelled during the same timeframe, and was it closer or further away from completion in comparison to SoB?

Alan: In August 2008, Ossian and CDPR were gearing up to show Scars of Betrayal at Gamescom, and then I got *the* call out of the blue. The call was from Witcher producer, Tomasz Gop, regretfully informing me that they were cancelling all external Witcher development, including SoB and Outcast (which hadn’t yet left pre-production, I was told). I was stunned.

The Witcher’s lead designer actually disagreed with the decision, feeling that development of SoB was so far along (60% complete), it only made sense to take a few more months to finish it because release of The Witcher 2 would be years away. Yet what happened had nothing to do with SoB or Ossian but with CDP itself, as I found out a short while later that they were going through some very tough times and had even laid off a large number of their employees. This was the start of a difficult period for CDP, leading up to what’s detailed in Eurogamer’s article “Seeing Red,” about how CDP nearly collapsed in 2009. And so to this day, I don’t blame CDP for what happened, but feel very sad that nobody will ever play Scars of Betrayal, which we felt was going to be awesome for Witcher fans.
Ossian also gave GameBanshee a piece of concept art from Scars of Betrayal, although it's pretty non-descript. I guess CD Projekt wouldn't allow anything more!

There are 7 comments on Ossian Studios Interview at GameBanshee

Wed 16 April 2014
Pillars of Eternity Kickstarter Update #76: Justin Bell on the Music of Pillars of Eternity

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Wed 16 April 2014, 00:22:09

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity

This week's Pillars of Eternity Kickstarter update is by Justin Bell, the game's composer. As you might expect, the update is all about the making of the Eternity soundtrack. It also includes a sample piece - an ambient theme from one of the game's towns. I quote:

Making Pillars of Eternity feel like a modern day Infinity Engine game is important to us, and music plays a big role in achieving that goal. But what does that actually mean in practice? Well if you were to loosely analyze the music from Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2 and Icewind Dale 1 & 2 for example, you would find a number of stylistic similarities between them. Without getting too technical, their music combines tropes found in European folk and pre-Renaissance modal music, and mashes that together with modern day orchestration techniques and film music aesthetics.

You’re probably thinking... “Where’s the human side of all this? Where’s the emotion? The music for the IE games is so much more than simply a mash-up of musical elements!”

Putting it in such cold and analytical terms doesn’t really give those soundtracks the justice they deserve, does it? Still it’s important for me as the composer to understand things in that way, and here’s why. An incredible teacher of mine used to say, “When in doubt, use a model”. Another incredible teacher would likewise say, “Never proceed without a plan”. What they were both saying is that if you’re going to take a journey, you need to understand the path and know your destination to the best of your ability. Even if the plan needs to change at some point down the path, always think it through first.

Luckily for me both are pretty clear. In that sense the soundtracks for the IE games are both my model and my plan, at least to a point. I’ve made a couple minor structural modifications to the formula, which I’ll describe in greater depth further on.

Drum Roll Please...

The first region I focused on was Dyrford, and I’d like to share the music that I wrote for the town of Dyrford with you. I hope you enjoy it!


Dyrford Village ambient music.

Modifications to the Formula

While we are following in the footsteps of the Infinity Engine soundtracks in terms of style and implementation, we have decided to tweak that formula a bit. Most of the in-game tracks for the Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale games are between 1-2 minutes in length, and in some cases those tracks loop immediately. There are some inherent risks and benefits to looping a short piece of music immediately.

One of the risks is that the music could eventually become annoying to the player if heard too many times in a row. We call this “listener fatigue”, and from a usability perspective, it can negatively affect the way a gamer will feel about a game. It’s a psychological effect; the fact that the music is short and repetitious can make long playthroughs tedious. On the flip side, a benefit to having short loops is that we can write more unique pieces of music, which will by nature increase variety throughout the game. Approaching it this way would allow us to make specific areas feel “special” because they will have unique music.

We’re going to balance those two considerations for Pillars of Eternity. Music will always loop, but it will be longer in areas where the player spends a lot of time (like quest hubs) and shorter in areas where the player doesn’t (like some dungeons).
Ooh, nice. That track is definitely more Icewind Dale than Baldur's Gate. Which is a good thing in my book.

There are 80 comments on Pillars of Eternity Kickstarter Update #76: Justin Bell on the Music of Pillars of Eternity

Sat 12 April 2014
Ultima Codex Interview: Ultima VIII Project Director Mike McShaffry

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Sat 12 April 2014, 15:48:06

Tags: Origin Systems; Ultima IX: Ascension; Ultima VIII: Pagan

Keneth Kully's Ultima Codex continues its series of retrospective interviews with the developers of Ultima VIII: Pagan. This time he's gotten hold of Ultima VIII's project director himself, Mike McShaffry. On video, no less!


Since an hour and twenty minutes is probably too long for most people, Kenneth has also helpfully provided a transcript of the interview. Here's an excerpt from it:

UC: I’ll remember to follow up then; I did actually get ahold of Mr. Morris, so I will be talking with him at some point here.

So anyway, kind of related to the darker tone, Ultima 8 was obviously much more action-oriented; the gameplay style was more like what we would call, in modern times, an ARPG, versus some of the more classical RPGs that were the earlier Ultimas. Again, also a fairly significant departure in style, so…what drove that?

MM: Richard played Prince of Persia somewhere around the time that Ultima 7 was wrapping up, or Martian Dreams was wrapping up, and was really smitted with how much fun it was, and how much action it was, and that it still had a lot of RPG elements. So he took a lot of inspiration from that, and he really wanted to try move the game in that direction. Again, it was…definitely Richard that wanted to do that, and he was inspired by Prince of Persia.

UC: Okay. I do recall having heard a little bit about Prince of Persia before. That would probably also explain the jumping puzzles; I recall that game had quite a few of them.

Now…Ultima 8Serpent Isle also had this, and I’m sure there’s examples from earlier in the series too, but there was a lot of cut content from Ultima 8. Richard of course is on record, somewhere, saying that so much was cut from the game that the map, the cloth map, really didn’t even reflect the state of the world of Pagan to any particular degree of accuracy. Do you recall anything in particular that did wind up on the cutting room floor?

MM: Well, I recall that…since we were in a new place, and using new technology, it was harder for us to know how much game we could build and still hit the dates that we wanted to hit. And as it turns out, the dates that we wanted to hit – March of 1994 — that was pretty tricky for us because we really wanted to hit that date, because the merger between Electronic Arts and Origin had just finished. And we knew it was coming; it wasn’t a huge secret. So it became really, really important for us to make those dates.

And I don’t think it’s uncommon for game developers to do a lot of cutting in order to get the game that they really want. The way to look at it is: most games start with a ton of things that everybody wants to put in the game, and then those things that are less important tend to get removed until all that’s left is this really fantastic thing, a beautiful sculpture. It has nothing on it that you don’t want or don’t need.

With Ultima 8′s case, I think we obviously went way too far with cutting, in order to get what we wanted. We didn’t spend enough time getting the game fun before building all the content. That was probably one of our biggest mistakes. And looking back on that now after all I’ve done — working on a ton of other games, especially action platformers and other action games on console — you do spend a lot of time getting the game fun, and then building content. And we just felt like we were under so much pressure, we started building all this content…but the game wasn’t really fun yet! We really should’ve worked on that a little sooner.

And that was also a really typical problem at Origin, and typical of many game developers. They look at the schedule and they go “My God! To build a game of that size, you have to have 35 people working a year of crunch mode or you’re doomed!” And so all these people start coming on to your project and start building all these things, but…it’s not really ready to build yet, and so there’s always this pressure that happens, and Ultima 8 was no exception.

You know, I don’t actually remember why the cloth map didn’t match that much. I would actually look at that as just a little bit more of a disorganization between the exact shape of all the things that were going into the world, and this thing that looked like Pagan that was an island. I don’t think it was anything more than just a little bit of miscommunication: “Oh my gosh! The game design requires this dungeon over here!” Well, you’re not going to change the map to make that work!

Britannia was set in stone for years; it was easy to make Britannia look like Britannia. But this was a new place, and I think that’s what happened.​

The full interview has more honest talk about what went wrong with Ultima VIII and also about Mike's preliminary work on the first iteration of Ultima IX. It's a must-read for early 90s RPG nostalgists.

There are 12 comments on Ultima Codex Interview: Ultima VIII Project Director Mike McShaffry

Fri 11 April 2014
Risen and Risen 2: Dark Waters Available on GOG

Game News - posted by Crooked Bee on Fri 11 April 2014, 21:24:54

Tags: GOG; Piranha Bytes; Risen; Risen 2: Dark Waters

Taluntain will be happy to know that I'm posting about Piranha Bytes' Risen 1 and Risen 2: Dark Waters being available on GOG.com now! The first game in particular is pretty good; opinion on the second range from terrible to good for what it is, so buy at your own risk.

Risen 1 - What's cool about it:
  • Alter the destiny of the island by the actions you take.
  • Countless side quests and creatures to discover.
  • Over 60 hours of Immersive open world gameplay.
Overview:
A mysterious volcanic island. The heavy tremors on the island bode ill for its inhabitants. Ancient temples have risen from the ground recently, bizarre creatures are terrorizing the area. Fear and terror is spreading among the population.

Risen 2 - What's cool about it:
  • The Gold Edition includes: Risen 2: Dark Waters, and the following DLCs: Risen 2: Dark Waters - Treasure Isle, Risen 2: Dark Waters - A Pirate's Clothes, Risen 2: Dark Waters - Air Temple.
  • With an all-new pirate-based theme, Risen 2: Dark Waters aims to combine the most loved classic RPG gameplay mechanics of the original Risen with a fresh theme and setting on a huge variety of themed island locales.
  • A third-person role-playing game set in a dark and gritty universe, Risen 2: Dark Waters maintains the most immersive features of the original Risen, with multiple approaches to every challenge allowing players to shape the game world based on their own decisions. These choices will serve to unlock new paths, features and additional skills for the character.
  • Together with a highly interactive environment and a full day/night-cycle affecting countless aspects of the game world, Risen 2 will be set in the most immersive RPG game world so far.
Do give Risen 1 a try, at least, if not Risen 2.

There are 14 comments on Risen and Risen 2: Dark Waters Available on GOG

RPG Codex Retrospective Review: Anachronox

Review - posted by Crooked Bee on Fri 11 April 2014, 20:36:12

Tags: Anachronox; Ion Storm; Tom Hall

Remember Anachronox, the best non-Japanese JRPG? We sure do. That's why we offer you this retrospective feature on Tom Hall's RPG masterpiece, written by esteemed community members Deuce Traveler and VioletShadow. (A word of warning: contains spoilers!) Have a snippet:

VioletShadow: Interesting and well written dialogue is something Anachronox is definitely not short on. Talking to random people or robots might lead you to a side quest, or it might not. My main motivation for striking conversation was never “Let’s see if this nets me a side quest” but rather “I wonder what hilarity awaits me here”. I liked how sometimes an unexpected NPC would offer you important information about the game world, like when a random man in the slums gives you an incredibly sophisticated explanation of the nature of Mystech. Another way of completing side quests and obtaining skills, upgrades and rewards is to use your companions’ "World Skills" (described further on). Depending on what an NPC wants or what his problem is, it will often be very obvious which companion World Skill is required. [...] Anachronox's levelling system works well, with party members becoming satisfyingly powerful towards the end but not absurdly overpowered. Each character has a total of four unique combat skills and weapons which can be upgraded from barely working all the way to excellent. I like how the use of each character’s World Skill is integrated into their weapon and combat skill progression, such as Boots finding a combat skill by lockpicking a chest, or Grumpos yammering nonstop until some monk gives him a better weapon. It's possible to buy upgrades from a store later in the game, but exploration and side quests are the main way of obtaining them. Most of the companions can just use the item that unlocks their combat skill right away, but not all. A couple of them require extra steps that make sense in the context of the character, such as Grumpos needing to meditate using the skill item at the Pay2Pray, or Democratus’ upgrade plans having to be taken to the engineer. It works so much better than ‘character leveled up, skills unlocked’. [...]

Deuce Traveler: Let me answer the most important question: Is the game worth playing? I have to say that it is, and I have to thank VioletShadow for suggesting the game to me. I really did not have high expectations going in, and I wasn’t sure I would enjoy playing it, since I usually care more about the gameplay and combat than about the story and graphics. While there were some tactical options in the game's combat system that helped make the experience more enjoyable, ultimately the story and setting are its biggest selling points, and they are done incredibly well. This is a science fiction game with a certain degree of technobabble, but lots of it is actually based on scientific theory, and the game definitely expects a bit of intellectual maturity from its audience. I also liked the characters, and the way in which the story was told. It is a shame that we will never see a sequel, as it is quite obvious that the tale was meant to continue. I finished the game with about half of the side quests done, around the 35 hour mark.

VioletShadow: Anachronox is a wonderful game; weird, charming, unique, and original in its presentation. I’m glad that I chose this game for Deuce and I to play. Despite a bit of a slow start and often repetitive combat, it manages to provide an engaging experience with superb writing, storytelling, setting, humor, music and voice acting. I had a blast playing it and highly recommend it, especially for those with a soft spot for the bizarre and unconventional. Even though there’s hilarity at every turn, the game also explores serious topics such as corruption, bureaucratic ineffectiveness, the infinite nature of the universe and more, and not half-heartedly.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Retrospective Review: Anachronox

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Age of Decadence March Update

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 11 April 2014, 19:04:06

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

The Early Access version of The Age of Decadence received an update today, and with it, an official update on the Iron Tower forums. It's a major update, with no less than five new locations in the game. I'll quote the descriptions of three of them:

Welcome to update #4. It’s a ‘major’ update for us (and a big chunk of content, bringing the number of available locations to 15 out of 22) and we’d like to introduce it properly to make sure that the players won’t miss the new locations (which is easy to do since the game is non-linear). Without further ado:

The Library of Saross

Available only if you talked to Abukar the Mad and learned about his trip to the Library. It’s an important location because:
  • You finally get to use that sphere you found at the beginning of the game (IF you found it)
  • You learn more information, provided you can get into the hidden chamber and translate the message
  • You can unlock an optional and very creepy (but extremely rewarding) ending. Naturally, you don’t get that ending right away, but you unlock the path that can lead you to it. If you have the balls.
  • Unlock the Arch and Inferiae locations.
The Arch

There are two ways to unlock it: the above-mention Library or faithful service to Lord Meru. Since the latter isn’t available yet, look for the clues at the library. So, what makes this location special and why should you care?
  • You should. You really, really should. It’s that place where you wave Kansas good-bye.
  • You will finally be able to use both the eye and the glove. How exciting.
  • You will meet your old pal Esbenus. Unless you killed him, in which case you’ll miss out on a beautiful relationship.
  • You will make new friends. Powerful friends. From the other side.
  • You can unlock Inferiae in case you failed to do so at the Library.
The Monastery

You can unlock this location by becoming a repeat customer of the healer (heavy wounds only). Impressed by your badassery (or at least your ability to survive the most grievous of injuries), the healer will ask you to fetch an ancient elixir that will improve your self-esteem and cellular regeneration, whatever that is.

Points of interest:
  • Raiders
  • Ancient mysteries and sacred liquids
  • Chambers deep inside a mountain
  • Huge doors that can’t be opened by mortal hands
  • Moral choices (must have morals in the first place to qualify), otherwise just join the raiders and have yourself a lovely day, full of plundering and pillaging.
The next month’s update will add another location - Caer-Tor, the Imperial Guards’ headquarters, which will introduce Dux Paullus and unlock the path to yet another ending where the Guards becomes Templars – the guardians of the temple.

The remaining 6 end-game locations will be released when the game is out. We’re aiming to start the final beta test in June and expect it to run for 2-3 months. We’ll continue to update and improve the Early Access build on a monthly basis, adding more content (characters, dialogues, items, etc) and general improvements.​

The update also has some screenshots of the new areas, which all look pretty awesome. A few of them are rather scifi-ish.

There are 37 comments on Age of Decadence March Update

Thu 10 April 2014
Prisonscape - a gritty, uncompromising prison-based RPG / Adventure KickStarter

Game News - posted by DarkUnderlord on Thu 10 April 2014, 05:32:59

Tags: Kickstarter; Lunar Enigma; Prisonscape

Have you ever wanted to know what life is like in prison? Perhaps steal and shank your way to the top of the prison hierarchy while levelling up mad skills? Well wonder no more with the latest KickStarter, Prisonscape:

Prisonscape is an adventure/RPG game about the harsh and brutal life in prison, made for PC, Mac, and Linux. The focus in the game is on making the best of what you have. Gathering parts and crafting makeshift weapons, interacting with other prisoners (bartering, forming alliances, or making enemies) and learning the trade inside the prison.



You can develop your character to be a tough fighter, charismatic manipulator, intelligent craftsman, or a slimy snake, and the choices you make affect the story.

Craft makeshift weapons and other useful items out of the objects lying around the prison.

Explore the prison and interact with over 80 NPCs each with their unique dialogue, background and personality.

Grid-based, tactical combat: Control the main character and his henchmen in turn-based, tactical combat.

Gain reputation and join a prison gang: Gain (or lose) reputation by doing jobs for other inmates and/or guards and join a gang and help take out their rivals.

Special Abilities: Use unique attacks and defenses from the Book of Dirty Tricks, which are based on your character's stats and skills or resort to drugs for various bonuses and disadvantages.

Solve Problems: Find your way through obstacles with your intelligence, agility or strength. Jobs can also be solved in different ways.

Train: Study and train inside the prison to become proficient in many different skills, including fighting, literacy and pick-pocketing.

Be a Snitch: Snitch to the guards about other inmates to receive favors such as better jobs, cigarettes or more rec time (but don't get caught!).

Painful Defeat, Rewarding Victories: Lose all your precious contraband in cell shakedowns and steal valuable items from other inmates.​

It looks kinda neat. They have 29 days to raise $49,500.

There are 53 comments on Prisonscape - a gritty, uncompromising prison-based RPG / Adventure KickStarter

Wasteland 2 Kickstarter Update #47: On balance, bartering, and the wide open hubs of L.A.

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 10 April 2014, 01:22:29

Tags: Chris Keenan; InXile Entertainment; Wasteland 2

Tonight, we have a long Wasteland 2 Kickstarter update seemingly aimed at addressing the concerns of certain Codexers. It talks about gameplay length. It talks about balance. It shows the new barter UI. And most interestingly, it reveals something of the nature of Wasteland 2's second act, set in Los Angeles, and the sorts of things we'll find there. Here come the excerpts:

Chris here to give you a snapshot on our current progress. First off, the next beta update is being wrapped up! It’s been in testing for the past few weeks and we’re putting the final touches on it as I write this. You can expect it to go live next week.

This beta update will include the first release of the Linux build, new merchant UI elements, the Missile Silo map, the Darwin Village map, an updated leadership skill, a few new enemies with unique AI (I dare you to get in combat with the suicide monks…), many additional balance tweaks, tutorial, lots of optimization and oh-so-much more. As always, we will put full patch notes up on our tumblr when the patch goes live.

One thing we were excited to look into were stats showing how long people were playing the game. It can be hard for a developer to estimate exactly how long a game takes because even when playing through fully, we're still too familiar with it to not go through it fast. But now that we've had people playing it and based on how long they've been taking on the live content, we can estimate the full game will likely take the average new player around 50 hours on a normal playthrough. Though it'll take quite a bit longer if you're looking to fully explore every location and mission.

Now let's talk development: at this stage we are working not just on beta builds and polishing those areas, but on tweaking the game's systems and taking lessons learned from beta feedback and applying them throughout the game. Every day our level designers are adding new touches and various levels of reactivity to the game. For example, in this next update you'll find major areas are now open to you right from the moment you leave Ranger Citadel, rather than being plot-gated.

As we're finishing up more Arizona areas we are intensifying our work on Los Angeles, and for the entire game we are making great progress. Much of the team is on California right now, adding layer after layer of depth into the current design.​

Here's a bit about the game balance:

Wasteland 2 as it stands has not had many balance passes done, and that influences how balanced the attribute and skill system may seem. In the currently live builds, you might feel like you’re leveling up more often than you should or you have too many skill points. This is intentional as part of the goal is to have you try out the various options and give us feedback.

One very significant system we have not yet put in is the tying together of attributes and skills, where the skills are either capped or heavily influenced by a specific attribute. This is an important balancing factor in a party-based cRPG like ours, because you are likely to have a total of seven party members not far into the game and will have a large pool of skill points to use. It continues to tie into one of our pillars of having to make difficult choices that will affect gameplay. Early on in the final game, this heavy feel of a multi-talented group will remain, but once we start putting our caps and ties system in, you will need to be more careful in your skill choices when you progress further into the game. Of course, by this point, you will have tried a variety of skills and become more informed about what you wish to focus on and how to spread your skills among various characters.

In general, we pride ourselves in our flexibility to adapt our systems based on feedback and internal and external discussion, a good example of which would be our Ranger Corner thread where we asked for feedback on charisma, with my reply and thoughts here. Charisma was the attribute most in need of updates to make it more viable, and we are constantly evaluating and modifying the way our attributes work.
And about L.A.:

With these areas dominated by strong factions that have no familiarity with the Desert Rangers, this opens up great new possibilities for us to challenge and offer diverse choices for you. One faction may have an internal conflict, a splinter group with beliefs that differ from dogma, giving the opportunity to choose one side or play them out against each other, or re-unify them. But another may have an external enemy with no chance of reconciliation, a conflict the player might decide is best to avoid entirely, but one which they can also use to their advantage to help one side gain dominance and wipe the other side out.

Many L.A. areas are in a state of equilibrium as you arrive at them (though not all are, some may require immediate action), giving you more time to explore the "towns" of various shapes and size, and get familiar with the people and the faction's beliefs, trade, resolve smaller missions, or even progress without ever triggering any conflict at all. Los Angeles shines in a strong variety of locations. That variety evincing itself not just in visuals and flavor of the location, but also in how open or guided an area is, how conflict or hub-oriented it is, etc. etc.

Here is a behind-the-scenes look at one of our LA levels in the Unity editor. This town – built around the Watts Towers – is between the stages of Wild West and civilized, the arrival of the Rangers may well determine which way it goes…

[​IMG]

Since such a high-level view may seem a bit obscure, here is a closer level render (but with the camera still further out than it would be in-game). Each building can be entered, making Watts the kind of open hub that you could find around the halfway point of Wasteland 1.
Yes, this is definitely a good update. Keep 'em coming, inXile.

There are 25 comments on Wasteland 2 Kickstarter Update #47: On balance, bartering, and the wide open hubs of L.A.

Mon 7 April 2014
Matt Chat 235: Brenda Romero on Sex and Violence

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 7 April 2014, 12:49:22

Tags: Brenda Brathwaite; Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes; Matt Barton; Playboy: The Mansion

In the latest episode of Matt Barton's interview with Brenda Romero, Brenda moves on to discussing her career post-Sir-Tech. The first 12 minutes or so are dedicated to two of her games from that period - the little-known D&D-themed console-based action RPG Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes and the vaguely notorious Sims clone Playboy: The Mansion. Her description of the latter title segues into an extended discussion of the topic of sex and violence in video games, which occupies the other 20 minutes of the episode.


Not very interesting, really. Come on Matt, ask her about Druid or Nemesis or Shaker or something.

There are 29 comments on Matt Chat 235: Brenda Romero on Sex and Violence

Fri 4 April 2014
FTL: Advanced Edition Released

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 4 April 2014, 00:13:11

Tags: Faster Than Light; Subset Games

The free "Advanced Edition" update for FTL: Faster Than Light was released today. Originally announced last November, the Advanced Edition adds many new features, including new events written by Chris Avellone. Here's the announcement from the game's Steam page:

FTL: Advanced Edition is available!

FTL: AE is free expansion to FTL which includes a new alien race along with new events, weapons, playable ships, drones, and more! It also adds additional musical tracks by Ben Prunty, and events by Tom Jubert and guest writer Chris Avellone.

If you own FTL on Steam it should automatically update the game to the newest version, v1.5.4. If you instead own a DRM-Free version of FTL, you need to re-download the game from the original location and then re-install it. The following link has more information about updating DRM-Free versions - Update Instructions [www.ftlgame.com]
Additional information about the new stuff added in the Advanced Edition can be found on the game's official website.

There are 84 comments on FTL: Advanced Edition Released

Thu 3 April 2014
Divinity: Original Sin Kickstarter Update #58: Beta Released!

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 3 April 2014, 12:38:25

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

Last night, the Early Access release of Divinity: Original Sin received a major update, officially bringing the game into beta. Today's Kickstarter update announces the news formally and reveals the lovely trailer Larian produced in honor of the occasion:

The beta is live!



First of all: as promised the beta is now Steam Early Access. Grab your keys from the Larian Vault, and go try it out. The game isn’t finished yet; we still have a lot of balancing, bugfixing and tweaking on our plate, but it’s a big step up from the alpha and there’s plenty of new stuff for you to discover.

As per usual, we’re eager to hear your feedback and our excel sheets are at the ready to tweak and balance the millions of stats that define your RPG experience behind the scenes.

If you’re curious what’s in the beta and don’t have the time to discover them all on your own, there are over 400 improvements and a host of new features:
  • 28 exciting new talents, including fun things like the Lone Wolf perk, which gives an avatar super abilities, but makes it impossible for him or her to hire a companion(s)
  • More than 60 new skills, allowing for a new brand of synergies, such as combining Invisibility with Pickpocketing
  • A new Witchcraft skilltree that can be combined with other skills to deadly effect • New areas to explore, new foes to fight, new items to find & new secrets to discover
  • A brand new character creation screen with new presets such as Shadowblade and Wayfarer, and an enormous amount of customisation options.
  • More environmental interactions – you can smash or burn doors, pickpocket characters & use staffs to electrify pools of water. Or how about burning wooden chests to get the loot inside?
  • Improved AI, user interface, graphics, loading times, performance and stability mean playing Divinity: Original Sin has never been this smooth
  • A truckload of new sound effects & music tracks
If you want to see the full report, go and have a look at the changelist.

Can’t play the beta but want to see what’s new and the trailer is too short?

Then you may want to check out the Twitch session David & Swen did. They spent a few hours answering questions and showing off features in the beta last Monday.

A transcript of the answers they gave is available here. (Thanks for that, Stabbey!)
Excellent!

There are 35 comments on Divinity: Original Sin Kickstarter Update #58: Beta Released!

Fabula: Free Event Editor for Expeditions: Conquistador

Game News - posted by Crooked Bee on Thu 3 April 2014, 12:04:50

Tags: Expeditions: Conquistador; Logic Artists

Logic Artists write in to let us know they've released a free Event Editor for Expeditions: Conquistador, which is called Fabula and "opens the door for modding" - namely, according to its description, "the Fabula Editor will allow users to add to the existing game or create their own game MODs, and language translations."

There's also a video to go along with the announcement, which introduces the Event Editor in more detail:


Fabula can be downloaded for free here.

There are 15 comments on Fabula: Free Event Editor for Expeditions: Conquistador

Wed 2 April 2014
Torment Kickstarter Update #30: George Ziets joins inXile full-time as Lead Area Designer

People News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 2 April 2014, 17:34:05

Tags: George Ziets; InXile Entertainment; Torment: Tides of Numenera

Today's Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter update came quicker than expected. It's a special message from George Ziets, who has finally been hired to work on Torment full-time!

Hello, all. It’s been a while (almost exactly a year, in fact) since I last spoke on Kickstarter. Last time, I was announcing that I’d be working as a contractor on Torment. This time, I’m announcing that I’m joining the team full time. Or at least, I will be joining the team full time, just as soon as I move back out to Orange County.

My new role on Torment will be Lead Area Designer. Until now, this position hasn’t really been necessary, but with production starting soon, area creation will become a major focus for our team. We’re in the midst of detailing our plans for area design in Torment (including aspects of pacing, layout, and reactivity). I’ll be making our approach more concrete, establishing standards for our area designers to follow, and then leading the area design team for the remainder of the project.

My role might be surprising to those of you who know me as a narrative designer, but in truth, a lot of the things I’ll be doing on Torment will be similar to the things I did on Mask of the Betrayer. I’ll be making sure that you have multiple ways to solve quests, that your choices are meaningful, and that the repercussions of those choices are felt in many places throughout the game. I’ll be designing characters and quests to reflect both the themes of our story and the fundamental weirdness of the Numenera setting. And I’ll be working with our art team to create cool and bizarre locations to explore, like the floating corpse of Myrkul from Mask of the Betrayer.

So what convinced me to come back to an in-house job? After all, I’ve been a freelance designer for the past two years, and that’s not a bad gig, especially when my commute consisted of walking up the stairs to my (not at all creepy) attic.

First of all, I love the Infinity Engine games – they’re still my all-time favorites – and this is a chance to work on a thematic successor. While it’s satisfying to contribute to a game like Torment from afar, nothing beats the hands-on experience of designing areas on paper, blocking them out in the engine, working directly with artists to make them look great, and seeing the game world take shape before your eyes.

What’s especially great about Torment is that it combines the design sensibilities of the classic Infinity Engine games with a setting that’s weird and unpredictable. As designers, we’re not bound by the conventions of reality. The original Torment could have a giant anarchist golem, a brothel of intellectual lusts, and a pregnant alleyway. Buildings and levels could come in all shapes and sizes. Characters were never conventional archetypes, and inspiration could be drawn from almost anywhere. Numenera gives us the same kind of creative freedom, and that’s typically the sort of environment where I function best.

Another big incentive: we’re putting a part of the old Mask of the Betrayer team back together. That includes Kevin Saunders and me, of course, but also Jesse Farrell, who was a content designer (and our QA lead) on MotB. Notably, he was responsible for the awesome “soul contract” dialogue in the Chamber of Dreamers. At present, Jesse is blocking out levels and implementing basic quest mechanics for the first zone we’re fully implementing – the Bloom (the one I described in my Kickstarter video).

Oh, and the InXile studio is a block away from the beach, so there’s that too.
Awesome news. The update also has a short overview of what George has been up to since we last heard from him:

In January, I completed this documentation process for the Bloom. It took longer than it ordinarily would – partly because we were running through the process for the first time and ironing out the kinks, and partly because I was only working part-time on Torment. When the document was finished, I ended up with about 150 pages (47,000 words), which surpasses even my infamous 100-page design document for the Mulsantir module in Mask of the Betrayer (modules in that game are analogous to zones in Torment, though on average a Torment zone is larger). I don’t expect all the ZDDs to be that long, but for the first zone, we wanted to be sure to document everything we would need to build a zone in Torment. (And admittedly, I had a lot of ideas I wanted to include in the Bloom.)

Not all of this content will necessarily be implemented. Most of it will be, but some of the design is B-priority, which means that we can safely cut it (if we need to) without greatly impacting the area. And some is C-priority, which means that we don’t plan to include it, but we can consider adding it later if we’re able to make the time. It’s important to us that the content we include in the game is of high quality, and accounting for possible adjustments to the scope helps us keep the quality bar high.

Not long after I completed the high-level design, Jesse used my design document to create blockouts for all the critical path locations. The blockouts are rough layouts in the Unity engine (powered by Obsidian's Pillars of Eternity Technology), with simple cubes and spheres standing in for important features. They don’t look pretty, but they give us a sense of gameplay space, and they allow us to place entrances and exits, NPC locations, encounter locations, and so on.

Now that the initial blockouts are done, Jesse has moved on to implementing bare-bones versions of the quests. These won’t include any dialogues (which will be written later), but they’ll allow us to get the basic scripting and functionality into the zone. It’s an exciting moment – the first time the Bloom will begin to come alive.
See the full update for an example of concept art of an area within the Bloom and the "blockout" of that area.

There are 45 comments on Torment Kickstarter Update #30: George Ziets joins inXile full-time as Lead Area Designer

Pillars of Eternity Kickstarter Update #75: All About Animation + GameCrate Feature

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Wed 2 April 2014, 15:01:05

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

The latest Pillars of Eternity Kickstarter update is one of those behind-the-scenes filler updates that they do occasionally. This one's about the game's animation pipeline. Normally I'd quote an excerpt from it now, but thankfully the update also links to something more interesting - a feature on Pillars of Eternity at GameCrate, a new gaming site owned by the well-known online computer hardware retailer Newegg. GameCrate's staff paid a visit to Obsidian, where they interviewed Feargus and Josh and were allowed to play an early version of the game. Here's an excerpt from their write-up:

To anyone who enjoyed Baldur’s Gate, the following description of what we saw in the demo should be enough to get you excited about Pillars of Eternity: the yellow circles indicating your party formation are back, but when the circles appear in water they ripple and shimmer as if glowing from beneath the surface of a pool! That’s really the best and simplest possible summary of the gameplay that was on display during our visit to Obsidian: exactly like you remember, only better. Pillars of Eternity looks like a game that comes from a world where Black Isle never stopped making these isometric RPGs, but instead concentrated on refining the genre to the highest possible level.

The visual effects accompanying environments and spells in Pillars are stunning – even a placeholder effect featuring a doge that includes the words “so temp” and “much replace” is impressive. Individual leaves fall from trees as you explore the forest and fire spells light up the darkness in ways that just weren’t possible in the days of Icewind Dale. We also had a chance to witness the dynamic day-night cycle present throughout the game – though we were told it’s mostly just a visual effect, rather than something that will have a big impact on gameplay.

Dialogue options in Pillars of Eternity are clearly labeled, so you know at once if a choice is reliant on your character’s intelligence or if it’s the “diplomatic” option. These labels can be turned off, though, and here’s where it’s clear that Pillars represents an evolution of the Baldur’s Gate model, rather than just a copy of the old format: dozens of different game settings can be modified or turned off entirely, to allow players to turn Pillarsinto the game experience they want. Additionally, Brandon and Adam stressed that Pillars has a complex morality system, and that the “diplomatic” dialogue choice wasn’t necessarily the “good” one. “Sometimes making the diplomatic choice could mean something horrible will happen,” Brandon said, which sounds like exactly the sort of complex, shades-of-grey storytelling fans were hoping for when they supported this title on Kickstarter.

Obsidian told us that most of the quests and content in the game could be regarded as “optional,” with the caveat that completing a certain amount of quests in a region will be necessary to build up alliances, gain information, and make progress. Understandably, no one wanted to quote a specific number of gameplay hours, since the game is still at a stage where small changes in animation speed could dramatically increase or decrease the length of the game overall. Regardless, everyone was keen to stress that Pillars will be a “huge” game with “a lot of content.”

The party of adventurers we saw in our demo consisted of six heroes, which we were told is the standard size. Players will have the option of filling their party with either fully-realized, “official” party members or constructing their own at the “Adventurer’s Hall.” These customized party members won’t have the same depth of characterization and writing as the official ones, but the option exists to prevent players from being stuck with party members they don’t enjoy and to allow players to experiment with unusual party configurations (such as a party composed entirely of warriors or healers, which Obsidian stated is something they want to support as much as possible).

As the demo unfolded, I was struck by how many of the design and gameplay decisions were clearly made by people who had been playing RPGs both on the computer and on paper for decades. The people at Obsidian know what is fun and what isn’t, and they are interested in making a fun game. That philosophy is seen in their new take on combat damage, which has players paying more attention to rapidly-regenerating stamina rather than harder-to-heal health. Obsidian said they wanted to avoid forcing players to reload the game whenever a character died in combat, and in their new system most of the time your party members will just be knocked out, rather than permanently killed.

Another sign of Obsidian’s fun-first philosophy can be seen in how player choices in Pillars of Eternity affect gameplay. The developers want to make sure players don’t get punished too much too early for making “bad choices” (there shouldn’t be a certain class/race combo that makes the game much more difficult, for example) but they’re also interested in making sure that choices made in the game have real results. “Your choices matter” is something of a mantra for Obsidian, and we heard it repeated several times in response to our questions about how race, gender, and dialogue choices would play out in the game. This will be a game where your decisions have meaningful consequences.

After the demo came to an end, Brandon and Adam walked us through some of the other plans for the game they weren’t able to show off just yet. The Stronghold system in particular sounds like a lot of fun, as it has grown from a small minigame into a fully-fledged sub-game experience, complete with resource management and interactions with party members in between quests.

I left the demo more excited than ever to get my hands on Pillars of Eternity. Though there’s still a lot of work to be done before the game is complete, so far Obsidian is hitting all the right notes in their effort to produce a modern evolution of the classic Black Isle RPGs. We didn’t have a chance to see much in terms of combat in the demo, which will obviously be crucial to determining how enjoyable the game is to play, but if Obsidian is able to deliver on their stated goals in terms of strategic depth and meaningful choices then it should be a solid experience with tons of replay value.
If that's too tl;dr for you, you might prefer to check out this succinct list of 10 details that the GameCrate staff picked up during their tour. I'd also recommend watching the interviews. The interview with Feargus is actually the more interesting of the two in my opinion. He admits that Obsidian were not sufficiently prepared for their Kickstarter, and also that they messed up by not announcing the game's delay earlier. The interview with Josh, in the meantime, confirms that the game will be "really long" and "very big", although he wisely refuses to commit to an exact playtime.

There are 22 comments on Pillars of Eternity Kickstarter Update #75: All About Animation + GameCrate Feature

Mon 31 March 2014
Matt Chat 234: Brenda Romero on Jagged Alliance and Wizardry

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 31 March 2014, 21:53:56

Tags: Brenda Brathwaite; DW Bradley; Jagged Alliance; Matt Barton; Realms of Arkania; Sir-Tech; Stones of Arnhem; Wizardry; Wizardry 8

Matt Barton has posted the second part of his interview with Sir-Tech alumna Brenda Romero. In this part of the interview, Brenda focuses on her post-high school career at Sir-Tech, where she did QA and production work on games such as Wizardry, Jagged Alliance and Realms of Arkania, while apprenticing under the famous D.W. Bradley, who was her mentor. She also talks a bit about her role as lead designer on Wizardry 8.


This interview gets sad and a little disturbing when Matt asks Brenda why David Bradley left Sir-Tech. Apparently it's a sensitive enough topic that Matt was asked to censor that part of the interview(!). Apparently, she hasn't spoken to Bradley since he left Sir-Tech over 20 years ago, and has been unable to reestablish contact. :/ Oh, and there's also a question from J_C about Stones of Arnhem, but she doesn't really know anything about it, alas.

There are 34 comments on Matt Chat 234: Brenda Romero on Jagged Alliance and Wizardry

RPG Codex Interview: Serpent in the Staglands (Now on Kickstarter)

Interview - posted by Zed on Mon 31 March 2014, 05:54:44

Tags: Serpent in the Staglands; Whalenought Studios

[​IMG]

It was just before this weekend when Whalenought Studios' Serpent in the Staglands caught the attention of the Codex by showcasing its lovely-looking pixel art graphics and name-dropping genre classics Darklands and Baldur's Gate in their Kickstarter pitch. It was a great pitch too, but it left us pondering about a few things, so we got in touch with Whalenought for an interview.

The interview mainly covers the game in question and its mechanics and design. Here's a few Q/As to wet your appetite:

Graphically, I would have a hard time trying to imagine a game looking more like a cross between Darklands and Baldur's Gate than Serpent in the Staglands. However, you cite these games as influences for the game's innards rather than how it looks. Let's start with Darklands. What have you drawn from this game?

Thank you! That was absolutely what we were going for (and budgeted for). We’re keeping the art gritty and ground in some amount of realism.

Similar to their classless skill system, our system involves building your character by selecting any combat, spell or aptitude skills you’d like. This allows for a vast amount of customization and personality — rewarding creativity with your own custom build types. The Darklands combat is frenetic and pretty ruthless and we’re trying to capture that as well. Nothing was more satisfyingly demoralizing than failing to best some bandits and getting told they stole all your equipment and money and left you for dead. Their story scenes were the original inspiration for our Aptitude creation and uses outside combat.

On the Kickstarter page, you mention a few locations such as Emerald Mines and the forest domain of the Wandering Lady. Will the player travel seamlessly between these areas or do you use a world map system like the one found in the Infinity Engine games? Is the progression linear or can the player choose which areas to visit and in what order?

We designed a system that’s completely open for the player to explore at will. Enemies and conflicts don’t level with you, so there isn’t necessarily an order, but general areas are safer out of the gate than others.

Similar to other crpgs, maps are individual scenes that you can exit near the edges that will bring you to an overworld map with markers that you manually traverse. You can have random events and ambushes take place while traveling, along with uncovering secret locations.

Where do you see Whalenought heading with Serpent in the Staglands? It's a certainly a departure from your earlier, perhaps more accessible, mobile games. Are you looking to become the next Spiderweb Software or Basilisk Games, focusing on throwback CRPGs?

Our plan is to continue to explore the world of Vol (where the Staglands lies) in future games. We have a lot planned for other continents to explore and are excited to continue unraveling the lore in other campaigns.​

If you think this game sounds balls-off-the-court awesome after having read the interview, be informed that the Kickstarter is still ongoing!

Read the full article: RPG Codex Interview: Serpent in the Staglands (Now on Kickstarter)

There are 138 comments on RPG Codex Interview: Serpent in the Staglands (Now on Kickstarter)

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