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Depths of Peril post-release interview

Interview - posted by Vault Dweller on Sun 28 October 2007, 19:05:34

Tags: Depths of Peril

I had a chat with Steven Peeler about his first indie game Depths of Peril:

5. What would you have done differently given a choice? Also, what are you best and worst DoP design decisions?

Looking back on the project, I would probably say something I would do differently is bringing in artists a bit earlier in the project. This turned out fine in the end, but finding artists and getting good progress on the artwork was pretty stressful for me during a lot of the project.

I think the best design decision of the project was including the covenant gameplay. Not only is this one of the biggest distinguishing features of Depths of Peril, but it is also the feature that led to other important unique things in the game like consequences to your actions and the very dynamic world. The covenants is one of those features that changes just about everything in the game. They adventure in the world, they can solve quests before you do, they start wars and raid other covenants including yours, they help out when the town is attacked, they can grab recruits before you do, guards, rumors, and crystals all are due to the covenant gameplay, they can destroy your covenant, and the list just goes on and on.

There are 7 comments on Depths of Peril post-release interview

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Mask of the Betrayer Review

Review - posted by Vault Dweller on Fri 26 October 2007, 00:31:06

Tags: Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer; Obsidian Entertainment; Vault Dweller

My [URL='http://www.rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=159']thoughts[/URL] about Mask of the Betrayer: [INDENT]That’s where the game starts to shine so brightly that you completely forget about any flaws the game has and get lost in a well crafted gameworld. It’s like a dream come true – a non-linear game loaded with well-written dialogues, interesting quests, more choices than you can handle, and enough consequences and to make the game highly replayable. It’s hard to imagine a better feature list. I can't stress it enough. The choices are everywhere. There are plenty of consequences. What you did may even cost party members their lives. Many characters respond to and recognize your choices, commenting on what you did and affecting your gameplay. I couldn't believe how many opportunities to do things differently the game offers.[/INDENT] [URL='http://www.rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=159']Click here to read the rest[/URL]

There are 217 comments on Mask of the Betrayer Review

Previews and the gaming media

Editorial - posted by Vault Dweller on Fri 21 September 2007, 16:52:01

Tags: Loki

Let's look at the preview practices of the gaming media, using Loki as an example. Loki is yet another "epic" action RPG, yet another attempt to capitalize on Diablo 2 success, yet another spectacular failure. Reviews tore apart the game's weak mechanics and dull gameplay, describing it as "less entertaining than watching someone else watch TV", but hands-on previews showed complete ignorance of Loki's numerous faults. Why? Because to journalists these faults, according to Patrick the GameSpy journalist, weren't "even real".

Click here to continue

There are 19 comments on Previews and the gaming media

The wonderful world of Fallout 3

Preview - posted by Vault Dweller on Thu 30 August 2007, 18:40:37

Tags: Bethesda Softworks; Fallout 3

We present you our Fallout 3 preview. It contains nothing but facts and specific statements from developers and media. We'll continue updating the article, adding new facts as they became available, until the game is released, so drop by every now and then to see what's new and exciting.

You're no longer alone in the harsh, post-apocalyptic world. You have a father and not just any father. He's a scholar and a gentleman - voiced by Liam Neeson!!! - and you just can't live without him. Your love for your father is so strong that when he leaves you and the vault one day, you blindly follow him into the wasteland.

Twitch Guru: "The main character's father, a genetic scientist, mysteriously departs... "

Worthplaying: "......your father, one of the most important people in Vault 101..."

Emil: "So take the relationship with "my" father. He's my moral compass..."

Bethesda: "Neeson will play the role of the player's father and will appear prominently throughout the game. ...and provides the dramatic tone for the entire game"

Gavin: Your dad is like this warm, inviting guy. He's Liam Neeson! Who wouldn't want Liam Neeson as their dad, right?

There are 45 comments on The wonderful world of Fallout 3

Are the paradigms of role-playing outdated?

Editorial - posted by Role-Player on Mon 6 August 2007, 17:44:38


Just when you thought it was safe to read the Codex, Role-Player blinds us with yet another long-winded arrgh!ticle about computer role-playing games based on his industry expertise as a couch potato. This time, the infidel demands we lay down our weapons against the maintream invaders and sell our babies into slavery! Oh, and there's some words in there too:
Unlike physical stats, which can be fitted into the system through much more meaningful ways even if they can succumb to the same issues, social stats like Intelligence and Charisma cause more problems than those they set out to solve for a very simple reason. You can not force players to role-play their stats, and you can’t force those stats to help players role-play. This dredges up an earlier point – the absence of a direct mental link between player and character ends up rendering the adherence to social stats trite and ineffective. In the long run, the impact of mental and social stats that limit a character’s progress becomes either negligible or a hassle since you can not code personality traits the player does not have the ability to play nor can you give gamers a personality trait they have no idea of how to role-play. And in terms of how storylines are advanced, this causes a great rift as well considering many times players can see right through plot twists or narrative directions before the characters do.

With that said... Get rid of Intelligence and Charisma as a play mechanic that influences dialogue.
Awarding his "ideas" with 2 out of 5 Goatses just doesn't cut it anymore. For the good of the people, Role-Player must be stopped!

There are 67 comments on Are the paradigms of role-playing outdated?

Chris Avellone Dialogue Monologue

Interview - posted by Vault Dweller on Tue 24 July 2007, 01:42:40

Tags: Chris Avellone; Obsidian Entertainment

Many moons ago I asked Chris to answer a few questions for our [URL='http://www.rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=148']dialogue interview[/URL]. Chris was too busy at that time, but promised to do it in the future. Unfortunately, he lost the questions, but being too proud to admit that, he wrote a [URL='http://www.rpgcodex.net/content.php?id=154']monologue about dialogues[/URL] instead. [INDENT]As a "twist," I’m going to do this interview primarily through visuals, which is how I think game interactions should be in the first place - mostly because a good chunk of human dialogue is essentially communicated non-verbally anyway.[/INDENT]

There are 26 comments on Chris Avellone Dialogue Monologue

What is Fallout 3?

Preview - posted by Vault Dweller on Thu 19 July 2007, 20:47:00

Tags: Bethesda Softworks; Fallout 3

If you really like to know what kind of game Fallout 3 is shaping up to be, click on this link!

There are 48 comments on What is Fallout 3?

Depth of Peril preview

Preview - posted by Vault Dweller on Sat 30 June 2007, 03:53:14

Tags: Depths of Peril

I had an opportunity to play Depth of Peril (alfa version) this week:

Here is the basic overview: you go and fight monsters, gaining loot and experience in randomly generated areas. Now, here's the twist, you are not the only hero in this land of the brave. Other heroes, representing local factions called covenants, do the same "hero" thing - fight monsters, gaining loot and experience. Unfortunately, the town seems to be too small for all of you, and as C. McLeod once said "There can be only one!", so it's either you or them. You can use basic diplomacy to keep someone off your back for a while and/or make offensive/defensive alliances. The game is over when your covenant's lifestone is destroyed or when you destroy other covenants' lifestones. Naturally, the lifestones are well protected by hired monsters, NPCs, and heroes, so attacking a lifestones is like attacking an enemy base in an RTS game: come prepared and expect a lot of resistance and casualties. Let's take a closer look now:

There are 16 comments on Depth of Peril preview

Calling Fallout 3 into question(s)

Editorial - posted by Section8 on Thu 21 June 2007, 17:43:12

Tags: Bethesda Softworks; Fallout 3

Well, that day has finally come. Fallout 3 is no longer just a speck on the horizon, and we're starting to see some vague revelations of what the game actually has in store for us. As most predicted, those who adore Fallout to the point of obsession aren't exactly overjoyed, given that Bethesda have indeed taken the route they've been hinting at for years - they're "going with what they know". So we have two sides being their predictable selves.

But is the bleak outlook justified? An awful lot of people seem to be either instantly dismissive of the Fallout fanatics, branding their collective opinion as a kneejerk negative response to something they've made their minds up about long ago. There also seems to be a more zealous movement who derive pleasure from Fallout fans general state of unhappiness, which paints them in the terrifying light of caring more for the well-being of a company's bankroll than that of their fellow man.

So, here's an opportunity to ask yourselves the same questions the "angry vocal minority" have asked themselves to get to this point. Maybe you'll come up with more positive responses than we did, so by all means, share them on our forums. But firstly - Into the Wastes!

There are 17 comments on Calling Fallout 3 into question(s)

Some thoughts on the Fallout 3 article

Editorial - posted by Vault Dweller on Sun 17 June 2007, 00:26:25

Tags: Bethesda Softworks; Fallout 3

I decided to share some thoughts on the Fallout 3 article with you guys:

To show that Bethesda understands and, like, totally digs the setting, the game features exploding nuclear reactors in cars and mind-blowing "tell me it's a joke" handheld nuclear catapults. In the example described in the Game Informer article, the main character, undoubtedly inspired by the famous Baron Munchausen, kills two giant ants by shooting at a NEARBY car's nuclear reactor. A small nuclear blast destroys the car and the ants, but ignores the resourceful main character, standing a few meters away. The nuclear catapult is an even more retarded concept and, hopefully, needs no explanation. Using nuclear explosions in close combat in a survival game that watches your rad count is kinda stupid. Even for Bethesda.

There are 200 comments on Some thoughts on the Fallout 3 article

The Dialogue Interview

Interview - posted by Vault Dweller on Fri 18 May 2007, 02:56:49

Tags: Brian Mitsoda; David Gaider; J.E. Sawyer; Scott Bennie

I've decided to explore the concept of dialogues in RPGs a bit by asking Brian Mitsoda, JE Sawyer, Scott Bennie, and David Gaider [URL='http://www.rpgcodex.com/content.php?id=148']a few questions[/URL] about this delicate subject. I also asked Chris Avellone, but he's busy watching the Aliens movies for ...uh... research purposes. I tried to play dirty and threw "think of teh kidz!" line at him. His chilling "The kids must suffer" reply provided a rare glimpse into his dark soul and, coincidentally, answered question #10: "What's evil and how do you show these traits in your characters?". Anyway, the interview: [INDENT][B]6. What games/characters would you use as outstanding examples of great writing in games and why? What influenced you as a game writer?[/B] Brian Mitsoda: Fallout was the game that made me transition from a career in film and apply at Interplay. I enjoyed that the story could be different to each player and I saw potential in reactive storytelling and the possibilities of game narratives. I was a bit naive in thinking it wouldn't sink into the same formulaic trappings of the film industry, but I look at games like Planescape, Psychonauts, and System Shock as examples of how interesting stories and gameplay can be intertwined in a way that can't easily be duplicated by other forms of entertainment. Planescape, I probably don't have to explain the sense of brilliant weirdness and fantastic exploration to readers of this site and Chris (Avellone, my boss) really hates it when people get fanboy on him (but you should probably dress up like Falls-From-Grace and wait for him in his car, he loves that.) The mind voyeurism/exploration aspects of Psychonauts and the smoothness with which they were blended into the game design, wow... more games should have that kind of story integration (and be that funny). For System Shock, I not only enjoyed the terrifying exploration of Citadel Station, but I don't think I've ever hated a "bad guy" in any game, movie, or book more than Shodan because she actively taunted and harassed me in a way that traditional written medium bad guys can't replicate.[/INDENT]

There are 42 comments on The Dialogue Interview

Neverwinter Nights 2 interview

Interview - posted by Vault Dweller on Fri 27 April 2007, 15:04:25

Tags: J.E. Sawyer; Neverwinter Nights 2; Obsidian Entertainment

We asked Josh Sawyer a few questions about Neverwinter Nights 2:

4. How would you evaluate the finished product? Any lessons learned there? What worked well, what worked ... uh, not so well? What was the game's biggest strength/weakness?

I think the game as released is a high 7, low 8 title. To be honest, the major issues are due to a lack of polish. There's certainly a lot of stuff in the game, but none of it really looks or feels great. At best, the controls and features feel good, at worst they feel terrible.

For example, the camera. Programming got the camera in and fixed a number of its glaring problems, but for all the various camera modes you could run in, it was hard to find one that felt good. The toolset is also an appropriate example: highly functional, very powerful, not enjoyable or fast to use for many tasks.

The biggest problems during development were an unrealistic scope and a lack of focus on quality/fun from the beginning. It's arguable that the former resulted in the latter. With D&D games, it's easy to become consumed by the idea of adding every feat, class, and race you can find in various books.
It doesn't matter whether you agree with Josh or not, what matters is that he isn't afraid to speak his mind. :salute:

There are 19 comments on Neverwinter Nights 2 interview

Jade Empire review

Review - posted by Role-Player on Wed 18 April 2007, 00:24:28

Tags: BioWare; Jade Empire

Our dragon punch to Bioware's latest console port to grace the computer role-playing genre, Jade Empire: Special Edition, is finally up.

It's nice that Bioware made something that people who don't enjoy RPGs could get into, but they don’t seem to have thought about the people who actually enjoy them. Jade Empire is pretty much Knights of the Old Republic - only shorter, with kung fu instead of lightsabers, a less obvious main villain, a setting that while not radically new feels fresh in the face of all the usual high fantasy drivel that pollutes the genre, and with considerable role-playing thrown in to the mix. This may be good news for those who enjoy Bioware games as it’s pretty much what you’d expect the game to be and in this regard, doesn’t disappoint. It’s a definite improvement on some of their design philosophies but don’t pop a vein, however; we’re still treading Bioware territory here.


You might want to give it a shot. Or not. It does feature oriental lezzies, though.

There are 49 comments on Jade Empire review

The Role We Don't Play

Editorial - posted by Role-Player on Fri 30 March 2007, 01:28:22


Role-Player thinks he's the shit, so he offers his perspective on what he thinks may be contributing to the lack of role in contemporary role-playing games, along with some design suggestions to offset the problem on his editorial titled The Role We Don't Play:
It’s a harsh reality of the genre that, whether by developer influence or actual player demand, CRPGs have been trying to emulate Hollywood productions in order to present games with an increasing focus on emulating cinematic experiences. However, the result is often amateurish and embarrassing since the transposition from one medium to the other is made while disregarding the formal vocabulary of cinema and its context; something is lost in translation from cinema to videogame, and developers end up trying to implement narrative elements that run contrary to the narrative possibilities of the other medium. They look at movies and try to create videogames that behave – that play – like movies, which generally fails to build upon the strengths of the videogame medium and poorly uses the narrative structures of cinema. Some developers have tried experimenting with other approaches to the problem, trying to create situations where realtime player input is crucial and determines the flow of the story but these sequences often feel like compartmentalized and separated from the rest of the game; more in common with minigames than a situation that feels natural and fluid to the rest of the game and the gamer, if for no other reason than developers often can’t handle the complexities of the videogame medium and only propose simplistic input methods for these situations which in a certain way, present challenges and base interactivity that feel like glorified variations of classics like Space Ace or Dragon’s Lair.
You'd think people not caring about his rants would shut the guy up, but he went and done it anyway.

There are 36 comments on The Role We Don't Play

Our Feargus Urquhart interview

Interview - posted by Role-Player on Mon 26 March 2007, 04:10:11

Tags: Feargus Urquhart; Obsidian Entertainment

We've managed to sit down with Feargus Urquhart of Obsidian Entertainment and ask him some questions about the company in general - running a business, getting licenses, reaction to games and so on. Here's his take on Knights of the Old Republic: The Sith Lords:
4) The Sith Lords had a considerable amount of cut content, which caused much discussion in the community and the creation of fan projects with the intent of restoring the game. While the publisher had its share of blame, do you feel part of the issue may have been a lack of management focus?

I'm pretty good and taking the responsibility for things that happen on our games and I could, of course, say that there were things that we could have done to get more content in the game. But, that's always the case. Every game I have ever made has had content cut during its production. This happens for a ton of reasons. Often it is because we just planned for too much up front, which is partly what happened with KotOR2 and we had to ship before we were able to really polish the end of the game. I am still very proud of what we did with KotOR2 and I feel the excitement over the end of the game being "castrated", as I've heard people say, is a little harsh and melodramatic. Particularly when that is followed with comments about the second and third time that person played through the game. Having said that, I'm not excusing anything or sweeping anything under the rug. I want more for every game we make, and I feel we can always do better job at it.
We're vocal about a lot of things but Feargus is a cool guy who's willing to chat, so here's your chance to learn a bit more about the man and the company.

There are 14 comments on Our Feargus Urquhart interview

Interview with indie RPG developers

Interview - posted by Vault Dweller on Mon 26 March 2007, 01:17:19


Here is an overview (and a handy reference guide) of the indie "industry": who does what, how, and why, and what do these people have to offer. It's a long read, so go get some popcorn.

8. Dialogues. What role do dialogues play in your game? Why? Are there great lines like "I saw a mudcrab the other day" or "Elvish, motherfucker! Do you speak it?" in your game?

Thomas: Dialogue in any RPG is critical to establishing the game world and advancing the storyline. Eschalon handles dialogue via a branching system with different responses based on quest flags. It is simple yet effective and allows the player to have multiple responses to most situations based on how they want to play their character. Overall we’ve chosen to keep the dialogue a bit leaner compared to other contemporary RPGs to more closely match the flow of a classic RPG. As for great lines, I guess the player will need to make that judgment for themselves!

There are 46 comments on Interview with indie RPG developers

Oblivion - The Second Opinion

Review - posted by Section8 on Thu 22 February 2007, 04:05:22

Tags: Bethesda Softworks; Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Nearly a year ago we published a review of Oblivion.You know, back when that sort of thing was poignant. Now, just in case anyone still cares, here's a second opinion.

Every now and then, a game comes along that sounds so insanely good on paper, that it doesn't really need salesmanship to get it out the door and into the eagerly grasping hands of gamers. But that didn't stop Bethesda hyping the ever-loving shit out of fourth Elder Scrolls RPG anyway. So is it the second coming? Is it even a decent game? These are the sort of questions that rattled through my mind as I sat back and watched the Patrick Stewart narrated introduction to Tamriel's Imperial province of Cyrodiil, where the game takes place.


There are 37 comments on Oblivion - The Second Opinion

Mass Effect Interview

Interview - posted by Vault Dweller on Thu 1 February 2007, 13:40:08

Tags: BioWare; Casey Hudson; Mass Effect

Although [URL='http://masseffect.bioware.com/']Mass Effect[/URL] is a console game, the depth of its design had surprised us, which is why we'd like to [URL='http://www.rpgcodex.com/content.php?id=141']introduce the game to our readers[/URL] (special thanks to Casey Hudson): [INDENT][B]How would you compare Mass Effect to Knights of the Old Republic?[/B] It's a good question. In some ways Mass Effect is a lot like Knights of the Old Republic, so all KOTOR fans should be really excited. You have a starship, and you travel the galaxy, having all these really great moments. You have all these Mass Effect powers, which are a lot like Force Powers in the Star Wars universe. However, the main difference, which is where the game really shines, is the main character. I know the word "extreme" may seem overused a bit, but it's an extreme character who does some very extreme stuff unlike Revan who was a very blank character.[/INDENT] [URL='http://www.rpgcodex.com/content.php?id=141']Click here to learn more[/URL].

There are 93 comments on Mass Effect Interview

So Hyped, So Mediocre: The Bard's Tale Review

Review - posted by Role-Player on Mon 29 January 2007, 04:01:05

Tags: Bard's Tale (2005); Brian Fargo; InXile Entertainment

inXile's The Bard's Tale gets a Codexian smackdown for your reading pleasure. Bard lovers stay away.


Unlike most other hack’n’slashers, The Bard’s Tale has no inventory to speak of nor does it have any loot that you can physically acquire from fallen enemies. All the items the Bard can acquire are either purchased at weapon stores and taverns, or handed out at several fixed points in the game’s story with the weaker equipment being automatically converted to the game’s currency. It's not hard to imagine some sort of brief setup on why this happens - considering the Bard's big mouth and penchant for making rash decisions, he might have angered some wizard or genie that made his desire for coin come true but at the expense of never being able to acquire items unless he spent the gold he cherished so much. But nothing ever explains the logic behind this quirky mechanic, ingame or otherwise. And since the Bard's equipment is improved once in a while by picking up better weapons and replacing the ones he has automatically with shinier and deadlier versions, why am still I finding poor weapons that are instantly changed to gold? Instead of just finding a ton of weapons the Bard won't equip and since automation was apparently a design goal, why not have enemies just drop gold right away? There's no point showing the player a weapon or item the Bard has picked up but won't be able to use. There could be a certain charm to the items you find on slain enemies but seeing Wolfs dropping the likes of picnic baskets and red hoods isn’t exactly pushing humor to new heights.


Who would've thought loot in a hack'n'slasher was good?

There are 32 comments on So Hyped, So Mediocre: The Bard's Tale Review

2006: The Year in Review

Editorial - posted by Vault Dweller on Thu 4 January 2007, 21:21:55

Tags: The Year in Review

Another great year is done and gone. Let's take a moment and bask in the memories:

Bioware's younger brother kinda saved the year with Neverwinter Nights 2, which could be described as Baldur's Gate 2 meets Icewind Dale 2, which is great, because these are my favourite games. From Baldur's Gate we’ve got the epic story reflecting the choiceless life of the Chosen One, and from Icewind Dale 2 we’ve got endless waves of enemies and more combat than in Halo, which is another of my favourite games, so I'm pretty sure we are dealing with an instant classic and a game of the year material here. Any game that features a githyanki proctologist [spoiler] who will remove a two handed sword that got stuck in your ass during a questionable anal game when you were a child [/spoiler] has gotta be good. Don't worry about getting lost in the game though, it's one of the most linear games I've ever seen, and even individual maps feature super linear maze-like designs, firmly leading you in circles to your destinations through waves of unavoidable enemies. Every now and then you are given a dialogue option that can help you avoid 5% of combat in an area, to remind you that it's not a Diablo clone, but a fully blown role-playing game.


There are 46 comments on 2006: The Year in Review

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