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?
RPG Codex Review: Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption
Review - posted by Crooked Bee
on Thu 30 October 2014, 15:01:00
One game the Codex never got around to reviewing is Nihilistic Software's Vampire: The Masquerade - Redemption, published by Activision in 2000 (and currently available from GOG.com). Compared to the much more celebrated Bloodlines, Redemption has fallen into relative obscurity and isn't generally considered a very good game. In this special Halloween feature, esteemed community member Deuce Traveler considers whether that reputation is deserved. (Spoiler: he thinks it is.) In the conclusion, another esteemed Codexer, felipepepe, offers a brief addendum on the game's Storyteller Mode.
Here's an excerpt to get you started:
Another gripe that I have with Redemption is its lack of adherence to the Vampire: The Masquerade lore. The events that Christof is involved with in medieval times eventually result in an Inquisition against the vampire lords, but the timeline doesn't quite seem to match White Wolf's publications. Also, the clan of vampire you are born into dictates the set of disciplines (related categories of vampire powers) available to you in the tabletop version, but in the video game your party can run into books which impart upon the reader new vampire disciplines, like some sort of quick-read "Vampire Powers for Dummies" pamphlet.
I've played the tabletop version of the classic World of Darkness roleplaying game a handful of times, so while I'm not an expert, I know a bit about its Storyteller System ruleset. The Storyteller System was a d10 ruleset used by White Wolf for all of its World of Darkness titles, from Vampire: The Masquerade to Mage: The Ascension. The classic Vampire: The Masquerade rules that Redemption was based upon encouraged the use of skills for engaging in non-combat activities such as investigations and diplomacy. Often a group of Vampire players would investigate the activities of enemy Sabbat (the bad guys) agents infiltrating their city, or tread the interwoven politics of their own allied Camarilla (the supposed good guys). In Redemption, though, the designers went with the classic action RPG dungeon crawler formula, despite the fact that the Storyteller system was best suited for a less combat-oriented experience.
The game focuses on dungeon crawling and combat against larger numbers of vampires than would be reasonably expected to be residing in a single city. The skill system is completely tossed out - fighting is the only way of solving quests. There is also a bit of puzzle solving, which can be summed up as "find the hidden switch to open the next passageway". Instead of allowing you to explore the character of Christof and the world of which he is a part, the game takes the uninteresting Save The World route, without ever explaining how the big bad evil guy could take over the world when four vampires in trench coats can take him out easily enough.
Over the past couple of months, the Dead State Early Access beta has received a flurryofupdates, gradually turning what initially seemed to be a bare-bones experience into a full-featured RPG. Today's Kickstarter update announces at long last the game's final release date - December 4th, 2014.
The DoubleBear team has some extra-special, ultra-awesome news for you to celebrate Halloween: Dead State has a release date!
That's right: on December 4th, 2014 - just over a month away - Dead State will emerge from the cocoon of Early Access and transform into a beautiful, fully matured game!
On top of that, later today we plan to release Patch #4 chock full of delicious, gooey content, features, and fixes, so keep an eye out for that. Pretty sweet Halloween treats, right?
Aside from Patch #4 going out later today/tonight, we plan to release one final patch before the launch; after that, we’re going to focus our full attention on fixing, balancing, and polishing Dead State until we run full speed across the finish line. All you have to do is keep playing, having fun, and sharing your feedback with us, and we’ll do the rest.
Please help us out by spreading the word about the launch date - take to Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and your other social networks / forums of choice and give them the good news. After all, it's only decent to warn your friends about the coming apocalypse
Happy Halloween, everyone - may your undead slaying be merry!
So, unless Cleve surprises us in November (fat chance), it looks like Dead State will be the victor in the Codex's great three-way vaporware war. Congratulations to DoubleBear. By the way, they've also posted a preview of the game's soundtrack on Soundcloud, so you might want to check that out.
Divinity: Original Sin received an update today, and unexpectedly, a Kickstarter update to go along with it. The game still hasn't received the promised hardcore rebalancing patch, but there's still some good stuff here. But the true purpose of the Kickstarter update, I think, is Swen's announcement of the Larian Devline, a regularly occurring Twitch podcast where fans will be able to talk about what features they want to see in the future, not just in Original Sin but in Larian's unannounced next RPG as well. Check it out:
A new patch
We just released a big update for Divinity:Original Sin that includes over a 150 fixes. The full changelist is too big to list here, but you can find all the details on our forums. This update should fix a lot of the smaller lingering bugs and also address a number of balancing issues.
Join us on the Larian Devline Twitch podcast!
This Tuesday, November 4th, we’ll be trying something new by hosting a live Twitch podcast with our devs in which you can tell us what things you liked and didn’t like about Divinity:Original Sin, and what things you’d like to see us develop in the future.
We’ll obviously be watching the chat but we’d also like to discuss with some of you during the stream.
So, if you have strong thoughts about features in the game you think should be improved, let us know via email@example.com.
You don’t have to write an essay, a few lines explaining the core of your idea/criticism will suffice. We’ll then invite you to join us during the podcast via Skype.
The first Larian Devline podcast will be on our Twitch Channel on: November 4th, 2014 at 19:00 CET, 18:00GMT, 13:00 EST, 10:00PST
Development is continuing with things like the Linux version and the hardcore mode still on our lists, but as we want to do this thoroughly, it will still take some time before we’re ready.
The Linux version especially suffered an extra delay as a result of our porting team having to fix a number of compatibility issues that popped up with the release of Yosemite. Whereas we initially hoped to get the Linux version done this year, it looks like it’ll be the beginning of next year now.
We know that’ll disappoint a few among you but bear in mind that we’re doing a real port just like we did with the Mac version.
Larian will also soon be looking for new employees for their next game, so now would be a good time for all you armchair (and non-armchair) developers to make a good impression!
Beamdog's Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition has just been released. They haven't put together any new trailer or anything, but Beamdog CEO Trent Oster did give a fairly interesting interview over at PCGamesN yesterday, where he spoke a bit about the differences between BioWare and Black Isle games, and about Beamdog's plans for the future. So I'll quote some of that here to give this post some substance:
“Icewind Dale was kind of this left-turn where you just jumped out and it was all about the bashing and combat and winning the fight and wondering what was around the next corner, that was going to be as challenging or even more challenging than what you just fought,” said Oster.
“At BioWare at some points we tried to introduce puzzles that were different. Icewind Dale is like combat puzzles. And they’re just fun.”
Just as BioWare and their publishing counterparts at Black Isle were getting to grips with the possibilities of their engine, so too were their players. They salivated at the chance to spend two hours in character creation - building an entire six-person party from the ‘gender’ button onwards, rolling and re-rolling their stats as they went.
“I think that’s where a lot of the satisfaction of Icewind Dale comes from,” said Oster. “By knowing the rules and by being able to build great combination characters and play them how they’re intended, you can do some amazing things that you wouldn’t think are possible with a party.”
By the turn of the millenium, BioWare had learned to play their henchmen off against each other to produce their juiciest dialogue. But Black Isle’s Icewind Dale, with its player-made party members, didn’t have that. Nor did it have the conversation-filled city hubs that punctuate play in Baldur’s Gate. What it had in great, snowy dollops was something Black Isle had learned on Fallout: atmosphere.
“Those guys were good,” recalled Oster. “To me Black Isle was always about really, really strong artwork, and it still looks phenomenal. It’s just haunting.
“Initially we were pretty intimidated by it, but once we started working with the content we were like, ‘Man, this stuff is so beautiful, it holds up so well’.”
When Black Isle did allow themselves to unsheath their quills, Oster reckons they often outdid BioWare - whose plots were more “convoluted”.
“I always found Black Isle’s writing to be a lot more direct, a lot shorter,” he said. “At BioWare I think we tended to get a little novelistic. Whereas Chris’ stuff was more colloquial, and more accessible.”
Hmmm, I'm not sure that's quite how I'd characterize MCA's writing style, particularly back then. But it's an interesting take. IWD:EE is now available on Steam, GOG, or direct from Beamdog, for the price of 20 dollars.
George Ziets' Torment: Tides of Numenera Gullet stretch goal just got funded, three days ahead of its deadline. With uncharacteristic swiftness, inXile have published a short Kickstarter update to celebrate the occasion:
Thanks to hundreds of you and hundreds of new backers, we’ve reached our target for the Gullet! We’ve changed it from [C] to [A] priority and will be including it in the final game. The top contributors over the last week were our Anonymous donor ($999), Najiok ($827), Grond ($820), and Kaleb ($370). Thank you all for your support and for helping to get the word out about Torment.
While we aren’t announcing a new Stretch Goal at this time, Torment’s crowdfunding efforts do continue, with every pledge being invested in our development budget and allowing us to put more resources on the game. (We’re not making the game bigger at this point and new funds serve primarily to increase the level of polish we’ll be able to achieve.) We appreciate your continued efforts to spread the word about the RPG rennaissance that’s underway, and our small part in it.
RPG players are generally pretty addicted to the coolest form of game playing around. But what about if you are in the mood for something a little different? The people at All Slots download list their favorite slots games for you to choose from. Slots are fun and can win you a stack of cash.
Tue 28 October 2014
Tales of Maj'Eyal: Ashes of Urh'Rok Expansion Released
Game News - posted by Crooked Bee
on Tue 28 October 2014, 18:30:23
The popular (and pretty good) roguelike Tales of Maj'Eyal, or ToME4, has had a new expansion, Ashes of Urh'Rok, released. It includes two new classes (Doomsbringer and Demonologist), one new race (Doomelves), two new zones, and lots of new lore:
Many in Maj'Eyal have heard of "demons", sadistic creatures who appear seemingly from nowhere, leaving a trail of suffering and destruction whereever they go. Their Fearscape floats far above the skies, watching and waiting, but not idly; their agents scout the land, their legions build up their forces, and their scholars develop new spells and strategies. As the barrier between our worlds begins to crack under their scrutiny, helpless Eyalites have begun to disappear, whisked up to serve as their slaves and playthings. They imbue these victims with magical powers to better survive the ensuing stresses - can you use your new-found abilities to escape the legions of Mal'Rok?
Start with a new class, the Doombringer! These avatars of demonic destruction charge into battle with massive two-handed weapons, cutting swaths of firey devastation through hordes of opponents. Armed with flame magic and demonic strength, they delight in fighting against overwhelming odds, softening up the crowd with waves of fire, then feeding on the flames and suffering of their surroundings to stay alive while quickly reducing any group to a pile of ash and gore.
Unlock a new class, the Demonologist, with an all-new item enhancement mechanic! Bearing a shield and the magic of the Spellblaze itself, these melee-fighting casters can grow demonic seeds from their fallen enemies. Imbue these seeds onto your items to gain a wide array of new talents and passive benefits, and summon the demons within them to fight on your side! Ever looked at a gigantic demon-cursed minotaur and wished it was on your side for once? Well, now you CAN summon one to pound your foes into paste while you cast devastating spells from afar, or call forth a squad of Fire Imps to pelt your enemies to death while they exhaust themselves on your impenetrable defenses! Demons have persistent health, making them a little more precious than disposable necromancer skeletons or summoner beasts, but can be revived from death nonetheless.
Two new zones, with all-new art, foes, and bosses! You've seen the plains of the Fearscape before, now see the lairs and headquarters of the demons themselves!
Over 10,000 words of written lore to find! The demons were once an enlightened, peaceful race, hailing from a distant planet known as Mal'Rok; learn what drove them to plot Eyal's eternal torture! Discover monuments to each of the demonic species and noteworthy individuals, showing the place of honor each has among them! Get a glimpse into the culture and daily lives of these sadistic invaders and their brainwashed thralls!
Unlock a new race, Doomelves: Shalore who've taken to the demonic alterations especially well, corrupting their typical abilities into a darker form. Blink away to safety, transform into a shadowy dúathedlen to hide in the shadows or prey on your foes with blasts of darkness, use your new resilience to soak up status effects and critical hits, and assault your enemies' minds to leave them unsteady in combat!
Aside from that, the expansion includes new talents, items, appearance options, events, and achievements.
You can buy the expansion on Steam or from the developer's website for about 4€ (or $4 if you live outside Europe, I assume). If you buy it from TE4.org then you'll get a manual download for the expansion as well as being able to permanently add it to Steam.
It looks like Japanese developers are starting to discover the PC market for real, after all. Now that, notably, Square Enix has released a hefty amount of Final Fantasy titles on Steam, including most recently the controversial Final Fantasy XIII, and Falcom/XSEED have done the same for Trails in the Sky - not to mention the non-RPGs like Metal Gear Solid V or Way of the Samurai 4 - it looks like PC is not predominantly an eroge platform in the eyes of Japanese video game companies anymore.
The latest of such developments is the news that the formerly PS3-exclusive Japanese tactical RPG Valkyria Chronicles, originally released in 2008, will be coming to PC soon, first leaked when someone discovered its PEGI rating:
Some thought that could've been a mistake - however, SEGA themselves confirmed the port is coming on their Twitter later that day:
Valkyria Chronicles is the tactical RPG that many strategy game- and RPG-savvy Codexers claim to have enjoyed. So here's hoping it really is as good as they are saying.
In the latest Underraildevelopment update, Styg offers us a glimpse of what he plans to add for the game's next version, which is all about new content:
Hey guys. I've put the game mechanics aside for now and we're all focused on churning out content for the following update.
In this update we will be rounding up almost entire game world outside of Church of Tchort and Deep Caverns. Player will be able to learn more about the Protectorate and Free Drones and the conflict between them. Optionally, player can decide to throw in their lot with either the freedom loving partisans or the imperialistic lawbringers. There's also another secret faction offerring more opportunity for those observant enough.
In other news, I finally took the time to fill some long outstanding holes in the presentation department.
Firstly, I hired an artist to do the portraits. There's lots of them to be drawn so don't expect them all to be finished in the next update. In the screenshot above you can see the portraits are lit in the same manner as the characters on the map. I find that this adds to the atmosphere, but this can be disabled in the options for those who disagree. Players can also make their own custom portraits and the game will offer them on character creation if they have been placed in the appropriate folder and are of appropriate format.
Secondly, it was time to expand the musical repertoire. With only four tracks covering the numerous and diverse locations of Underrail, the music tended to get quite repetitive. As with the portraits, don't expect us to be able to cover the entire game with new music immediately. The sample above is the music for the Foundry. Enjoy.
Finally, here's the obligatory list of minor stuff:
Enemies will now threaten and taunt you in combat. Currently all have the same collection of phrases, but we plan to customize these in the future for different characters/factions/locations. We'll be looking for feedback on these - do the taunts occur too frequently/rarely, is there some particular taunt that is repeated too often, etc. Of course, for those who don't like this sort of stuff, it can be disabled in the options.
Electrobolts will no longer jump to passive objects that are completely immune to them (e.g. destructible rocks)
You can no longer load individual bullets during combat as stated by the tooltip
Removed various leathers that were way too high quality for their type from certain stores
Burst fire will no longer trigger hostilities against secondary targets caught in the burst cone unless they actually take damage
Arena commentator will no longer order everyone in Core City to kill you if you happen to aim your burst in his general direction
Crawlers buffed and their AI has been slightly tweaked
Let me know what you thought of the new stuff, guys. Cheers.
Those portraits look sweet. And don't forget to check out the sample of the game's new music, too.
With Torment: Tides of Numenera's Gullet stretch goal on schedule towards being fulfilled, area design maestro George Ziets has decided to share a few words about its origin. The Gullet is his attempt to recreate the Planescape: Torment dungeon experience. Read on:
So here we are… four days remain on the Gullet stretch goal, with a little under $7000 left to raise. Before the stretch goal ends, I’d been meaning to say more about how the Gullet came to be, so if you’re interested in the realities of area design, read on!
I wrote my design for the Bloom in late 2013. At that point in time, very little work had been done on the content side of our game. All we had was a Mere that consisted of two scenes, and we still had to determine the overall look and feel for Torment. My goal was to give our players an experience that was as close to the original Planescape Torment as possible - I played PST a lot while I was writing the design documents, trying to make sure I hit just the right tone and analyzing what worked and what didn’t.
One element that sometimes worked… and sometimes didn’t… were the dungeons. While PST was primarily a dialogue-driven experience, it included a few dungeons, strategically scattered throughout the game. Some were purely combat-focused, like the mausoleum in the Hive. Others were a mix of combat, exploration, and dialogues, like the catacombs beneath the Buried Village. I thought the latter worked best. Combat wasn’t one of PST’s strengths, but when it was balanced with exploration and a few dialogues, the whole experience was tense, interesting, and fun. It also contrasted nicely with the dialogue-driven gameplay that preceded and followed it.
So when I designed the Bloom, I decided to include something similar (though shorter in length) – a “dungeon” environment that skewed more heavily toward exploration and discovery. And since players would pass through this area on their way into the Bloom’s depths, it would be set toward the end of the zone… a perfect time to pay off on some of the player’s earlier choices.
That’s how the Gullet was born. This was where old and forgotten things would be found, devoured by the Bloom in the distant past, sinking slowly into its guts, finally coming to rest here. Echoes of the Bloom’s victims would wander here too, including victims the player may have “nudged” to their demise. In the end, all things find their way to the Gullet. (Last week, somebody on the team likened it to the Bloom’s liver, which I thought was a particularly apt comparison.)
I drew up a map on graph paper, numbered the encounter areas (old-school D&D-style), and detailed everything that would happen in the Gullet. When the other leads reviewed the design documentation, they seemed to like the Gullet content, and I was pretty excited to include all this weird and horrific stuff in the game. But strictly speaking, the Bloom could function without the Gullet (and its most important content could be relocated somewhere else), so when we realized that we didn’t have the resources to develop all the content I had proposed, the Gullet became [C] priority. I was sad, but such are the realities of game development.
In the old days (by which I mean 2012 or so), a cut was a cut. If we didn’t have the resources to implement everything we had planned, we made the decision to cut something, and that was that. The cut content was forever lost. But now, in the strange world of crowd-funding, the Gullet has a second chance at life. Will we make it to the stretch goal? I hope so. I think it’ll be fun to prototype our version of a PST dungeon, full of exploration and weird discoveries. If you’ve contributed, thanks for getting us this far… and if all goes well, I’ll see you on the other side of the finish line.
There's a nice new interview with Colin McComb over at Russian RPG site RPGNuke, in which he answers questions about Torment, about his career and the games he's worked on, and about his thoughts on gaming in general. Here's the part about Torment:
RPGNuke: Hi Colin! Let's start with some Tides of Numenera questions. A one and a half years passed since the end of kickstarter campaign. What is the status of the project now? Where there many changes to the initially planned? Did you have to cut anything out or did you manage to add anything new? As far as I know the pre-production phase now comes to its end and the prodution phase starts, how does this transition occur?
Colin: We are shifting from limited production to production. What limited production means is that we were creating content for the game, but not at the speed that we might expect during a full production period. Rather, it’s in ways that prove out our ideas and concepts, or that show where the weaknesses in our pipeline are, or that help build the best processes for the whole team.
As to whether we had to cut anything: We have! But that’s natural for any project as we assess scope and our desired impact. We’ve tightened up the story in some places, expanded it in others, and tried to make sure that we are focused exactly on delivering what we’ve promised to our backers. We’ve also managed to expand areas that were smaller in the original vision, and I’m happy with where we are as a result of our discussions.
The transition from Wasteland 2 to Torment is happening slowly and carefully under Kevin’s supervision. He wants to make sure that the newer members of the team are done with their responsibilities on Wasteland 2, or at least done enough that they can begin to devote serious attention to our project. They’ll start by getting familiar with our tools and our processes, and they can point out places where our processes and documentation need improvement. As more and more of them come over, and as people ramp up on the project, we’ll see a faster pace for production and creation of all our assets.
New Torment will have turn-based combat system. Not everyone is happy about that, though Planescape: Torment combat system is being scolded frequently too. Please tell me, did you consider to make Planescape: Torment turn-based? Do you think this variant could be viable and what do you prefer: turn-based or realtime with pause?
With Planescape: Torment, we didn’t really have a choice, as I recall. We were working with the Infinity Engine, and we were working on delivering an experience that matched (at least in part) what Bioware had done with Baldur’s Gate. We had a much broader latitude to choose turn-based or real-time with pause for this game, but even then we had a difficult decision to make. Having backer feedback was invaluable, and even then, it was a tough decision. The more we delve into the Crisis system, the more I am convinced we made the right choice.
My personal preference for games depends on what game I’m playing. I’m not an absolutist in either direction.
Torment: Tides of Numenera's central question is "What does one life matter?", were there any other variants in concideration?
From the start, it was always about the legacy we leave from the choices we make in life. The difficulty was in finding the right words to express that question. I believe it was Nathan Long who came up with this particular phrase, and as soon as he said it, we were off.
At first glance it seems that Torment: Tides of Numenera replicates a lot of ideas from Planescape: Torment. Do you think this statement is correct?
I agree with "at first glance" and "seems". That is, it might appear that way superficially, but one could say that of any number of stories. We're intentionally focusing on an intensely personal story, as PST did (though we're talking about issues of legacy and abandonment rather than regret and growth); we're in a strange, alien world, with unusual characters for an RPG. We chose all these similarities deliberately, identifying them as key parts of the Torment experience. But we are also deliberately stepping away from a number of the things that PST did, because we don't want to replicate it. Our mission is to analyze what we loved about PST, and then to make a game that will be a worthy successor to that title, a welcome peer, and hopefully a milestone for future development.
The rest of the interview is interesting too, though. I didn't know Colin was an Ultima guy.
The intro cinematic for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt premiered today at the annual Golden Joystick Awards event in London. CD Projekt released it on their YouTube channel shortly thereafter, and since Witcher eye candy is one of the Codex's few guilty pleasures, I'm posting it here. The intro shows Geralt and his mentor Vesemir tracking down the sorceress Yennefer on an old battlefield, with flashbacks to the battle itself.
Ciri the ashen-haired, Yennefer the raven-haired. It sure does seem like a lot of time is going to be spent in this game chasing after powerful women with distinctive hair colors. It's a hard life, being a Witcher.
As promised in the game's previous update three weeks ago, the Kingdom Come: Deliverance alpha (which Warhorse is calling a "technical alpha") was released to eligible backers early this morning. The accompanying Kickstarter update has the details:
We proudly present you the Tech Alpha version of Kingdom Come: Deliverance! This is a very important milestone for us as it gives us the first chance to show you what’s already been created and what we are aiming for. At the same time also providing us with the first chance to get direct feedback from you!
Your feedback is very important to us in the following steps of development. Seeing videos and screenshots is nice, but touching and feeling the interactive piece with all your senses is way better. Therefore backers with the Baron Tier and higher will get the chance to meet Henry and experience his life in 1403.
Usually Alpha version means that you get a finished game with plenty of bugs, rough edges and missing parts. We would like to approach the Alpha early access phenomenon a bit differently. So how our Alpha look like? Our Alpha version is more likely a Technical Alpha.
What does that mean? The Tech Alpha version of Kingdom Come: Deliverance is a collection of several technical aspects and game mechanisms in a more or less advanced state of development. The playable content will grow in stages (updated versions approximately every two or three months), adding new aspects, settings or game mechanics to the Alpha. You’ll get the chance to become acquainted with Kingdom Come: Deliverance step by step and can delve into more and more of our world as the amount of the content grow. Interested?
All eligible backers get their unique code on their profile at www.KingdomComeRPG.com. Please visit our site and register there, so you can manage your credentials like address, preferred platform or T-shirt size.
The Alpha is accessible for Windows PCs only and via Steam service. Your unique code will open the game visible and downloadable. After you install it, your initial journey can begin.
Unfortunately this early in development a wide variety of technical problems while downloading, installing, and launching the game are probable. Therefore if you run into any issues we will be happy to help. If you would like to share your opinion, please visit our forums or contact us and we’ll do whatever we can to help you.
Please consider that the game is far from finished and the bugs are there. We appreciate your feedback from the gaming experience!
The update also has some screenshots, as well as a stand-alone version of the alpha trailer we've already seen. Rather than post that again, I'll show you one of the many LPs of the alpha that are already up on YouTube.
IS IT IMPOSSIBLE TO TOTALLY AVOID COMBAT IN UNDERRAIL?
It might actually not be, according to Blaine. It's been a long time since we last took a look at Styg's promising, upcoming game Underrail. Last time we did, we described it using such uncharacteristically bold language as
"Underrail has the potential to become a classic on par with the old Codexian favourite Fallout."
Hm. Well, the game has come a long way since then. We're hardly likely to use such words again, now that the game is much bigger and reality is sinking in, are we?
Perhaps we are. Here's a bit of what Blaine had to say about it:
"Underrail is the second coming of the incline. The only reasonable conclusion to draw here is that you should either play the game now, or look forward to playing it later when it's officially released. Although the current version offers an enormous amount of content, is very stable, and doesn't feel "unfinished" (although it is, as you'll discover once you reach higher levels), it isn't quite done, so you may prefer to wait.
Having said that, the game isn't without its flaws. As JarkFrank mentioned in his preview, there are a lot of typos, and boy, there really are a lot of them. They're present in skill/item descriptions as well as dialog. In addition, and this is my personal opinion, some of the NPC dialog is a bit awkward or rushed and should be copyedited and cleaned up. This is a very manageable flaw (though no small task) that could turn into a big one if allowed into the final release.
Also, the game is a little bit (really just a scosche) light on NPC dialog and C&C at the moment, though there is a good bit of dialog and C&C. Of course, the game's not finished, so it's hard to make a solid judgement, especially on the C&C front.
In conclusion, this game is great, and if you don't like it, you're a tasteless waste of oxygen and should be removed from the Codex. Grunker and/or Infinitron, you'd better not cut this part! It's important."
Alright Blaine, we won't. But what on earth does it take to make a Codexer use such strong, positive superlatives? Is Blaine a gushing fanboy, or is this game simply remarkably Codexian? Read the preview to find out! Who knows, maybe you'll be heading off to buy Underrail afterwards?
An odd message arrived in the RPG Codex inbox in June. Codex user/lurker Math Fool was telling us he was going to the Tokyo Game Show, which was to take place September 18th to 21st, and that he could cover the show for the Codex if we wanted him to. Later, it turned out Tales Of Game's' and our very own eric_s' Barkley 2 was going to be showcased at TGS. And as you may know, we have been following that game fairly closely.
So we thought: okay, at least he'll take a look at Barkley 2 for us, and secured a press pass for Math Fool. Barkley 2 alone wasn't enough to make an entire article though, so we padded it out with general JRPG- and otaku-related stuff. You know, like we usually do here on the Codex.
Anyway, here's the excerpt on Barkley 2:
Barkley 2 is a direct sequel to the indie RPG Barkley Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden. Set 4000 years after the original game in the year 666X, the story focuses on a character who has lost his memories and adopts an identity to explore the world of Necron 7. The character creation process is very involved and can last as long as 30 minutes. One gamer at TGS actually died during this process, which then has a lasting impact on your character for the remainder of the game.
Barkley 2 embracing its Japanese roots.
Your choices impact the story in Barkley 2, and no game is quite like another. There are over 20 possible endings in this 15-hour quest, and every action is tracked in the game. Not only how often you die but the types of death your character experiences will contribute to his overall fate. You can earn experience points by playing video games, or choose to keep games in their original mint packaging instead.
Combat occurs in real-time using a dual thumb stick interface. I played using an Xbox One controller, and the action is fast and furious. In addition to standard combat, there is also a turn-based tactical basketball strategy game that was reminiscent of Blitzball from Final Fantasy X. Finally, there is a detailed item breeding and creation process in which guns can evolve over time and pass down their characteristics to future generations.
The turn-based B-Ball game
To be honest, I had never heard of Barkley 2 before coming to TGS. The story of both games are very unique, wacky and original. It’s the kind of game that normally falls under my radar screen, but it was good to play something that was not another big budget franchise sequel for a change.
Barkley 2 is coming initially to PC, Mac and Linux, with future ports to PS4 and XB1, and potentially the PS3 and Xbox 360. The game will be available “when it’s ready.”
On a related note, eric_s aka cboyardee recently posted on the SA forums that Barkley 2's quests will basically blow all the Kickstarter games out of the water:
Not to knock Wasteland or anything, I think it's cool and I've really enjoyed it so far, but it's crazy how different it is from Barkley 2. I guess for the last few years I've had it in my head that Wasteland and all these other big kickstarter games are the metric by which we're going to be judged (I have no idea why) and obviously it excels in areas where Barkley can't even come close, like polish, but our approach to quest design and their approach are just different games all together. Kind of crazy to me, actually, that we're still O.K. with like straight up no-frills fetch quests. I haven't seen the whole game and I like everything I've seen so far, but I seriously hope every other RPG cannibalizes our quests.
He also says "it's taking long because we want it to be really good." No pressure at all, Eric.
Finally, don't forget to check out the full article, if only for the numerous booth babes pics. That's why people attend these kinds of events, right?
The third and final episode of Matt Barton's interview with Robert Woodhead begins with Robert continuing with his retelling of various anecdotes from the development of the early Wizardry games. He talks about the technical challenges of developing Wizardry's window-based user interface, and about the series' then-notorious copy protection schemes (which he admits in retrospect were a waste of time, but still considers to have been an interesting challenge). At one point, Matt tries to ask him whether he doesn't regret sticking with the same codebase for all of his games, instead of remaking everything from scratch for every game the same way Richard Garriott did with Ultima, reasoning that it may have stifled the series' innovation. Sadly, Robert either misunderstands the question or chooses to avoid answering it, instead going off on a tangent about portability and localization.
In the end, Robert Woodhead remains above all an independent programmer, not a game design auteur. Matt mentions our own interview with him, where he claimed that he "wasn't proud" of Wizardry, and Robert reiterates that claim, explaining that in his view, Wizardry is not some work of genius, but just one step in the evolution of computer RPGs - a step that could have been taken by any number of people. The interview ends with him telling the story of how he passed the Wizardry torch to David Bradley and moved to Japan where he met his wife. He left the Wizardry chapter of his life behind him, and never touched any of the latter games in the series. He does admit that he would be willing to create a new computer game, if it was truly innovative and he was allowed to "do whatever he wants". That's Robert Woodhead, folks.
Microprose's 1992 open world classic Darklands, set in a magical version of the 15th century historical Europe, has been made available on Steam (in addition to GOG, where it has been sold for quite some time now) as part of a bunch of new entries in the Steam catalog by the recently founded old games publisher Retroism. See here for their Steam titles, which also include stuff like BloodNet.
Heroic Adventures in Medieval Germany
Deep in the twilight of the Black Forest, you and your companions crouch before the robber-knight's tower. Hans, the alchemist, places his mysterious potion by the door. Ebhard the friar implores Saint Dunstan to bless your weapons and armor. And you and Gretchen grip naked long swords, praying your plate mail won't squeak.
With a thundery crash, the door explodes into fragments! You charge inside, swords and maces swinging. One guard falls beneath the power of your blade... then two more! You storm upstairs to the second floor, but there to greet you is Erhard the Red Wolf, the infamous robber-knight, surrounded by his henchmen. Hans tosses a choking potion into their faces and you quickly charge into the fray. The room echoes with the clash of steel on steel... it's a battle to the death in the Black Forest!
Prepare yourself to enter Darklands... the first realistic fantasy role-playing adventure for computers!
Leading a band of four adventurers across the sinister landscape of 15th Century Germany, you'll face the Middle Ages as people believed it to be! A land seething with mythical beasts, religious power-mongers and blood-thirsty sinister robber-knights!
Watch savage battles unfold before your eyes! Travel hundreds of miles by land and sea... from the Frisian Coast to Bohemia... from the Alps to Prussia... visiting over ninety cities along the way!
Your quest for fame and fortune can take you through raucous city streets and dank mine shafts, or from a robber-knight's tower to the terrifying Sabbaths of witches!
So prepare yourself for the astonishing wonders of a realistic fantasy adventure... in the mysterious Darklands!
Improve each character's attributes and skills as the game progresses.
No artificial character classes or levels!
Learn alchemical formulas to make your own potions!
Brilliant watercolor-style graphics bring to life and myths and mysteries of the Middle Ages!
Easy-to-use and innovative menu presents you with unprecedented role-playing options.
Character fight in real-time animation! Freeze the actions and give new orders to characters any time you wish!
Numantian Games' party-based isometric RPG Lords of Xulima got a new Kickstarter update, announcing that all content except the final fight and ending cinematic is now available for Early Access players, as well as two new features - an Ironman mode and the ability to write your own notes on the map (yay!).
V.16 New Content Unlocked: The Search for the Titans
The four colossal Titans known as the Sons of the Elemental Xulnari, have their lair in the most remote places of Xulima. Finding them is just impossible for the mortals, unless you can count on some divine help... For those lucky players that find them, enjoy interacting with those powerful Demigods that have not met a mortal ever.
Now all the world is accessible for the player, including the Glacier of Geldra, the Desolation Desert of Pernitia and the Lake of Fire in Vilak. Also, the four temples of the Elementals Xulnari can be played now. In some of them, you will find new monsters as "The Nightmare" which is one of the most powerful enemies you will find.
Game already finished?
We have unlocked about 15-20 hours more of gameplay. Indeed, 99% of the full game is now playable. Everything except the very end, that includes the Final Boss and the awesome End Cinematic that lasts 8 minutes, at which only a dozen lucky people have had the chance to watch it. We will reserve the climax of this epic story for the official release of Lords of Xulima in November. While you can speculate about the end, what will happen with Xulima and the rest of the world?...
The new Ironman difficulty mode
Many fans of LoX have requested this new difficulty mode. The Ironman mode has the same rules as the Hardcore mode, but you can only save the game when you are safe in the towns. So yes, this mode can be a real nightmare, such a challenge that perhaps nobody can ever finish it.
For those heroic players we have created a new special achievement and the final score is now re-scaled as the Ironman mode grants a score, 300% more than in normal mode. We have added new monsters for the final rank, which now has 100 different positions.
Which will be yours?
Normal Mode: Ranks from 1-50.
Old-School Veteran: Ranks from 50-70.
Hardcore: Ranks from 70-90
Ironman Mode: Up to rank ~100.
New Feature: Write your own notes on the Maps!
Another feature requested by the fans is writing their own notes on the maps. Finally, it has been implemented. It was a little hard to add, but we love that feature too. Also, these custom notes can be consulted directly in the Journal with the rest of auto-notes that the game records for you. Hope you enjoy it!
The next update will have finally the Talisman of Golot we promised in Kickstarter, the French translation and perhaps the German one too.
For a full changelog, check out this post. You can (and, dare I say, should) buy the game on Steam.
As you've probably heard, the fundraiser for the Gullet stretch goal in Torment: Tides of Numenerafailed to reach its target on time. Although it seemed at first that it was gone for good, a surprise Kickstarter update today has announced that funding will be extended until the end of October. In addition to that, the update reports that Adam Heine's From the Depths: Gold, the first of Torment's five novellas based on the metaphysical Tides, has been released and is available now. I quote:
Hi, Thomas here. I'd like to start out today's update with a huge "thank you!" for the immense outpouring of support we received for our stretch goal to add the Gullet into the game. We received some incredibly generous pledges from many backers, including an anonymous donor ($1665), Pookie ($1271), Najiok ($900), Hiro Protagonist ($750) and even a pair of $750 pledges from our very own Colin McComb and Kevin Saunders.
Unfortunately, we fell somewhat short of our goal (about 15%, or $35,000) to see the Gullet added to the final game. However, we did not want to see this great effort of yours go for naught, and we also realized based on comments about this stretch goal as it closed that awareness had not spread widely enough. Some people suggested extending the deadline, in part to allow word to spread to where it didn't before.
So, we're moving the stretch goal deadline for the Gullet to the end of Friday, October 31. Just over $30,000 to go!
Coincidentally this is also when we will be closing a number of add-ons from our Kickstarter period. So while new backers are more than welcome you may also want to consider some of our add-on options! And to remind everyone: please specify your add-ons by Friday, October 31!
From the Depths: Gold Released
We've released the first of our From the Depths novellas. If you need a refresher: the From the Depths stories are a series of novellas being written by people involved in Torment: Tides of Numenera and Numenera itself. While not required reading to play, they provide a richer understanding of the Torment world and characters as well as the Tides.
If the Digital Novella Compilation was part of your Tier, or if you pledged for the $15 add-on, then you can retrieve Adam's novella it RIGHT NOW at our site. It's available DRM-free in all the most common eBook formats (epub, mobi, azw3, and PDF).
The first one we're releasing is written by our Design Lead Adam Heine, and set in Ossiphagan – which was the subject of the lore piece in update 34. It is one of the five From the Depths novellas that give specific insights into the nature of the Tides, with Adam's focusing on the Gold Tide.
Check out the full update for an excerpt from the novella. I guess the idea is that if people like what they see, they'll go ahead and buy it right now.
So, Legend of Grimrock 2, the sequel to Almost Human's dungeon crawling indie hit, was released this evening. The original Legend of Grimrock, released two and a half years ago back in April 2012, turned out to be an early precursor to the great RPG retro revival of our times. With all the great games coming out these days, for a while there it was easy to believe that poor, simple Legend of Grimrock would fall by the wayside and be forgotten. But it doesn't look like that's going to happen. The guys at Almost Human resisted the temptation to churn out a quick slam-dunk sequel, which they could have easily done. Instead, they spent the time and produced a bigger, better, more impressive game, capable of holding its own in today's more competitive oldschool RPG arena. And for that they should be applauded. Here's Grimrock 2's official description from its Steam page:
Legend of Grimrock 2 is a dungeon crawling role playing game with a modern execution but an oldschool heart. A group of four prisoners have shipwrecked on the secluded Isle of Nex. The island is filled with ancient crumbled ruins, mysterious shrines and a vast underground network of dungeons and mines. If the prisoners wish to make it out alive, they have to overcome the challenges devised by the ominous mastermind of the island.
Powers of perception and logic are more important than sheer force is, since Legend of Grimrock 2 puts a heavy emphasis on exploration, survival and challenging puzzles. Discover powerful ancient artifacts from hidden secret chambers and buried treasures. Arm your champions, cast spells and craft enchanted potions and bombs to aid you in fighting the dreadful monsters in highly tactical real-time combat.
Design, share and play custom scenarios with the included Dungeon Editor! Create your own adventures and fill them with puzzles, traps, or even totally new items, monsters and environments with custom graphics and audio!
Get ready to venture forth and uncover the secrets of Nex!
Explore the wilderness and the dungeons of Isle of Nex: walk in ancient forests riddled with mysterious magical statues, fight the denizens of poison fuming swamps, dive in the Forgotten River in search of treasure, uncover secrets hidden deep below…
More than 20 hours of pure blooded dungeon crawling gameplay with grid-based movement and thousands of squares filled with hidden switches, pressure plates, secret doors, riddles, deadly traps and more.
Cast spells with runes, craft potions and bombs, fight murderous monsters with a large variety of melee-, ranged and thrown weapons, as well as firearms.
Create a party of four characters and customize them with 8 character classes, 5 races, and numerous skills and traits. Collect experience to hone their skills and discover improved equipment and magical artefacts.
42 different kind of monsters including 30 new foes unique to Isle of Nex.
Play custom adventures created by others or make your own with Dungeon Editor.
More depth, variety and open ended exploration than in Legend of Grimrock 1. Enhanced AI, spell casting, puzzle mechanics and skill systems.
Legend of Grimrock 2 is now available on Steam and GOG for the price of $24, with a 10% discount until next week. First non-Kickstarter game I've D1P'd in a looong time.
For most of us, Legend of Grimrock 2 is coming out tomorrow. But the privileged doyens of gaming journalism have already had their hands on it for a while, and have begun publishing their reviews. Among them is Rock Paper Shotgun's John Walker, whose verdict is, well, see for yourself:
Legend Of Grimrock 2 is bigger, deeper and more wonderful than I could ever have expected. I absolutely loved the original, its descending dungeons of tile-based first-person RPG not just reminiscent of Dungeon Master, but as good as it. Grimrock 2, I say without hesitation, is better.
Much as Dungeon Master II took that series outside, so too does Grimrock 2, but here it’s not utterly impossible. It is, however, incredibly difficult. Superbly difficult. While I haven’t actually measured, this sequel is so huge I feel certain the original game would fit into one of its corners. With fifteen huge, individual sections, and another dozen or so smaller areas, each is intricately detailed and packed to bursting with puzzles, challenges, hidden switches, terrifying enemies, and so many secrets.
If you played Grimrock 1, or indeed any of the classic tile-based adventures of the 80s and 90s (DM, Captive, Eye Of The Beholder, etc), then you’ll be familiar with the mechanics. A party of four characters, created by you (or there are pre-mades if you’d prefer), marching together in a real-time 3D world, one square at a time. Your squad, two up (likely with melee skills) and two behind (firing projectile weapons, magic, and so on), explores, casts spells from runes, makes potions from ingredients, and fights an awful lot of enormous bads. Despite moving in only four directions around its enormous grid, combat (and everything else) is in real-time.
And good gracious, it’s done so well. I have adored this game. Spread across a large variety of landscapes, dungeons, and castles, it’s on a scale far beyond your expectations. In fact, every time I became convinced I’d seen every location it was going to offer, I’d stumble on another vast, three-storey place, and have yet another few hours of wonderful treats.
At first, things are extremely daunting. Your party, imprisoned in a cage, washes up on an island after a shipwreck. The beach is filled with monstrous killer turtles (no, really), meaning you have to scramble for puny weapons like sticks and rocks to desperately fend them off, while instantly being introduced to the far greater complexity of the puzzles this time out. As you uncover the many secrets of this sprawling beach area, the size of things already begins to feel a little overwhelming – three or four different directions opening up immediately, each of them containing elements necessary to successful get through the others. And then, that done, you find a massive wooded area filled with furious trees, itself leading to multiple dungeons, a land threaded by rivers, a gloomy bog, and more and more. And each is limited by what you’ve done so far, passages closed off by gates, warping teleporters impeding progress, enemies that seem far too powerful, notes alluding to puzzles you’ve yet to discover, peculiar glowing-eyed stone figures giving you esoteric statements that could be myth or clues… And then you find a note from the creepy, crazy island owner, laughing at your inevitable struggle, warning you to maybe head somewhere else if tough’s too tricky.
[...] Everything in this sequel is bigger, more elaborate, more detailed, and absolutely better. Which, after such a lovely first game, is quite the thing. You will be able to sink days and days into this, and still come away with secrets undiscovered, doors unopened. And I think a real respect for a game that is not only itself phenomenally smart, but one that thinks you are too. It’s a joy, so splendidly crafted, so stuffed with original ideas and surprises. This isn’t nostalgia any more – it’s a massive step forward.
Well then, that sounds good. Those of you who are concerned with the so-called "combat mambo" might also find this comment interesting. Hopefully we can deliver our own review of Grimrock 2 sooner than later.