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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?

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RPG Codex Review: Darth Roxor on Disappointment, thy name is Pillars of Eternity

Review - posted by DarkUnderlord on Tue 21 April 2015, 07:39:47

Tags: Darth Roxor; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity

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Darth Roxor has written a number of reviews for us at the Codex. He's covered a whole range of games both old and new such as Shadowrun Returns, NWN 2: Storms of Zehir and Darklands among others (which I'd have put here but the search function is still on my list of things to fix). So what was his take on Obsidian Entertainment's first KickStarter project: Pillars of Eternity?

Despite the "hive mind consensus" that's often claimed, the Codex has always been about diversity of opinions. One of our founding tenets is that you are free to love or hate anything you want as long as you can explain why and back your opinion with arguments.

And Darth's opinion is that PoE is not good, just not good at all. Here's a bite:

When Obsidian Entertainment started their Kickstarter campaign for Pillars of Eternity in 2012 (under a working title of Project Eternity), many saw it as the second coming of Christ for cRPGs. There it was: the veteran developers from everyone’s beloved Black Isle Studios, reinforced by Tim Cain himself, wanted to bring us a modern successor to the Infinity Engine games. In their pitch, Obsidian described Eternity as something that would marry the combat of Icewind Dale, the narrative of Planescape: Torment and the exploration of Baldur’s Gate. Considering that a few years earlier Obsidian had given us the two Neverwinter Nights 2 expansions, Mask of the Betrayer and Storm of Zehir, that also fit parts of the above bill, it looked like there was no other choice but to get hyped.
[...]
Now, what do we make of PoE’s character system? Judged by its own merits, if I had to draw a comparison, I would call it the communism of character systems. Certainly, you have the feeling that everything you pick is kind of, sort of, equally useful (with some exceptions). But the flipside to this is that everything is also equally bland.
[...]
Your only reliable experience gains come from doing quests. That is certainly a reasonable approach by itself. It is however much less reasonable when you consider the amount of fighting you do in this game – all the trashmobs you steamroll through give you nothing, yet you are nevertheless forced to genocide them – most of this game’s playtime is spent fighting!
[...]
The bad encounter design and general lack of difficulty have one more very unfortunate result - they make exploring and dungeon-delving insanely boring. But make no mistake, this is also due to the dungeon design being very lacklustre to begin with.
[...]
Long story short, the stronghold has no use whatsoever. You can spend lots of money to fill it up with underlings and buildings, but nothing ever happens there. The buildings sell garbage. Your underlings don’t really do anything. Your free rest hall is behind 4 loading screens. You can even hold prisoners in a prison, and it has no effect on the game whatsoever. To say that the stronghold has been tacked on is the understatement of the century. Which is why I won’t even bother wasting more time talking about it.
[...]
The way the setting at large is presented to the player leaves a lot to be desired. PoE suffers a lot from its writers being obviously very proud of what they’ve done, so they make sure to tell you how awesome their setting is at every step – when an NPC starts talking about a distant place or a past event, brace yourself for a gigantic encyclopaedic infodump filled with dozens of alien names, regardless of whether the NPC is a commoner or a historian. This kind of exposition should be in the ‘cyclopedia’ section of the game’s journal, not in every second friggin’ dialogue.
[...]
Which brings us to what possibly surprised and disappointed me the most in PoE – the general writing quality is simply underwhelming. It never reaches any heights, it’s at best average and at worst abysmal. Everything is overly descriptive, very often just redundant and not leaving much for the player’s imagination. The majority of texts could easily be trimmed to one-third of their original size, which only tells me that PoE has never seen any editorial work apart from fishing out typos. One of the best examples I can think of is when you first meet Guy McBaddie the main villain, and the game makes sure to tell you at least three times that he is a bearded dude in a ceremonial robe and a fancy hat, even though the description is accompanied by two different illustrations in quick succession.​

I'll let you read the rest and judge for yourself.

Thanks to Darth Roxor for taking his time to review PoE for us, and stay tuned as we'll have some further perspectives on PoE before all is said and done.

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Darth Roxor on Disappointment, thy name is Pillars of Eternity

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Mon 27 April 2015
Matt Chat 288: Paul Neurath on Underworld Ascendant

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 27 April 2015, 12:20:00

Tags: Matt Barton; OtherSide Entertainment; Paul Neurath; Underworld Ascendant

It looks like Matt Barton has definitively settled his disputes with OtherSide Entertainment. Last night, he uploaded the first episode of his new interview with Paul Neurath, which was apparently recorded earlier this month. It's a fairly short episode, focusing on the recently Kickstarted Underworld Ascendant, and specifically on Paul's experiences with Kickstarter, on the importance of AI and on the game's systems-driven design.


Love that photo at 13:30. The next episodes will be about the good old Looking Glass days.

There are 4 comments on Matt Chat 288: Paul Neurath on Underworld Ascendant

Fri 24 April 2015
Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter Update #41: Lava and Fire

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Fri 24 April 2015, 22:17:14

Tags: Chris Siegel; Jeff Kesselman; OtherSide Entertainment; Underworld Ascendant

The Underworld Ascendant team is busy prototyping the game's various physics features. In the last update, producer Chris Siegel wrote about designing lava flows, and about the role they'll play in the ecology of the Abyss:

Lava. In games lava is most often usually done simply as a static river or pool of red liquid. Deadly to step into, but otherwise just a passive barrier to walk around.

Which is weird. Actual lava is an odd substance. It destroys pretty much anything it touches, but at the same time creates land. It is most often flowing, unpredictable, and violent. Sure, there are slow flows on the big Island of Hawaii. But as a game element, how much fun is that? It’s only good as a jump puzzle or perceived danger. So how can something like lava be used in a game world in a more interesting way?

There are two types of lava we will want to play with, basically thick and thin. Thick lava with high viscosity flows slowly and builds up on itself. This type is called A’a’, Hawaiian for stony rough lava.

A flow of A’a looks like, well, stony rough lava. It’s painfully slow but there is inevitability to it. It’s also known to throw out lava balls of up to 20 feet in diameter. Nothing like lava that throws boulders. Already this lava is more interesting than just a barrier obstacle.

Taking it further, what can you the player do to slow this down A’a if it’s making its way towards an inhabited area of the Stygian Abyss? Is there magic that can slow it down? A way to divert the flow to a different place? Rumors of some creatures that live in these types of flows that feed on the matter that the lava consumes? They might not be happy about being diverted away from some rich fertile areas of biological goodies.

The second type of lava are fast flowing rivers of death. This is called Pāhoehoe, for smooth unbroken lava. Really makes you want to live on the big island doesn’t it? This type can move very quickly; in some eruptions it has been clocked north of 120mph. Try running from that.

This type of lava can burrow directly through rock, or creating new rock overnight, such as lava tubes. What kind of new areas could this unlock for the player? Ancient ruins of civilizations from the before times? An undead graveyard? Chances are whatever it is it was buried for a reason.

We look at the ecology of the Abyss as a living thing. This includes a volcano, with the lava flows forming an almost as a living breathing entity, and one that dynamically changes the landscape of the world.

There are challenges when dealing with fluids and games. To do a fully-formed real fluid simulation is very expensive on the processor power. Good thing this is a game and we can cheat some! A simplified approach has been done pretty successfully in some other games for water flow for instance. Minecraft’s water system is cool to play with even though it is not complex. It understands basic flow, and gravity.

Will and Jeff in about a month are going to sort out how we best model lava for our game. This R&D has a bunch of other uses: water, avalanches, oozes, jellies and anything else that may need to follow fluid behavior.
And today's update by Jeff Kesselman is all about implementing fire. It's a bit technical and quite interesting, but since this post is getting long I'll excerpt the most gameplay-relevant bits:

We want the world of UA to react as much as possible like the real world to such events, which means making anything that should be able to catch on fire, actually able to catch on fire. There are two parts to this. One is the logical level… how do things catch on fire and how does that fire burn other things. That gets into a general damage system, which is something I’ll write about more in the future. The second part, though is making burning things look like they are burning. I put some time in on that this week and have had some promising results.

[...] In most games, burning things have to have particle systems specifically set up for them when the level is built. Like Will’s torch above, the emitter is specifically chosen, sized and positioned to produce a good looking flame that you believe is coming from the torch. Even moving things, like a fireball, have the particle system carefully configured for size and shape and only the position changes during game play. In the Underworld however, where anything that can burn might burn, it would take a great deal of time and effort to set up individual particle systems custom configured to look good for every object. Instead, this week I wrote some code that can make any 3D object look like it is burning without having a custom tailored particle effect.

[...] The end result, as you can see in the little movie below, is flame (or any other particle effect) that seems to come from the surfaces of the object. The randomness makes it dance around, coming from different parts of the object moment to moment, much as a real fire would.

With this technology plus the damage system, players will be able to start fires with their fire spells, burn bridges with lava, set creatures ablaze, and generally torch the underworld. Will they use it to solve problems, or create new ones for themselves in the process? That, will be up to them.
In addition, the update reports on the OtherSiders' recent livestreaming of STALKER: Clear Sky, which they undertook in order to examine the game's faction system. Their conclusion was that it was a bit too shallow for their purposes. The OtherSiders are also doing a new poll on their forum, asking what sort of character players will be using for their first playthrough. It sounds like they might be using this data to decide what sort of mechanics they should put an emphasis on, so I recommend that all backers go over there and vote on it.

There are 1 comments on Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter Update #41: Lava and Fire

The Witcher 3 "Precious Cargo" Gameplay Video

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 24 April 2015, 15:21:10

Tags: CD Projekt; The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Here's the Witcher 3: Wild Hunt gameplay video for this weekend. This one has an amusing story behind it, having originally been posted on Microsoft's Xbox YouTube channel despite clearly being PC footage. The video is a demonstration of a side quest called "Precious Cargo", in which Geralt takes on a job to recover a box belonging to a merchant whose cart had been ambushed by monsters on the road. It quickly becomes clear that things aren't as simple as they seem...


Dammit though, that choice he made at the end. BROche would not have approved.

There are 25 comments on The Witcher 3 "Precious Cargo" Gameplay Video

Thu 23 April 2015
Pillars of Eternity reviewed at RPGWatch

Review - posted by Zed on Thu 23 April 2015, 19:05:57

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity

It's the review we have all been waiting for. After the Codex' penultimate review, it is time for RPGWatch to lay down the final verdict on Obsidian's Pillars of Eternity. Finally!
The review is mostly positive, and stands in stark contrast to Darth Roxor's review of the game.

Some of my comments on this game may seem overly harsh, however, the bottom line is that I really liked and enjoyed this game. It accomplished what it set out to do, was relatively bug free, and hopefully showed the ‘Big Time Developers/Publishers’ that there is still a market for these Old School games. It may not be perfect and there are definitely a number of design decisions I did not care for, but the overall package was greater than the sum of its parts. Bring on the sequel.​

Let's not forget about RPGWatch's Pro-Con-Ratings summary.

Pros

Great story and writing
Excellent character creation
Fabulous quests
Based on the old IE games

Cons

Combat can be a mess
Little or no XP for combat
Some good ideas poorly implemented
Last part of game gets tedious​

[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

Chalk that down as an 80%-er, Metacritic.

There are 106 comments on Pillars of Eternity reviewed at RPGWatch


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Wed 22 April 2015
Mark Yohalem joins the Torment: Tides of Numenera writing team

People News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 22 April 2015, 13:16:08

Tags: InXile Entertainment; Mark Yohalem; Torment: Tides of Numenera

I'm very pleased to announce that Mark Yohalem, writer and designer of the Codex's favorite adventure game, Primordia, has joined the Torment: Tides of Numenera team as a contract writer. Mark himself broke the news in a post on the official Torment tumblr:

[​IMG]

Mark Yohalem joins Torment: Tides of Numenera

A while ago, I mentioned I had two exciting things to announce. I can finally share the first of them: I have been given the wonderful opportunity to work as a writer on Torment: Tides of Numenera. As you guys probably know, the original Torment game (Planescape: Torment) was my principal inspiration for Primordia. The T:TON writing and design team is composed of people whose work I’ve long admired: Colin McComb, George Ziets, Kevin Saunders, Chris Avellone, Monte Cook – to name just a few. Numenera was one of the very first projects I backed on Kickstarter as part of my commitment to using Primordia’s revenue to support interesting projects; T:TON came not long after. To suddenly be on the same team as these guys is not a dream come true because, first of all, my dreams tend to be unpleasant and, second, even my subconscious would not be so audacious as to invent such a scenario. While I am optimistic that this is another step on my game-writing path and not the end destination, it does feel like a milestone as important as Primordia was.

Hopefully in the next week or two I will be able to talk about the other exciting topic, which is Wormwood Studios’ next project, Fallen Gods. I expect that, far from delaying Fallen Gods, T:TON will teach me tons and encourage me to be more efficient in time-management.

Mark Yohalem
http://www.wormwoodstudios.com/
Mark had the opportunity to become acquainted with the inXile guys in person when he visited the Wasteland 2 launch party at the behest of a certain shady website last year, something which is probably not entirely unrelated to this news. That's your dollars at work, people. RPG Codex - the gift that keeps on giving.

There are 73 comments on Mark Yohalem joins the Torment: Tides of Numenera writing team

Sun 19 April 2015
Serpent in the Staglands Kickstarter Update #19: Monsters, Hazardous Environments, Cities, Puzzles

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sun 19 April 2015, 12:59:15

Tags: Serpent in the Staglands; Whalenought Studios

Whalenought Studios' Darklands-inspired RPG Serpent in the Staglands is due to be released next month. The game's latest Kickstarter update informs those who hadn't already figured that out of it and provides more photos of its mouthwatering physical journal rewards, which will soon be shipped. The bulk of the update, however, is dedicated to telling us more about the game, with lots and lots of screenshots:

The things your party will fear

In the Staglands you'll find that when facing your enemies, wits will go a lot farther in helping you kill than any bronze or magic. If fighting a certain monster or enemy isn't going your way, you can find some guidance in-game by talking to villagers and the local law, or reference the manual or handbook for clues as to their weaknesses.

One example of a monster that might be a particular challenge is the Harvester, a creature concept devised by one of our own backers (thanks David!) As the most dangerous of the Shroomer species we wanted to use some of these utility-tactics needed to kill certain monsters. Their natural armor is impervious to iron, bronze and magic alike (though would make for some fine armor if the right smith was up for the task…), and they travel toward their prey by burrow through the ground.

To dispatch them is well known to the Eastern settlers: Get them on their back and expose those squishy organs hiding under that exoskeleton!

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

Wolves of mist, immortal Bloodless, ethereal shields and more will take tactical insight to be able to overcome. Monsters aren't the only thing that can stop your party in their tracks though. Tratis Saltis, while still housing survivors, is currently ailed by an infested bog of poisonous leeches for the past few years that will wreck havoc on any unfortunate, and unprepared traveler. Certain equipment will be imperative to survive these types of environments.

A good stopping place for some exotic goods for prepping these areas would be Rumin. While the village has set up necessary defenses against the surrounding Spirit Realm dangers, you'll have to secure such safety on your own while traveling.

The things your party will solve

We've talked about puzzles before, and wanted to show off a glimpse of a favorite: the weight puzzles! You won't have to carry around stones and rocks, you can use anything from your inventory to activate panels, including your companions.

Clues for these and other puzzles are often in the form of panels in the environment, which you can acquire a chalk rubbing from!

Lots more puzzles that utilize other spells, skills, aptitudes and your wits to solve! You'll make good use of a notebook.
So cool. There'll be another update in a couple of weeks with a gameplay demonstration video with some basic tips.

There are 46 comments on Serpent in the Staglands Kickstarter Update #19: Monsters, Hazardous Environments, Cities, Puzzles

Sat 18 April 2015
New Antharion Trailer and Screenshots

Game News - posted by Zed on Sat 18 April 2015, 19:29:20

Tags: Antharion; Orphic Software

Orphic Software sent us news about a new trailer released for Antharion (stylized as AntharioN, but this was the first and last time I'll write it that way). Antharion was funded through Kickstarter way back at the end of 2012. In case you need a reminder, it's that pixely party & turn-based, exploration-focused RPG you were probably excited about.


They also posted a few new screenshots on their website.

There are 18 comments on New Antharion Trailer and Screenshots

Pre-2014 GDC videos now available for free at the GDC Vault

Editorial - posted by Infinitron on Sat 18 April 2015, 00:48:18

Tags: Brian Fargo; Chris Avellone; Divinity: Original Sin; Fallout; Fallout: New Vegas; J.E. Sawyer; John Gonzales; Pillars of Eternity; Swen Vincke; Tim Cain

Over the years, various RPG developers have given talks about their work at the Game Developers Conference. These talks were recorded, but were almost always kept locked behind a paywall on the GDC Vault website. Recently, it seems the GDC management have realized the absurdity of this policy, and they've begun to release videos for free at a faster pace. It now appears that pretty much every recorded panel from before 2014 is available for viewing. Here's a selection of them, along with a few that were already free before, because why not:

Josh does like giving speeches. There's also another Tim Cain talk about Wildstar, the MMO he worked on before rejoining with his comrades on Obsidian, and a whole bunch of narrative design group panels in which Chris Avellone was but one of many participants. Not to mention countless other talks by developers from other companies. Fun for the whole weekend!

There are 49 comments on Pre-2014 GDC videos now available for free at the GDC Vault

Thu 16 April 2015
Telepath Tactics Released

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 16 April 2015, 20:10:00

Tags: Craig Stern; Sinister Design; Telepath Tactics

Telepath Tactics, Craig Stern's tactical RPG inspired by Japanese classic Fire Emblem, was released today, two years after the conclusion of its second Kickstarter campaign (and around two and a half since its unsuccessful original one). Here's the game's release trailer, which lives up to the title, and the description from its Steam page:



The indie lovechild of Fire Emblem and Super Smash Brothers, Telepath Tactics is a strategy RPG with destructible battlefields, bridge- and barricade-building, and the ability to fling enemies off cliffs and into lava.

Play through a story-driven campaign with dozens of unique characters in a steampunk fantasy universe filled with telepathic generals, tribes of bipedal komodo dragons, and knights who ride atop giant, armored praying mantises:

It was deep winter when young Emma and Sabrina Strider fled slavery in the mines of Kovit. Exhausted and on the verge of starvation, they were found and taken in by a tribe of Lissit, reptilian warriors, who raised the sisters as their own. Now Emma trains tirelessly, bent on revenge and the prospect of rescuing their ailing father from bondage. But the years are never kind to a miner, and time grows desperately short. The sisters will need all of their wits—and the help of some unlikely allies—if they are to succeed…
  • Shove enemies off of cliffs! Fling enemies into environmental hazards like traps, water, and lava!
  • Destroy walls, freeze water, build bridges and lay explosives, changing the face of the battlefield to your advantage!
  • Build an army from among 23 different classes; learn more than 110 distinct attacks as you level up your characters, then promote those characters to powerful prestige classes!
  • Deal with merchants to keep your army well-supplied; make hard choices about your priorities both on and off the battlefield.
  • Play with friends in 2-6 player hotseat multiplayer matches with randomized item drops, multiple play modes, and support for army alliances!
  • Use the Telepath Tactics map editor to build your own campaigns, and download other peoples’ creations to play!
One of the interesting things about the game is Craig Stern's deterministic approach to RPG combat; you can read more about it here.

In a blog post on his company's website, Craig tells the story of the game's creation, which has been going on for longer than you might think:

Finally, let’s cap this off with some perspective on the history of Telepath Tactics’s development. I first started working on Telepath Tactics back in March 2009 during my last couple of months of law school. In between studying for final exams and working on Telepath RPG: Servants of God, I was tinkering with the basics of an engine that would come to be the basis for the game you now see.

Telepath RPG: Servants of God released in February 2012, at which point I was able to give Telepath Tactics my full attention. A little more than a year after that, I successfully Kickstarted Telepath Tactics to the tune of $41,259–all of which (and a good deal more!) went into making the game.

Now, a whopping 6 years after I first began work on it, Telepath Tactics is finally getting released. I’m a solo developer, and it’s been quite challenging to create this game while holding down a day job. Regardless, I think I’ve accomplished something special here: a tactical RPG on PC with a large cast of charming, well-written characters, mod support, and unparalleled tactical depth. I hope you enjoy playing the game as much as I’ve enjoyed making it for you!​

Congratulations, Craig, and thanks for the amusing email! Telepath Tactics is now available for the price of $15 on Steam, GOG, or directly from Sinister Design, with a 10% discount on the first two until next week.

There are 51 comments on Telepath Tactics Released

Sun 12 April 2015
Matt Chat 286: Interview with Whalenought Studios, Part Three

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Sun 12 April 2015, 11:38:38

Tags: Matt Barton; Serpent in the Staglands; Whalenought Studios

In the third and final part of their interview on the Matt Barton Show™, Serpent in the Staglands developers Joe & Hannah Williams talk about taking in player feedback, the importance of the game's documentation, the process of creating its lovely pixel art sprites, the advantages of the isometric perspective, and more. Lots of Codex references in this episode!


What an extraordinarily goofy interview this was. Perhaps Joe & Hannah remind Matt of his students?

There are 34 comments on Matt Chat 286: Interview with Whalenought Studios, Part Three

Fri 10 April 2015
Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter Update #39: Ecology Overview

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 10 April 2015, 23:30:55

Tags: Chris Siegel; OtherSide Entertainment; Underworld Ascendant

In this week's Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter update, Chris Siegel gives the run-down on OtherSide's ambitious plans for structuring the game's fully simulated natural ecology. I quote:

The Underworld will have a working ecology. This will include a food chain and pyramid.

Part of the idea here is this just goes on without the player interference. There is a matrix of eat or be eaten that has been going on in the Underworld for, well, forever. And, without any outside interference it could go on indefinitely.

But, enter the player. Talk about a monkey wrench! Players will be able to affect, change and mold the ecology in ways not seen before in games. Whether the player does this intentionally or by accident, he will be able to see the effect of his actions in his environment almost immediately.

For example, our hero helps build a dam for the dwarves. Seems innocent enough, with the well-intentioned outcome of creating a water supply for their farms and forges. But, downriver this has the effect of drying out the riverbed which kills off the plant life in the surrounding cavern system. This in turn reduces the food source for the local herbivores who move away in search of a replacement. Their predators, who are not so capable of moving their home, begin to starve and resort to raiding a nearby elf village looking for sustenance (and maybe eating a few elves in the process).

Actions, well-meaning or not, all have consequences.

What creatures are apex predator in UA?


Honest answer – Dwarves and elves. But let’s put them to the side.

Fact is, we don’t know yet. What is our T-Rex? Is it a big bad thing, or is it a pack mentality animal? Hopefully it is something out of nightmares. Like this thing. Can't wait to meet something as scary as that in the Underworld!

What are the secondary predators?

Almost all of our other monsters fit here. Almost all monsters in games fit here to be honest. From dire faeries and vorpral bunnies, through giant spiders and who knows what else. These are the biggest obstacle for our players.

What are the herbivores?

Part of the role of the herbivore is to be food for others. We need some sort of herd animal like ox or cows. Maybe the rotworms can serve multiple roles in this case. They are the food source and the carrion eater. That said, we do have plants that move and mushrooms that are intelligent. Does this mean there is an herbivore that can hunt? What would a plant eater be like if the plants ran and could defend themselves?

What are the plants?

The ripper is the only plant we have at this point. We need flora. What does this mean in the Underworld? First we need to decide on other types of energy that plants have evolved to deal with. Since there is no sunlight, maybe plants absorb other energy like heat and magic. Plants should be dependent on some animals for breeding…like the service bees provide in our world. This may be a good role for dire fairies or our bats.

What are the carrion eaters?

Our rotworms and tunnel Trappers. These are the vacuum cleaners of the Underworld. They eat anything dead. Creatures eat them. They are food for many.

Of course we cannot build a real world simulation of all of this. But we can do enough, and honestly far more than most simulations have in the past to make the whole ecosystem teem with life. Life that is busy doing its own thing, not just being a backdrop for the player.

And, the reality is all we have talked about is the way our world works on a very basic level. What happens to an ecosystem when we add in magic? Where do undead fit in the food chain? Do rotworms like to eat the walking dead? Have some monsters figured out that animated skeletons will only attack what they are told to and use them as early warning systems? Do some creatures use magic, or magic like abilities for locomotion, hunting, camouflage or as lures. Is magic a food?

This is just scratching the surface of course, but this is part of the fun of early pre-production.
Wow. Like he said, this is just pre-production...but it looks like they're basically trying to go for what Irrational Games originally wanted to do with BioShock before it was butchered by focus testing. All I can say is, good luck.

There are 4 comments on Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter Update #39: Ecology Overview

Dungeons of Aledorn Kickstarter successfully funded

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 10 April 2015, 21:50:06

Tags: Dungeons of Aledorn; Team 21

After the Seven Dragon Saga Kickstarter campaign failed, Dungeons of Aledorn, the Arkania-inspired indie RPG by the Czech Team 21 that launched its own more modest campaign alongside it, soldiered on fearlessly. Against all odds, it was successfully funded today, reaching its goal of $60,000 only hours before the deadline. The guys and gals of Team 21 celebrated their victory with this nice photo in the campaign's final update:

[​IMG]
Team 21 will continue to accept pledges for Dungeons of Aledorn on the game's website via PayPal, although it seems that's not ready yet. In the meantime, congratulations, guys! In the end, you didn't fall between the cracks.

There are 16 comments on Dungeons of Aledorn Kickstarter successfully funded

Witcher 3 Official Gameplay Trailer

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 10 April 2015, 17:34:56

Tags: CD Projekt; The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

CD Projekt have uploaded a Witcher 3: Wild Hunt official gameplay trailer to their YouTube channel. Nothing much to say about it except that it's quite long and impressive, with an emphasis on demonstrating the wide scope and maturity of the game world. Check it out:


I laughed at ~1:51. Hype, hype, hype.

There are 60 comments on Witcher 3 Official Gameplay Trailer

Thu 9 April 2015
Shadowrun: Hong Kong Kickstarter Update #29: Gaichu Animated

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 9 April 2015, 19:03:19

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

In the latest bi-weeklyish Shadowrun: Hong Kong Kickstarter update, Mitch Gitelman introduces the animator known only as Jakob, who has been working on the game's ghoul samurai companion, Gaichu. Here's what he has to say:

Hello! My name is Jakob and I’m the new animator on the Shadowrun team. I’m extremely excited to be working on Shadowrun and, hopefully, you’ll see that passion spill over into the game. I’ll be creating an extra level of immersion through animation with small things like ambient animations for NPCs in the background as well as designing new animations for the super awesome skills that have been added to Shadowrun: Hong Kong. One thing I really want to tell you about, though, is my favorite character you’ll be running with in Hong Kong - Gaichu!

Gaichu is a samurai and one of the ways we can show this is through his movements. To help catch the nuances of his traditional samurai technique, I looked at a lot of older samurai films such as The Seven Samurai. However, Gaichu’s also a ghoul and, typically, ghouls are deteriorating and don’t have complete control over their muscles. This leads to the very unique way Gaichu moves about the world, how he swings his katana and how he deals with his opponents.

This is why Gaichu is getting a whole suite of animations where you’ll be able to see the fusion between his ghoul deterioration and his samurai training. Everything he does is his own, and no one else has the same exact animation due to his unique situation. This, in turn, makes him standout an incredible amount compared to other people you’ve met in our previous Shadowrun games.

[​IMG]

As you can see, Gaichu can utilize either side of his ghoul-samurai duality. He has an assortment of ghoul based attacks, as well as a number of new samurai-katana based attacks.

But that’s not all!

Gaichu is just one of the many characters who will get unique animations. Not all characters get full new suites of animation like Gaichu, but, oh boy, there’s a lot of new stuff coming. Almost all of the existing animations are getting pushed farther to be more appealing, and all of the unique skills your team members and you acquire will have their own animation sets. The goal is to make you and every other character you come across somewhat varied in some form or fashion. I want to try and capture the diverse universe that is Shadowrun, and a great way to do that, is body language.

Overall, I’m so excited to be working on a game that everyone on the team and all of the fans are so passionate about! It’s great to be surrounded by people constantly pushing to bigger and better heights, and to have such a dedicated community at our back.
Nice. The advantage of making these smaller RPGs is that you can really see how they increment their production values from game to game.

There are 47 comments on Shadowrun: Hong Kong Kickstarter Update #29: Gaichu Animated

Age of Decadence March Update

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 9 April 2015, 16:47:04

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

The Age of Decadence Ganezzar beta is coming to an end. In the game's March monthly update, Vault Dweller sums up what's been added up until now, and what remains to be added still. Here's an excerpt:

1. CONTENT

Today's updated added another arena (the fort, only if you're the champion of Maadoran's arena, otherwise keep walking), Hector and Darganus' quests, honorary mention of your pal Miltiades, the annalist, the Second Acolyte (if there is the First Acolyte, why not the second?), Claudia - a charming country girl with the heart of gold and her own portrait, your old pal Feng, extended conversation with Varro about his motives, and probably something else.

What's still missing?
  • The final Hector/Darganus' quests.
  • Tower infiltration to open the gates (siege only).
  • Journal (we're half done but didn't have a chance to finish it).
  • Achievements
We should be able to do everything but the achievements in a week. If there are no issues with the existing content, we'll end the beta and release this content to Early Access.

2. VISUAL AND MISC IMPROVEMENTS

We added the long awaited Legatus' tent, some siege elements, improved Meru's throne room, added new houses and interiors.

We also added new portraits, several new items and new icons for the existing unique items.

3. SYSTEM CHANGES
  • Armor can be damaged in combat and repaired. Damaged armor has lower Damage Resistance. Take it to your local blacksmith for repair or repair it yourself with the magic of Crafting!
  • Hardened and Hardened Edge techniques no longer increase damage or DR. Never liked it, didn't have anything to replace them with. Until now! Now they increase armor's hardness (defense against damage to DR not your health) and weapon's hardness (chance to damage armor's DR)
  • But what about my damage? Not to worry, my good man, buy yourself a sharpening stone and go nuts. Keep in mind, the stones come from a mine up north and are somewhat of a rarity, so use them wisely.
  • Now you can craft helmets and shields! Aint that something?
  • Now you get up to 4 techniques (that's like twice as many!)
  • Changes to armor stats and block (lower penalties, higher DR to compensate for damage and removed Hardened technique); the Imperial Armor will turn you into a juggernaut.
See the full update for a complete list of all the beta content, and some new images of portraits and inventory icons, "for the easily amused".

There are 10 comments on Age of Decadence March Update

Daemongar wins the Codex' Royal Edition copy of Pillars of Eternity

Competition - posted by DarkUnderlord on Thu 9 April 2015, 05:26:36

Tags: Pillars of Eternity; Short Story Competition

We recently held a short story competition to give away a Royal Edition copy of Pillars of Eternity.

After much consideration by the judges, we have selected Daemongar's story, "Flowers for Roguey" (a rendition of Flowers for Algernon) as the winner:

Progris riport 1 martch 3.

Mr Cain says I shoud rite down what I think and remembir and evrey thing that happins to me from now on. I dont no why but he says its importint so
they will see if they can use me. I hope they use me becaus Obsideein says mabye they can make me smart. I want to be smart. My name is Joshua Sawyer

I werk in Obsideein enturtainment where Feergus Urkhart gives me 11 dollers a week and lets me kode if I want. I am 39 yeres old and next munth is my brithday. I tolld Mr Cain I cant kode good but he says it dont matter he says I shud kode just like I talk and like I kode. Rite now, they are mising a plyer for DND and they want me too creeate a caraktur for the DND game. I nevr playd a fiter befor but Tim says I shud be good!

Progris riport 2 - martch 4.

Tim says to code a lot of evrything. Today I koded hit poytes, armor and fixd enemee levuls. Like God in his hevens it seemd rite! He tolled me that I am his target market and I shud kode becaus they like what I kode. I think and evrything that happins to me but I cant think anymor because I have nothing to kode so I will close for today... yrs truly Joshua Sawyer.

Progris riport 3 - martch 8.

Went to our DND game today. I think I faled it and I think mabye now they wont let me back to the game. What happind is I went to Feerguses office on my lunch time like they said and his secertery took me to a place that said staff meeting in progres on the door. There was a bunch of guys in a room fitin! All yellin and awful soar. they stoppd yellin when I sat down and were all quiet like.

a nice man was in the room and he had some crazy dice. He sed sit down Joshua and make yourself cunfortible and rilax. He had a sports coat like a lawyer but I dont think, he was no lawyer because he dint tell me to opin my wallet. All he had was those crazy dice. His name is Chris. I fergot his last name because I dont remembir so good.

I dint know what he was gonna do and I was holding on tite to the chair like sometimes when I go to a dentist onley Chris aint no dentist neither but he kept telling me to rilax and that gets me skared because it always means its gonna hert.

So Chris sed Joshua what do you think when you heer the word balance. I sed that I think of someone who knows games and the playr gains power but also gets smartr and the enemees stay the same. A fite the playr lost erleer may be wun by not just gainng levuls but the player is better at the game with wins being part levuls and part smarts. The enemees stay the same and if the playr doeznt get smartur all the levuls wont help them. The playr can make bad choyces but thats part of the playr gettin smartr.

Chris said yes and he smild and that maid me feel good. I thot that was a easy game but when I got up to go Chris stoppd me and said now sit down Joshua we are not thru yet. Theres more we got to do with these dice. I dint understand about it but I remembired all the others in the room were still there.

Chris is very nice and he talks slow like Miss Roguey dose in her class where I go to lern C++ for slow adults. He explaned to me the modyule we wood go threw is toom of horors. He sed pepul die alot in this modyule. I said show me where. He dint show me he just kept saying imagen you are dieing. I tolld him I imagen me killin evrythng! This made evryone laff!

Progris riport 3 - martch 14.

Miss Roguey came to visit me today. She askd how I was doing. I sed good I am coding armor stats and tern based combat. she looked awful sad with this. She asked how can someone be happy with old stuff like that. I sed that there are parts that shud be in evry good game. It shows that the peepl making the game undrstnd.

Miss Roguey is so smart and pretty but she alwys looks at me cross like I shud be doing somethng bettr with my time. To make her happy I held up a picshur I drew of some gal in chain armur. She was very pretty and was almost naked but for the armur parts. It was for the covr of our new game. The girl was pritty but not as pritty as Miss Roguey but that was all I remembr befor Miss Roguey screemed and hit me ovr the hed with my keybord.


Progress Report – March 28

It would appear I was out for two weeks. I don’t remember what happened other than being at my desk speaking with … someone, and was struck. My doctor told me that I would be normal soon, and that I shouldn’t rush back to work. But I don’t feel myself. I feel different. Feargus came and visited me today and said that when I wanted to come back, the ten dollars a week would be as good as mine. This felt strange also, but I thanked him, but now I must rest.

Progress Report – April 7

I slept off and on for another week. Some doctors came to see me and were amazed. They believe that blow to the head somehow made me smarter. I pray this lasts but the doctors would like to keep me observation.

Progress Report - April 27
The fellows from work came to visit and this time they brought their D&D books. Chris said we would continue the Tomb of Horrors and that he would DM me back to health. I thanked him, as there were a steady stream of doctors visiting and tests, and I was a long way from my family in Fort Atkinson.

Chris seemed to be having a frightfully good time. For all the traps and pitfalls, I kept fighting forward but my friends were dying all around me. Tim jumped in some hole in the wall shaped like a demons head and disappeared forever. Chris just started counting backwards from 10 to one, and then Feargus blew up. But I went onward. I came to a room with a gem, and dropped my blade. I looked to the group and said “This is not balance. This must stop.”

Chris asked what was wrong. I stated that the game itself doesn’t make any sense. Armor class, saving throws, hit points are meaningless if it leads to situations where the player dies on a whim. Better to do away with all those relics and move to some system where the player stands a chance. Maybe the player could sense the traps and disable them from a distance, or come back to life after the trap and continue. Chris asked if I was alright and looked concerned. I was irritated. It could be that I was getting tired, but there was something scratching inside my head. A thought was forming that wanted out. I wished them all good night, and went back to sleep.

Progress Report – May 7
It was night when I was awoken with the thought that would define me: The player must enjoy themselves first and foremost. It was the key to Balance! The thought struck me out of the blue and made me sit bolt upright in my hospital bed. This is what we are doing wrong. I can’t stay in this hospital one more day; I must return to my job and fix my code. It was all wrong, but tonight I must try to rest… it will be a restless night for sure, yours truly J.E. Sawyer.

Progress Report – May 8
My return to my desk at Obsidian was greeted with fanfare and looks of curiosity. Entering, I kept my head down and thanked folks for the warm greeting, but insisted on getting to my desk. Imagine, when I was wheeled out these weeks past, I was a simpleton. The blinders were removed these days past, when a keyboard struck and I saw the error of my ways.

Unity! That’s the grease that moves the gears of CRPGS! What kind of degenerate was I, programming in C++? Like a proverbial Eve eating the apple (if one were to believe in such rubbish) I realized the old Joshua was more than just an idiot savant, but was ruining the world by programming his daily beggars banquet made of hit points, armor class, crude sexist drawings of impractical armor spawned just to titillate the patriarchy, turn-based combat, and saving throws!

I kicked my computer and stormed off to have a word with Feargus. He wasn’t in today, so I went back to my desk and cleaned it up. So long, “Girls of Linux” calendar, I said to myself. Into the garbage it flew. I left early with a ringing headache, and before I left, I sent out a request for a team meeting in two days.

Progress Report – May 10

Once again, I walked the halls to Feargus’ office, once I walked that path nervous and ignorant. Today I return, eyes wide open, and ready to greet my peers as more than their equal. When I arrived, I pushed the great doors to Feargus’ office open and they were all there: Tim, Chris, and Feargus. Strange, even Miss Roguey was there.

“Gentle-persons, let us talk about the state of our project.” Then I began my slideshow. I made my presentation about how games need balance. All choices should be good choices. Maces should hit for the same damage of swords. Padded armor? Yes! More spreadsheets to balance everything. No bad builds or great builds, everything is a middle of the road build because our customers don’t want accountability for their actions. With a bow, I shall finish this presentation, and I’ll sign off J.E. Sawyer


Progris riport 1 may 24.

I dont remembr much after the bow. I think I got hit good this time agin. When I got up I was back at my desk. My computr was as good as new! All the fellas stoppd by to ask me how I was and that there are som stretch goles I gotta work on. If God is willng I will finish my code make Mr Cain happy but I shur wish I new who hit me!

I love working at Obsideein but could one of the fellas please if you get a chanse please send some flowrs to Miss Roguey. I dont think she will see me agin, but I alredy miss her, yrs truly Joshua.
Congratulations Daemongar! Check your PMs for your Steam Key to PoE and get playing!

Runner-up was Mastermind with The Balance of Erich Zann. However no prizes are awarded for coming second.

Thanks to all those who entered.

There are 32 comments on Daemongar wins the Codex' Royal Edition copy of Pillars of Eternity

Wed 8 April 2015
Call of Divinity? Larian plans to release RPGs annually from three different studios

Company News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 8 April 2015, 22:07:41

Tags: Larian Studios; Swen Vincke

The resourceful LESS T_T spotted an article in the Quebecois newspaper La Presse where Swen Vincke, while speaking of the founding of the new studio in Quebec City, detailed his plans for the emerging Larian Empire. We already know that they're working on two games now, but it looks Swen is setting his sights even higher. Here's the relevant bit, with the imperfect help of Google Translate:

For the first year, the Quebec studio Larian count ten people, a question of establishing bases here while developing business culture to the philosophy of this independent studio. They will work with the studio in Ghent and Saint Petersburg, Russia.

Within three years, the number of employees will increase to 40, so the studio Quebec will work on his own title, continues Mr. Vincke."By having three studios working on each title, we will release a game every year. It is a production rate over three years, but we prefer to make quality games rather than to hurry to make games faster. What is the difference between an independent company and one that is accountable to shareholders, "says he.

"Our goal installing us here is not to lower our production costs, but to keep making quality games in a different environment to grow.We are a small player alongside the giants, but we are totally independent and we handle ourselves stages, even distribution of our games, "says the CEO of the company with 70 people currently.
Wow. Now what does that remind me of? Clearly, Mr. Vincke likes to live dangerously. Of course, it'll be years before that schedule is in place and running, but it'll very interesting to see how sustainable it is.

There are 101 comments on Call of Divinity? Larian plans to release RPGs annually from three different studios

Tue 7 April 2015
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided revealed in May issue of Game Informer

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 7 April 2015, 23:37:51

Tags: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided; Eidos Montreal; Square Enix

Just over a year ago, we first learned that Square Enix had trademarked the title Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. In an era of prolific Deus Ex branding, including Deus Ex Universe, Deus Ex: The Fall, and Deus Ex: Human Defiance, many weren't sure what to make of it, but it now appears that Mankind Divided is indeed the name of the next major Deus Ex title from Eidos Montreal. Square have set up some sort of elaborate viral ARG to officially announce it, but now Game Informer seem to have jumped the gun, announcing that the game will be featured in their May issue. That's official enough for me, so here are the details:

The original Deus Ex is one of the most critically acclaimed shooter/RPG hybrids of all-time. In 2011, Eidos-Montreal resurrected the dormant franchise with Human Revolution, giving the series an updated look while remaining true to the player choice-driven gameplay. Eidos-Montreal knew its game wasn’t perfect, and has worked to improve the series' combat systems and boss encounters for the latest entry in the series – Mankind Divided.

Set in 2029, two years after the events of Human Revolution, Adam Jensen returns and joins forces with an Interpol-funded task force aiming to hunt down and capture augmented terrorists in a world that now hates and fears transhumans. Jensen has a new suite of augmentations that allow him to cleverly navigate stealth, combat, and social interactions, but how Jensen chooses to solve every problem is entirely up to you.

At the end of Human Revolution, the Illuminati caused every transhuman to go into a fight-or-flight response and attack anyone near them. In the next issue of Game Informer, you can find out how this event caused humanity to hate and fear those with augmentations. We spent two days in Eidos-Montreal's studio, talking with the team and learning about how they build a realistic future. We go in depth on some of Jensen's new augmentations that help improve the stealth and combat systems, such as the ability to remote hack electronic objects, fire off his nano blade from a distance, and surround himself with a nearly indestructible nanoshield. We also got some great examples on how the game will be as open ended as ever, allowing players to carve their own path through the world. You can only get these details in the latest issue of Game Informer.

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided doesn't yet have a release date, but it's headed to PS4, Xbox One, and PC.
In addition, a Russian website called Kanobu has leaked some information about the game, along with a bunch of screenshots, although they look more like concept art to me. Here's one of them:

[​IMG]
Yep, that's Adam Jensen, all right. Well, let's hope this is more of the The Missing Link and less of The Fall, eh? And a bit of Dishonored-inspired verticality would be nice, too. After all, they don't have that PS3/X360 low RAM excuse anymore.

There are 74 comments on Deus Ex: Mankind Divided revealed in May issue of Game Informer

CD Projekt announces two Witcher 3 expansion packs, available for pre-order

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 7 April 2015, 21:29:38

Tags: Blood and Wine; CD Projekt; Hearts of Stone; The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

CD Projekt have mentioned the possibility of producing paid expansion packs for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt before. Today, with the main game just over a month from release, they've made the interesting choice of announcing not one but two of them, to be released in October and early next year, respectively. The announcement post on GOG explains:

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is almost here. That means the game is pretty much finished, and the devs are about to take a deep breath while CD-presses and hype machines slowly wind up to take things through the home stretch. It's not gold yet, but now that development is coming to an end, the CD PROJEKT RED team is ready to start their work on two new, ambitious monster-hunting expansions.

The expansions will be called Hearts of Stone, and Blood and Wine. Combined, they'll offer over 30 hours of new adventures for Geralt, and the latter introduces a whole new major area to roam. More items, gear, and characters (including a few familiar faces) will all be crafted with the same attention to detail as the game itself.

Hearts of Stone is a 10-hour adventure across the wilds of No Man's Land and the nooks of Oxenfurt. The secretive Man of Glass has a contract for you - you'll need all your smarts and cunning to untangle a thick web of deceit, investigate the mystery, and emerge in one piece.

Blood and Wine is the big one, introducing an all-new, playable in-game region to The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. It will take you about 20 hours to discover all of Toussaint, a land of wine, untainted by war. And to uncover the dark, bloody secret behind an atmosphere of carefree indulgence.

There used to be a time when buying an add-on disk or expansion for your game really meant something. That's what CD PROJEKT RED are going for, it's about bringing that old feeling back. You can take it from our very own iWi, (that's Marcin Iwinski, co-founder of CD PROJEKT RED):

"We’ve said in the past that if we ever decide to release paid content, it will be vast in size and represent real value for the money. Both of our expansions offer more hours of gameplay than quite a few standalone games out there.”

Hearts of Stone is expected to premiere this October, while Blood and Wine is slated for release in the first quarter of 2016, so there's still plenty of time ahead. We're offering you the Expansion Pass now - it's a chance to pre-order the two expansions and even show your support for the devs. But we can't stress Marcin Iwinski's words enough:

“Don’t buy it if you have any doubts. Wait for reviews or play The Witcher and see if you like it first. As always, it’s your call."
The "expansion pass" is available for pre-order on Steam and GOG for the price of $25. I wonder if that price is going to go up after the game is released...

In other news, dorito connoisseur site IGN has gotten exclusive dibs on The Witcher 3 pre-release hype material. I'm not going to be paying too much attention to that, but yesterday they posted a video of the game's first 15 minutes. Check it out if you don't mind being spoiled.

There are 52 comments on CD Projekt announces two Witcher 3 expansion packs, available for pre-order

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