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Sat 6 February 2016

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?

Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear Twitch Stream

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Sat 6 February 2016, 16:41:15

Tags: Amber Scott; Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition; Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear; Beamdog; Phillip Daigle

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Beamdog did an hour-long livestream of their upcoming Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear interquel expansion on Twitch last night, hosted by writer Amber Scott and lead designer Philip Daigle. The stream showcases an area called the "Underground River" which is being used by the Shining Lady's crusader army to deliver supplies to Dragonspear Castle, along with its surrounding outdoor environs. As they play, Amber and Phillip deliver various anecdotes about the expansion's development.

(starts at around 12:33)
From what I can tell from the stream, the game is going to be packed with all sorts of bizarre encounters, in true Forgotten Realms tradition. There's lots of companion interjections and even attribute checks, though Phillip is usually too distracted to do anything but run straight into combat, which seems like typical mid-level AD&D fare. It seems pretty fun, reminiscent of Icewind Dale 2 in its premise, but cheesier.

There are 104 comments on Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear Twitch Stream

Fri 5 February 2016
Shadowrun: Hong Kong Kickstarter Update #43: Shadows of Hong Kong Bonus Campaign Released

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 5 February 2016, 20:20:53

Tags: Harebrained Schemes; Shadowrun: Hong Kong; Shadowrun: Hong Kong - Shadows of Hong Kong

Without much in the way of hype other than a single Facebook post last week, Harebrained Schemes have released their Shadows of Hong Kong sequel mini-campaign for Shadowrun: Hong Kong. Along the way, they've also added audio commentary to the game and in true Kickstarter RPG tradition, rebranded it as an Extended Edition. The latest update has the details:

We are pleased to announce that the Shadows of Hong Kong bonus campaign is now available as part of a free update to Shadowrun: Hong Kong.This update also adds the developer audio commentary Kickstarter reward and a variety of small game improvements such as new visual effects, updated dialogue, and editor features for User Generated Content.

So, we’ve rebranded the title as Shadowrun: Hong Kong - Extended Edition to reflect all the new content. Hong Kong has never been better!

The Extended Edition update is free for all Backers and existing owners of Shadowrun: Hong Kong - to receive the update, you just need to go to your chosen game store (Steam, GOG, or Humble) and download it as you would any other game update. (On Steam this should be automatic.)

Shadows of Hong Kong Bonus Campaign

Set in the weeks following the events of the main campaign, Shadows of Hong Kong will give you -- and your team -- the opportunity to turn the tables on the elite corporate police force that once hunted you. Through layers of corporate greed and urban strife, you will contend with dangerous enemies, uncover a deadly conspiracy, and cement your reputation as a Prime Runner… assuming that you survive, of course.

To play the bonus campaign: after updating to the latest version of the game, select “New Game” from the main title screen menu (see below) to find the new campaign and continue your adventure! Note: You must have completed the main Shadowrun: Hong Kong campaign in order to play Shadows of Hong Kong. When you start Shadows of Hong Kong you will be able to select a high-karma character to import from any valid "final save" file to continue the story with.

Over 100+ Minutes of Audio Commentary!

The team had a great time recording the Audio Commentary for the game.You’ll hear more about character motivations, the interesting choices you’re familiar with, or perhaps even some Easter Eggs you may have missed. (SPOILER ALERT: If you want to discover these things on your own, listen at your own risk - the Commentary assumes that you’ve already played the game!)

Interactive audio icons are spread throughout the game where the various areas are discussed. Our hope is that you have some extra fun along with us and learn a little something more about the game at the same time. Audio commentary can be enabled in the Options menu.

Here’s a quick taste of the audio commentary.
Thus ends the Harebrained Schemes Shadowrun cycle, for now at least. Shadowrun: Hong Kong Extended Edition is currently on sale for 50% off, both on Steam and GOG. If you were planning on playing it but hadn't gotten to it yet, now is the time.

There are 57 comments on Shadowrun: Hong Kong Kickstarter Update #43: Shadows of Hong Kong Bonus Campaign Released

The Digital Antiquarian on Ultima V

Editorial - posted by Infinitron on Fri 5 February 2016, 19:56:07

Tags: Electronic Arts; Origin Systems; Richard Garriott; The Digital Antiquarian; Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny

The Digital Antiquarian has finally resumed his series of articles about the history of the Ultima series. Continuing where he left off back in 2014, his latest article tells the story of what Origin was up to during the years between the releases of Ultima IV and its 1988 sequel, Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny. There's lots of details I'd never heard about here - the internal civil war that preceded Origin's return from New Hampshire back to Texas, and most interestingly, the source of Richard Garriott's well-known antipathy towards Trip Hawkins' Electronic Arts. But I'll just quote the part where it gets down to brass tacks and describes the development of Ultima V itself:

Beginnings and endings can be tricky things for an historian to come to grips with. Certainly the middle period of the eventual nine-game Ultima series is full of them. There’s the beginning marked by the great conceptual leap that is Ultima IV, when the series became about more than killing monsters, collecting loot, and leveling up — a leap that changed the series’s character to such an extent that plenty of fans will tell you that you needn’t even bother with anything that came before, that the real Ultima starts right here. And there’s the ending that is Ultima VI, the first Ultima not built on the code base of its predecessor, the first not developed and released first and foremost for the Apple II, the first for which Richard did none of the programming.

In between the two lies Ultima V, a crossroads game if ever there was one. It marks the end of the line for the 8-bit Ultimas, the basic structure that began with Akalabeth pushed to a complex extreme that would have been unthinkable back in 1980. How extraordinary to think that this game runs on essentially the same computer as Akalabeth, plus only 16 K of memory here or an extra disk drive there. The series’s glorious last hurrah on the Apple II, it also marks the beginning of a radically different development methodology that would carry forward into the era of the MS-DOS-developed Ultimas. Starting with Ultima V, new Ultimas would no longer be the end result of Richard Garriott toiling alone in front of a single Apple II for months or years until he emerged with bleary eyes and disk in hand. From now on, Richard would direct, design, and supervise, while other people did most of the grunt work.

It was an obviously necessary step from the perspective of even the most minimally informed outsider. Ultima IV had taken him two years, twice as long as originally planned, and had nearly killed him in the process. If the series was to continue to grow in scale and ambition, as he himself always demanded it should, something had to give. Yet Richard resisted the obvious for quite some time. He struggled alone, first with the abortive Ultima IV Part 2 and then with Ultima V, for almost a year while while everyone fretted at the lack of progress. He genuinely loved programming, took pride in knowing each new Ultima was truly his personal expression, top to bottom. But at last he accepted that he needed help — an acceptance that would change everything about the way that Ultimas got made forevermore.

The process started with two new programmers, Steve Meuse and John Miles. The former started writing tools to make it easier to create the world, to put a friendly interface on all of the tasks that Richard normally managed by hand using nothing more than a hex editor. Meuse’s “Ultima Creation Package” would grow into something that, according to Richard, “almost anyone could use.” Meanwhile Miles took over most of the actual game-programming tasks from Richard; more than half of the code that shipped in the finished game would be his. “The transition of doing it all yourself to doing it as a team was very painful,” Richard says of this landmark change of late 1986 that marked the abrupt end of his days as a working programmer. “However, once you had a team in place, and especially once you were no longer sharing the duties of both doing it and managing it, the pain went away.”

Richard’s team only continued to expand after the move to Austin, as all of that pent-up Texas talent began arriving on Origin’s doorstep. The finished game credits no fewer than six programmers in addition to Richard himself. With so many more people involved, this Ultima needed a project manager — the role also commonly referred to as “producer” — for the first time as well. That role went to Dallas Snell, late of Penguin Software, who , nobody being too specialized yet at this stage, did some of the programming as well. Snell lobbied for months for the hiring of a full-time artist, but Richard remained skeptical of the need for one until quite some time after the move to Austin. But at last Denis Loubet, an Austin artist who had been doing cover art for Richard’s games since the days of Akalabeth, joined the Origin staff to do all of the art for Ultima V, whether the media be paper or cardboard or pixels. Loubet’s work, blessedly free of the chainmail bikinis and other cheesecake tendencies that make most vintage CRPG art so cringe-worthy, would now become even more integral to the series, helping to maintain its aura of having just a little more class than the standard CRPG fare. Finally, and also largely thanks to Snell’s determination to professionalize the process of making Ultimas, there are fourteen people — fourteen! — credited solely for play-testing Ultima V, more than enough to ensure that there wouldn’t be any more blatant screw-ups like the vital clue that was left out of Ultima IV.

Freed from the pressure of programming, Richard could make Ultima V a much more consciously designed game than its predecessors. From an interview conducted almost a year before the game was published:

In previous Ultimas the combat systems were not designed out on paper ahead of time. I kind of ranked weapons in order of strength… the higher up the list of weapons you got, the better the weapon. Now I’ve actually designed an entire gaming system, including magic and combat, that is just as good to play on paper as on the computer. It’s extremely well-balanced, both [sic.] the weapons, armor, and magic, and we’ve been balancing the costs and uses of those things for six months — essentially by playing Ultima on paper.
Origin was so proud of this system of rules that they planned for some time to make an Ultima tabletop RPG out of them. That project fell by the wayside, but just the fact that Richard was thinking this way represented a huge step forward for a series whose mechanics had always felt ad hoc in comparison to those of its original rival, Wizardry. “I can tell you in numbers the probabilities of your being able to do something,” said Richard, “whereas in previous Ultimas I probably wouldn’t be able to do so. I just kind of did it until it looked right.”
This is a fantastic article even by the Digital Antiquarian's high standards and I recommend that all gaming history connoisseurs give it a read. As usual, it'll be followed up by a post taking a look at the game itself.

There are 7 comments on The Digital Antiquarian on Ultima V

Thu 4 February 2016
Pillars of Eternity Patch 3.0 New Features Video

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 4 February 2016, 23:03:50

Tags: Adam Brennecke; Obsidian Entertainment; Paradox Interactive; Pillars of Eternity; Pillars of Eternity: The White March

With the second part of the Pillars of Eternity: The White March expansion due for release in less than two weeks, Obsidian have released a video detailing the new features that are going to be added in the accompanying version 3.0 update. These include new stronghold quests, overhauled Athletics and Survival skills, late game trash mob reduction and more. The video is included in a new press release from Paradox:

IRVINE, Calif. and STOCKHOLM — Feb. 4, 2016 — Obsidian Entertainment and Paradox Interactive today revealed several forthcoming updates to Pillars of Eternity, the award-winning title backed by dedicated fans of classic role-playing games (RPGs). Later this month, alongside the release of the game’s second expansion, The White March – Part 2, Obsidian will make new updates to the gameplay and features of Pillars of Eternity available for all players. These updates will include a streamlined combat UI, updates to the in-game Stronghold and portions of the game world, a new “Story Time” game mode, and improvements to a broad variety of in-game features such as knockout injuries that change the difficulty during combat. Version “3.0” of the game will arrive as a free update to all players of Pillars of Eternity on February 16, 2016, the same day as the release of The White March – Part 2.

Full details on all upcoming changes are available in a new developer video, available here:

With the forthcoming release of the update and expansion, Obsidian and Paradox bring the exciting first chapter of Pillars of Eternity to a close. "We're committed to expanding and supporting the Pillars of Eternity experience. We have many stories to tell in this world and this has only been the first one," said Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart. Gamers who have been waiting for the complete Pillars of Eternity story can now experience the incredible narrative from start to finish, up to and including the exciting conclusion to the story of The White March.

Pillars of Eternity, created by veterans also known for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, Fallout: New Vegas, and South Park: The Stick of Truth, is an RPG inspired by classic titles such as Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale,and Planescape: Torment. Created thanks to over 75,000 crowdfunding backers, Pillars of Eternity has sold over 700,000 units, was released to critical acclaim in March 2015, and is among Metacritic’s 15 Best PC Games of 2015.

For more information on Pillars of Eternity and The White March – Part 2, visit​

The full changelog for Pillars of Eternity v3.0 is available here. Soon, the game will reach its final form - though it's becoming increasingly clear that the team isn't planning on taking any breaks.

There are 53 comments on Pillars of Eternity Patch 3.0 New Features Video

Tue 2 February 2016
Expeditions: Viking Newsletter #1: Official Website, Game Informer Preview, Screenshots

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Tue 2 February 2016, 19:49:44

Tags: Expeditions: Viking; Jonas Wæver; Logic Artists

It's been many months since the last time we heard anything about Expeditions: Viking, the sequel to Expeditions: Conquistador from Danish developer Logic Artists. Now that the new year has begun in earnest, they're starting to get their PR machine into gear. There is a now an official Expeditions series website, where you can sign up to a monthly newsletter about the development of Viking. The first newsletter went out today, and while it's not terribly interesting in itself, it does link to a Game Informer preview that has some new information and screenshots. I quote:

When Expeditions: Conquistador was released in 2013 after a successful Kickstarter campaign, developer Logic Artists danced on the line between strategy and RPG. Since that title’s release, the studio has taken feedback from fans to ultimately make the bold decision to convert the series into a full-fledged RPG.

Viking won’t eliminate the strategy elements of its predecessor. Instead, Logic Artists has found a way to adjust those to fit its vision for the sequel.

“Conquistador always had about as many RPG elements as it had strategy elements, so our approach has been to extrapolate the major RPG elements and to make them bigger, deeper, and more compelling,” creative director Jonas Wæver told us. “Ultimately, Viking still has to feel like a sequel to Conquistador, even though it’s a much more focused game in some respects, so instead of just cutting all the strategy-features from Conquistador, we’ve tried to find ways to twist those features in a more RPG-ish direction.”

Some of the changes that make Viking feel more like an RPG are in presentation. For instance, discreet areas that you'll be able to explore are connected by a 2D overworld map that fans of Fallout and Fallout 2 will be familiar.

One of the most compelling elements though, is the setting. The Viking age isn’t one we see often. Wæver says there are benefits and challenges to working in this time period.

“The Viking age is both really easy and really challenging to deal with historically because written accounts are so sparse and so biased – the Norse didn’t really write a whole lot, since brevity is of the essence when you have to chisel your words into stones!” he says. “This gives us a lot of freedom to choose our own approach to the historical elements, but it also makes it difficult to find trustworthy sources to rely on for shaping our game world. Fortunately there are tons and tons of archaeological sources about the Viking age, so we’ve been relying on a lot of that to get the clothing, the architecture, the tools and weapons, and the ships just right.”

The story will focus on interpersonal relationships and the conflicts and alliances among the tribes. Wæver says he and his team are fortunate that Tolkien’s work was rooted in Northern European lore and gamers will have a touchstone when they play Viking.

The narrative is full of political intrigue, though in the harsh setting the Vikings endured. The game will begin as your father is murdered and you are thrust into the role of leader. Other tribes will attempt to exploit the situation, so you'll gather those loyal to you and set off for England.

From there, you’ll have choices. You can take the stereotypical path and plunder the land, or you can earn the trust of the locals and bring an overwhelming force back home to take back what’s yours.

Players will be part of a small group, though you’ll be able to hire mercenaries (that you can create) to beef up your forces. Conquistador featured a personality trait system that will carry over to Viking, giving your party members' opinions and reactions to the decisions you make.

The game will also feature a flexible class system. You’ll be able to pick and choose from the available skills, and the game will assign a label that fits your profile. While Viking is historically rooted, there will be more fantastical elements as well.

Witchcraft isn’t magic per se, instead dealing in poisons and curses. The latter of these impacts superstitious enemies instilling status effects. It’s an interesting approach that takes into account the cultural beliefs of the era while retaining its historical foundation.

Expeditions: Viking is due for PC Fall 2016.​

See the full preview for the screenshots. The newsletter itself can be viewed here, thanks to ERYFKRAD. Hopefully they'll post these on their website too.

There are 15 comments on Expeditions: Viking Newsletter #1: Official Website, Game Informer Preview, Screenshots

Mon 1 February 2016
Underworld Ascendant Update #19: Prototype Getting Combat and Parkour, New Screenshots

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 1 February 2016, 22:11:37

Tags: OtherSide Entertainment; Underworld Ascendant

Today's Underworld Ascendant update announces that the game's prototype is about to get a major upgrade, adding parkour-style movement capabilities and a rudimentary combat system (along with a bad guy to use it on). Here are the details:

Today we are updating the Prototype build with new gameplay features. First up is more advanced movement modes. The team are fans of Jackie Chan movies, Parkour and David Belle, and American Ninja Warrior. Moving through a space with grace, flow and just feeling awesome doing it, is one of the goals for movement in the Underworld.

When a game has great movement controls, like the old Id games Doom and Quake, they become an extension of the player. No thought is needed for basic navigation, and it opens up for players to become more creative and skilled at getting around the world. In recent memory Mirror's Edge did this especially well. The Parkour skills chain together so beautifully and when you master the game it is like a ballet moving around the game world.

Tim and Will have put together the bones we can build on for a robust movement system. They have decided - at least for the moment- to have full body awareness. This means that the body of the player can be seen by the player, and it also reacts like any other physical object in the world. Momentum matters. Run faster you jump further. Chain jumps together you keep your momentum going, stop for a second and your momentum is lost. Jumping wall to wall if you pause you start sliding down the side of the wall. Sliding down a slope is fast, running up a slope is slower than on a flat plane.

Second, we've stood up the beginnings of combat. There are 3 attacks so far: a light swing, an overhead swing and a stab. There is a bad guy wandering about who just wants to be hit.

Most RPG games have you cleave your way through battles without much thought. Looking at my Fallout 4 play through I've killed over 4,000 enemies. Yikes. Maybe I'm the reason the Commonwealth isn't prospering.

Tim is trying to make each encounter more meaningful and impactful. We will also keep the combat encounters intimate, giving more opportunity to show off unique features of the monsters and opponents. If you look back on the simple combat of Ultima Underworld they were all intimate affairs.

That is the feeling we are going after, but with more robust tactics, movement and use of the 3D space than was technically possible in the original games. Enemies with have 'tells' so the player can learn to react to them properly. We are still looking at other complexities like locational damage, status effects, dodging and blocking. How complex we push the AI in combat is being experimented with, but we expect them to have options, not just 'ARRGH kill the player' and 'oh no I'm hurt! Run away'. If they have spells they will use them, if they are carrying a magic weapon it will be equipped.
Also included in the update is the first proper look at art director Nate Wells' new vision for the game, which OtherSide are calling an "Authored Look":

[​IMG] [​IMG]
Over at the OtherSide forums, Chris Siegel explains what exactly that means. Like many things about this game, it's a bit ambitious.

There are 50 comments on Underworld Ascendant Update #19: Prototype Getting Combat and Parkour, New Screenshots

Thu 28 January 2016
Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part 2 Screenshots at PC Gamer

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Thu 28 January 2016, 23:33:16

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity; Pillars of Eternity: The White March

The lucky fellows at PC Gamer have gotten their hands on the first batch of screenshots from the second part of the Pillars of Eternity: The White March expansion, which is due for release in less than three weeks. Along with the screenshots they also received a description of the location featured in them, a temple of the goddess Ondra called the Abbey of the Fallen Moon. Behold:

[​IMG] [​IMG]

Ask the denizens of the White March if they've heard of the Abbey of the Fallen Moon, and they will tell you they have. Ask them for directions to it, and you'll be met only with blank stares.

When someone wants desperately to forget something, they pray to Ondra, goddess of the sea, to take it from their memory. The abbey is thought to be one of Ondra's most sacred sites and to be home to some of her highest ranking clergy, but so little about it is known to outsiders that many have supposed the goddess has used her dominion over memory to protect knowledge of its whereabouts and activities.

The abbey's name is thought to originate with an old folk legend. The story tells of Ondra's unrequited love for the moon, and how in her frustration, she once reached out to touch it, causing a piece of it to fall into her, and resulting in widespread catastrophe. It is said she continues to pursue the moon, and this serves as the most common explanation for the tides.

One persistent rumor among lower level Ondrite clergy is that the abbey houses a number of important and powerful holy relics. Of particular appeal to Ondrite Giftbearers is a pool known as the Salt Well. Giftbearers are faithful servants of Ondra who travel from village to village, helping people to forget painful memories. They accept memento objects that represent these memories, and deposit them into deep water for Ondra to accept into her keeping. Bearing these memories, while a relief to their original owners, takes an emotional toll on the Giftbearers over time. It is said that if one is to bathe in the Salt Well, however, then they have their burdens washed clean—even Giftbearers.
Of all the gods of Eora, Ondra was probably the least involved in the story of the base game, so it makes sense that she's a focus of the expansion.

There are 58 comments on Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part 2 Screenshots at PC Gamer

Torment: Tides of Numenera Beta Footage with Colin McComb at Eurogamer

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Thu 28 January 2016, 22:58:34

Tags: Colin McComb; InXile Entertainment; Torment: Tides of Numenera

On the day before its Early Access release, Colin McComb joined Eurogamer's Robert Purchese to chat about Torment: Tides of Numenera while watching a 33 minute gameplay video. The footage appears to be a direct continuation from where the IGN stream from last week left off, and it's a far better demonstration of the game's strengths. Watch as Colin takes you on a guided tour throughout Sagus Cliffs, while showcasing various moments of reactivity:

Takeaways from the video: The beta is probably around 30% of the full game, the full game will have 13 Crisis encounters, and Colin can neither confirm nor deny the possibility of a Torment expansion or sequel.

There are 56 comments on Torment: Tides of Numenera Beta Footage with Colin McComb at Eurogamer

Consortium: The Tower, a Deus Ex-like first person immersive sim, now on Kickstarter

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 28 January 2016, 17:47:30

Tags: Consortium: The Tower; Interdimensional Games

The original Consortium by Interdimensional Games was a first person RPGish sort of game - a science fiction adventure set on board a futuristic aircraft, meant to be the first in a trilogy. Originally Kickstarted in 2013, it came out too early, received poor reviews and was largely ignored by the public. The developers spent some time fixing it and received some positive reappraisals, but were never able to earn enough money to make the sequel, which is why they launched an additional Kickstarter campaign earlier this month. The sequel's name is Consortium: The Tower, and as you can imagine, it's set in a futuristic tower. The developers describe it as "Deus Ex Meets Die Hard". Here's the pitch video and a gameplay description:

The experience of The Tower is one of absolute freedom of movement, speech and action, within a single-location, sandbox environment. There will be no cut scenes, and full control will never be taken away for “gamey” reasons. Immersion is absolutely paramount, and to that end the world within the Tower will feel realistically alive and reactive to however you choose to approach each and every situation.

A branching, “waterfall” narrative and dialogue system should appeal to those looking for a truly replayable experience, and will ensure that your decisions are plentiful without feeling cheap or obvious.

Diplomacy is a key way of traversing the narrative. Choose to speak anytime and anywhere with the push of a button. While rather difficult, you will be able to play through the entire experience without raising your weapon. Trick, bribe, scare, hire, or simply convince potential combatants to disarm, all while developing relationships with your crew, other Consortium officers, the London Police, and any other characters you meet throughout the experience.

The Bishop’s arsenal of customizable, futuristic gadgetry gives him immense freedom of movement. Run faster, jump higher, glide through the air, breathe underwater, and fall from great heights, all while exploring every nook and cranny of the Tower.

The Bishop can also utilize highly experimental, potentially dangerous stealth technology, such as invisibility and sound dampening.

Find yourself in the middle of intense firefights, and choose to either kill or incapacitate all those in your way. The Consortium officers working with you will praise you for using non-lethal means, but will react with increasing alarm should you too often resort to murderous violence. There may also be other factions interested in aiding you through the Tower, should the Consortium turn its back on you.

As with CONSORTIUM before it, many events within The Tower will play out regardless of your interaction with them, creating an environment cultivated for immersion and replayability. Your chosen actions (and inactions) within this environment will cause ripples, dramatically impacting the unfolding narrative in major ways.​

Check out the Kickstarter page for more information and more cool videos and animated GIFs. The minimum pledge to get the game is 15 Canadian dollars and the funding goal is a steep 450,000 CAD. I'm not sure they can make it, but let no one say I didn't do what I could.

There are 44 comments on Consortium: The Tower, a Deus Ex-like first person immersive sim, now on Kickstarter

Wed 27 January 2016
Colony Ship RPG Update #1

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 27 January 2016, 16:58:47

Tags: Colony Ship RPG; Iron Tower Studios; Vault Dweller

Vault Dweller has posted the first official update for Iron Tower's as-yet-unnamed Colony Ship RPG project. It's a great big design document, an excerpt of which we saw in November's Age of Decadence post-release update. There's information about the setting, the character system, weapons and more. Here's an excerpt:

The Overall Design

As mentioned previously, we want the CSG to feel and play differently from AoD. The core design (turn-based, choices & consequences, non-linear, text-heavy) would remain the same, of course.

So the new design elements are:
  • Party-based. It’s a fundamental change that affects every design aspect, most notably content “gating”. If you have 3-4 party members, most likely you’ll have all skills covered.
  • Feats. Feats require character levels (another departure from the AoD design) and will replace (and greatly expand) skills’ passive abilities. Our aim is to offer greater customization of your character’s abilities and builds’ support. So far we have the following categories: General (feats like True Grit or Critical Thinker), Specialist (Pistolero, Fast Draw, Paint It Red, etc), On Kill (Bloodlust, Second Wind), Target (anything related to the target: type, number, awareness, etc - Crowd Control, Duelist, Bounty Hunter, etc), Party-related (Warband, Magnificent Five), Combat (Adrenaline Rush, Headhunter), etc. No filler +1 to skill or +5 damage feats but meaningful feats that fit and strengthen your particular gameplay style.
  • Focus on ranged combat. While melee builds will be viable, most enemies will use guns. We’ll discuss it in great details later.
  • Focus on exploration rather than working your way up in a faction. While factions will get a lot of attention (see above) and play a large role, you won’t join a faction but will remain an outsider, free to work for and deal with all factions, which fits the setting better as these factions aren’t guilds but different hubs. However, many quests would have conflicting interests and reputation would play a stronger and more immediate role than it did in AoD, so you won’t be able to please everyone for long.
  • Multiple-piece armor. AoD had a very basic “body armor + helmet” setup. With the CSG, we want to go a bit further: helmet, chest, right arm, left arm, legs. We’re thinking of cumulative DR against general attacks and individual piece’s DR against aimed attacks. We’ll test this system in the dungeon crawler to build up some experience in this area and see how it works.
The Character System

Expect the same 6 stats (Str, Dex, Con, Int, Per, Cha). So far the main changes are Cha determining the number and type of party members and Int determining the number of tagged skills (faster progression) instead of a SP bonus, which is a more elegant solution. A smarter person can excel at and master more skills than a person of average intelligence.

So far we're planning to go with 18 skills, grouped in sets of three:

Melee: Fist, Bladed, Blunt

Firearms: Pistol, Shotgun, SMG

Energy Weapons: Pistol, Rifle, Cannon

Science: Medical, Mechanical, Computer

Speech: Persuastion, Streetwise, Trading

Stealth: Lockpick, Pickpocket, Sneak

In the future updates, we’ll give you a proper overview of the four factions and 16 locations and talk about design.​

See the full update for an image of various submachine guns designs from the game. They're a bit less weird than the pistol designs were.

There are 311 comments on Colony Ship RPG Update #1

Torment: Tides of Numenera Released on Steam Early Access

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 27 January 2016, 01:57:33

Tags: InXile Entertainment; Torment: Tides of Numenera

As promised, inXile released the Torment: Tides of Numenera beta on Steam Early Access today, bringing its five days of Early Early Access to an end. It's priced at $45 - significantly less than the cheapest beta Kickstarter tier, but on par with the cost of a minimum tier plus beta addon, which is fair I guess. Here's a short launch trailer they put together, plus the game's Early Access FAQ:

Why Early Access?

“Originally launched on Kickstarter in early 2013 after our successful crowdfunding of Wasteland 2, the first part of Torment: Tides of Numenera is now ready for the fans who helped make it happen and anyone looking for deep, reactive gameplay and a rich narrative experience.

Our experience with Wasteland 2 on Steam Early Access led to it being one of the first success stories on the platform, enabling it to become a bigger, better game - all thanks to your valuable input. We want to recreate that success with Torment: Tides of Numenera and push it even further. We will be actively listening to your feedback on all aspects of the game, from our graphics and art, to interface, to gameplay systems and, of course, story and characters, in order to create a worthy successor to the Torment legacy.

We're not the only developers who have had success with Early Access. Many of our friends have had great success with doing high-quality RPGs on the platform as well, such as Divinity: Original Sin. What we’ve found is that by interacting with our fans and players, we’re able to ensure that we are delivering experiences that meet, and surpass, expectations. By buying Torment: Tides of Numenera in Early Access, you too can have a hand in crafting the spiritual follow-up to one of the most legendary RPGs of all time.”

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

“A huge reason our previous Early Access title, Wasteland 2, was such a success was that we listened intently to community feedback and adjusted large sections of our design in response. Thus, we try to remain as flexible with our production scheduling as possible in order to ensure we release a game worthy of your patience and support. That said, we’re as anxious as anyone to release the final version.”

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?

“Torment is a single-player, deeply story-driven RPG. That means that while we are giving you the first chapter in the story, we are saving the later chapters for the final release. Additionally, with your feedback, we will continue to add new gameplay features and improvements to balance, update our visuals, sound, interface, and more. And that doesn't even touch on the additions to the storyline, conversations and characters you will meet in the game, which we also hope to flesh out even more.”

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“This version of Torment is close to feature complete and contains most of the first major location of the game. Throughout Early Access, we will iterate and improve on features and content in the game, and roll out changes for you so that we can get your feedback and insight for what works.”

Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?

“It has yet to be determined whether the price of the game will change during or after early access.”

How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?

“We built a 'Feedback' button right into the game so we can gather your feedback on all aspects of the game, from our graphics, to interface, to gameplay systems and, of course, story and characters. Our experience with Wasteland 2 on Steam Early Access led to it being one of the first success stories on the platform, enabling it to become a bigger, better game thanks to your valuable input. We want to recreate that success with Torment: Tides of Numenera and push things even farther in order to create a worthy successor to the Torment legacy.”
If you'd like to know more about the Torment beta, there are reviews at PCGamesN and Rock Paper Shotgun. The consensus seems to be "wait".

There are 60 comments on Torment: Tides of Numenera Released on Steam Early Access

Mon 25 January 2016
Matt Chat 324: Interview with Styg, Part Three

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 25 January 2016, 15:44:35

Tags: Matt Barton; OlderBytes; Stygian Software; Swords and Sorcery: Underworld; Underrail

In the third and final episode of his interview with Underrail developer Styg, Matt Barton passes on a few remaining questions from viewers, including one about the game's unique Oddity progression system (which is apparently inspired by System Shock 2 and by sandbox MMO Haven & Hearth, of all things). Styg reveals that he'd like to work on a fantasy RPG someday, but he doesn't have any concrete plans for his next game yet.

After running out of questions, Matt also has a short chat with Underrail artist Mario Tovirac, who reveals something of Stygian Software's team dynamic. The interview still turns out to be quite short though, so Matt pads it with some Swords and Sorcery: Underworld gameplay footage.

There are 18 comments on Matt Chat 324: Interview with Styg, Part Three

Fri 22 January 2016
David Gaider leaves BioWare

People News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 22 January 2016, 19:34:12

Tags: BioWare; David Gaider

We interrupt our regular routine of ignoring BioWare to deliver this shocking news. David Gaider, 17 year BioWare veteran, Baldur's Gate 2 designer, Dragon Age lead writer and former RPG Codex poster, announced today on Twitter that he'd left the company:

Gaider left his role as lead writer on the Dragon Age series last March. It looks like whatever he moved on to after that may not have worked out for him. So what's next for ol' Dave? Over at Polygon, he said this:

Gaider confirmed that it was his choice to leave in an email to Polygon. "It was indeed my decision, one not made easily since BioWare's been very good to me, and the parting is amicable," he wrote. "It's simply time to move onto a new challenge."

"As to where I'm headed next, that announcement will come in due time — today's about saying goodbye and packing up," he added.
A new challenge, eh? Sounds like he may have something particular already lined up.

There are 202 comments on David Gaider leaves BioWare

Thu 21 January 2016
Torment Kickstarter Update #53: Beta Released

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 21 January 2016, 17:41:17

Tags: Chris Keenan; Colin McComb; InXile Entertainment; Torment: Tides of Numenera

Shortly after the IGN demonstration yesterday, Brian Fargo announced that the Torment: Tides of Numenera beta was going to be released to eligible backers today. And well, now it has. The new Kickstarter update has the details, along with a description of the three companions players will meet in the beta. I'll quote that part here:



Aligern is one of the first companions the Last Castoff will meet. He's a snappish, world-weary nano who doesn't suffer fools or waste time on matters he considers trivial. Despite this rough exterior, Aligern has a deep moral core, and his innate sense of right and wrong guides every decision – and he's not shy about letting others know when they've stepped out of line.

Aligern wears a long, dark coat and rugged traveling boots that have worn countless miles under their soles. As a nano, he's got extensive experience with the numenera. He wears a lattice of moving tattoos across his forearms that shift and weave around each other, which he can use to attack his enemies or to defend himself against attacks. Unlike some other nanos, he's not afraid to get his hands bloody, wading into melee combining useful esoteries with his trusty mace.


As the Last Castoff wakes to consciousness, Callistege is there, watching, calculating. She's an associate of the Order of Truth, and she holds the accruement of knowledge as one of the paramount pursuits. She is known to be amoral, calculating, and manipulative, and she has cultivated a reputation for incisive brutality. Those who know her do not cross her, and some have suggested that this is precisely the outcome she was aiming to achieve. She is morally flexible in her pursuit of hidden truth.

And she does seem to have found secrets better left hidden. She is multi-dimensional... literally. Echoes of her flicker in and out of reality around her. Each of these "sisters" wears her signature elaborate dress, mirroring her actions, deviating in ways both subtle and obvious. In battle, she fights with a mix of nano abilities and ranged attacks, and is able to use her sisters to "teleport" herself from place to place to avoid taking damage.

Callistege's response to the Last Castoff is more outwardly sympathetic, encouraging the Last Castoff to experience and learn from the world... but those who know her would suspect her all the more because of this. What are her motives?


Tybir is a glad-handing and garrulous old mercenary, quick with a joke and an offer to buy the next round. He has stories to tell, having served as both soldier and gallowglass, and he's frequently the life of the party. He's always looking for fresh opportunities for profit, fame, and fun... not necessarily in that order.

Tybir wears the practical clothes of a soldier, but in garish colors – a long leather coat, baggy pants, open shirt and belted equipment, all with a casual flair. He's handsome, and many have found him charming, but now that he's older, more dissipated, and thicker around the waist, his charm seems to be slipping away from him. He favors the simpler tools of a soldier in combat, but he's never far from using a dirty trick or insult to even the odds.

With the Last Castoff, Tybir is friendly, outgoing, and eager to please. This might have something to do with the imminent execution of Tybir's most recent associate...
The Torment beta is now available to eligible backers on the Rewards page at the game's backer portal, with a free Pat Rothfuss comic as an added bonus. I wonder how many of them will really dive into it. This is one hell of a game to spoil, after all.

There are 294 comments on Torment Kickstarter Update #53: Beta Released

Wed 20 January 2016
Torment: Tides of Numenera Beta Live on IGN

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Wed 20 January 2016, 22:06:14

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

The Torment: Tides of Numenera beta is coming out this week, the week of January 17th (and not on the 17th itself, whoops). Today though, Brian Fargo and George Ziets are showing the game on IGN's Twitch channel. It's live now:

Get hyped!

Update: And it's over. With lots and lots of text to read in the prologue, the stream didn't get much farther than the beginning of Sagus Cliffs. Highlights include an early battle and a whale-themed CYOA sequence written by Mark Yohalem. But it's not really a great way to showcase this kind of game. Hopefully the beta will be released soon so we can play it ourselves.

There are 136 comments on Torment: Tides of Numenera Beta Live on IGN

Tue 19 January 2016
Darkest Dungeon Released

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 19 January 2016, 21:37:14

Tags: Darkest Dungeon; Red Hook Studios

Back in 2014, stylish dungeon crawling roguelite Darkest Dungeon was one of the Codex community's most anticipated titles. But after it was released on Early Access in February 2015, dissenting whispers began to be heard. Not enough content. Shallow, grindy mechanics. Too much randomness. And then there was that nonsense about corpses. Things really came to a head when disgruntled modder Celerity found his way to our forums in November, turning our Darkest Dungeon thread into his latest platform for crusading against the perfidious dev team. Some were convinced to abandon all hope in the game. For others, such zeal actually provoked a backlash. Whatever your opinion, the true test of Darkest Dungeon's worth begins today. Here's its release trailer and description:

Darkest Dungeon is a challenging gothic roguelike turn-based RPG about the psychological stresses of adventuring.

Recruit, train, and lead a team of flawed heroes through twisted forests, forgotten warrens, ruined crypts, and beyond. You'll battle not only unimaginable foes, but stress, famine, disease, and the ever-encroaching dark. Uncover strange mysteries, and pit the heroes against an array of fearsome monsters with an innovative strategic turn-based combat system.
  • The Affliction System – battle not only monsters, but stress! Contend with paranoia, masochism, fear, irrationality, and a host of gameplay-meaningful quirks!
  • Striking hand-drawn gothic crowquill art style
  • Innovative turn-based combat pits you against a host of diabolical monsters
  • Narration system to celebrate your successes...and failures
  • 14 (and counting!) playable hero classes, including Plague Doctor, Hellion, and even the Leper!
  • Camp to heal wounds or deliver inspiring speeches.
  • Rest your weary, shell-shocked characters in town at the Tavern or the Abbey to keep their stress in check.
  • Classic CRPG and roguelike features, including meaningful permadeath, procedural dungeons, and incredible replay
Can you stem the tide of eldritch horrors erupting across your family’s ancestral estate?

Descend at your peril!
Darkest Dungeon is now available for the price of $25 on Steam and GOG, with a 20% launch discount until next month. Post your verdict in the comments if you're playing it!

There are 137 comments on Darkest Dungeon Released

Sat 16 January 2016
Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen released on PC

Game News - posted by Crooked Bee on Sat 16 January 2016, 17:28:59

Tags: Capcom; Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen

Action RPG Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen, a favorite in certain ARPG-oriented Codexian circles, was released on Steam yesterday after the PC port's surprise announcement several months ago. Here's the trailer and the (somewhat abridged) official description:

Set in a huge open world, Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen presents a rewarding action combat experience. Players embark on an epic adventure in a rich, living world with three AI companions, known as Pawns. These partners fight independently, demonstrating prowess and ability that they have developed based on traits learned from each player. PC users can share these Pawns online and reap rewards of treasure, tips and strategy hints for taking down the terrifying enemies. Pawns can also be borrowed when specific skills are needed to complete various challenging quests.

  • Dynamic combat experience – Cut off the four heads of a Hydra, climb atop griffins and fight airborne, or defeat dragons and other creatures by finding out their weaknesses.
  • Tons of content – Includes all previously released DLCs, pre-order bonuses, retailer-exclusives, and the Dark Arisen expansion content. Features the highly praised combat experience and rich customization, plus a huge underground realm to explore with terrifying monsters.
  • Customization options galore – Nine different vocations for players to choose from with a variety of skill options for each, armor that can be upgraded and enhanced, plus Pawn companions that can be trained to fit your desired combat style.
  • Stunning visuals – Beautiful high res graphics with increased fidelity.
  • Full Steam platform support – Includes Steam Achievements, Steam Cloud Save, Trading Cards, Leaderboards, Big Picture Mode support
According to the impressions in the Codex thread about the game, it runs at 120+FPS with maximum settings at 1080p if your rig is good enough, and the combat is pretty fun on Hard.

You can grab the game here.

There are 116 comments on Dragon's Dogma: Dark Arisen released on PC

Fri 15 January 2016
Matt Chat 323: Interview with Styg, Part Two

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 15 January 2016, 23:57:16

Tags: Matt Barton; Stygian Software; Underrail

The second episode of Matt Barton's interview with Underrail developer Styg is dedicated to asking various questions from viewers, including several from our forums. Topics include the development of Underrail's proprietary game engine, the design of its combat system, and the Codex's favorite topic, cooldowns. Check it out:

The interview doesn't really have time to go in-depth on any one topic - I would have wanted to hear more about why Styg prefers single-character RPGs, for instance. But there is one more episode still left.

There are 42 comments on Matt Chat 323: Interview with Styg, Part Two

Thu 14 January 2016
Torment Kickstarter Update #52: New Mark Morgan Track, Circus Minor Screenshot

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Thu 14 January 2016, 17:12:11

Tags: Adam Heine; Chris Keenan; InXile Entertainment; Mark Morgan; Torment: Tides of Numenera

With the Torment: Tides of Numenera beta due for release in just three days, inXile have published a new Kickstarter update to ramp up the hype. There's no major new information here, just some goodies - a music track by Mark Morgan, which is evidently the main background music for the city of Sagus Cliffs, and a screenshot of Circus Minor, an area within that same city, along with a description by Adam Heine. Check 'em out:

New Music Track - Sagus Cliffs Exterior

As many of you know, we have worked with famed videogame composer Mark Morgan for several years now on both Torment as well as Wasteland 2. Mark is of course known for his soundtracks to Fallout 1 and 2, but he was also the composer for the iconic soundtrack to Planescape: Torment.

Our collaboration with Mark has produced some amazing music which maintains, but also matures the spirit of Torment, and today we want to debut a brand-new song from him, which you will hear as you explore the exterior environments of Sagus Cliffs.

A Look at Circus Minor

Adam here. As we mentioned in our last update, the city of Sagus Cliffs is divided up into districts. The first one that you will come across is called Circus Minor.


Circus Minor is the vibrant heart of Sagus Cliffs, a bustling combination of festival and marketplace. When public events (or executions) are held, they always take place among the crowds and merchant stalls for all to see. Circus Minor is essentially a middle-class district, but all the classes mingle here, along with artists, performers, visitants, and other strange characters.

Circus Minor is a lively place, with merchant stalls, tents and caravans lining its streets, and banners floating in the breeze above. Greenery is more commonplace here than in the other districts.

Yet there is mystery to be found. Pieces of ancient numenera jutting out from the ground are decorated and repurposed by the inhabitants. Some serve as streetlights, others have been turned to other uses, but the original functions of all these ancient constructions are now long-forgotten. And all of these are dominated by the Clock, a giant numenera artifact towering above the district, endlessly ticking away, existing within different dimensions and time periods simultaneously.

Circus Minor serves as an introduction to Sagus Cliffs, and as such, it is a relatively non-hostile place, with many interesting characters to speak to and strange and wonderful things to find. Many important quests and details about the world can be found here, and the Last Castoff will return to it plenty of times while exploring Sagus Cliffs' other districts.
This update is the second in the series of "Road to Beta" updates, so perhaps we can expect yet more goodies in the coming days.

There are 135 comments on Torment Kickstarter Update #52: New Mark Morgan Track, Circus Minor Screenshot

Tue 12 January 2016
Underworld Ascendant Update #18: Now Entering Full Production

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 12 January 2016, 00:26:02

Tags: Chris Siegel; OtherSide Entertainment; Underworld Ascendant

The first Underworld Ascendant update for 2016 announces that the game is now entering full production. Chris Siegel explains:

In 2015, we were successful at our first Kickstarter, assembling the core team, and erecting all the scaffolding that games are built upon. The groundwork for the key systems are in place: character building, magic, movement, and combat. We've also tackled the pre-production for the narrative and key characters, the three factions and denizens of the deep you'll encounter, the lay of the Stygian Abyss, and the other fantasy world design elements that go into The Underworld.

As the New Year begins, we're busy making the transition to full production. The focus shifts to building out all the game play elements. Right now, we're barreling along on two tracks: art and design.

Our designers are heads down prototyping the quest and narrative systems, building out character skills, and working out how to create spaces that take advantage of those skills. We've even started coming to grips with the major characters in the game and the main plot points.

It's fun to see a team switch gears from "Wouldn't it be cool?" to "We all agree that is cool. Let's build it and prove it!" Seeing an idea on paper isn't nearly as awesome as seeing it the game engine. One of the most rewarding things as a producer is being the guy who gets the first look at everything. It's like opening presents every morning when we reach this point in development. From something simple like getting a new shader for stalactites to testing out wall-running and ground-sliding for the first time, it's never boring.

The other track is art. After Nate Wells joined us as Studio Art Director late last year, we revisited the look for the game and decided to evolve to something that would be more distinctive. Something that captured the vibe of an old school dungeon crawl, but at the same time brought something new to the genre. Nate arrived at what he terms an "authored" art style, where The Stygian Abyss looks as if it were crafted by mages of yore who more-or-less terraformed the environment by their mighty mystical hands. The art team is busy working on the evolved look. A couple of sneak peeks are shown here, but we should have a playable build with the new look to share soon enough.

Things are going to get even busier for us as we transition to full production; but it's a good kind of busy where we're firing on all cylinders and where we'll have more to share with you each month going forward.
With the game's small team becoming ever busier, update frequency will be dropping down to once every three weeks for the foreseeable future. According to a forum post by Chris, they're expected to hit pre-alpha stage in the second quarter of this year.

There are 32 comments on Underworld Ascendant Update #18: Now Entering Full Production

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