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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?

AdventureDex Review: The Magic Circle, an RPG without the "RPG" - or, On Games and "Notgames"

Review - posted by Crooked Bee on Mon 27 July 2015, 14:47:14

Tags: Question Games; The Magic Circle

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Looking Glass Studios was a unique game development wonder that went out too quickly. Instead of pursuing Doug Church's and Randy Smith's ambition of giving the player enough freedom and tools to "co-author" the game, the industry has taken a turn towards severely controlled (and controlling) AAA design, on one hand, and in an important sense no less restricted "notgames" or "walking simulators," on the other.

Made by a trio of ex-Ion Storm, Irrational Games and Arkane developers, The Magic Circle is a meta-game about the the past, present, and future of this thing called video games, which makes fun of those and other industry trends while digging deeply, but also humorously, into the tensions of the game development process and calling for a return to Looking Glass design principles.

That is what makes The Magic Circle's commentary on the industry so interesting, but also ultimately so old-fashioned and so, dare I say, aligned in an important way with RPG Codex's sensibilities. It is coming from a very specific design perspective, best encapsulated by terms like "player freedom" and "emergent" (or tool-based) gameplay. Putting you inside a Looking Glass Style-style first-person RPG with unfinished "RP" and "G" parts, The Magic Circle has you play the video game development equivalent of Wizardry IV's Werdna, half-forgotten, half-reviled, stripped of his powers, having his revenge on the "do-gooder" developers themselves and constructing his army of minions with in-game tools he discovers along the way.

I think the issues that The Magic Circle raises are generally important, and so this review, too, is "meta" in that it doubles as an essay on games and "notgames." I want to explain not only what The Magic Circle is like as a game, what it is trying to tell and do, and where it succeeds or fails, but also what "notgames" are and why, pretending to be a deconstruction of what makes a video game, they must be deconstructed themselves in order to go from notgames back (or rather, forward) to games -- a sensibility that, I believe, The Magic Circle exemplifies.

Have a snippet:

Notgames like Tale of Tales’ titles, Dear Esther, Journey, Kentucky Route Zero or Gone Home, also known derisively as “walking simulators,” attempt to subvert the expectations of what a video game is. To that end, they usually focus on the narrative, the atmosphere, and the player’s feelings in contrast to (the traditionally conceived notion of) player agency, exposing the latter’s limits as they have been internalized by the industry. Notgames are literally de-constructive, as they disassemble gameplay down to its basic components like walking around and triggering narrative or evocative events. For the most part, they present themselves as empathic experiences that purposefully avoid challenging the player, except emotionally. No matter how hard Adrian Chmielarz, the developer behind The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, criticizes Tale of Tales’ latest output, Sunset, his game is itself prefaced by “This is a narrative experience” – and indeed, has no gameplay “obstacles” to speak of. As such, it is perfectly in spirit of Michaël Samyn’s manifesto.

Now, deconstruction can be important to lay bare what makes a game. However – and here you can see that The Magic Circle has followed these developments closely – what if we start from that zero point and have the player re-construct gameplay instead? Given that notgames eschew challenge, this zero point can also incorporate the flip side of the same industry, AAA player convenience (quest markers, linearity, conveniently placed collectibles). In fact, I believe the term “notgame” can easily be extended to include the AAA side, too, as well as something like Telltale’s “experiences”. However, now that the industry has gone from games to notgames, what if we go in the opposite direction? After all, even if some or even most players are content with being stripped of their free will, what if there is one player who is not?

In asking these questions, and following them through in its gameplay, The Magic Circle breaks with the notgame design – and calls for a return to Looking Glass sensibilities. At first glance, the two have a common goal: doing away with things getting in the way of the player’s immersion. However, they approach it in conflicting ways. Gone Home’s developers may have been influenced by LGS, but The Magic Circle is at its polemical best in showing that notgames and Looking Glass-style games proceed in opposite directions. “Environmental storytelling” is by itself not enough. Notgames choose to outright ignore gameplay instead of reassessing the ways player freedom can be brought about or enabling interactive tool-focused design. By emphasizing obstacle-based exploration and emergent gameplay, The Magic Circle sides with games against notgames, even as it starts from the latter as its point of reference.

The Magic Circle is, in other words, a de-construction of a notgame and a re-construction of a game. At the same time, it is also aware of game development’s limits. A game with infinite player freedom may be impossible due to technical, financial, and time constraints, while a non-game stripped of the more complex forms of active agency is unsatisfactory – not to the developer maybe, but certainly to you, the odd player. Not coincidentally, it is precisely from a notgame that Old Pro sets you free – and it is another notgame that you disrupt under the guise of the E4 demo.​

Read the full review: AdventureDex Review: The Magic Circle, an RPG without the "RPG" - or, On Games and "Notgames"

There are 38 comments on AdventureDex Review: The Magic Circle, an RPG without the "RPG" - or, On Games and "Notgames"

Sun 2 August 2015
Whalenought Studios Interview on Shane Plays

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Sun 2 August 2015, 13:48:51

Tags: Serpent in the Staglands; Shane Stacks; Whalenought Studios

Joe and Hannah Williams of Whalenought Studios are the guests of this week's episode of Shane Plays, the radio show/podcast run by Codexer Shane "sstacks" Stacks. Shane has been playing Serpent in the Staglands this week, and so much of the interview is spent randomly chattering about various aspects of the game that impressed him, in particular the setting and the monsters. He also asks them a few questions about the game's development, and about how they became game developers.

According to Joe and Hannah, with the help of word of mouth, Serpent in the Staglands has now sold just enough to justify further RPG development. Development on the free expansion, the scope of which has now increased beyond what was originally planned, is set to conclude "by the end of the year", though they're not sure it will be released this year. The expansions from the Kickstarter campaign's unmet stretch goals will unfortunately not be made, but Whalenought do want to return to the Vol setting in the future someday. Their next RPG after Serpent in the Staglands, however, will be something else. Something with a different ruleset and mechanics, a different non-pixel art graphical style, and an "80s sci-fi cyberpunk" theme.

At the end of the interview, Shane once again passes on various questions from Codexers. Joe and Hannah say that yes, Serpent in the Staglands' difficulty is where they wanted it to be, yes, they are considering turn-based combat for future projects, no, they aren't planning on ever returning to mobile game development, and yes, they do plan on changing up their UI design for future projects. Nice.

There are 15 comments on Whalenought Studios Interview on Shane Plays

Fri 31 July 2015
Jordan Weisman talks BattleTech at alistdaily

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 31 July 2015, 00:39:57

Tags: BattleTech; Harebrained Schemes; Jordan Weisman

According to their website, Harebrained Schemes are formally announcing BattleTech at Gen Con today. The marketing-oriented news site alistdaily managed to grab a quick interview with Jordan Weisman before the announcement. Although most of the game's details are still up in the air, there are a few things here that are pertinent to RPG fans:

What Is Harebrained Schemes up to now, and why are you announcing it at GenCon?

We're announcing that we're going to be producing a modern turn-based tactical mech game, but we're being real tight-lipped about too much of the game itself because that will be coming out as we do the Kickstarter this fall. We wanted to announce the Battletech game here at GenCon. It's a little premature, but this is the audience where that game got started. These are the fans that helped build up Battletech from the beginning. This convention itself has been the hub of so many milestones for Battletech. We've been doing Battletech stuff here for a lot of years, and as soon as we were able to secure the rights to the game we knew this was the audience we needed to tell about it first.

What can you tell me about the game?

It's PC and Mac, and it's an open-ended mercenary campaign. Where you're going to be building your own mercenary unit. It's mixing a lot of turn-based tactical with a lot of RPG elements, because you'll not only be managing a lance of 'Mechs but also Mechwarriors as well. You have all their careers and their skill trees, doing the depth of story like we did in Shadowrun that we want to bring to Battletech. As we say, the feudal Machiavellian politics that was at the core of the Battletech universe.

Will you have fiction to go along with the game?

Fiction is an important part, both in the game and accompanying the game. We're working with the Catalyst guys so we coordinate with their fiction line. We're putting the game back in the original setting in 3025, because I think it played up the geopolitics really well and it lost some of the feudal nature later on. We want to sell the whole sweep of the story and sell the platform to do that.

What are you doing at GenCon for the game?

We have a teaser, just a paragraph about the game and a couple of pieces of concept art. For people that want to get involved early, we're going to have a Vanguard backing opportunity. They drop by the booth and we've made up dog tags from different mercenary units. They can pick those up and if they back later on, they'll get a variant of one of those 'Mechs. There are ten different types of mercenary units, and if someone wants to pick up all of them it's a $50 backing and then they get a free copy of the game when it comes out, the dog tags and the variant 'Mechs.

The benefit of crowdfunding is that you not only get financial backing for the game, but you also get guidance on the design of the game, as well as a tremendous marketing benefit, wouldn't you agree?

Part of the reason to announce now is that you have to make people aware that you're doing a Kickstarter, you can't just show up and hope people appear.

This will be our fourth game that we've brought to market with support from fans. The third Shadowrun title will ship August 20th, and all of those were funded by fans. The Golem Arcana game shipped last year at Gencon. We've really enjoyed that kind of cooperative, co-development relationship with our backers. Obviously the financial support has allowed us to grow and we wouldn't have done the games wthout that, but just as importantly the kind of emotional support and sounding board that they provide during development we've found to be a very energizing experience.

If we've done our job right and kept them happy during development, they're a great amnplifier for when the game launches. That marketing opportunity is really twice – once when you're doing the crowdfunding and making a lot of noise, but then a year and a half later or whenever you're shipping the title. If you've really worked collaboratively with your audience all the way through, they're a great help in getting the word out when the product comes out.
"A lot of RPG elements", "doing the depth of story like we did in Shadowrun". Yes, yes, this is definitely sounding relevant to our interests. And according to BattleTech fans, what he's saying about the timeline is good news too.

There are 48 comments on Jordan Weisman talks BattleTech at alistdaily

Thu 30 July 2015
WTF: New turn-based RPG Demons Age looks suspiciously like Chaos Chronicles

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 30 July 2015, 23:58:08

Tags: Bigmoon Entertainment; Chaos Chronicles; Demons Age

Man, is this a strange time for the RPG genre. Today we learned of the existence of a new turn-based fantasy RPG called Demons Age from an obscure Portuguese developer by the name of Bigmoon Entertainment (or is it Bigmoon Studios?). Here's the press release, courtesy of GameBanshee:

Bigmoon Entertainment Announces, “Demons Age”, for Xbox One, Playstation 4 and PC Brand New Dark Fantasy Turn-Based Role-Playing Game to Launch in Q1 2016

Gaia, Portugal -- July 30, 2015 -- Bigmoon Entertainment today announced Demons Age, a brand new title that brings together the characteristics of a classic turn-based roleplaying game with modern graphics and a gripping atmosphere. Demons Age takes console and PC gamers on a thrilling adventure in either single character or party mode in which they must explore ancient ruins, mystical places and mysterious dungeons while battling dangerous opponents along the way. Demons Age is slated to launch on Playstation 4, Xbox One and PC in Q1 2016. For more information about Demons Age, please visit:

“We are all fans of dark fantasy and role-playing games, so many voices and ideas have gone into making Demons Age a game that fans of this genre will really enjoy”, said Paulo J. Games from Bigmoon Entertainment. “We didn’t limit ourselves to building just a classical turn-based RPG game, but wanted to create a game with the features and gameplay that we look for in a console or PC title, too”.

About Demons Age

Moragon has once again been invaded by Demons. The corrupted soldiers of the “Order” along with orcs and demons have swept the Peninsula of Moragon from north to south in a violent and bloody war against Elves, Dwarves, Halflings and Men. The adventure begins when the player washes ashore along the coast of this war ridden peninsula and is thrown into intrigue full of tragedy and betrayal. In line with classic turn-based roleplaying mechanics, Demons Age first tasks players to set up their character and later allows them to hire a party of diverse characters to help them on their adventure.

Each hired character has their own secrets and back-story, so players must choose their party wisely and beware of potential betrayals. Players can level-up their characters playing through the main story and also side quests, receiving rewards as they help the citizens of Moragon all the while searching for the cause of the mysterious event that has plunged the kingdom into evil darkness. Solving puzzles allows players to progress through the game, and they can find and equip a host of different weapons to defeat foes. Combining a lavish look with the dense atmosphere of a classic dungeon crawler, Demons Age is designed to appeal to new and old fans of turn-based fantasy role-playing games, and true to the genre. There is danger lurking around every corner. ​

Now, normally we wouldn't have paid too much attention to yet another developer trying to hop onto the increasingly overcrowded oldschool RPG bandwagon, but then we saw the game's trailer:

Does that look familiar to you? If not, this image should make things clear:

That's right - it's yet another incarnation of Chaos Chronicles. I guess you can't kill what's already dead! And if you still have doubts about it, this post by former Chaos Chronicles lead Peter Ohlmann should dispel them. A glance at the Bigmoon Studios website confirms that they had dealings with bitComposer in the past, so presumably they somehow managed to procure ownership of the Chaos Chronicles code and assets after bitComposer's bankruptcy. Expect more information about this bizarre reccurence as we learn it.

There are 58 comments on WTF: New turn-based RPG Demons Age looks suspiciously like Chaos Chronicles

Wasteland 2 Kickstarter Update #67: Director's Cut coming on October 13th

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 30 July 2015, 20:48:29

Tags: Chris Keenan; InXile Entertainment; Wasteland 2

Earlier today, we learned that the release date for the Wasteland 2 Director's Cut had been set to October 13th. The latest Kickstarter update has a more detailed announcement, along with some new screenshots:

We have some big news to share with you today, so we'll just cut right to the chase. Wasteland 2 Director's Cut will be releasing digitally on PC on October 13, 2015! Additionally, for Xbox One and PlayStation 4, digital and physical releases will be coming on October 13th in the Americas, and October 16th Worldwide!

As we've said before, anyone who already owns Wasteland 2 on any digital PC retailer will be getting the Director's Cut as a free update on PC. We'll have more information as we get closer to release, but it's our intention to make sure it's as easy a process as possible. Keep your eyes peeled on our Wasteland 2 forums as we'll be putting up FAQs and similar in the coming weeks towards release.

For those of you who are still curious about the Director's Cut contents, features, and changes, or may have missed our discussions on them previously, here are some links that go over some of those new elements in detail.
And those do not even fully cover all the new additions, like new and expanded voice-over for many of the game's key NPCs and companions, as well as our extensive rebalancing of virtually every combat encounter, loot drop, and item you'll find in the game.

We're now in the home stretch of development. Our final tasks in the several weeks before final release include polishing up the game as much as we can, including tweaks, optimizations, fixes and balance adjustments. We hope you will enjoy the changes and updates as much as we enjoyed bringing them to you.

New Screenshots

We've got a bunch of new screenshots ready for you for this announcement, showing off some of our graphical updates and changes to our environments and character models. Our art team has worked tirelessly to make sure the Wasteland is more vibrant and detailed than ever, and we're extremely pleased with the results.

[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
"Late summer", my ass. That's what console certification will do to you, I guess.

There are 11 comments on Wasteland 2 Kickstarter Update #67: Director's Cut coming on October 13th

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Wed 29 July 2015
Albion Now Available on GOG

Game News - posted by Crooked Bee on Wed 29 July 2015, 16:58:50

Tags: Albion; Blue Byte; Ubisoft

The unique 1995 RPG Albion, particularly beloved by German RPG fans, is now finally available on GOG courtesy of Ubisoft.

It is the year 2227, and the gigantic interstellar factory ship, Toronto, cruises toward a lifeless planet endowed with a wealth of minerals. While studying the planet in his shuttlecraft, the pilot, Tom Driscoll, unavoidably crash lands. Against all expectations, he survives to discover his craft has landed in a world rich in flora and fauna, and inhabited by intelligent beings. How could the data on the planet of Albion have been so wrong?

Take on the role of Tom Driscoll and explore the extensive world of Albion and its endless surprises in this turn-based, tactical RPG. Experience its vast beauty and strange cultures… but beware of its many hidden dangers! You, and the companions you acquire on your journey, will experience countless adventures together and your resourcefulness, skills of negotiation and ability to deal with numerous inhabitants will be repeatedly put to the test. But most importantly, your resolve in battle will determine not only your own fate, but that of the entire world.
  • Role-playing adventure with an engaging storyline and interactive dialogue
  • Turn-based, tactical combat
  • User-friendly and intuitive interface and navigation
  • Expansive and captivating game-world
There is no official launch trailer or anything so I will just embed this episode of Matt Chat instead:

Grab the game here.

Aside from that, the post-apoc sim Archimedean Dynasty is now available on GOG as well.

There are 27 comments on Albion Now Available on GOG

Harebrained Schemes to Kickstart BattleTech this Fall

Game News - posted by Zed on Wed 29 July 2015, 15:42:14

Tags: BattleTech; Harebrained Schemes

Harebrained Schemes just revealed their plans to Kickstart yet another Jordan Weisman creation. This time it's BattleTech. It's what was hinted at earlier when they were discussing another classic IP reboot.



Harebrained Schemes is pleased to announce their return to Kickstarter this Fall to partner with Backers in co-funding the creation of BATTLETECH. Jordan Weisman, the creator of BattleTech and MechWarrior, is back with the first turn-based BattleTech game for PC in over two decades. Steeped in the feudal political intrigue of the BattleTech universe, the game will feature an open-ended Mercenaries-style campaign that blends RPG ‘Mech and MechWarrior management with modern turn-based tactics.​

There's not much else than a tweet and a newsletter sign-up at this point in time.

There are 78 comments on Harebrained Schemes to Kickstart BattleTech this Fall

King of Dragon Pass Released on Steam

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 29 July 2015, 01:11:42

Tags: A Sharp; HeroCraft; King of Dragon Pass

The latest edition of King of Dragon Pass, the genre-blending CYOA classic originally released back in 1999, in which you lead a clan of Iron Age Nordic tribesman in the fantasy world of Glorantha, is now available on Steam. This particular release was developed by HeroCraft, who also ported the game to Android and Windows Phone last year based on the game's 2011 iOS version. It is not the same as the GOG release from 2012 which is based on the original PC version, and as such it carries a higher price tag - $12 rather than $6. Here's a trailer and some details from original KoDP developer A Sharp:

King of Dragon Pass will be coming to Steam on 28 July. But the game has been available for mobile (iOS, Android, and Windows Phone), as well as the original version (either on CD or as patched to be downloadable by So what exactly is coming to Steam?

The version on Steam is essentially the mobile version, but tuned for desktop and laptop screen sizes (I ran it on a 30 inch iMac, but it should run on a 1024 x 576 netbook). HeroCraft has been responsible for the Steam versions, since I’ve been busy with Six Ages, so I am not completely sure of the specifics. But I believe the Steam achievements are the same as those we added in 2.0. There are also Steam Cards (which may have some new art).

So if you played on Windows or Mac before, you’d be moving from 1.7 to 2.2. There are 48 new scenes and 4 new illustrations (plus a new Lore map). There are also new advisors, and a lot more advice in management screens. There are also more treasures. We made many bug fixes (such as unblocking two of the original scenes), and fixed typos. You no longer have to worry about sheep. The economics system should no longer be quite as harsh, with death spirals less likely. (Rest assured that the game is still difficult, especially on the Hard setting.)

The Tula screen was too difficult to rework, but it wasn’t part of game play. And HeroCraft originally started their porting before our scene contest, so those scenes are currently only in the iOS version.

We like to avoid spoilers, so it’s hard to talk about just what the four dozen new scenes are about. We did mention the Troll Hero before, however. And here’s the artwork for one of them.

So if you have played King of Dragon Pass on a laptop or desktop, but not a mobile device, there’s a lot of new stuff. And if you haven’t played at all, now’s your chance!​

No word on whether this version will make it to GOG, but based on previous experience with these kinds of Steam rereleases, I doubt it.

There are 15 comments on King of Dragon Pass Released on Steam

Tue 28 July 2015
ICY Released

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 28 July 2015, 02:31:15

Tags: Icy; Inner Void Interactive

ICY, the post-apocalyptic Ice Age survival RPG from indie developer Inner Void Interactive that was Indiegogo'd just over five months ago, was released today. It's now available on Steam for the price of $13 minus 25% launch discount. Here's the launch trailer:

An additional gameplay trailer is also available. Codexers who have played ICY's beta report a similarity to the excellent NEO Scavenger, so you might want to check it out.

There are 21 comments on ICY Released

Mon 27 July 2015
Matt Chat 301: Chris Avellone on Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 27 July 2015, 11:09:43

Tags: Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear; Chris Avellone; Matt Barton

In his infinite graciousness, Chris Avellone agreed to reshoot the first half of his Matt Chat interview that was lost due to a technical mishap. As expected, this part of the interview is entirely about the upcoming Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear, and as such, it repeats much of the same praise that was lavished upon the expansion in the recent Shane Plays interview. In addition to all that, Chris has good things to say about Siege of Dragonspear's hardcore optional encounters, about one of its new companions, the female goblin shaman M’Khiin Grubdoubler, and about its technical and user interface improvements.

Chris also reveals the name of the Shining Lady, Siege of Dragonspear's antagonist, which I'm not sure he was supposed to do. :M It's "Kaylar" or something like that.

There are 22 comments on Matt Chat 301: Chris Avellone on Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear

Sun 26 July 2015
Chris Avellone Interview on Shane Plays

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Sun 26 July 2015, 14:51:10

Tags: Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear; Chris Avellone; Shane Stacks

Chris Avellone was interviewed last night on Shane Plays, a radio show/podcast hosted by Codexer sstacks. In the 45 minute interview, Chris talks about the games that he's made, from his early work with Star Trek back at Interplay, all the way up to Torment: Tides of Numenera and in particular, Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear, which he has a lot of good things to say about.

Chris praises Beamdog's effort in making the transition from the original game to the expansion believable, with a prologue chapter focused around the political situation in Baldur's Gate following the protagonist's defeat of Sarevok. He's impressed by how their writers have given the original game's companion NPCs character development that explains how they arrived at where they are in the sequel, yet without the loss of stylistic consistency. He's also impressed by the expansion's antagonist, the Shining Lady, who he says is not really a villain, and even comes across as more heroic than the protagonist at times.

In addition to talking about games, Shane also asks Chris about his work as a writer (with a particular focus on his recently revealed Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter short story), doodle illustrator and graphic novel author. Chris admits that transitioning from games writing to regular fiction writing can be difficult, especially with longer works. It turns out that he had to get help from inXile's Nathan Long to finish his Wasteland 2 novel, which he says he made a lot of mistakes with.

At the end of the interview, Shane passes on a bunch of questions from the Codex and elsewhere. Embarrassing quotations abound! Chris says he'll come here and answer any questions that Shane didn't have time to convey. Let's hope that he does.

There are 14 comments on Chris Avellone Interview on Shane Plays

Fri 24 July 2015
Shadowrun: Hong Kong Kickstarter Update #35: Release on August 20th

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 24 July 2015, 15:48:43

Tags: Harebrained Schemes; Jordan Weisman; Mike McCain; Mitch Gitelman; Shadowrun: Hong Kong

As promised last week, today's Shadowrun: Hong Kong Kickstarter update announces the game's release date, which turns out to be August 20th. That makes Shadowrun: Hong Kong possibly the first Kickstarter-funded RPG ever to actually be released on the date originally declared during its campaign. The update also comes with a bunch of goodies including a celebratory video featuring Mitch Gitelman, Jordan Weisman and Mike McCain, wallpaper, screenshots and animated GIFs. Here's an excerpt:

Hey everyone!

Mitch here, with just enough bandwidth to pull my head out of polishing the game to let you know that Shadowrun: Hong Kong has an official release date! During the Kickstarter, we estimated that we would release the game in August… and that’s why we’re releasing the game in August!

August 20th, 2015 at 10am PST, to be specific. On Steam, GoG, & Humble.

Estimating, scheduling and delivering something as complex as SR:HK is tough and I’m extremely proud of the entire team for their focus, dedication, and hard work. I’d like to say a special thank you to our ace Producer, Chris Klimecky and my co-Director, Mike McCain for their work in getting the game to you on time. Mike joined me at the helm a ways back so I could dedicate more time to writing, and his work has been first rate - just like it was on Shadowrun: Dragonfall and Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director’s Cut.

The game’s really coming together and it’s amazing to see the team’s hard work and creative collaboration on-screen. Making games is an incredible challenge but making games with these folks is an absolute pleasure.

We’ll be sending out another update in the next couple of weeks regarding how to get your keys from BackerKit and an update on all the remaining Kickstarter rewards.

In the meantime, here’s a few new screenshots & gifs we grabbed for you. Thanks for staying with us since January and we’ll see you August 20th!

[​IMG] [​IMG]
[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
Hey, giant rats! Matt Barton will be pleased. Note that two of those screenshots aren't included in the update for some reason, including the one showing off the new Enhanced Matrix. Wonder why they did that.

There are 59 comments on Shadowrun: Hong Kong Kickstarter Update #35: Release on August 20th

Wasteland 2 & Pillars of Eternity: The White March E3 2015 Interview Videos

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 24 July 2015, 01:15:23

Tags: Adam Brennecke; Brian Fargo; Chris Keenan; Divinity: Original Sin; InXile Entertainment; John Watson; Larian Studios; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity; Pillars of Eternity: The White March; Stoic Studio; Swen Vincke; The Banner Saga 2; Wasteland 2

Although people from both inXile and Obsidian were at E3 last month to talk about Wasteland 2 Director's Cut and Pillars of Eternity: The White March, respectively, it seems like few of the attending journalists were interested in interviewing them on camera. Well, it turns out that at least some of them were just taking forever to upload their videos. A few days ago, Gamereactor uploaded their interview with inXile's Chris Keenan, and today, a gaming channel called Press Start TV uploaded one with Brian Fargo. Here's the Gamereactor interview:

There's nothing much new in these interviews, although the latter one does manage to finally extract a release date for the Wasteland 2 Director's Cut - probably September, October at the latest. The same can be said for Gamereactor's interview with Obsidian's Adam Brennecke:

Gamereactor also uploaded their interview with Banner Saga 2 developer John Watson today, although that's less of a find - the Stoic guys compensated for their usual avoidance of self-promotion by being remarkably prolific E3 interviewees.

Update: Gamereactor have uploaded yet another E3 interview, this time with Larian's Swen Vincke. Once again, not much new here, but Swen does announce that the Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition is on schedule for a late October release.

There are 7 comments on Wasteland 2 & Pillars of Eternity: The White March E3 2015 Interview Videos

Thu 23 July 2015
Seven Dragon Saga Update: Progress Report

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 23 July 2015, 20:59:28

Tags: David Shelley; Seven Dragon Saga; Tactical Simulations Interactive

In suspiciously close proximity to a post on our forums questioning its status, the developers of Seven Dragon Saga have posted a new development update on the game's official website. It includes new art - namely, an image of a Slyth Warden, a member of the game's Dragonkin faction - and a report on what each member of the team is currently up to. I quote:

Meet the Slyth Warden, one of the many dragonkin who vie for dominance in the mountains of the Firewind Coast. Suspicious of the empire, they are likely enemies, but with the right inducements, they could be powerful allies. It’s all a matter of player choice, as they adventure deep into the Drakelands, in service to their emperor.

We are proceeding along developing different elements of the game. In Engineering, we’ve been running various elements of combat and movement through prototyping. Checking out how best to implement multiple targets, area of effect attacks, and persistent things like zones. On the movement side, Seven Dragon Saga has a number of methods to move, and we want them to feel different and work clearly. Mystic Leap allows characters to leap up onto areas others can’t, and gain height advantage. Special thanks to junior engineer Sebastian for taking point on the prototype process.

Up next is how best for the game to recognize cover, then determine if it is half or full, and convey this in an intelligent manner to the players. Then there are Attacks of Opportunity and the Retaliate ability to work out. Lots of little details where frequent prototype iterations works wonders.

In design, we are creating flow charts for story progression, depending on which factions the player is aiding, and which he’s harming. David Shelley pushes a strategic vision, while Edwin McRae drives things from an NPC and story arc viewpoint. This all feeds into the locations we need, and hence the environmental art required.

In systems, Paul Murray and David Shelley are running through a first draft of the various crafting methods, beginning with Alchemy. Again, this affects other elements, such as the skills system, and especially the economy (meaning what players find as loot, as well as, in stores). While single player game economics has a bit more slop allowed than in multi-player games, we still need valuable items to feel valuable and achievable. All the glittery things scattered on the ground after battle should have some meaning.

The art team is busy as ever, since we revamped under our new art director, Lee Dotson. The animation and rigging team is moving from player characters to the first batch of enemies. The new environments are moving from concept to implementation. And we’ve squeezed in a revision to our main user interface — with much discussion with the designers over what the scribbled wireframes really mean for functionality. Meetings can be noisy, but very positive.
So yeah, don't worry, Seven Dragon Saga is still still alive.

There are 21 comments on Seven Dragon Saga Update: Progress Report

Wed 22 July 2015
RPG Codex Retrospective Review: The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall (1996)

Review - posted by Crooked Bee on Wed 22 July 2015, 16:48:32

Tags: Bethesda Softworks; Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall

After reviewing Arena, the Elder Scrolls game that started it all, esteemed community member Deuce Traveler now moves on to the 1996 The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall. Daggerfall is famous, or infamous, for both its scope and its sprawling randomized dungeons, which I dearly loved, but how does it fare today?

Deuce Traveler has all the answers.

Ah, Daggerfall. Both stunning in its depth and a hot mess when it comes to its glaring bugs. It's a game which doesn’t deserve the hype lavished on it by its nostalgic fans, despite being groundbreaking for its time. I spent months playing it, and my feelings continually wavered between frustration and amazement. I found Arena to be more fun, but Daggerfall to be better structured. I found Morrowind to be more immersive, but Daggerfall’s main plot to be more interesting. There is one thing that most of us can agree upon, though - it’s a better game than Oblivion.

[...] No review of Daggerfall is truly complete without mentioning the massive amount of pixelated boobs that this game provides. And no, I’m not talking about fools. I’m talking tits, jugs, gazongas, hooters, knockers, fun bags, bazoombas, cha-chas, num-nums, cantaloupes, flapdoodles, mounds, torpedoes, rack, neeners, soombas, mammaries and milk bombs. They are simply everywhere, although they do change from location to location. If you're a religious type, the finest examples can be found in temples dedicated to Kynareth, goddess of air, and Dibella, goddess of love (and there are also barechested men in Dibella’s temples for all the female gamers out there). The sophisticated aficionado can also find a varied assortment of bare sweater puppies in personal chambers inside castles, at some mage guilds, on monsters in dungeons and among the daedra princesses. Unfortunately, we would have to wait until The Witcher to get in-game collectible cards, but there’s always CTRL-F5 in DOSBox. I used to think that some of those Oblivion mods went a bit over the top, but after playing Daggerfall, it's tempting to view them as a return to form.

[...] I will admit that some of the side quests are complex in clever ways. One quest that stood out for me was a Knights of the Dragon quest where I was asked to help a witch hiding in the depths of a dungeon. Upon finding her, she tasked me with locating and delivering a young girl to her to so that she could become the witch's apprentice. I took up the quest, but when I approached the girl she screamed for help and I found myself in a running battle with the nearby guards who followed me all the way to the dungeon. After delivering the girl, I still had to fight my way out of the dungeon, I took a reputation hit with the local people, and the next time I talked to a random child I was told off by the little tyke. All this was quite clever, but also a bit messed up. The leadership of the Knights of the Dragon distrusts magic-users, so why this was one of their faction quests is still a mystery to me. Once I realized I was kidnapping the girl, I could have turned her over to the authorities and asked for forgiveness, but that would have resulted in a loss of reputation points with the knighthood for the failed quest, instead of being rewarded for making the more moral, citizen-friendly decision. Also, the witch was near an underwater cavern, so to get to her I had to swim through a crowd of soldiers who were standing in place waiting for me on the pool floor without drowning. Have I mentioned that the citizens of Daggerfall's cities can walk on water? In summary, the copy-and-paste nature of Daggerfall's side quests and dungeons leads to an endless stream of glitches and nonsensical moments that emphasizes the game's design flaws, harming immersion more than it helps it.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Retrospective Review: The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall (1996)

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Tue 21 July 2015
WTF: Knights of the Old Republic II gets new official patch, TSLRCM now available via Steam Workshop

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 21 July 2015, 20:40:05

Tags: Aspyr Media; Obsidian Entertainment; Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic 2: The Sith Lords; The Sith Lords Restored Content Mod

Over a decade since its troubled release, Obsidian's Knights of the Old Republic II has received a new official patch introducing a host of enhancements. The responsible party is Aspyr Media, the company previously known for developing the Mac and mobile ports of the original KOTOR. Their announcement post on Steam has the details:

Introducing and updated KOTOR II for Mac, Linux, and Windows!!!

Aspyr in partnership with Disney/Lucas is proud to announce STAR WARS™ Knights of the Old Republic™ II - The Sith Lords™ is now available on Mac and LInux, along with a massive update to all 3 platforms.

New features include:
  • 37 achievements to be earned through gameplay
  • Steam Cloud saves
  • Native widescreen resolution support
  • Resolution support up to 4K and 5K
  • Support for controllers, including Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, and Playstation 4, along with several others (check the system requirements for details)
  • Steam Workshop support! We proudly worked with the Restored Content Mod team to have their famous TSLRCM up on launch day
Oh...and we added a "Force Speed Effects" option in the menu ;)

Chime in here with your thoughts on the update! I will be starting seperate forums for both Technical Support and Workshop Mods shortly.

Why did we do this? Because we LOVE KOTOR 2. But lets all remember what love truly is...Love is making a shot to the knees of a target 120 kilometers away using an Aratech sniper rifle with a tri-light scope.
This is pretty awesome! Note that in addition to the Restored Content Mod itself, the M4-78 Droid Planet Mod is also available on Steam Workshop. Both mods have received updated versions for this release. The game itself, if you don't own it already, is currently on sale for $7.5. What about the GOG version, you ask? According to the developers, that might be coming later.

There are 136 comments on WTF: Knights of the Old Republic II gets new official patch, TSLRCM now available via Steam Workshop

Matt Chat 300: Half of a Chris Avellone Interview

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Tue 21 July 2015, 18:22:57

Tags: Chris Avellone; Matt Barton

For the 300th episode of his show, Matt Barton decided to interview Chris Avellone - mainly about his involvement with the recently announced Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear, it seems. Unfortunately, something got fucked up and the audio track for the main part of the interview was lost, leaving only 13 or so minutes of Q&A about miscellaneous stuff. In that time, Chris talks a bit about his failure to make it into Bard's Tale IV, and about the types of genres and games he'd like to work on after he's done with his current projects. He seems to be interested in working on a game that doesn't utilize a traditional RPG "talking head" set-up for dialogue. He'd also like to work on a "mundane" hard science fiction game. Chris hasn't forgotten his Arcanum LP, but he's postponing that in order to help create more content for Torment and Siege of Dragonspear.

To fill in the rest of the episode, Matt added an additional part of his ongoing interview with MUD pioneer Richard Bartle, but I haven't been following that. Perhaps he can submit the audioless part of the Avellone interview to a lip reader for transcription?

There are 27 comments on Matt Chat 300: Half of a Chris Avellone Interview

Mon 20 July 2015
Underworld Ascendant Update #6: Meet Joe Fielder and the Shadow Beast

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 20 July 2015, 23:58:22

Tags: Chris Siegel; Joe Fielder; OtherSide Entertainment; Underworld Ascendant

The pre-production of Underworld Ascendant has been humming along quietly for the past month. The game's previous update didn't really have much gameplay-wise, but it did feature a self-introduction by design director Joe Fielder, which offered a glimpse at the sort of things OtherSide are working on right now:

Hey, everyone. It's been a few months since I joined on as design director, so I thought I'd say hello, explain what I do around here, and hint obliquely at what's next for Underworld Ascendant.

My game background is pretty wildly disparate, ranging from level design in first-person shooters in the Medal of Honor series, puzzle design for Stephen Spielberg's BOOM BLOX, narrative for BioShock Infinite, and more. I've also been a producer for art, narrative, and design, a game journalist, and a comic book writer. I've worked on enormous AAA games and scrappy indie projects.

The reason I mention this is I've found myself drawing on ALL those experiences on a daily basis.

For instance, puzzle design comes to bear, albeit a little abstractly, while considering ways that the player will utilize the Improvisation Engine to find clever ways to interact with the environment and the creatures within it. Narrative and level design play a part in plotting out how we introduce those gameplay elements and tie them into the overall world in fun, interesting ways. Comic book writing helps me consider what information we might express visually and game writing, how to keep dialogue lean, focused, and out of the way of the action. Game reviewing means always thinking about what players will find compelling and fun. And my time in production means I have some incredibly talented artists and audio designers to draw upon to help ensure the Stygian Abyss looks and sounds amazing.

[...] Over the last few months, we've taken the time to work out the game's backstory, not only so we know the spine of the overall narrative, but so we understand the underlying philosophies behind each Faction. Knowing their wants and desires helps reveal their points of conflict with each other and how to design how they live, build, dress, create, fight, and utilize magic. It informs us exactly how the story of the Underworld should seep into every stone AND tie into gameplay systems, so we can create a world full of wonder that's fun to play and fascinating to explore.

At the same time, we've been tackling those aforementioned gameplay systems and fleshing out our bestiary of creatures, so that those elements are equally integrated and pervasive. But that's a topic for another day, after [redacted] is finished. Suffice to say, we have some fun stuff in store.
Today's update introduces one of the game's monsters - the Shadow Beast, a translucent fiend that was also in the original Ultima Underworld. Producer Chris Siegel chose a rather unusual manner of describing it. Here's an excerpt from his interview with the Shadow Beast, which in true Underworld Ascendant fashion, provides an overview of its role in the game's ecology:

CS: But now you are back! New and improved! Can you tell us a bit about how you fit into the new Stygian Abyss?

SB: Sure, I don't want to give too much away of course. First let's be clear about this. Shadow Beasts are smart. We are not really just apex predators, we have communities. We have a natural camouflage mechanism that causes us to take on the coloration of their surroundings. Moreover, we also have an innate magical ability that occludes us from easy detection (they appear dimly, if at all, under light or detect spells-Ed.). Lurking in the far corners of the Underworld, we use our stealth to waylay the unwary. We have been known to take contracts from other factions and races to...remove obstacles forcefully. (I think he means they hire out as assassins-Ed.)
CS: Interesting. Tell me more about your communities.

SB: We live in small familial communities in the darkest, most secluded parts of the Underworld. We don't like visitors. No one has ever discovered a shadow beast clan home. Or at least none have lived to tell the tale. (Laughs) We usually build our clan homes in cool, dark and dry areas. But we are everywhere not just in the dry regions, and when hunting for food will range into other biomes of the Underworld, including hot caverns and the fungal forests. One thing we dislike is the stench of the Underswamp.(Makes face. Pinches nose).

CS: I see. How do you get along with other races of the Underworld?

SB: We are very territorial and clannish and live by an 'eye for an eye' credo, so sometimes a particular shadow beast group will take umbrage with one of the Underworld factions, or another shadow beast clan, sparking a short lived but violent dispute. If we are angry with a faction we do not attack outright, but from the shadows, always from the shadows.

CS: What do you eat?

SB: We beasts live on a wide range of foodstuffs, and will eat most anything when times are tough. Our favorite is Earthclot, with a single one of these creatures being able to feed a clan for a week. We also hunt Rippers, and I think we may be the only ones tough enough to eat them.
The update also informs us that OtherSide are now hard at work developing the game's first vertical slice build. I assume that it's from this build that they plan to eventually release some much-needed gameplay footage.

There are 4 comments on Underworld Ascendant Update #6: Meet Joe Fielder and the Shadow Beast

Knights of the Chalice 2 Development Update

Development Info - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Mon 20 July 2015, 10:26:20

Tags: Heroic Fantasy Games; Knights of the Chalice 2

Pierre Begue prepared a substantial KotC2 development update, this time in his public forum, free for all to see, and thouroughly describes the progress he's been making while solitarily slaving away at the KotC2 engine implementation.
Hello, turn-based RPG fans!

Between questions of health, nutrition, sports and a fridge breaking down on me, in the last few days my attention has constantly been diverted away from the good stuff, which is KotC 2 development.

Nevertheless, here is the promised update with lots of new screenshots and new design pages for your consumption.

Regarding combat, as I mentioned recently, I have finally implemented the most basic actions: moving in combat, taking a five-foot step, ending one's turn, delaying, standard attack, full attack, charge attack and attack of opportunity.

My plan is to continue implementing combat actions one by one, fixing bugs as I go. Today, while preparing this update, I harvested a good number of fresh bugs that I will have to correct first.

After that, I will focus on ranged attacks, opening the inventory in combat, grapple, bull rush, the other combat manoeuvers, the basic spells, ready versus spell, ready to counterspell, using a magic item in combat, using a class or racial power in combat, and using a spell-like ability. Spells, their interface and their graphical implementation will of course be a big part of the job. Afterwards comes the artificial intelligence.

In the following pictures, you can see the combat engine in action. We will review some of their details below. Click on a picture to enlarge it.
New subraces, new classes and class features, read all of it here.

There are 31 comments on Knights of the Chalice 2 Development Update

Sat 18 July 2015
Balrum is on Steam Greenlight, coming late summer

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 18 July 2015, 12:05:05

Tags: Balcony Team; Balrum

Balrum is a sandboxy oldschool RPG that was Kickstarted back in 2013. Its development has been quietly humming along since then, and it's now scheduled to be released at the end of summer. In anticipation of the release, the developers at Balcony Team put up a Steam Greenlight page for the game yesterday. Here's the new teaser trailer they created for it, along with the game's description:

Balrum is an old-school, hybrid turn-based, open world, RPG. Balrum features a living fantasy world with deep tactical combat and dozens of side quests next to an epic main quest. In addition to traditional RPG features Balrum has deep crafting which allows the player to craft their own custom items. Balrum also features farming your own crops, building your home, and survival mechanics complemented by the game's main features. In Balrum you control a single character, but your character will have a faithful animal companion as a pet. Your pet is fully controllable and adds greatly to the complexity of the combat.

  • Real-Time world with Turn-Based Combat
  • A huge Open World to explore with dozens of Dungeons
  • Your Choices define your Class
  • Dozens of Side Quests and an epic Main Quest
  • Building
  • Farming
  • An animal Pet as your loyal companion
  • Deep Crafting Systems (Alchemy, Cooking, Weapon Crafting, Armor Crafting, Item Combining)
  • Day/Night Cycle with Weather System
  • Survival Mechanics
Go vote it up. If you'd like to see more of the game, Balcony Team have also uploaded a whole bunch of short gameplay videos to their YouTube channel.

There are 32 comments on Balrum is on Steam Greenlight, coming late summer

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