You're in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down and see a tortoise. It's crawling toward you. You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that? Why are you not helping?
RPG Codex Review: Risen 3: Titan Lords
Review - posted by Crooked Bee
on Mon 15 September 2014, 17:58:53
It is something of a Codex tradition to have the esteemed community member Darth Roxor review Piranha Bytes' Risen titles. In this article, he shares his (mostly negative) thoughts on Risen 3: Titan Lords, concluding with the following rumination on the state of the Piranha Bytes of today:
To sum up my final impression of both Risen 3 and Piranha Bytes as a whole, I’d like to quote my very good friend Boethius:
But we will still speak concerning the nature of men, and concerning their pursuits. Though, then, their mind and their nature be now dimmed, and they are by that fall sunk down to evil, and thither inclined, yet they are desirous, so far as they can and may, of the highest good. As a drunken man knows that he should go to his house, and to his rest, and yet is not able to find the way thither, so is it also with the mind, when it is weighed down by the anxieties of this world.
That is the state of Piranha Bytes today, in a nutshell. They know that they must return to the old Gothic formula, and hell, they probably even want to do it, but they simply have no idea how. They grasp at the ideas and elements that were present in their most successful games, they announce that they are "going back to the roots", and they even attempt to fix the flaws that they've introduced, but they are not able to put those changes and fixes into proper context, nor design the same systems that once made them great. Thus, the final product is but a warped shadow of its original counterpart, a haphazardly glued-together Frankenstein’s monster that might be made of similar flesh, but can never be even one tenth as functional or “alive”.
Unfortunately, I doubt they will ever reach their past greatness again. This is made apparent both by the quality of their last two games, and by comparing the credits of Gothic 2 and Risen 3. Hell, even comparing Risen 1 to Risen 3 should be enough to draw the necessary conclusions.
Every once in a while, we ask for money from people because we can! This time, we thought we'd offer something more in return than just potato for ad-free time. This time...
Behold the 16 GB Codex Troll USB 3.0!
[Image is a rough representation, final Troll will have a few mm of white space around the entire design.]
Product Colour: Fully Customised Moulded Designs
Features: Moulded soft PVC in multiple colours and shapes, USB 3.0 flash drive.
Write and Read Speed is up to 10 times faster than USB 2.0 Flash Drives.
OS support: Windows XP, VISTA, 7, MAC OSX.
Grade A memory, 10 Year warranty on data retention, 1 year replacement warranty on faulty manufacture.
Certification: CE, FCC, USB3.0, RoHS
Delivery: 2-4 weeks (indent) from art approval
We've started a campaign here. Simply donate $30 USD and you will receive in the mail your very own 16 GB Codex Troll USB 3.0 flash drive. Please note price includes postage to anywhere in the world.
All donations will also receive 2 potato per dollar. So $30 = 60 potato, which means you can add another +3 months ad-free time to your account, as well as gaining a USB drive. The minimum order is 100 units, so we need to raise $1,500 (which includes PayPal fees) to make it worthwhile - which I've given us a month to do.
If we do fail to raise the full amount and have to cancel the campaign, everyone who donated will receive additional potato as compensation. However, there seems to be enough interest already.
If this is successful however, than you can expect to get your USB drive before Christmas (depending on how long the fund-raiser takes). We'll also consider doing future stuff like this as well. Perhaps other designs as well as different types of items.
You will receive 1x USB drive for each multiple of $30 donated (So $60 gets you 2x and so on). If you donate anything less than $30, u r dum.
In a shocking twist, inXile have released anotherTorment: Tides of NumeneraKickstarter update less than 12 hours after the previous one. In a further twist, rather than being a screenshot update as we were led to believe, they decided to upload a full-blown gameplay video! Watch as the Last Castoff and his companion the Cold Calculating Jack, whose name is revealed for the first time to be Matkina, explore the mysterious Bloom:
The game looks great, and is very obviously based on Obsidian's Pillars of Eternity tech, although the character movement has a less abstract, more contemporary simulated style. The dialogue in particular looks fantastic and very Tormenty. I can definitely see inXile raising that stretch goal money now!
It's been over three months since we last heard from Torment: Tides of Numenera. Today, with the release of Wasteland 2 imminent, there are finally some new signs of life. This morning inXile announced the launch of a fancy new Torment backer portal, and a few hours ago, a new Kickstarter update came in with the details. Apparently, one of their goals with this new site is raising some additional money for a new stretch goal. I quote:
The Gullet Stretch Goal
With the relaunching of the site we're also looking at introducing some limited stretch goals. These will be for things for which we have not yet made the final call – content or features that will not happen in our current schedule, but that we hope to be able to add.
So we're pitching you – our funders – the Gullet, one of the areas from the Bloom. George Ziets did an amazing job on the Bloom design. We originally planned to cut a number of areas from that location but have been able to bring some back in, but in the current scope the Gullet is not a part of the Bloom's design. Here's George's description of the area:
Deep in the guts of the Bloom is a jumble of fleshy veins and cavities, known to natives as the Gullet. It surrounds a foul organic stew, containing the minds and memories of those devoured by the Bloom. The pulsing of a titanic heart reverberates from somewhere below… if you find yourself trapped here, the sound will drive you mad.
Few reach this place by intention. Most are eaten by a Maw and emerge in the Gullet, half-digested, to spend the final days of their lives in screaming agony. Transdimensional echoes of the Bloom's victims wander through the tunnels, lost and insane. Bizarre creatures, bred by the Bloom in its guts, burst from their wombs to hunt. Forgotten machines and artifacts lie half-submerged in Bloom-flesh, plucked from distant worlds of the past or future.
The only way out of the Gullet is down… to follow the sounds of the Bloom's beating heart and descend to a place where the Bloom's consciousness is at its most malignant and aware.
This area would add a ton to the Bloom, particularly as it provides more adventure-type gameplay and will better balance out its pacing. But currently we think we’re already stretching our team with the areas we’ve already committed to. With our limited stretch goals, we'll be looking to raise enough money to commit to adding the Gullet to the Bloom, by bolstering our environment art team to both make the Gullet and to benefit all other locations as well – remember that all pledges support the game development and reaching the Stretch Goal in reality gives far more than just the Gullet.
Of course, we have to make the call so that we can plan ahead, so our time is limited too: we're looking to raise our total amount raised to $4.75M by October 16th! If you’d like us to restore George Ziets’ Bloom design and fully implement it according to his original vision, consider spreading word of our continuing crowdfunding (or increasing your pledge) to help us reach this goal. All of your friends who missed the Kickstarter can still contribute to making the best Torment ever. (And while the new pledge options aren’t as favorable as those we gave you during the Kickstarter, they are better than after we’ve stopped crowdfunding and are onto preorders.)
The update also contains a massive new lore dump from Colin McComb. This one seems more directly related to the plot of the game, with information about the history of The Changing God, the creator of your character in Torment. It looks like this guy has had a lot more bodies than I thought.
Centuries ago, the Changing God met one of his children for the first time. This castoff, who claimed the status of the First Castoff, the eldest sibling of all his heirs, had been badly hurt in a struggle with the Sorrow, her skin utterly burned away. She wore a mask to conceal the damage, but her castoff regeneration was unequal to the task of restoring her. She sought answers from her sire, tracking him across the Ninth World to find him. She wanted to know why the Sorrow attacked her and the other castoffs, how they could stop it, and how she might earn a new body for herself.
The two of them were inseparable for a time as she awaited his aid in growing her a new body to replace the scarred wreckage of hers – they traveled together, seeking truths and long-buried secrets. But their alliance was shattered when at last she demanded that the Changing God stop deferring her; her body was beginning to decompose. Yet the Changing God refused to transfer her consciousness – he gave her a bottle of embalming fluid and told her to make do with the body she had. They fought, the confrontation teased out greater truths from her sire, and she realized that he had been hiding too much. Rather than share his secrets, he turned his back on her. She demanded his knowledge, and suddenly their personal struggle turned into a larger battle, each pulling their friends and allies into an ever-expanding conflagration.
Their feud created a schism in the castoff community. Dozens of castoffs flocked to both sides, coming to stand for the side they thought right. Some sided with the Changing God, believing that he had a plan to stop the Sorrow’s genocide, or from a loyalty to the man responsible for their creation. Some sided with the First, believing that she had their best interests at heart against a man who had proven himself time and again to be focused solely on himself.
[...] His purpose achieved and his opponent eliminated, the Changing God remained on his moon, above the fray, and returned to his researches. Yet despite the removal of the principals, the battle rages on, its contestants battling for ideologies of transparency, equality, and the common good on the First's side, and for duty, devotion, honor, and the hope of winning the Changing God’s trust on the other – the castoffs on the side of the Changing God do not want the First’s ideology dictating their lives. It is no longer merely a castoffs’ struggle. True, castoffs who are not directly involved in the Endless Battle provide funding to either side, or to both, in order to advance their own agendas – with centuries of knowledge behind them, with organizations of their own to tap, they have no shortage of funds. It is a place where warriors test their mettle, where mercenaries earn coin or renown, and where suppliers of food, flesh, and material can find a buyer of last resort. Though the commanders hold occasional parleys, there are too many here who are invested in seeing the war continue.
That's right, there's an entire civilization of these castoff bodies. Also, note that the name of the malevolent entity formerly known as "The Angel of Entropy" has apparently been changed to "The Sorrow". That's good - sounds less like the name of a JRPG end boss.
The official Legend of Grimrock website launched a mysterious 24 hour countdown yesterday. The countdown expired a few hours ago, revealing a fancy site redesign, and more importantly, a release date for Legend of Grimrock 2 - October 15th. Here's the new trailer they produced for the occasion. It's better than the last one!
Legend of Grimrock 2 is a dungeon crawling role playing game with a modern execution but an oldschool heart. A group of four prisoners have shipwrecked on the secluded Isle of Nex. The island is filled with ancient crumbled ruins, mysterious shrines and a vast underground network of dungeons and mines. If the prisoners wish to make it out alive, they have to overcome the challenges devised by the ominous mastermind of the island.
Powers of perception and logic are more important than sheer force is, since Legend of Grimrock 2 puts a heavy emphasis on exploration, survival and challenging puzzles. Discover powerful ancient artifacts from hidden secret chambers and buried treasures. Arm your champions, cast spells and craft enchanted potions and bombs to aid you in fighting the dreadful monsters in highly tactical real-time combat.
Design, share and play custom scenarios with the included Dungeon Editor! Create your own adventures and fill them with puzzles, traps, or even totally new items, monsters and environments with custom graphics and audio!
Get ready to venture forth and uncover the secrets of Nex!
Explore the wilderness and the dungeons of Isle of Nex: walk in ancient forests riddled with mysterious magical statues, fight the denizens of poison fuming swamps, dive in the Forgotten River in search of treasure, uncover secrets hidden deep below…
More than 20 hours of pure blooded dungeon crawling gameplay with grid-based movement and thousands of squares filled with hidden switches, pressure plates, secret doors, riddles, deadly traps and more.
Cast spells with runes, craft potions and bombs, fight murderous monsters with a large variety of melee-, ranged and thrown weapons, as well as firearms.
Create a party of four characters and customize them with 7 character classes, 5 races, and numerous skills and traits. Collect experience to hone their skills and discover improved equipment and magical artefacts.
42 different kind of monsters including 30 new foes unique to Isle of Nex.
Play custom adventures created by others or make your own with Dungeon Editor.
More depth, variety and open ended exploration than in Legend of Grimrock 1. Enhanced AI, spell casting, puzzle mechanics and skill systems.
As you might have guessed from the trailer's name, the game is now available for pre-order directly from Almost Human. The final price will be $24, but for the next 28 days at least the game will be available at a 15% discount. Steam keys included!
The fourth and final part of Matt Barton's interview with Feargus Urquhart is about Obsidian. After retelling the story of the infamous Knights of the Old Republic II development time fiasco, Feargus shares some information about the cancelled Seven Dwarves, and explains why he once rejected the offer to develop a Star Trek RPG. The interesting part begins when he moves on to discussing Neverwinter Nights 2, where he seems a bit eager to express his disappointments despite not really being prompted to do so by Matt. And when Matt asks about Fallout: New Vegas, Feargus chooses instead to deliver what appears to be an apologia for Bethesda's Fallout 3 and the Gamebryo engine.
This part of the interview wasn't as content-packed as the previous one, but it sure had some weird turns. It feels like Feargus knew exactly what sort of people were likely to watch this and he wanted to make a few things clear. He's definitely one of the best guests Matt has had, in terms of sheer amount of information provided.
Today's Divinity: Original SinKickstarter update, the first since the game's release back in June, announces the release of the long-expected companion update.
We may have been a bit quiet over the past two months, but you'll be happy to hear we've spent the time not only recovering from launch, but also preparing improvements and new content for Divinity: Original Sin. We figured: how better to break the silence than with an exciting update chock full of much-asked-after features?
Today, we're launching a content-heavy update to D:OS players, featuring two totally new companions, each ready (if you play your cards right) to help save Rivellon. Also included in the newest update is a big quality-of-life improvement and another coat of polish.
Below, Swen discusses more about the added content, as well as future updates and what the team's been up to since our last update (hint: Divinity: Original Sin isn't the only game we're working on!).
Read the update's full change list here.
Download this free additional content!
As promised, we're ready to launch two more companions into Rivellon, both of which you can meet in Cyseal. Bairdotr, a curious and loyal ranger, has gotten herself into some trouble at the Legion barracks, while the silent rogue Wolgraff has found himself a nice hustle stealing coins from the wishing well in the Cyseal hinterlands (accessible through the graveyard tunnel).
If you convince one or both to join your party, you'll learn more about their histories and missions for the future.
Download "The Bear and the Burgler" DLC via Steam, or simply update your game on GOG to receive the new content. Note: The new companions will appear in Cyseal once you start a new game after downloading the update.
Follow the Dialogue: A significant improvement for co-op players
It's no secret that the old system for following other players' dialogues in co-op needed a makeover; fortunately, the latest update will do just that.
Now, instead of reading lengthy dialogues displayed over your teammate's head or in the journal, you'll be able to see the conversation in its own dialogue box with the toggle of a button.
This certainly will not be our last update on Divinity: Original Sin. We're still working on a slew of new skills and a variety of difficulty modes to ramp up the challenge-- keep an eye out for those in the coming weeks!
Check out the full update for concept art and descriptions of the new companions, plus a nice shout-out to the soon-to-be-released Wasteland 2.
There's a new interview with Tactical Simulations Interactive president David Klein over at Swiss gaming site Combobreaker.ch. The interview was conducted by none other than the Codex's own SophosTheWise, who helpfully provided a link to the original English version. Here's an excerpt:
What does «updating for the modern audience» mean in terms of gameplay? Are you going for a Grimrock-style game?
Since turn-based provides the player the more complex and cerebral experience, we chose that option. Legend of Grimrock is a terrific game- but for Seven Dragon Saga we're using a 3D based world, so we will also have the option to move the camera angle and add to the visual excitement, setting the scene, and player preference. Although we like the retro pixel art style, so that might be something we'd consider for future titles.
Gold Box RPGs were not only old-school but also quite hardcore – is it at all possible to bring a new generation to that kind of games?
Hardcore can also imply a barrier to entry for people not familiar with the rules, or having a lot of die rolls. If the rules are getting in the way of fun, that's a bit tedious. So, spending a lot of time re-rolling characters to get the stats you want for a party of six characters is too grueling an experience. Seven Dragon Saga uses a skill based system (i.e. Divinity: Original Sin, Skyrim, etc...) but the gameplay will be accessible to players that enjoy games like Baldur's Gate or Wasteland 2.
The Gold Box series was highly popular back in the day, now it’s widely regarded as dusty niche-titles. Are you aiming for a broad audience and do you think you can build upon the success of old times?
The Lord of the Rings used to be fairly niche until the effects were good enough to produce some terrific movies for a broad audience. TSI is building a RPG where you create your whole party. NPC's are great to interact with, but we want to give the player more freedom in terms of making strategic choices and tailor the experience to their own play style. You'll never have to drag that one rogue with you simply because there wasn't a better option. That means TSI is aiming for gamers that want control over multiple characters and tactical combat.
With today's systems and tools, we are able to streamline many of the more awkward elements of the Gold Box games. Play should flow easily and the game should present the player appropriate choices for the situation. Our primary goals for Seven Dragon Saga are tactical choice; an open, explorable world; and strategic impact. If the player does not feel he is leaving a mark on the world, beyond swatting monsters and killing end-game bosses, then we believe he is not being well served.
Pillars of Eternity, Legend of Grimrock, Tides of Numenera, Divinity: Original Sin, Might & Magic X, Wasteland 2 – That’s big competition. How can you set yourselves apart?
So far, there seems to be a place for each of those games (and speaking as a consumer, I'm looking forward to playing the titles you've mentioned). Each game puts an emphasis on different aspects of the experience and brings something different to the table- be that a setting, a type of unfolding narrative with companions, or a good old dungeon crawl. TSI is making an effort to give the player meaningful choices from start to finish. Position, maneuver, weapon and spell choice all factor into tactical combat, allowing players a wide choice in approach. The party represents the greatest power in the world, and the player must decide how to wield this in social and political situations, and there is a wide world to explore and leave a mark.
The community, as well as, other developers have been extremely supportive. The only thing we would want to avoid is a releasing right at the same time so that each has an opportunity to shine.
A crowdfunding campaign is certainly something that's been proven successful in the past so we're definitely looking at that type of opportunity very closely. We've also had some contact with publishers so that's a possibility as well. We're working very hard to establish Tactical Simulations Interactive as a company you can depend upon to consistently deliver a certain type of game experience. How to do we best position ourselves to create a series of games in the Gold Box tradition? That's what we're still trying to determine. Seven Dragon Saga is our first foray into creating an original, tactical RPG.
Since you’re not going for the D&D license, how would you describe your own ruleset and world design?
Working with an established license has it's pros and cons. Ultimately, we decided we wanted to work without those type of constraints on our first project and have the freedom to explore mature themes. Seven Dragon Saga begins the players with mid-level capabilities, rather than as reluctant proto-heroes. They are already effective in combat (no running from rats), and represent the Empire of the Seven Dragons, the preeminent power in the world. How the player uses this power is a major theme of the game. Will he be dismissive and cruel, obedient and fair, or a rabble rouser? The races are international, with concepts drawn from Europe, Asia and Africa, representing the great reach of the Empire.
Although, working with a license is something we'd certainly like to revisit further down the road.
Well, it definitely sounds like they mean to live up to the "Tactical" in Tactical Simulations Interactive. I think David might be confused about Grimrock, though.
Yesterday, the developers of Legends of Eisenwald published a new developer diary blog post on their site. The main topic of the post was their attempt to apply to this year's IndieCade. In case you didn't know, IndieCade is an annual indie games festival, described on Wikipedia as "the video game industry's Sundance", which is "focused on innovation and artistry in interactive media, helping to create a public perception of games as rich, diverse, artistic, and culturally significant". Here's how it went down:
In the beginning of the summer we applied with our game to IndieCade. We didn’t have many hopes to start with. Looking at the screenshots that are published on Facebook page of this festival one could think that indie games for them are almost exclusively pixel art, simple mechanics and other attributes of modern pop-culture. So, the response we were not selected for the final part did not surprise us. To the standard response there were attached a few sentences of a juror or a few of them:
"I kind of don’t get it… When the game is defined as a “classic old school RPG with tactical turn-based battles, simple economic model” why would you enter it in indiecade?"
"It seems weird to me, with no hook, no novelty and no tutorial, the game feels… Well, like a 90s game. It’s a “classic, yes, but “old school” doesn’t have to mean “old”."
"This game is an impressive technical achievement! Indiecade however looks for games that innovate in design or other categories, and Legends of Eisenwald is largely a worthy but loyal recreation of a well-trodden category."
Clearly, there's indies and then there's indies. Not to mention that Legends of Eisenwald does in fact have a tutorial. So, what sort of games are prized at IndieCade? As it happens, there was another blog post about IndieCade yesterday, by Craig Stern, developer of Telepath Tactics. Its title is "Against the cult of simplicity", and it details Craig's thoughts about what he experienced at IndieCade last year. I quote:
While at Indiecade in 2013, I had the pleasure of listening to Brenda Romero give an inspirational talk (one which she has evidently delivered elsewhere since) themed after the movie Hiro Dreams of Sushi. It was a talk about seeking perfection in game design. She described a triangle with one corner labeled on time, another labeled on budget, and a third labeled great. She exhorted the audience to disregard the “on time” and “on budget” sides of the game development triangle, and instead aim for a game that is truly great at all costs.
Brenda is a funny and dynamic speaker, and it made for a very entertaining talk. I would have enjoyed it without reservation but for one moment where she exhorted the audience to design games centered around a single core mechanic. Romero indicated that that was the only way to design something truly perfect. I considered asking her to defend that position in the Q&A that followed, but I hesitated. “I already have a bit of a reputation as a gadfly in the indie community,” I thought to myself. “And I like Brenda. Is this really a battle worth fighting?” I chose to let it go–but the memory of that moment continued to nag at me.
Later on in the weekend, I dropped by a tent where Jeremy Gibson was giving a talk on game design. I don’t recall the name of the talk, but it struck me as an intro-level lecture for folks who had not been making games for very long. He, too, apparently felt obliged to spend some time telling the audience to make games with only a single core mechanic. He did not give a reason; he did not limit his statement to new designers who are just finding their feet. He simply said that game designers should do it. Full stop.
Now, here’s the thing: I genuinely enjoy games that employ only a single core mechanic. But I also enjoy highly complex games that leverage many different systems, and I admit that I am deeply uncomfortable with the thought that leaders in the indie community are running around telling everybody that one of these is somehow better than the other.
Craig proceeds to thoroughly debunk the notion that all games should have a "single core mechanic", rightly noting that it de facto disqualifies entire genres from consideration, including RPGs. It's an excellent article and I highly recommend that you read the entire thing. It concludes with this impassioned plea:
The nature of curated events is that some games will be chosen and others excluded. When that exclusion consistently keeps certain portions of the spectrum of gaming experiences from receiving proper consideration, however, something has gone awry. When celebrated developers tell other developers that using only a single core mechanic is good design, they provide a pseudo-intellectual veneer in which to justify their favoring more simplistic games. If anything, we should be giving festival judges the opposite message: slow down and take some time to appreciate the depth that more mechanically complex games have to offer.
I write all of this not to criticize Indiecade (which is a worthwhile event), nor to embarrass Brenda Romero or Jeremy Gibson (both of whom I have nothing but respect for). I write this piece because I love diversity in the indie community. I love the enormous spectrum of entirely different experiences that games can give us. And yet, I see these events consistently failing a significant chunk of our community year after year.
Bit by bit, I have seen our community growing, broadening, opening. For years, narrative titles fought a long and bitter battle to be included in the indie scene, and now we honor games like Gone Home and Depression Quest. We fought about whether games needed to have challenges and goals in order to be games, and now we honor titles like Panoramical, Dear Esther, and The Stanley Parable.
We’ve made strides–but there is more to be done. We have gotten to the point where we now honor architectural installations and games with literally no interaction at all–and yet, I cannot think of even a single video gaming event anywhere in the world that can be bothered to validate the type of complex, long-form works that I’ve spent my life playing, loving, and creating. It pains me to visit indie festivals and see hardly any strategy games selected for inclusion. It pains me to hear people considered thought leaders in our community publicly elevate minimalist games above all others. And I am very, very tired of supporting events that have rendered themselves structurally incapable of supporting us back.
I want to see games from all parts of the spectrum honored, not just the titles that are easy to grasp, fast to play, or which reflect a prescribed approach to design. Complex games with numerous mechanics are wildly popular with the gaming public, and they have been for decades. When will our legions of would-be indie taste makers catch up?
In short, the IndieCade jury's reaction to Legends of Eisenwald should come as no surprise.
Let's face it - most of us have known for years that this was what the mainstream face of "indie" was becoming. There was a time when indie gaming was thought of as a brave opposition to big budget AAA decadence. But it's becoming increasingly apparent that the cure might be worse than the disease. Today, much of the indie games industry can best be described as existing in a kind of symbiosis with the AAAs. Both try to appeal to a certain lowest common denominator. Both stand in the way of the evolution of the gaming industry towards a sustainable model based on satisfying the needs of various submarkets and niches.
We here on the RPG Codex will continue to fight the two-front war against both types of decadence. As one of our more notorious posters once said: Fuck indies. Fuck AAAs. Support good developers.
Larian CEO Swen Vincke updated his blog today, for the first time since the release of Divinity: Original Sin back in June. His new post is a long and dense rumination on various aspects of the game's development and reception. Swen talks about the game's success, about the lengths he had to go in order to achieve that success, and also reveals a little bit of what Larian has planned for the future. And, yes, there are sales figures. I'll quote the most interesting bits:
Divinity: Original Sin did pretty well. At the time of this writing its Metacritic critic rating is at 87%, it’s user rating at 89% and it’s been at the top of the Steam charts for most of the summer, occupying the nr. 1 spot for around a month.
It has sold well over half a million units by now– mostly from Steam, with 10% from retail. ”Break even” has been reached, our debts have been paid and we are now in the profitable zone. While not all of the money is for us as we had private investors on board, the game did sufficiently well for us to envision funding our next endeavors with it, meaning we’re pretty happy about its performance.
So much for turn-based fantasy RPGs not selling, crowdfunding not working and a developer like us not being capable of bringing a game to market without the help of seasoned publishers!
[...] The release of D: OS was one big crunch period with all the good and bad that come with it. If the game ultimately did well, it’s because of the outstanding performance of the team when “the going got tough and the tough got going”.
A lot of the crunch was caused by our decision to listen to the feedback we received through our Kickstarter and Steam Early Access communities. While it often was tough to read through all of the criticism, it was clear that integrating the best parts of the feedback would be well worth the effort and improve the game massively. We didn’t hesitate for a minute.
This meant extra delays however, which in turn meant a need for extra budget. Steam Early Access was getting us some money but unfortunately that wasn’t sufficient. We needed to pay back our creditors who were all under the conviction that the game would be out sooner. When, to my surprise, it turned out that they didn’t share our belief that everything was going to be ok and even better if we listened to the feedback, I had to engage in a lot of fun conversations. Between “it’s ready when it’s done” and actually following up on that mantra, there unfortunately lies a big gap that can only be bridged with financial stamina.
I think we would’ve continued development even longer, but when I had to dash to a far away place where lived the one last bank director who still wanted to give us sufficient credit to pay a part of what we owed to another bank, it was clear that we needed to finish. I wasn’t joking when I said it was all in.
[...] We worked on D:OS until the very last day before release, and while that in itself isn’t for the meek of heart, it did have some interesting consequences. For one, we didn’t have any review code to share with reviewers prior to release. This meant that it would take several weeks before we’d actually know what the review scores were going to be. It also meant that anybody interested in the game would have to either wait or check what other players were thinking.
I don’t know if there was any correlation between our ultimate review scores and the user reviews, but the latter were really good and when you went to the Steam page on the day of release, it was loaded with over 1500 user reviews, 93% being thumbs up. I think that fuelled a lot of the initial success of the game and I also think it made some reviewers pay a bit more attention to the game.
[...] Our plan is to continue supporting D: OS for quite some time as this is the RPG framework on which we’ll build our next games. We’re fooling around with controller support to see if a big screen version with cooperative play would work well, something I’m silently hoping for as I think it’ll be a lot of fun, more so perhaps than playing coop in LAN with a friend sitting next to you. We’re also improving the engine itself as well as adding a bunch of extra features that not only make D: OS more fun and more friendly to players, but that will also improve whatever our next offering will be. We’re also adding extra content, like for instance the big companion patch, voiced et al, and I imagine that won’t be the last of what we’ll add.
The foreseeable future for Larian (i.e. the next couple of years) is going to see us making further progress in improving our RPG craft and creating dense game worlds with hopefully new and innovative gameplay systems based on old school values. These last months I’ve been very busy expanding our development force so that we can continue to compete in tomorrow’s market.
As I mentioned in this interview, the current thinking is that we shouldn’t go back to Kickstarter. That’s not because we’re ungrateful of the support we received through our Kickstarter community or because all those rewards caused a bit of extra work, but because I think the crowdfunding pool is limited and it should be fished in by those who really need it. Since we now can, I think we should first invest ourselves and then see if we need extra funds to fuel our ambitions. Only then it makes sense to look at crowd funding. I know several of our backers will be displeased by this, so it could be that we still change our minds, but if that is the case, I do think the the format we’ll use or the way we’ll do it will be different than how we did it for Divinity: Original Sin.
Swen ends the post with a recap of the lessons he's learned over the course of Original Sin's development, with regard to content creation and the solicitation of community feedback. His maxim about content is something I can definitely get behind.
In their latest Kickstarter update, Harebrained Schemes have published the fourth and final Shadowrun: Dragonfall Director's Cut dev diary. This one's all about the graphics and user interface, and as such it has plenty of screenshots. Here's an excerpt:
New Visual Effects & Animations
Steven and Hollie (our Effects/Tech Artist and Animator, respectively) dedicated several weeks during Director’s Cut development towards further honing our many combat effects and animation. Our main goals here were to 1. make combat feedback more viscerally satisfying (death, damage, spells, etc.), 2. tighten up timing/polish in some places, and 3. create new effects and animations to support the new abilities that the design team added in the Director’s Cut. I think their efforts have made a big difference! Steven and our engineer Sheridan implemented completely new systems for blood splatter effects, directional deaths (characters used to only be able to fall in one direction when dying), dismemberment, and possibly-slightly-over-the-top-gibs upon critical-hit deaths. We’ve found that these really help make your actions in combat feel powerful and satisfying - check it out:
On the animation front, not only have we been able to tighten up some combat timing (for example, the time it takes to cast certain spells) but we’ve added totally new animations for several new abilities.
Last week, Trevor talked about all of the new combat mechanics we’ve implemented. To emphasize the new systems and new data, our combat UI has also seen a similar upgrade to more clearly show you each potential target’s status. You’ll see a different targeting disc beneath enemies depending on whether you have a “clear shot”, i.e. if you are flanking the enemy’s cover position or if they are standing out in the open, vs. if they are in cover. On mouse-over you’ll also be able to see exactly what type of cover the enemy is in, and we’ve made the shield icons representing cover state more obvious above enemy heads.
We’ve also updated our health bar display to show how much Armor each character in combat has, represented by white “pips” above the bar itself. Each attack that hits now includes quick animated feedback on how much armor was applied against the damage being dealt, how much armor (if any) was stripped by special attacks, and how much damage was done. This is complemented by some improvements to our above-head text “floaties” that appear when you attack. Lastly, this is a small thing, but world interaction icons now have a short text description attached to them, similar to characters, that appears when you mouse-over them (or when you hold down the ALT key to reveal them.) This is nice when you’ve got a lot of inspects or pickups in one place and you’d like to know what you’re dealing with before clicking.
Oh and we also mentioned the new Crew Advancement system a couple weeks ago - here is what that looks like in action:
Check out the full update for screenshots of the game's new areas, images of some of its new portraits and models, and more. There are even achievements now, for all you Steam whores.
Ever since it became clear back in early July that Divinity: Original Sin was a huge success, the folks at Larian Studios have mostly kept to themselves. Yesterday, Swen Vincke broke that silence with a short interview over at GameSpot. No, there are no updated sales numbers, but he does have a bit to say about the future of Divinity, and of Larian. Here's an excerpt:
Being PC-exclusive was a good thing
Although some games in the Divinity series have made it onto console in the past, Original Sin was developed exclusively with the PC and Mac in mind. Vicke said the omission of a console release lifted a lot of restrictions in the development phase and allowed the team to make alterations on the game "until the very last moment," which would not have been possible for a console release.
"It puts a lot of constraints for you as a developer if you work for console. At the end phase of a project deadlines are very rigid, and you need to go through the procedures at Microsoft or Sony with the dreaded [certification] checks." Vincke said, adding that the costs involved in making a console game were "much higher" than that of developing a PC-only game.
No more Kickstarter please
Divinity: Original Sin's Kickstarter campaign was met with generous support, amassing $944,282 in funding by the end of its run and allowing Larian Studios to self-publish the game.
Vincke was grateful for the support from the Kickstarter community, but hesitant about utilizing such a model again.
"I hate to think what the game would've been if we didn't have Kickstarter… if you asked me before Original Sin was released I would've said yes… I don't think it would be correct to go and fish in the pool of crowdfunding investment again, I think that there's others that could use that investment," he said. However, he expressed a desire to harness community involvement once again in the development process, dubbing the community which the Kickstarter campaign brought as "invaluable."
"I think that is a very great positive for the gameplay experience that results at the end of the day," he said.
Vincke laughs when I ask him about where the Divinity series may be going next, but is coy about revealing finer details. "I can't say. There's nothing yet to announce, it will be very calm on the announcement front for a couple of months, as we're preparing our new things," he said.
His comment refers to the two new companions and new skills on their way to the game and end-game balances for the ranger and warrior classes, of course. In addition to this, Vincke mentions that the studio is working on bringing out a "much better, harder, difficulty level" in which all encounters will be different, as well as fine-tuning the game's inventory management.
Regardless, Vincke promises fans that a breadth of new content is still in the works for Original Sin. "There's definitely a lot of stuff coming," he said.
Larian is now looking into doing a console port of Original Sin. Meh...I guess that's all right. Just be careful you don't end up like CD Projekt almost did.
Matt Barton has uploaded the third part of his interview with Feargus Urquhart. This segment of the interview is absolutely packed with information, as Feargus describes in rapid fire almost every single title developed by Black Isle after the first two Fallouts. He talks about Planescape: Torment, and about his role in redesigning its leveling mechanics and combat, which Feargus claims was even worse before he fixed it. He talks about the first iteration of the original Fallout 3, and how it failed to get off the ground due to engine development issues (though in an interesting coincidence, they eventually settled on using the NetImmerse engine, a precursor of Gamebryo).
He talks about how Icewind Dale was conceived as a "slam dunk" project to make some quick money for the company in the wake of Fallout 3's failure. He talks about the little-known cancelled Stonekeep 2 project, which apparently had some good technology behind it but failed due to design creep. He talks about Icewind Dale 2, about how Josh Sawyer convinced him to convert the Infinity Engine to 3rd Edition D&D for it, and about how he implemented all the spells in the game, all of which turned out to be a lot easier than he thought it would be. And finally, he talks about Baldur's Gate 3: The Black Hound, about all the hard work done by Chris Jones to develop its engine, and how it was abruptly cancelled due to Interplay's loss of the D&D license. This event was what convinced him to finally leave the collapsing Black Isle, which went on to make a second attempt at Fallout 3 using the Black Hound engine, which of course was cancelled too.
In the second half of the video, Feargus talks a bit about the reasons for Interplay's decline. The two main reasons, according to him, were a failed investment in sports games development, with their expensive licenses, and another failed investment in an Internet multiplayer gaming service called Engage, which he says was made redundant by IPX emulation software like the once-famous Kali.
Black Isle was always profitable, and one of the last things Feargus did before he left was to try to convince Interplay's management to sell the division in its entirety to another publisher, along with its intellectual property, to pay off the company's debts. This move was blocked, not by Brian Fargo, but by "the president of Interplay" - Herve Caen, who Feargus refrains from addressing by name. The interview ends with Feargus' story of how the newly formed Obsidian Entertainment inadvertently received their first project, Knights of the Old Republic 2, while trying to pitch a Star Wars action-RPG that would have used the Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance engine. I guess we'll hear more about Obsidian in the final part of the interview.
As a big fan of the old first-person real-time dungeon crawler Dungeon Master: Chaos Strikes Back, I wanted to let those of you who don't read our forums know that there is currently a Chaos Strikes Back- (as well Dungeon Master- and Grimrock-) inspired "blobber" Dungeon Kingdom: Sign of the Moonseeking €9,000 in funding on IndieGoGo:
Dungeon Kingdom is not just going to dust off the dungeon crawling genre; we also believe it will be a worthy ancestor [sic]. We expect the game to have the following features:
Modern graphics and powerful dynamic lighting and shadows system.
Multi-platform: Dungeon Kingdom is designed for and is strongly optimized to run on PC, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android devices! It has scalable rendering system, to make the most of any device.
Advanced AI and wide array of creature behaviours. Don't be surprised if some smart creatures sneak up behind you to attack!
Advanced interactions with the environment: for example, you can set fire to the curtains, as seen in the video.
Cross platform features: for example, you can save your game on PC and retrieve it on your mobile to carry on playing where you left off.
Multiple Environments: you won't get bored by the environments in Dungeon Kingdom, and there are lots of surprises to find!
Strong story background: because a Dungeon Crawler can be more than just fight / kill / get treasure, we have created a solid back-story.
Realistic Physic engine, allowing for new kind of puzzles and realistic animations.
Different play modes are available to fit best any player experience.
Modern, but not invasive, features such as achievements.
To keep the game immersive, Dungeon Kingdom's world is made of continuous levels, there's no fading or loading between levels, except for major environment changes.
We could go on for ages, and also mention most of the traditional features like heroes, team creation, spell creation and many more...
However, I want to insist on something that will make Dungeon Kingdom stay in your memory when you play it: its level design...! A real-time dungeon crawler is also a matter of ambience, tension and immersion; we spend an immeasurable time on level design! We want to burn in your memory all corridors and pieces that you will explore in Dungeon Kingdom! We want to feed your nightmares! Those who have lost their soul two decades ago in the game "Chaos Strikes Back" and its great level design will love Dungeon Kingdom!
You can also take a look at this early gameplay video:
A real-time dungeon crawler with level design inspired by Chaos Strikes Back with an addition of physics and "advanced AI" is something I can always get behind. Check out the IndieGoGo campaign here. (Warning: flexible funding.)
In the third Shadowrun: Dragonfall Director's Cut dev diary Kickstarter update, lead designer revor King-Yost explains the changes that have been made to the original Dragonfall's combat mechanics. They're aimed at making the combat less opaque and more "cause and effect". Here's an excerpt from the update:
During development of the original Dragonfall expansion, we focused most of our time on the new campaign's story, missions and gameplay (though we did manage to squeeze in some time for new weapons and combat tweaks). This overall focus on content and story paid off, and the feedback we've received about Dragonfall’s narrative has been really great to hear.
But coming off of Dragonfall’s release, we knew we wanted to update the engine’s combat to try to address the things that started to bother us during development, and to respond to feedback we got from fans. So, the first thing we took a look at was the way that Cover behaved in the game, and the way that Critical Hits occurred.
If you’ve played Returns or Dragonfall before, you know it’s a bit of a “black box” when it comes to dealing damage. Your “specialization” skill (e.g. Pistols, Rifles) will increase your chance to do a critical hit (greater than 1.0x damage) and decrease your chance to get a “weak” hit, (0.5x damage). At the same time, the enemy’s Body and Armor would increase the likelihood of taking 0.5x damage, and decrease the chance for you to do a critical hit. Cover was also a factor in this black-box equation. Overall, it could just feel random when an enemy jumps out and hits you for double damage even though you’re behind solid cover.
So we decided to break this system down into something with more cause and effect. In the Director’s Cut, shooting through medium and heavy cover now reduce your critical hit % to 0 - you’ll always either do 1.0x damage or 0.5x damage. Shooting through Light Cover, you’ll always do 1.0x damage, no more or less. This goes for the enemy’s attacks as well of course, so using cover will become much more important for all involved. If you’re caught out in the open, or you are flanked, the chance to take critical damage is going to increase drastically - you’ll always take 1.0x or greater damage. If you want to dispatch enemies quickly - and safely - you’ll want to flank them, and attack them from behind cover.
An example of a flanking attack on an enemy in cover. Also note the addition of white armor pips above each character's health bar.
Due to this change, melee combat has more risk & reward than before. You’ll do critical damage much more often, since enemies are never in-cover from melee attacks, but you will want to be careful to not end your turn exposed to your foes. Of course, there are magical ways to add cover to an area, or protect yourself. In our internal testing we’ve found these changes to make the combat more tactical, fun, and dynamic. We’re looking forward to seeing what kind of combinations the community comes up with, too.
When we designed the combat system for Shadowrun Returns way back in 2012, we tried to convert the damage system from the Pen & Paper into a form that would work in the game. As I alluded to before, Armor along with Body would increase the likelihood of taking 0.5x damage, which we called “light” damage, where 1.0x damage was akin to “medium”, 1.5x “serious”, and 2.0x “deadly”. It was a tenuous connection, but we thought it worked well to keep the spirit of the tabletop, even though we moved to a numerical HP system instead of the 10 boxes of the Pen & Paper combat.
So what we have done with Armor, is again create a much more “cause and effect” based behavior. 1 point of Armor will reduce any incoming damage by 1. Stacking more and more armor on will protect you more and more from damage - that’s it.
Of course, now you’ll have to deal with the enemy’s armor, which before was an invisible stat behind the scenes. You’d probably notice during gameplay of the original Returns or Dragonfall that your Crit % would be lower on some enemies, higher on others. This was due to their body & Armor. Now, you’ll see exactly how much Armor an enemy has, so you can react to your opposition more tactically. If you come up against an enemy with 8 Armor, and your firearm only puts out 10 damage, you’re going to be plinking away at their HP for a long time unless you have a backup plan.
DT - it makes everything better. The Director's Cut will also have an armor penetration mechanic, improved AI, and of course the ability to equip your crew, all of which you can read about in the full update.
Not all that long ago, we raised $11,327.70 for the Divinity: Original Sin KickStarter. As a result of that, we got some physical stuff. I'm not sure if all of it's arrived yet (it's all been arriving in single packages) but here are some blurry low-res images of what has!
Exciting packets of stuff!
This strange, rather hefty and solid thing-o came pretty well packed. I'm not sure what it is, but we have one now!
2x Signed Concept Art
You've all seen the gorilla thing by now I'm sure but have you seen it SIGNED?
You can actually see the signatures for the two images are different on the back, so it's all 100% legit.
Plain D:OS Box
An all original (and sadly, slightly dented) D:OS Boxed copy:
Decks of Cards, T-Shirt and Art Books
A pack of playing cards and some... other... cards. Someone who's actually been paying attention can fill you in as to what these are.
The XL (because you're fat) T-shirt is unsigned and as yet unworn (It's ok, I'll only wear it once before we send it to the winner). All art books are still in their original cling-wrap.
2x KickStarter Backer Editions of D:OS
First up is the still sealed KickStarter Edition boxed copy of D:OS.
If you want to know what's inside, you'll have to look at the unsealed copy:
As you can see, some kids have defaced the back of that version with some squiggles. These same squiggles also appear on the double-sided Larian / D:OS poster:
There is also a tonne of stuff we will be raffling:
Signed Divinity Original Sin Kickstarter Box Copy with Printed Manual
Soundtrack CD(?), Artbook and Cloth Map(?)
Physical Signed Concept Art (We have x2)
Limited Edition Zandalor's Cards (Assuming that's the decks)
Divinity Fan (all games for the next 10 years)
Limited Edition Bellegar's Dice (???)
Hand Sculpted Teleporters (Mysterious Triangle thingo?)
It's $20 a ticket for the raffle. So your donation / 20 = the total number of raffle tickets you'll have in the draw - and to be fair, you can only win one thing. Angthoron is the poor son of a bitch who volunteered to organise this, so for claiming / forfeiting your rewards, please PM Angthoron. He'll manage a spreadsheet of who's opted in / out of what.
We'll sort out what we actually offered vs what we've actually got vs what the hell's going on i dunno and get back to you.
Spiderweb Software Announces Avernum 2: Crystal Souls, A Fantasy Role-Playing Game for Macintosh, Windows, and iPad.
September 4, 2014 – (http://www.avernum.com/avernum2/) The end has come. Years ago, your people were imprisoned in the underworld, doomed to end their lives in the darkness. Then that was not enough. Your captors have invaded your caves, determined to kill you all. They are winning the war.
Spiderweb Software, Inc. announced today their return to their epic Avernum saga, to continue the story of the underworld Avernites and the war against their oppressors. Avernum 2: Crystal Souls is the second chapter in this indie fantasy role-playing saga, a tale of desperate exiles and their battle for survival and a land to call their own.
The surface world is commanded by the tyrannical Empire, the eternal power that controls all known lands. Everyone who spoke out, misbehaved, or didn’t fit in was cast into the dark, volcanic pits of Avernum, far below the surface. They were meant to die. Instead, these exiles survived, gained power, and struck back. They assassinated the lord of the Empire.
Now the Empire will have revenge. They have invaded Avernum, seizing cave after cave and destroying your people. Your land needs a hero, and it needs it now. If you can’t find a way to stop them, and soon, you are all doomed.
Avernum 2: Crystal Souls is an epic fantasy role-playing adventure in a unique, massive world, full of strange caves, cunning dungeons, and the alien inhabitants of the underworld. Fight to complete up to three game-winning quests. Explore a massive nation of tunnels and caverns, seeking over 100 towns and dungeons. Master over 60 spells and battle disciplines and hunt for hundreds of magical artifacts. Avernum 2: Crystal Souls is a total, ground-up rewrite of the award-winning indie hit Avernum 2. It will be open for adventuring in Q4, 2014.
With Wasteland 2 just two weeks away from release, inXile have produced a cool new trailer for the game. It's a kind of "tutorial trailer" that demonstrates the depth and variety of the game's character and combat systems, with narration by General Vargas himself. You can see it in the latest Kickstarter update, which also has some information about the game's physical release.
Thomas here with some odds and ends of housekeeping as we come every closer to release! But let's kick off with a bang. Here's a new Wasteland 2 trailer hot off the presses, showcasing the intricacies of our character and combat system:
On to the housekeeping…
Options for Getting the Game
As we have mentioned during the Kickstarter and after, the way we'll be distributing digital copies of the game will be through a number of our digital retail partners, including the most popular and DRM-free options. When you redeem your key(s) on release day, you will be able to pick from these digital retailers:
Steam will no doubt be the go-to option for most of you: Wasteland 2 will be added to your Steam library, it will automatically update to the latest version and it offers cross-platform support, meaning your single key is valid for Windows, Mac and Linux.
GOG.com is a fully DRM-free option. They support Windows, Mac and Linux as well.
We may offer more options, but the above should cover every wish from fully DRM-free to auto-updating on each of our platforms.
Physical copies will be shipped out to the address you listed on the Ranger Center. All physical copies – retail and backers – will need the ability for a day 1 patch system. By the time physical copies arrive to backers the gold master version we sent out for print will be a month and a half old, and will be missing vital optimization and balance passes, as well as systemic changes like the addition of headshots that we recently put in. We need to ensure that our players are experiencing the most up to date code, so we will be utilizing the automatic updating system that Steam provides for physical copies.
Every physical copy tier comes with a digital version of the game also, where you can pick the fully DRM-free GOG.com or Steam. If you prefer a fully DRM-free physical copy we will be willing to print and ship a day-1 version of the game to you at a later time, simply contact us through the Ranger Center if this has your preference.
Steam Keys & Beta Access
After hearing from our backers on the beta key "locking you" into Steam and discussing the issue with Steam, we found a nice solution for people who want to opt into the beta but receive a final copy somewhere else. We will be adding a "Revoke Key" button on the Ranger Center which will deactivate your Steam key (automatically removing it from your Steam library) and reset your digital retailer choice, allowing you to go back and choose another one of our digital retailers such as GOG.com.
If you have redeemed your Wasteland 2 beta key on Steam and plan to play the final game on Steam, you don't have to do anything, your beta key turns into a full release key automatically on release day.
Looks like they ended up doing exactly what Divinity: Original Sin did. Let the nerdrage begin.
In the two weeks since TSI's "secret" Seven Dragon Saga website was revealed here on the Codex, the site has received sporadic updates - mainly artwork of the setting's various races and classes. On Sunday, an official-looking announcement appeared there, which we received again in the form of an official press release today, the final day of the countdown. Here's what it said:
Seven Dragon Saga – the epic RPG debut title from Tactical Simulations Interactive
New independent video games studio formed by SSI alumni, updates “Gold Box” RPG experience with modern tech and new core gaming system
Tactical Simulations Interactive (TSI) is excited to officially announce Seven Dragon Saga – an original RPG for PC, Mac, and Linux, based upon an original pen and paper role-playing system designed by former Strategic Simulations Interactive (SSI) alumni Keith Brors and David Shelley.
Seven Dragon Saga takes place in a high-powered fantasy universe, revolving around the Empire of the Seven Dragons. Eschewing traditional RPG tropes, Seven Dragon Saga provides the player with effective heroes right from the start, with TSI aiming to provide the next step in meaningful player experiences in the same way that SSI’s ‘Gold Box’ titles did during the 1980s and 1990s.
This is not a tale of farmers or aspiring novices learning how to swing a sword; Seven Dragon Saga is a tale about the use of power. Players will need to assemble a brave troupe of adventurers “touched by the winds of the chaos”. Known as the Touched, these brave adventurers will face the unknown, and embark on a quest to discover hidden truths and determine the fate of the Empire.
It is the Emperor’s role to proclaim.
It is the Dragons’ role to command.
It is the role of the Touched to act, without hesitation and without regret.
David Shelley, Producer/Lead Designer, Seven Dragon Saga, said:
“Seven Dragon Saga provides a robust rules system and fresh campaign setting for us to draw from. We’re adapting the pen and paper system as the seed to develop a compelling game experience, creating the type of strategy fantasy game our team is known for.”
Seven Dragon Saga sets a new standard for intricate turn-based combat that can be adapted to your party’s strengths. Explore a new high fantasy realm, recruit powerful NPCs, and craft useful items during your party’s quest to discover lost secrets and transform the world. Key features include:
• Classic RPG / Modern Gameplay:
Create a full party under your total control right from the start. Venture forth to uncover lost secrets in an original fantasy setting.
• Strategic Combat:
Face challenges in turn-based tactical combat, updated with modern design philosophies. Carefully maneuver your party taking advantage of terrain and destructible environments.
• Weigh Your Decisions:
One group’s ally is another faction’s enemy. Make meaningful social/political choices that directly impact the world around you. Will you pursue duty and honor or choose riches and adventure with little concern for the consequences?
• Proven Technology:
Seven Dragon Saga is built using the Unity3D engine (Shadowrun Returns, Wasteland 2, Shroud of the Avatar).
Tactical Simulations Interactive will reveal more details about Seven Dragon Saga in the near future.
Interesting - destructible environments and choice & consequence are a pretty unique choice for this genre. In any case, the countdown on the official TSI site just ended (I guess it was calibrated to GMT?), and in its place are now the contents of the secret site, the URL of which now redirects to the official one. There isn't really any new information there though, which makes the whole thing seem like a bit of a cop out. But at least they sent us some high-resolution artwork, which I'll post in this thread.
There are many ways in which one can attend a convention like this year's Gamescom in Cologne. One may get hyped and be a fan and spend most of the day in super long queues just to play a bit of the shown-off game(s). One may hate the entire thing and complain about the queues and say "never again." Or one may forgo all the queues, enter the convention through the business entrance, and talk to the devs about their game as well as about how the whole thing sucks. Combine the latter two, add some poignant pictorial commentary, and you get our very own agent Darth Roxor's report, now in Part 3, or, "How and Why I Enjoyed Gamescom 2014." Have a couple of tidbits:
After attending Daedalic's adventure game previews, I had a quick chat with their senior producer, Kai Fiebig. When he asked whether I was enjoying my stay at Gamescom, I replied that I had only just arrived. To which he smirked and said, “well, then you’re lucky”. At that point, I didn’t fully realise what he meant - the revelation would only hit me across the head with a club the next day. Before the Blackguards 2 presentation began, I talked with him a bit about the general feedback given by players of the original Blackguards. I already mentioned what Kai considered “good feedback” in Part 1 of my report, but it was also rather refreshing to hear him launch into a quasi-rant about casual gamers. Most developers just don’t bother commenting on people who hate their games for stupid reasons like “whoa, itz too hard!!”, but Kai seemed eager to tell me just how sour it made him to go through various internet forums and see people whining about mechanics that are clearly explained, not using all the tools they have at their disposal, etc. Before I left, he told me that while they are doing some streamlining for Blackguards 2, he still fully expects people to rise in uproar again about the absence of handholding and the tough difficulty. I really liked how his facial expression constantly shifted into that trademark Disgusted Clint Eastwood look when he talked about all this. [...]
I didn’t take part in any of those “hands-on” showcases, nor did I wait around for hours straight to watch the big presentations. Mostly because this is not an activity that I would consider:
b) Conducive to proper information gathering.
c) An efficient use of my time, both free and “professional”.
d) Adhering to the basic principles of human dignity.
My only regret is that I didn’t actually get to play Pillars of Eternity. Maybe there was a communication error at some point, but I thought the presentation of it that I attended later was supposed to be hands-on, which was another reason why I didn’t bother standing around in those abysmal queues. But it wasn’t, so it wasn't, and so I was forced to nitpick its pseudo-paladins instead of taking apart its systems. [...]
At 3 pm I returned to Hall 4 to get ready for Hellraid, where I ran into Daedalic’s Kai Fiebig and Johannes Kiel, who had gone for a smoke. This time I had a longer conversation with them, about various topics but mostly about Gamescom itself. When I mentioned that I’d been to the Entertainment Area, they told me how glad they were that they didn’t have to set foot in that hive of scum and villainy. Kai explained that he was looking forward to the end of the convention, because the job of running the presentations is sheer hell. Imagine sitting in the same place for ten hours straight, repeating the same spiel again and again, and in a non-native language to boot. He said that he was glad that I'd found them, because he'd forgotten to mention one aspect of Blackguards 2 on the previous day. After hearing about that, I talked with them a bit about the gaming industry as a whole, and about some of the games that Kai had worked on in the past. When I brought up one of the games that I had seen at Gamescom, Kai told me how important it is to never trust anyone who claims he wants to deliver a game “made by the same developers as [classic]!”. He said that he hears that very often, but usually realizes after some checking around that these “same developers” who were the main driving force behind the [classic] are currently stationed in three different studios around the globe.
Be sure to read the full report, and also take a look at the pictures. If anything, do have a look at the comic that Roxor took the effort to translate into English. ; )