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Mon 30 November 2015

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?

Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter Update #26: Down in New Orleans

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 30 November 2015, 20:01:18

Tags: Bard's Tale; Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight; Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate; Bard's Tale IV; InXile Entertainment; Matt Findley

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Last month, we learned that inXile Entertainment were opening a new studio in New Orleans to work on The Bard's Tale IV. In today's Kickstarter update, the first in over two months, company president Matt Findley tells us a bit more about that move, and about the game's current development status. Here's an excerpt:

New Location: inXile NOLA!

First off, we are excited to announce that we have opened a new studio in the beautiful city of New Orleans!

There are several reasons why we have done this. First and foremost, we are always looking for ways we can make our game budgets go further. When we cut our costs it allows us to put more people onto the project for a longer period of time. This directly results in an improvement to the games we are making. Our creative process involves iteration. Iteration takes time. Time takes money. The lower our burn rate, the longer we get to work on the game and the more iteration all the features of the game receive. With the support of State of Louisiana and the general lower cost of doing business in New Orleans we are able to stretch our budgets and put an increase of man months into our projects.

The second reason why we are excited about the new NOLA studio is gaining access to a talent pool in the south and on the east coast that we just didn’t have access to in California. We are currently interviewing for positions in NOLA and there are a bunch of new hires that we are going to get that are people we never could have talked into moving to the west coast.

Why should you care about all this? Because the first project that we are going to be making in New Orleans is The Bard’s Tale IV! It might sound like an impossible task to setup this new studio, hire a bunch of people, and make The Bard’s Tale IV awesome. How can we do it? Easy, I am going to cheat. I am not in New Orleans all by myself - we have a core group of people who are making the move from our HQ in Newport to New Orleans with me.

This team and I just spent the last couple of years making Wasteland 2 together and we are continuing our work on The Bard’s Tale IV. The only difference is that now we are going to be doing it in New Orleans. By moving this team here we are going to be able to add to it with new hires and end up with a larger team than we ever could have had in Cali.

Pre-Production Update

The last few months have been very busy and fruitful for us. We're happy to announce that at this time, we're halfway through our pre-production phase on the game. But what does this mean, exactly?

Pre-production is the phase of development where we do our initial design and technology work on the game. This mean, through both prototyping as well as work on paper, defining the game that we intend to make in as full detail as we possibly can, so that we can get a grasp of our final project scope and feature set. All sorts of things are taking shape, from our technology, to our game mechanics, to our story.

Right now, this means that the major foundational components of the game – the story and world-building, our setting and characters, have for the most part had the groundwork laid down. You saw glimpses of these during our previous Kickstarter updates, including snippets of lore and story from Nathan Long, and design ideas from Brian and other team members, and we have continued to build on these to flesh out the world of The Bard's Tale IV.

Going forward, we are getting deeper into the nitty-gritty of the game: the play mechanics and combat system, core character classes, spells and abilities, and other higher-level elements like our quest structuring and ideas for reactivity in our game world and story. It is too soon to talk about this stuff in too much detail but in future weeks we will introduce you to more of the team and let each of them talk in more detail about the things they are working on.
See the full update for some photos of the new studio, plus an example of healthy New Orleans cuisine. Hopefully the updates will start coming faster now, and more substantial than they were during the campaign.

There are 1 comments on Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter Update #26: Down in New Orleans

Sun 29 November 2015
Age of Decadence Post-Release Update #2: More on the Dungeon Crawler and Colony Ship Projects

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sun 29 November 2015, 21:31:04

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

Vault Dweller has published a new Age of Decadence post-release update over at the Iron Tower Studio forums. Like the previous update, it has information about the game's sales and upcoming updates, as well as about Iron Tower's future projects, the as-yet-unnamed Dungeon Crawler and Colony Ship RPGs. But this update goes into a lot more detail about those - more detail than I thought existed at this stage. Check it out:


As of today, we sold over 30,000 copies and our future looks a bit brighter. It's not a success story yet, but it's not a horrible failure either, and when it comes to indie RPGs the latter is a far more likely outcome as it's getting increasingly hard to gain visibility. Not complaining but stating the obvious.


Right now we're still working on the endgame improvements. I do agree that the ending is too abrupt and has to be expanded, both in terms of options and scope:

1. An NPC/optional combat in the temple - done
2. Traveling with a lord and his men to the temple, featuring enemy patrols, Aurelian attempts to destroy locations leading to it, like blowing up Hellgate, zealots looking for the temple, Neleos, etc) - need about a month to do it right.
3. "The Battle of the Five Armies" - work in progress but probably not in the next update
4. The Rise of the Chosen One - work in progress
5. Individual Endings - work in progress.

Dungeon Crawler:

First, I want to set the expectations straight as some people are wondering if it's going to be like Legends of Grimrock or Icewind Dale. It will be a combat-heavy game for people who like our combat system and want to see it in a party-based setup. It will be an inexpensive game (around $8) so don't expect a full-scale RPG there.

Basically, you'll start the game at the bottom of a prison mine and will have to recruit other prisoners and fight your way out. Probably 40-50 fights in total. There will be new creatures as well. Here is what Ivan is working on right now.

Colony Ship RPG

While it's way too early to talk about it (as in 'I don't have time to write down a lengthy post introducing and properly explaining the concept'), here are some things for your amusement.


All firearms are ship-made; most are crude, angular weapons. It’s a 'rediscovered' tech (we all know what flintlock weapons are but we don’t make them, so if we have to start making them again, we’ll have to rediscover the tech we’re vaguely familiar with).

They have relatively low accuracy but most firearms tend to be multi-shot weapons (either more barrels or revolving cylinders or burst). They are made by various smiths for the militia and 'adventurers', so they vary in form and style.

- Pistols use powerful 0.45 ammo but most are single-shot guns. More advanced models add more barrels or revolving action.
- SMG use cheap 9mm and have burst mode.
- Shotguns use cartridges and have the widest spread.

We can consider ammo variations within each class but it’s not necessary as 3 different types are more than enough.


Energy weapons are Earth-made. Since they have no recoil, large stock isn’t necessary, so where the firearms and crude and angular, the energy weapons are elegant and curved (think flintlocks).

They are single shot weapons that are extremely accurate but slow to fire. They use energy cells (one ammo type for all weapons) that are very rare. Some places sell re-charged cells but they are less effective.

- Pistols
- Rifles have the longest range and best accuracy; the sniper’s weapon
- Cannons (weapons that were mounted on mechs); consume an entire cell when fired.
Also included in the update are images of various pistol models from the Colony Ship RPG, its rather noir-ish intro text and a short summary of its premise. Go take a look - I can already tell it's going to have some unusual art direction for a science fiction game.

There are 58 comments on Age of Decadence Post-Release Update #2: More on the Dungeon Crawler and Colony Ship Projects

Fri 27 November 2015
Chris Avellone on the tabletop roots of Van Buren

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Fri 27 November 2015, 00:35:22

Tags: Chris Avellone; Fallout 3 (Van Buren)

Earlier this month, Chris Avellone was a guest at the Practice 2015 conference at NYU. While there, he gave a talk entitled “Paper Cuts: Paper Prototying from OSRPG* to CRPG", where he spoke about the various tabletop-inspired techniques that he used during the preproduction of the original Van Buren Fallout 3 back at Interplay. Unfortunately, it doesn't look like a video of the talk is going to appear anytime soon, but there was a summary of it over at Polygon by a journalist who attended. Here's the gist of it:

Avellone, whose credits include titles like Fallout, Planescape: Torment and Alpha Protocol, spoke at the annual summit on all matters of game design. His talk detailed how his lifelong interest in games like Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop RPGs played a part in the design of Fallout 3: Van Buren. His hourlong presentation included a plethora of photos, showing off the unique and detailed binders he created to aid the game's designers, elaborating on such facets of the game as character roles, the bestiary and the areas of exploration.

Some of the notable elements Avellone shared included that your protagonist, an accused criminal, traveled with a team of companions whose decisions affected the other inhabitants of the in-game world. While the game did not offer multiplayer, the player's team would begin to see the ramifications of the other team's decision-making, which was controlled by the game's AI, Avellone explained.

For the purposes of his paper playtest, he had two separate teams of six fellow developers serve as the two sets of characters. Avellone would implement the effects of choices made by each group into the other's gameplay session unbeknownst to them. In that sense, the tabletop version of Fallout 3: Van Buren became a tacitly competitive game in which you were actually fighting against another team to prevent or inflict further damage upon your world.

Details like these were not even the most fascinating or intricately developed. The audience was most taken with an idea Avellone described that allowed each player to choose theme music for their character. In the interest of creating a cinematic experience even without the visuals, Avellone's guidebook asked that players choose a unique soundclip which would add a 50 percent stat bonus to any skill.

The theme music was up to the player to choose, but selecting something from the game itself would offer additional advantages.

Because Fallout 3: Van Buren was to be a cinematic and turn-based game, Avellone said, it lent itself well to the pen and paper format. Cutscenes in the game were largely presented like slides, anyway, meaning they were easy to translate to the book format. Because gameplay was more strategic than about quick action, the patience required of a lengthy sit-down game session also made sense as a playtest method.

Although the project was ultimately canceled, Avellone was able to carry over some of his ideas to a later game: Fallout: New Vegas, which he worked on with Obsidian Entertainment. He was able to salvage his enormous binder of non-playable characters created for the Van Buren prototyping for use in the later game, as well as re-use some of the areas designed for Van Buren's Boulder, Colo. setting — all of which, he noted, were created in the pen and paper format first.
Interesting. Perhaps these ideas may yet make their way into a game someday. Who knows, it might even be called Van Buren.

There are 5 comments on Chris Avellone on the tabletop roots of Van Buren

Thu 26 November 2015
Feargus Urquhart and Josh Sawyer talk about upcoming Obsidian games at Gamepressure

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Thu 26 November 2015, 17:00:59

Tags: Feargus Urquhart; J.E. Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity; Pillars of Eternity: The White March

The latest interview to come out of Obsidian's recent little publicity tour is at Polish gaming site It's a dual interview with both Feargus Urquhart and Josh Sawyer, and interesting in that it manages to pry some information out of Feargus about Obsidian's upcoming projects, as well as a clarification about that second Obsidian Kickstarter that never happened. I quote:

Congratulations for selling half a million copies of Pillars of Eternity! Do you consider it to be a lot or not really, keeping in mind that you are a rather large studio based in the US where it’s not cheap to develop games?

Feargus Urquhart: While we are a big studio, success is all relative to the size of the team and the budget. If Call of Duty sold 10 000 000 units it would be considered a failure. For us having sold over 600 000 units now, we are ecstatic.

What are you the most proud of when it comes to Pillars of Eternity and what would you do differently from today’s perspective?

Josh Sawyer: I don’t think there’s one specific thing, but the game as a whole. Our goal was to make a spiritual successor to the Infinity Engine games and I feel that, for the most part, we accomplished that. In retrospect, we should have had more stronghold content and the mega-dungeon (Od Nua) wore thin after a while. Would have preferred to have more content in the stronghold and to spread those dungeon levels around to make existing dungeons feel more substantial.

How is your work on The White March - Part II going? Will the game be comparable to the first part in terms of size?

Josh Sawyer: It’s going well and it should be comparable in overall size and gameplay length. We learned a lot from working on the base game and Part I, so we’re trying to apply all of that to Part II. The scale of things kicks up after you relight the White Forge and we hope people will enjoy the progression from the relatively modest problems of Stalwart to the wild ‘n crazy ending.

I assume that you won’t be able to tell me anything about what you’re currently working on, but there are lots of possibilities on the horizon. Pillars of Eternity 2, full-fledged RPG in Pathfinder universe that you were considering. Paradox acquired rights to the universe of the World of Darkness, I’m sure a lot of gamers would be really excited to hear that you’re making an RPG in this rich world. When can we expect any official announcements?

Feargus Urquhart: Not to tease, but we will have news in the next two or three months. We absolutely are looking at crowdfunding one of our next titles as well, so we’ll have news on that soon. I can say it’s been fun to sit around and talk with Tim Cain, Game Director of the original Fallout, about ideas for our next thing. I wish I could talk about it more.

What’s happening regarding the mysterious Kickstarter campaign that was supposed to launch by the end of 2014 (according to the interview you had with CVG)? I asked you about this in April and you said that it’s only a matter of weeks.

Feargus Urquhart: We thought about that a lot and decided that we should completely finish Pillars of Eternity before we went back to crowdfunding. Part of that was just because of how busy we were, and part of it was that it felt a bit strange to ask everyone for more money before we had delivered on our first crowdfunded game.​

The first upcoming game that Feargus mentions is clearly the recently revealed Project North Carolina reincarnation, but judging by his choice of words ("looking at crowdfunding one of our next titles as well") there must be something else coming up from Obsidian in addition to that. I wonder which one of them Tim Cain is involved with.

There are 107 comments on Feargus Urquhart and Josh Sawyer talk about upcoming Obsidian games at Gamepressure

First Look at Night Dive's Unity-powered System Shock Remake

Game News - posted by Zed on Thu 26 November 2015, 14:23:01

Tags: Night Dive Studios; System Shock

Night Dive Studios' System Shock remake has been looked at by Polygon. Note that this is not the previously released Enhanced Edition – but a complete overhaul of the original game, made in Unity.

Night Dive Studios acquired the rights to the System Shock franchise IP from the Star Insurance Company, which picked them up after original developer Looking Glass Studios was forced to relinquish the assets following its closure.

After testing the waters with its Enhanced Edition of System Shock, the studio is now working on a full remake. The spirit of the original title guides the fairly young Night Dive, which opened its doors in 2012.

"We have been in contact with members of the original System Shock team and any future iterations of the System Shock games, and by this I mean both new titles in the series as well as major updates to the existing games, will be very true to the spirit of the originals," Kick told us.​

Would you believe me if I told you that it doesn't look like total crap? Judge for yourselves.

There are 56 comments on First Look at Night Dive's Unity-powered System Shock Remake

Wed 25 November 2015
The Fanatic and His RPG - Mark Yohalem on The Age of Decadence

Editorial - posted by Infinitron on Wed 25 November 2015, 21:22:02

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

The esteemed Mark Yohalem, writer and designer of Primordia, has been a part of our community for many years - longer than his join date would tell you. As such, he's had the opportunity to observe the development of The Age of Decadence right where it all happened, from its conception on our forums in the mid-2000s all the way until its release last month. It's clear that the quixotic odyssey of Vault Dweller and his magnum opus has made a large impression on Mark, because today he published a thoughtful and scholarly editorial about it on Gamasutra. Its title is "The Fanatic and his RPG". Here's the beginning:

“There is no great genius without some touch of madness.” - Seneca the Younger

In early 2004, a middle-aged man with the Fallout-derived moniker “Vault Dweller” wrote a brief forum post that began, “Long story short, I’ve decided to make a game...” By late 2015, he had posted some 30,000 more messages, taken on a new alias (“Vincent D. Weller”), given perhaps the most caustic interview in the history of gaming journalism, and quit his job as a marketing executive. He had also, at long last, finished The Age of Decadence, a masterpiece of outsider art and a game as iconoclastic and challenging as the man who created it. In an era where RPGs overwhelmingly are either neo-classic throwbacks that ape the beloved forms of old and modern blockbusters that emphasize streamlined accessibility and cinematic flourishes, Decadence is something else entirely: a freak that evolved from the old forms but along new paths. It is a game that compels the attention of anyone interested in RPGs, multi-path design, reactive story-telling, or the madness of the lone creator.

“The artist ... shall be socially non-conformist, even to the point of diverging violently from the psychological norm...; and he shall not cater for a public.” - Roger Cardinal

Four years into the development of The Age of Decadence, Weller was interviewed by Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Even pre-Kickstarter, this was the kind of opportunity that could transform an independent game from a bust into a commercial hit. At the time, Weller was still Vice President of Marketing at a large corporation, yet the interview is the antithesis of the marketing-speak that typifies game developers, even indie developers. Weller grows increasingly frustrated and incredulous at Kieron Gillen’s inability to understand him. Gillen, for his part, comes across as more bemused than combative. At last, Weller declares, “It’s nice that your site tries to attract morons and makes them feel at home, but shouldn’t you be educating them too? It wouldn’t take much to double their IQs, so if you want, I can give you a hand there.” Gillen asks why Weller’s answers are so angry and whether he might be alienating potential customers, but Weller just snaps back, “I don’t really care who’d think what and how my comments would affect sales. I’m making this game on a bold assumption that there are some people out there who are interested in complex games that aren’t made for retards.”

Over the years that followed, Weller has mellowed. When customers ask for hints or post negative reviews, he may not be cordial, but he is precise and factual. There is still a sense of frustration, simmering and ready to boil over. It is easy to read this as misanthropy, and Weller has given critics and skeptics plenty of ammunition in that regard. But to me, it is something almost exactly the opposite of misanthropy: like Cassandra shrieking dire prophecies or Plato’s philosopher losing his patience in the cave, Weller seems angry less at the people who can’t understand his work and more on their behalf. He has something to teach them, something important, but powers greater than his—pandering games and pandering game journalists—have dulled their minds.

Roger Cardinal, who dubbed the genre of “Outsider Art,” explains that such works open our eyes to entirely new perspectives and possibilities. The outsider is so defiant or ignorant of accepted limits that she will pursue goals that have been deemed unattainable by reasonable, rational folks. She will walk paths that have become overgrown or were never blazed at all. Whether she reaches her destination or not, she serves to remind us that the paths and goals are there.

In this regard, and in many others, The Age of Decadence is a triumph.
Read the entire thing there. It may be as positive a review as you're going to get from a Codexer!

There are 122 comments on The Fanatic and His RPG - Mark Yohalem on The Age of Decadence

Underworld Ascendant Playable Prototype Released

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 25 November 2015, 15:34:50

Tags: OtherSide Entertainment; Underworld Ascendant

The playable prototype for OtherSide Entertainment's Underworld Ascendant was released to eligible backers last night. "Eligible" in this case means those who pledged $300 or more to the Kickstarter, which comes down to probably less than 250 people. The rest of us will have to wait a while longer. Monday's biweekly update has the details:

In the last Newsletter we talked about physics-based world for Underworld Ascendant. Now we're ready to show what this means with an early peek...

Tomorrow we're releasing the very first build to Backers at the Lore Seeker and higher pledge tiers, who get as one of their perks early access to play these first prototypes. In a few weeks we will roll this build out more broadly to Backers at the lower pledge tiers. Details will be emailed out directly to Backers on how to download the build.

The Playground prototype all about physics-based puzzles set in a corner of the Stygian Abyss. The visuals have been intentionally dumbed down, since we're avoiding trying to set any sort of visual bar with this prototype, and instead want to focus on just the gameplay aspects. So be forewarned, it looks as plain as vanilla can ;)

The fun is in the physics puzzles, where we challenge you to solve tricky bits using an early pass of the Improvisation Engine. Even at this early stage, there are dozens of ways to solve challenges, some which I'm sure our team has not yet discovered. Will you? The prototype also features a first pass on the magic system, which likewise feeds into the open-ended nature of solving challenges.​

We do have one or two people on the Codex who are members of this privileged group, including the excellent Nekot-The-Brave who posted some screenshots in our Underworld Ascendant thread. As you can see, it is indeed more of a gameplay systems test than a slice of the actual gameplay experience as seen in last month's prototype footage. Maybe that'll have to wait until the pre-alpha next year.

There are 4 comments on Underworld Ascendant Playable Prototype Released

Dead State Goodies

Community - posted by DarkUnderlord on Wed 25 November 2015, 11:27:22

Tags: Codex Dead State Campaign; Dead State

I got stuff in the mail today:

[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

The making of book is pretty hefty and nice. But note there's nothing in the box at all in terms of cardboard support stuff (or whatever you want to call it). So the CDs (in cheap paper cases) and other stuff all just go loosely in there. The signed thing also looks like a photocopy, rather than original signatures. On the bullet shaped USB is a digital copy of the game.

But someone will get this!

There are 10 comments on Dead State Goodies

Sat 21 November 2015
Maintenance Update

Community - posted by DarkUnderlord on Sat 21 November 2015, 04:05:36

Please be advised the Codex is currently under-going a maintenance update and will be down until Taluntain fixes it because running queries on large databases IS FUN for some time.

Shit's working. Have fun.

There are 29 comments on Maintenance Update

Thu 19 November 2015
Dungeon Kingdom: Sign of the Moon Released on Steam Early Access

Game News - posted by Crooked Bee on Thu 19 November 2015, 20:22:26

Tags: Dungeon Kingdom: Sign of the Moon

If you're one of those who enjoyed Legend of Grimrock or classic real-time grid-based RPGs, you may be interested to know that Dungeon Kingdom: Sign of the Moon is out on Steam Early Access today, with full release scheduled for Q1 2016. The game claims to feature smart enemy AI, plus physics-based puzzles and dynamic environments.

Dungeon Kingdom: Sign of the Moon is a modern real-time dungeon crawling RPG. Immerse yourself in a fantastic adventure in the lands of Pohe Fakesys and investigate the cause of the returning chaos and darkness.

At the dawn of the Fourth Age... You, a poor young man struggling to make ends meet, have been summoned by a strange man claiming to be a member of the prestigious Mages’ Guild, to join him on a great quest. In the hope for a better future, you accept his request, for who could refuse to follow such a seemingly eminent member of the Mages’ Guild? A feeling in the back of your mind tells you that this is related to the strange symbol of a moon on you hand...

Your quest will require you to explore the Dungeon Kingdom world, to uncover hidden treasures, solve puzzles and battle dangerous creatures in many areas, from dark dungeons to snowy mountains.

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

“The full version will include more levels and environments to explore, with more creatures to battle, along with the continuation of the storyline. With this, there will also be Steam achievements, trading cards and leaderboards. We hope to also include cross-platform cloud saving; this will enable you to continue your quest across all of your devices.”

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

“The majority of the features that will be present in the full version have already been implemented. However, much of the main storyline has only just been touched upon and many of the environments are not yet present in the game.”​

You can grab the game here - or wait until the full release.

There are 7 comments on Dungeon Kingdom: Sign of the Moon Released on Steam Early Access

Wed 18 November 2015
Josh Sawyer interviewed at and Darkstation

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Wed 18 November 2015, 20:43:45

Tags: J.E. Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity

Balancer-in-chief Josh Sawyer has been making the rounds on the interview circuit recently. Here's a recent interview with him at Greek gaming site, where he talks about Pillars of Eternity, the state of isometric RPGs in general, and more. There's some honest talk here, and also a mention of the possibility of Obsidian releasing a turn-based tactical game, something Josh has been doing repeatedly in recent weeks. Who knows, maybe it'll actually happen. Here's the relevant snippet from the interview:

RQ: Now that Pillars has been out for a respectable amount of time, do you have any "regrets" about it, design or content-wise? Is there anything you now wish you could have added/removed or changed in it before its release?

JS: The stronghold never really got the content it needed to make it feel worthwhile or important. During development we realized that if we had someone focusing on stronghold content, it would jeopardize other quests that we felt were more valuable. That's why the stronghold wound up being system-heavy and content-light. It's something we're trying to address with our 3.0 patch, which will be available when The White March, Part II, goes live.

Not all of the companions were tightly connected to the storyline. The companion I wrote, Pallegina, is one of the most disconnected. I think their connection to the central plot could have been stronger and there could have been better reactivity among them to both your choices and each other's' actions.

In the early game, it was very difficult to communicate all of the ideas that form the hook for your character's motivation. I think trying to communicate more cleanly or focusing more on the difficult concepts (in particular, the negative aspects of being a Watcher) would have drawn people in more easily.

RQ: At the end of the elaborate Numenera corebook, Monte Cook provides a brief list of book titles from which he drew inspiration when he was creating the game (and as good resources for further reading). Could you name a few of yours, while making Pillars?

JS: Sure. They're mostly history books. The rise of Saint Waidwen was inspired by "Peasant Fires: The Drummer of Niklashausen" by Richard Wunderli. The Vailian Republics were inspired by various accounts of the early Renaissance Italian republics, e.g. "The Prince", but also Christopher Hibbert's "The House of Medici: Its Rise and Fall". The general panic and malaise of Waidwen's Legacy were inspired by the real pre-19th century infant mortality rates of most of the world (often around 50%) and the Black Death in Europe. Infant mortality caused so much grief that it was sometimes used as the basis for accusations of witchcraft, either against the unfortunate mother or a midwife who had helped with a series of ill-fated births. Of course, people who tried to apply various folk remedies for problems with childbirth also often failed and they could be accused of witchcraft. You can get a good general overview of European witch-hunting hysteria from Kors and Peters' terrific "Witchcraft in Europe, 400-1700: A Documentary History".

The machinations of the Hand Occult and the Leaden Key are the only parts that are really inspired by fiction -- though admittedly works of historical fiction by Umberto Eco. "The Name of the Rose" deals with murders in a monastic order that revolve around the preservation (and containment) of knowledge. Baudolino's titular character conspires with his friends at the University of Paris to write various false histories to legitimize Frederick I's rule. Their false histories and the false histories written by other parties wind up becoming part of the historical canon, i.e. "real" history as far as anyone knows.

RQ: Other than the White March two-part expansion, the card game and the e-books, what else is there in the Pillars of Eternity "master plan"? Do you aim to release any more expansions or other forms of extra content for the first game before starting to work more actively on a sequel?

JS: The expansion, card game, and e-books are keeping us pretty busy, but we're talking about ideas for a sequel. Yesterday the lead team had a meeting to talk about high-level goals that we'd like to accomplish and it went well, but we're still in the early phases of planning. Bobby Null and I have also talked to Feargus about the possibility of making a separate game in the Pillars of Eternity setting focused on turn-based combat. Pillars of Eternity's area sizes and input systems don't translate well to non-PC formats, but I think a turn-based game could be very cool.

RQ: Taking for granted that there will be a "Pillars 2" eventually in the future, and using the company's experience so far as a guide and general compass, do you think you would return to crowdfunding in order to fund the possible sequel (fully, or at least partially)?

JS: I think it will depend on what we're looking at for our overall scope. Crowdfunding was a huge success for Pillars of Eternity and I know a lot of people have expressed an eagerness to support crowdfunding for a future sequel, but I believe we have to be careful about how we approach it. There's always a danger of asking too much of people or giving a bad impression by how a crowdfunding campaign is structured.
Earlier this month there was also a great audio interview with Josh at Darkstation. You can check out my summary of that here.

There are 143 comments on Josh Sawyer interviewed at and Darkstation

Hard West Released

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 18 November 2015, 19:07:36

Tags: CreativeForge Games; Hard West

Today sees the release of Hard West, a fancy-looking turn-based tactical game set in a supernatural Wild West. Originally Kickstarted back in 2014 by Polish developer CreativeForge Games, the Codex initially overlooked Hard West because of concerns over its streamlined nuXCOM-inspired design (or maybe I was just too lazy to post about it lol). Whatever the case, Bubbles saw it at Gamescom earlier this year and came away with not-entirely-negative impressions, something which made lead designer Kacper Szymczak very happy. His insistence on winning our approval is quite touching, so let's give it a fair shake. Here's the game's launch trailer and description:

Welcome to the Wild West like you’ve never seen it before. When a tragic turn of events sets one man down a path of supernatural chaos and revenge, he must brutally hunt down all those whom wronged him. Follow Warren on his descent into the darkest recesses of the human soul, and try to survive in a world full of hard choices and even harder consequences. Because in this world, death is a constant presence and the black pacts which you make with forces beyond human comprehension will forever haunt all those around you.

Fight and survive through 8 unique story-based scenarios, and try your hand at 40 individually designed turn-based combat missions. Journey deeper into the world of Hard West and meet a colorful cast of playable characters whose fates are intimately intertwined with yours. Together you will need to make divisive choices to uncover the ultimate plans of the ancient powers at play, as you unravel a deep narrative storyline featuring multiple endings depending on the choices you make during the game.

Game Features
  • A Unique “Weird” West World: Explore a world where Western legends meet demons, arcane rituals and satanic cults and where the dead can walk the Earth again. For a price.
  • Compelling Turn-based Combat: Control 1-4 squad members in thrilling turn-based combat encounters and master a range of powerful western-inspired special abilities, from feats of gunslinging to survivability against all odds, to take out your opponents in a series of original tactical maps with unique story-based objectives.
  • Collect and Combine Special Abilities: Obtain new special abilities by collecting and equipping unique cards which are earned throughout the game by completing main- and optional objectives, exploration , bartering, treasure hunting and more. These cards can be combined to create even more powerful combos, and provide additional options in combat.
  • Choice and Fate: Experience a deep story where decisions made during and between combat scenarios will resonate through future events and change the ultimate fates of a divisive group of colorful characters
  • Luck of the Draw: Use a combat system that goes far beyond pure probability by featuring luck as a unique guardian of engaging and challenging combat
  • Dynamic Cover: Change the flow of combat thanks to an extensive cover system which allows for the creation of effective cover from objects in the environment, making flanking and maneuvering during battles a truly powerful tactic
  • Shadow Spotting: Exploit the Blazing western sun to Locate out of sight enemies by the shadows that they cast, along with the sounds they make
  • Ricochets: Utilize Metal objects to allow master gunslingers to shoot beyond the line of sight for increased tactical combat options, and diversified planning
  • 40 Historically Inspired Weapons: Equip and employ an eclectic collection of deadly shotguns, rifles, pistols and sniper rifles, all based upon real outlandish prototypes, designs and ideas from the era
Hard West is available on Steam and GOG for the price of $20, with a 20% launch discount until next week.

There are 86 comments on Hard West Released

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided delayed to August 23rd, 2016

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 18 November 2015, 18:31:19

Tags: Deus Ex: Mankind Divided; Eidos Montreal

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided was originally supposed to come out on February 23rd next year (or maybe four days earlier, but that bit of stupidity was thankfully cancelled). However, despite the fact that it received a host of positive previews last month, it turns out that the game needs more time than that. A lot more time. Mankind Divided's release date is now August 23rd, 2016. Here's an apologetic delay announcement from Eidos Montreal boss David Anfossi:

No compromise on quality - New release date for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided

As you may have already seen by reading and watching the many previews for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, our aim is for it to be a worthy successor to Human Revolution, and to improve upon that game in every way possible. I know that expectations are extremely high, and we not only want to meet those expectations, but exceed them.

We’re confident and proud of the game so far. However, as we are now playing through the game in full we can see that it will require more time in post-production for tuning, iterations, and refinement to meet our high standards. In order to achieve this, we need to move the release of the game to August 23rd, 2016.

We are sorry to disappoint you with this news, and also thank you for all of your support and comments. This game is a huge part of our lives, and we don’t want to compromise on its quality.

So please be patient with us a little longer, and thanks as always for your passion and support – through thick and thin. It’s a huge responsibility to work on Deus Ex Mankind Divided - we know, but also a huge privilege. We’re determined to deliver the best game we can. ​

A six month delay after they'd already declared an exact release date is a bit out of the blue. Still, it's nothing Witcher 3 didn't do (twice) and that turned out all right. Maybe Deus Ex will be able to go head-to-head against Dishonored 2 after all.

There are 17 comments on Deus Ex: Mankind Divided delayed to August 23rd, 2016

RPG Codex Review and Digital Retrospective: Blood Bowl 2

Review - posted by Grunker on Wed 18 November 2015, 13:51:06

Tags: Blood Bowl; Blood Bowl 2; Cyanide

RPG Codex has strong ties to Games Workshop's Blood Bowl title, as our users have been competing against each other in digital versions of the game since our first in-house league in 2009, run by Mantiis. The game has since served as the perfect venue for talking smack about and harassing fellow Codexers, and so it was with typical trepidation that we received the news of a sequel to 2009's Blood Bowl being in development.


In many ways, Blood Bowl 2 shares similarities with favourite Codex sequels like Baldur's Gate 2, Fallout 2 or Ultima VII: Serpent Isle in that it reuses so much from its original that it allowed its developers to focus more on content and polish than on developing systems from scratch. Does Blood Bowl 2 manage the same building-upon-solid-content improvements as the other games?

The question is whether Blood Bowl 2 succeeds in this delicate feat of renewal via reproduction. Did Cyanide manage to balance their new engine with the old systems to craft what is essentially a more polished, more playable, more content-rich, digital Blood Bowl game?

In the absence of an adequate ‘hahano’ gif, I have decided to instead provide you with the following review. Blood Bowl 2 is one-third regression, one-third status quo and one-third minor improvements.​

Well, we all knew where this was going. But at least the review also has a great look into Blood Bowl's digital past, which is coloured by Codex-favourite SSI! So there's that.

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review and Digital Retrospective: Blood Bowl 2

There are 17 comments on RPG Codex Review and Digital Retrospective: Blood Bowl 2

Mon 16 November 2015
ADOM Released on Steam

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 16 November 2015, 20:44:34

Tags: Ancient Domains of Mystery

Back in 2012, development on classic roguelike Ancient Domains of Mystery (commonly known as ADOM) was restarted after a nine year hiatus thanks to a successful IndieGogo campaign. After over three years of arduous development, during which creator Thomas Biskup nearly suffered an emotional breakdown or two, the game is now available on Steam for $15 minus 10% launch discount. Here's the trailer and description from its Steam page:

ADOM (Ancient Domains Of Mystery) is one of the most successful roguelike games ever created, boasting a brilliant mix of story, RPG, exploration, and intensely strategic and flexible combat. The Steam version adds various Deluxe features like achievements, difficulty level customization and various play modes (e.g. a story mode allowing to save and restore games, a weekly challenge game, an exploration mode and more). ADOM has been in development since 1994. In 2012 its development was revitalized with an immensely successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, now allowing us to offer ADOM both with ASCII and graphical modes enabling you to choose freely.

ADOM is primarily known for being the first roguelike to include vibrant towns, NPC dialog, and quests, but it offers more than just a rich story line in a complex fantasy world:
  • a huge game world with hundreds of locations such as towns, randomized dungeons, elemental temples, graveyards, ancient ruins, towers and other secrets
  • loads of races (dwarves, drakelings, mist elves, hurthlings, orcs, trolls, ratlings and many others) and even more classes (fighters, elementalists, assassins, chaos knights, duelists and much more) allowing for infinite play styles
  • hundreds of monsters and items, many with enhanced random features
  • a corruption system forcing you to balance lust for power with fear of damnation (corruptions slowly transform you into a vile monster but at the same time grant inhuman benefits - most of the time)
  • spells, prayers, mindcraft, alchemy, crafting and more
  • dozens of quests and branching story lines
  • numerous wildly different endings that might alter reality itself (simply drive Chaos away or slay a god or even become an immortal yourself, and others more)!
  • various game modes (story mode to be able to load and save games, challenge mode to face peculiar weekly challenges, exploration mode for a free wand of wishing and more)
  • various customization options (turning hunger off, turning corruption off, modifying monster difficulty or treasure rates)
What's that, you say? "ADOM costs money now? Heresy!" Well, don't worry, earlier builds are still available for free on the game's website. To get the latest and greatest version with all the Steam features, though, you'll need to pay up. After working on this game for more than twenty years, I think the guy deserves it. For more information on ADOM, check out our review from earlier this year.

There are 36 comments on ADOM Released on Steam

Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part 2 coming late January

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 16 November 2015, 16:20:46

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

Development on the second part of the Pillars of Eternity: The White March expansion pack has hummed along quietly since the release of the first part back in August. The game has received a few patches since then, the latest of which added affliction immunities to the game, while the writing team have busied themselves authoring a new collection of short stories about its companions. But nothing earth-shattering enough to post about here. Today, just as people have begun to get antsy, Obsidian have published a press release announcing a release date for The White March Part 2 - late January 2016. Oddly, despite the fact that they have a host of interesting new features lined up, the press release chooses to emphasize the addition of a Beamdog-style "Story Mode" difficulty level instead. Guess that must be in demand. Anyway, here it is:

IRVINE, CA (November 16, 2016): Obsidian Entertainment and Paradox Interactive announced today thatThe White March – Part 2, the second expansion to Pillars of Eternity, will be released late January 2016, bringing players back to the snowy borderlands of The Eastern Reach.

The White March – Part 2 adds new content to the Pillars of Eternity universe, including new quests, new abilities, and a new companion: Meneha, the Barbarian. The expansion also offers players a higher level cap, and the new “Story Time” mode, letting players experience the incredible narrative of Pillars of Eternity at a faster pace. Directed by Josh Sawyer, Game Director of Fallout: New Vegas and Pillars of Eternity, The White March - Part 2 features an expertly crafted story from Eric Fenstermaker, lead writer of Pillars of Eternityand the co-writer of South Park: The Stick of Truth, and Carrie Patel, author of the Recoletta series and writer on the original Pillars of Eternity.

Pillars of Eternity, created by role-playing game (RPG) veterans also known for Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords and South Park: The Stick of Truth, is a RPG inspired by classic titles such as Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape: Torment. Created thanks to over 75,000 crowdfunding backers, Pillars of Eternity has sold over 600,000 units, was released to critical acclaim in March 2015, and is #6 on Metacritic’s 15 Best PC Games of 2015. The White March - Part 2 completes the story began in the first expansion, The White March – Part 1, bringing the first epic chapter in the Pillars of Eternity universe to a close.

For more information on Pillars of Eternity, visit
600,000 copies already, huh? It wasn't so long ago that they were celebrating 500,000. Those Steam discounts really do the trick.

There are 82 comments on Pillars of Eternity: The White March Part 2 coming late January

Sun 15 November 2015
Movie director J.J. Abrams to co-develop Alpha Protocol-killer Spyjinx

Game News - posted by Zed on Sun 15 November 2015, 23:10:40

Tags: ChAIR Entertainment; J. J. Abrams; Spyjinx

J. J. Abrams, famous for his fantastic directing and flawless re-visioning of your favorite sci-fi franchise, is coming to games! Together with critically acclaimed iOS developers ChAIR, J. J. Abrams will apply his genius in developing a spy RPG.

In a new collaboration of artists from video games, television and film, video game creator ChAIR (Infinity Blade, Shadow Complex), director/producer J.J. Abrams (Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mission Impossible, Lost) and Bad Robot Interactive (Action Movie FX) present: SPYJINX. Powered by Unreal Engine 4, SPYJINX is a unique mix of action strategy gameplay, dynamic world building and RPG character development – all set in a thrilling, treacherous world of espionage. SPYJINX is expected for initial release on PC and mobile in 2016, and is now recruiting future closed beta players. Register today!​

Here's the Dorito pope himself expanding his Professional Network:

Here's their website. Judging from the silhouettes, they seem to be going for that slightly cartoony art direction that every spy game must use, for some reason.

Thanks, darkpatriot!

There are 59 comments on Movie director J.J. Abrams to co-develop Alpha Protocol-killer Spyjinx

Lords of Xulima – Anniversary Update, new secret game in the works

Game News - posted by Zed on Sun 15 November 2015, 00:19:13

Tags: Lords of Xulima; Numantian Games

The people at Numantian Games are celebrating their one year anniversary for Lords of Xulima by releasing a big "2.0" update.

To celebrate the first anniversary of Lords of Xulima, we have released a major update with a lot of new things.

The Workshop

Finally, the Workshop is available. With the Workshop, you can create your own mods for the game in which you can change the rule set system to create a unique experience or simply to improve the original game to your taste.

We have created a specific application, the Lox Editor []. With this tool, you can change the global parameters of the game, the encounters, monsters, skill, classes, treasures... in a very easy way. Then you can publish your mods so other users can try your version of LoX.

Players can easily manage the mods and activate them from inside the main game menu. First, subscribe to the ones you like in the Workshop page of LoX and then you can activate them directly from the game.

You now have three Mods available: "No Random Encounters Edition" (created by the Team), "The Deepest Dark" by the user Celerity and the "Streamlined Edition" by Valadurs Erbe. Hope you enjoy them!

Improved Game Balance

For the new version, we have tweaked a bit the difficulty levels to achieve a better overall balance. The treasures are now better and the bosses from the mid-end part of the game are now more challenging. The Normal version is a bit harder. Also, the resistances are capped at 90 as many features of the game were broken when you got immunity to certain types of damage.

Although we are working on more projects, like the consoles porting of Lords of Xulima and a new very secret game, we will continue working to improve our beloved old-school RPG.​

I highlighted the part about a new game being worked on in the last paragraph. Let's hope it's another RPG.

They also released a wallpaper and a song to go with the update. Check it out.

Thanks, Black!

There are 18 comments on Lords of Xulima – Anniversary Update, new secret game in the works

Arcanum Underworld: Ultima Underworld-inspired pitch document for unmade Arcanum sequel

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Sun 15 November 2015, 00:16:00

Tags: Journey to the Center of Arcanum; Tim Cain; Troika Games

RPG connoisseurs have long been aware that the departed Troika Games had plans to develop a first-person Arcanum sequel with the working title of Journey to the Center of Arcanum, plans which of course never came to fruition. Despite being widely known about, there's precious little information out there about what kind of game JTCA was intended to be. Our 2012 interview with Tim Cain provided a short summary of its storyline, but little more.

That changed yesterday when legendary Arcanum modder and Codex alt suspect Drog Black Tooth reappeared on the Codex (with his original account) for the first time in over four years, with a link to what appeared to be a Journey to the Center of Arcanum pitch document dated to August 2001, allegedly provided to him by the leader of a Russian modding team. Interestingly, the document, entitled "Arcanum Underworld: Journey to the Center of Arcanum", directly references Ultima Underworld and promises a game with a systems-driven design rather reminiscent of the currently-in-development Underworld Ascendant. For example:

In JTCA (Journey to the Center of Arcanum), we hope to incorporate the best aspects of the most popular first-person RPG’s on the market, as well as include a new direction, one that is inherently Troika’s. If Arcanum has proved anything, it is that we know how to craft a well-balanced RPG, with memorable characters, a compelling story, and a character-development system that is second to none. The dichotomy between magick and technology gave us a perfect game environment to create an almost infinite number of playing styles, and we hope to translate that same environment into a 3-D world.

We hope to achieve a similar gaming environment as was presented in Half-Life or Deus Ex. The complexity of the levels in Half-Life, as well as the obvious care that was put into their design, created a game that was both fun and challenging at all levels. The use of puzzles and the intelligent placement of enemies helped players learn the use of the items presented to them, as well increasing their skill in items they previously had. The puzzles in JTCA would make the best use of these items, offering multiple solutions for every puzzle.

Imagine taking the weapons in Arcanum, such as the Tesla Rod or the Elephant Gun, and wielding them in a 3-D environment. The technological gadgets in Arcanum will almost drop into a game like this; lay down the Bear Trap and watch your enemies being trapped, struggling to get away while you pull out your Compound Bow and pick them off from a distance. Items like the Flow-Spectrometer could alter the game-view (think infrared-vision), where Mages and magickal items glow different colors and intensities, depending on their power. Mages will have an enormous number of spells at their disposal, and the size and power of those spells is basically limitless once we’ve moved into 3-D. A summoned Water Elemental could look just like flowing water, leaving behind puddles when it walks, exploding when hit with electricity or dissolving quietly when it dies otherwise. Fireballs, spewing flaming embers (particles), could track follow enemies around corners. And all of this in the world of Arcanum, with its industrial-age cities and magickal kingdoms and deep, dwarven mines and dungeons. The possibilities are endless.

As thieving in Arcanum very important, we hope to incorporate the best game-play mechanics of games like Thief and Thief 2. By allowing the player to move in the shadows, and to move quietly among enemies, we hope to offer a different kind of playing style than the mage, warrior or technologist. Strategy and success will be rewarded with audio and visual cues. Story elements will also support this playing style, as the Thieves Underground did in Arcanum.

Imagine having to enter a building, guarded by three men. Two guards are on foot patrol which takes them past the back door. The other man sits on a bench, near the front door. A skilled thief might stick to the shadows, timing his movements with those of the guards out back, pulling out his lockpicks at just the right moment and sneaking inside undetected. Or perhaps he’d sneak up behind them unguarded, Backstabbing them or covering their mouths with a Laudanum-soaked Rag. This might be the easier way to go, especially when the player notices that the guard out front falls asleep every so often. He snores loudly. There will also be magickal and technological items that will facilitate being a thief, from magickal Silent Shoes to an Auto-skeleton Key. Again, the possibilities for fun and interesting scenarios are limitless.

We contacted Tim Cain, who has become a frequent lurker on our forums in recent months, to verify the document's authenticity and to provide additional input. After some confusion, this is what he had to say:

Yes, Troika was working on a "Journey To The Center Of Arcanum" treatment, and yes, it was going to use the Source engine.

[...] I have three or four treatments for JttCoA, and they are all different. One I remember writing, and it is full of game system ideas, for skills and attribute changes. Another is written from the basis of using the Tribes engine instead of Source. Neither of those went to publishers either. We just wrote them as a "what if?" scenario to toss around during design meetings. Drog's document looks like one of those.

[...] So to clear things up...yes, this is a Troika doc on one possible treatment of JttCoA. I didn't write it, but I think I know who did. I never liked the "new metal which combines magick and tech" idea, because I thought it undermined the main motif of Arcanum, but the writer liked the idea, so he wrote it up for a design meeting. The doc was never intended to be sent to a publisher, just for us to read for a meeting, but I sent it to show the fan some of the ideas we were considering.
So there's another historical mystery clarified. Although this was apparently but one of several pitches for Journey to the Center of Arcanum, taking the series in an Ultima Underworld direction sounds like it could have resulted in something interesting. Not to mention, it would have been a clever tactic for preventing fanrage by directing attention to the existing precedent of a top-down party-based franchise successfully making the leap to first-person. I imagine things might have gotten awkward after Arx Fatalis was released in 2002, though.

There are 51 comments on Arcanum Underworld: Ultima Underworld-inspired pitch document for unmade Arcanum sequel

Fri 13 November 2015
Feargus interview at Game Informer reveals Obsidian's secret project is Stormlands reincarnation

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 13 November 2015, 18:12:16

Tags: Armored Warfare; Dwarves; Fallout; Fallout 2; Fallout 3; Fallout: New Vegas; Feargus Urquhart; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity; South Park: The Fractured But Whole; South Park: The Stick of Truth; Stormlands

Obsidian CEO Feargus Urquhart was a guest on Game Informer's weekly podcast show yesterday. In a very interesting interview lasting almost an hour and twenty minutes, Feargus spoke about how Obsidian found themselves developing a game like Armored Warfare, about his early career and how the game industry has changed since that time, about the development of the original Fallout games and his thoughts about Fallout 3, about Obsidian's experience working with various game engines, about the company's cancelled Seven Dwarves RPG, about South Park: The Stick of Truth and why it took so long to develop, about why more publishers don't fund open world RPGs despite their obvious popularity, about the cancellation of Stormlands (AKA Project North Carolina) that nearly sank Obsidian in 2012, about Fig and other new paradigms of game financing, and more. Watch it on YouTube now:

(starts at around 1:18:55)​

The highlight of the interview, however, is the revelation that Obsidian's secret RPG project, rumored to be in development since the beginning of 2014, is in fact a reincarnation of Stormlands. Although Feargus describes it as "very different from what it was", it still retains some ideas from the original game. It's going to be officially announced sometime within the next few months.

There are 135 comments on Feargus interview at Game Informer reveals Obsidian's secret project is Stormlands reincarnation

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