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You're in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down and see a tortoise. It's crawling toward you. You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that? Why are you not helping?

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RPG Codex Review: Telepath Tactics

Review - posted by Crooked Bee on Wed 27 May 2015, 23:58:36

Tags: Sinister Design; Telepath Tactics

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Telepath Tactics is that tactical RPG you kickstarted back in 2013... You know, the one inspired by Fire Emblem... Er, does Final Fantasy Tactics ring a bell?.. Um, well, Telepath Tactics is basically like Blackguards except not randomized and it's made by Craig Stern who posts here on the Codex occasionally... Good. Got your attention now? If not, then maybe esteemed community member Zetor can explain it better.

So have a snippet from his review:

Telepath Tactics is an SRPG/TRPG (RPG-wargame hybrid with a focus on turn-based tactical combat) in the spirit of the console Fire Emblem series, released this April after being successfully Kickstarted back in 2013. [...] Make no mistake, behind the cartoonish 1990-era console graphics lies a hard and unforgiving wargame-ish RPG with impressive combat and encounter design that sometimes rivals the best titles in the genre.

[...] In the end, overcoming challenges in a mission is done through a series of risk:reward decisions, and this game has them in spades. In fact, one of its greatest strengths is that there are so many ways to deal with those. You can play it safe or be super-aggressive; you can kill everything that moves or win a map without really fighting any enemies; you can even re-arrange the map to create your own strategy for winning the battle. Some examples that came up during my playthrough:
  • Do I move in tight formation to protect my squishies, even though this exposes me to AOE attacks and getting flanked by ranged enemies?
  • Do I split up my team to deal with enemies attacking from three directions, or do I keep everyone together and try to block off some approaches?
  • Do I send off my fastest units to open treasure chests behind enemy lines, thus possibly exposing them to danger while leaving me with less units to carry out the main objectives? Or do I leave treasure chests alone until I've dealt with the main threats, thus risking their contents getting stolen by an NPC thief?
  • Do I keep out of movement/attack range of potentially dangerous enemies while I get everyone in position (possibly allowing them to get reinforcements), or do I rush to the most important targets ASAP and try to protect my vanguard?
  • Do I move slowly and methodically through the map, destroying all enemy forces for extra gold / experience / item drops at the risk of taking more damage and losing resources, or do I send a flier to beeline for the main objective to avoid getting outmatched?
  • Before engaging the main enemy force, do I constantly reposition my casters in reaction to enemy movement to keep them as safe as possible, or do I try to get them into a moderately safe position in the first turn and then pass their turns to gain 5 energy instead of 1 per turn (and perhaps keeping another unit back to babysit them as needed)?
  • Do I save that suicidal NPC and expose my own units to danger, or do I let them die and possibly miss out on a new party member or even a side mission?
  • Do I burn consumables to burst down an enemy with a dangerous attack, or save them and prepare to take the attack?
  • Do I partially destroy a bridge to create a chokepoint and take the risk of the bridge getting completely destroyed by enemy Crossbowmen as a follow-up?
  • Do I attack from max range with my casters to avoid exposing them to danger, or walk to a 2-tile range from the target (or even melee range with Mind Blast and some point-blank AOE attacks spells) to get more damage out?
  • Do I kill this target by focusing attacks on them, or do I just push them into the water to make them waste their next turn swimming to shore?
  • After gaining the upper hand and having the option of finishing the battle at any time, do I let my lower-level characters pick off the last enemies to gain experience and possibly expose them to unneeded risk?
  • Do I switch to a weaker/cheap weapon to dispatch a near-death enemy, or do I keep using the good stuff in case the character gets attacked and needs to make the counterattack count?
Now keep in mind that some battles are long... and some are VERY long. They are also mentally exhausting -- once I was done with a 2-hour monster of a fight, I was typically not up for playing the next mission immediately. This is definitely a game that's best played in bursts with some time to recharge in between!

[...] There is basically no randomness involved in combat. I consider this to be -- arguably -- the best feature of Telepath Tactics. Consider that in a typical 'tactics' game, your plans may be thwarted by your sniper missing a 97% headshot (and this will happen every 30 shots), or the last remaining near-dead troll rolling a natural 20 and hitting your fighter for 30 HP, instantly killing him. In some cases this can increase tension and force the player to think of a backup plan... But let's be honest here, most of the time people will just reload a save, restart the fight, and possibly post an angry rant about the unfair random number generator (RNG) while conveniently ignoring the fact that the RNG can screw the AI over just as much. Not so here! If you miss with an attack, it's because you're deliberately using a risky low-hit move, trying to hit someone in defensive stance or attacking while blinded. Similarly, if an enemy one-shots any of your party members, it's your own damn fault for overextending or exposing them without controlling all potential threats first.​

But really, just read the full review because it's good and I couldn't really find the best snippet to quote from it: RPG Codex Review: Telepath Tactics

There are 22 comments on RPG Codex Review: Telepath Tactics

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MS Paint your way into receiving a copy of Serpent in the Staglands + Physical Journal

Competition - posted by DarkUnderlord on Mon 25 May 2015, 07:50:52

Tags: MS Paint Competition; Serpent in the Staglands; Whalenought Studios

The guys over at Whalenought Studios have a spare Leather Journal up for grabs and they're offering it to us! Because they're such nice guys, they're also throwing in a copy of their DRM-free game along with the digital art book as well.

If you missed out on the KickStarter, or on our own campaign for the game, this is your chance to grab what must surely be one of the sexiest god-damned physical journals a game developer has ever made.

It doesn't have 30 hours of footage of us traveling, but it has a neat wax stamp and some fancy leather, with some game related secrets and other goodies inside. We put up some pictures of it here for reference.

[​IMG]

Oh yeah, and don't forget you get the game as well, which looks like it's shaping up to be pretty sweet¹.

All you have to do to score yourself this waxy, leathery prize along with digital game and digital art book is:

- Create a drawing in MS Paint depicting a new monster or art asset for the game.

Quite how you interpret that exactly is up to you... Given past efforts.

Post your entries in the comments of this news thread. Our esteemed panel of judges will pick a winner on June 1, shortly after the game is released - which is only 4 days away, so get cracking!

Multiple entries are being allowed, so don't be shy.


¹No doubt pending Darth Roxor's loathsome review.

There are 134 comments on MS Paint your way into receiving a copy of Serpent in the Staglands + Physical Journal

Fri 29 May 2015
Underrail Update: Housing, New Psi, Deep Caverns Preview

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 29 May 2015, 15:54:08

Tags: Stygian Software; Underrail

So, back in March, it seemed like Underrail was going to be released very soon, in the first half of 2015. Unfortunately, at some point after that, Styg quietly updated the release date on the game's About page again. It now reads "sometime during 2015", though I hope the prediction of a summer release is still relevant. Anyway, since he has more time now, he's been adding more stuff. The latest update on Underrail's development blog offers a glimpse at its final area, the Deep Caverns, informs us of tweaks that have been made to the Psi system and other stuff, and reveals that the game is receiving a rather contemporary new feature. I quote:

Hey guys, we've been a bit quiet lately, but that's only because we've been keeping our heads down and working hard on the last chunk of content for the game - the Deep Caverns. There's still a lot to do before we can show it in its full glory, but here's a little teaser screenshot below.

Also, we implemented player housing. Players will now get an old ruined apartment in Core City which they can fix up and furnish to their liking. Most of the stuff you can get for the house is just for show, but there is some useful equipment as well.

[​IMG] [​IMG]

[...] That's all for now folks. We still have work ahead of us with new content, some gameplay balancing and tweaking, and then finally polishing the game, especially the old areas. I know some of you are really impatient to get your hands on the final release, but please don't ask me for the release date. I don't know and I don't even particularly care at this point. All I can say is it will be out this year definitively! One thing that we do know is exactly what needs to be done, by each of us in the team, for the game to be all it's meant to be at the release, and every day we hammer away at it. So stay patient, dudes.

We'll drop the next dev log when we have more of Deep Caverns to show.
See the full update for the changelog with all the Psi tweaks and everything. Not sure if that stuff will make it into the Early Access version though, since the previous Early Access update was supposed to be the last one.

There are 11 comments on Underrail Update: Housing, New Psi, Deep Caverns Preview

Thu 28 May 2015
Serpent in the Staglands Kickstarter Update #21: Release Day!

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 28 May 2015, 16:08:00

Tags: Serpent in the Staglands; Whalenought Studios

Serpent in the Staglands, the promising indie RTwP RPG from Joe & Hannah Williams of Whalenought Studios, has been released and is now available on GOG or direct from Whalenought, with a Steam release coming later today. The latest Kickstarter update has the details on backer fulfillment and more:

What ho, Bog Shroomers!

And at long last, Serpent in the Staglands is complete. We are extremely proud of the result of one adventurous year of learning and development. You helped us make this happen, and we are thrilled with how the game shaped up. You need but look at the original Kickstarter video to see how far the game has come. We think it’s pretty remarkable.

I would have said there really isn’t an opportunity for a 2-person team to make a niche game like this beyond being a hobby project, but with Kickstarter and you all wonderful folks that was made possible. We’re so grateful to have had the opportunity to make this game and we hope you get a sense for the type of experience we were trying to make the moment you start to boot it up. We’ve said Serpent in the Staglands is a 90s CRPG in everything but the release date, and we meant it. No handholding, fun puzzles, and we tried to make every element and feature in the game fun first and foremost — we think you’ll love it.

Alright, lets get to it: LAUNCH UPDATE.

A special thanks to all our backers who provided their mugs for the game — they brought a ton of character and atmosphere to the game.

As we’ve mentioned before, do read The Manual prior to playing. You start the game proper right out the gate, so your tutorial is in that text. We’ll be getting it packaged up for GOG and the folks with Accounts with us a standalone soon, and Steam folks will be able to download it from the link above.

DEMO

We’ve included the first couple areas of the game for folks to slaughter some wildlife and explore a temple to get a feel for the gameplay! If you know someone that may be interested, pass it along!

What’s Next

We have some patches planned to smooth out some skill and enemy balancing, as well as some economy balancing, and will continue to push hard to support and polish up the game so it’s tip top in time for the free expansion! We have a dedicated forum for any technical issues or bugs, and if you find anything please let us know! We will strive to make the game as perfect as it can be, and while we did a lot of thorough testing ourselves with the help of the beta testers for early areas, we’ll need your help finding anything we may have missed.

If you haven’t already received a Kickstarter message or email from us, you will throughout the coming day. We’re drinking some cafera and continuing to go through the list through tomorrow— Steam and our DRM-Free releases early afternoon, GOG early morning (US Central Time). This is a manual process for us, as we're sending a key to each of you line by line, so we appreciate your patience and hope to have this wrapped up today!

Thank You!

This was our first Kickstarter campaign and our first game of this size, and while this was a moderately sized campaign compared to a lot of games we’ve had an immense amount of support from everyone, and we really appreciate all the words of encouragement over the past year. We’ve tried to run a fun and honest campaign with our updates, and hope you’ve enjoyed the look inside development as the game was in progress. We’ll continue to post any big updates of patches or other news. Thanks again everyone.

Remember to bring a notebook and some mead, and enjoy your time in Vol!
Serpent in the Staglands may very well be the first indie RPG in the history of the Codex to be developed and released within a reasonable, professional time frame of around 2-2.5 years, and I'm very curious to see how it's turned out. Congratulations to Joe & Hannah! Just don't take too long with those backer keys, eh?

There are 28 comments on Serpent in the Staglands Kickstarter Update #21: Release Day!

Dragon Wars Released on GOG

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 28 May 2015, 12:57:09

Tags: Dragon Wars; Interplay

Back in the late 80s, Interplay found themselves unable to receive permission from Electronic Arts to release an additional sequel in their hit The Bard's Tale franchise. So instead they made Dragon Wars, which sought to combine the first person dungeon crawl experience of Bard's Tale and the roleplaying elements of Wasteland, with a unique Sumerian theme. Unfortunately, it sold poorly and today is a very obscure title. Many knowledgable fans, however, consider it to be the true Bard's Tale IV they never got. Which is why it may not be surprising that with inXile's own Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter just days away, Herve Caen's zombie Interplay has decided to release Dragon Wars on GOG. There's no trailer or anything, so I'll just quote the description:

The designers of the Bard's Tale series, Wasteland and Battle Chess pooled their talents to create the ultimate role-playing fantasy. The result was Dragon Wars.

Sailing across uncharted seas, you and your party are in search of a legendary paradise called Dilmun - a place where the streets are paved with gold and no one wants for anything.

However, King Drake of Phoebus has declared all magic illegal - magickers have been slain or fled into exile. In retaliation, enemy islands have threatened to unleash their guardian dragons, the most destructive force in the world. While docked at a harbor in Dilmun, you are arrested on suspicion of spellcasting.

Imprisoned and stripped of everything but your wits, you are sentenced to life in a cesspool called Purgatory. Magic is your only salvation - a worldly possession in a world possessed.
  • Over 60 monsters and 65 spells.
  • A unique combat system: choose complexity of combat resolution, determine spell strength, select tactics of ranged combat.
  • A paragraph book to enhance storytelling.
You can buy Dragon Wars for the standard GOG fee of $6. Meanwhile, Rebecca Heineman's Dragon Wars 2 project, which we wrote about back in February, has mysteriously transformed into something called "Dragons of the Rip". Not sure what's up with that now.

There are 19 comments on Dragon Wars Released on GOG


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Mon 25 May 2015
The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III Released

Game News - posted by Crooked Bee on Mon 25 May 2015, 20:37:38

Tags: Neocore; The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III

The final part of the Diablo-like Van Helsing trilogy, The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III, is now out on Steam:



In Van Helsing III, the civil war is over in Borgovia, but the future looks grim. The city of weird science is in ruins, squabbling factions and criminals fight for power and a strange cult prophesizes the coming of “The end of times.” And they might be just right: A wave of uncanny events shakes the land, and it’s all connected to a mysterious creature, a former ally turned into a fearful arch-villain. Which means that Van Helsing will do what he does best: He wields weapons, prepares his deadly tricks, and hunts down the most dangerous monster who has ever lived… and this time it’s personal. He’s prepared to do anything to achieve his goal, even to face the darkest secret about the birth of the modern Borgovia.

Main features
  • Story - Prepare to meet your darkest fears in the conclusion of this gothic-noir adventure trilogy. This is the finale, the darkest chapter of the adventures of Van Helsing.
  • Classes - Choose from six playable classes: defeat your foes as the melee-specialist Protector, be the most accurate shooter as the Bounty Hunter, master the weird science as the Phlogistoneer, engineer your tactics as the Constructor, control the magical forces as the Elementalist or become a dark, stealthy killer as the Umbralist.
  • Leveling - Become more powerful as you advance through the game: the level-up customization is more detailed and diverse than ever.
  • Exploration - Explore new areas in this war-torn land of darkness - both in the physical world and the Ink.
  • Camaraderie - Engage in witty banter with your loyal follower, Katarina - and finally, find out her secrets: the story of her past.
  • Combat - Fight hordes of bloodthirsty enemies, now more feral and terrifying than ever. Take all the weapons and tools you need: choose from plenty of new powerful items for this adventure.
  • Multiplayer – You and your friends can test your skills against each other via the PVP mode (8 players) or join forces and complete the story in the co-operative campaign (4 players).
Apparently, from what I've heard, the first game wasn't too bad if you enjoy this kind of action RPGs, and the second one was brought down by the addition of tower defense elements. If anyone actually plays this one, do let us know what you think of the third part.

There are 16 comments on The Incredible Adventures of Van Helsing III Released

Fri 22 May 2015
RPG Codex Interview: Umbra

Codex Interview - posted by Zed on Fri 22 May 2015, 15:22:53

Tags: SolarFall Games; Umbra

Umbra is a hack-n-slash action RPG from the frenchies over at SolarFall Games. RPG Codex would normally not bother too much with a game of this sort, but Umbra is an unusually interesting game. At least to me, and that's all that matters (haah!). So I sent them some questions, and I received answers from their Game Director and Lead Programmer Daniel Dolui. I should probably mention that they're currently running a successful Kickstarter campaign for Umbra, and that it's a good place to read up more about the game.

Here are the first two questions and answers – mostly because it's the norm for us to post small interview snippets. You really should just read the interview in its entirety!

RPG CODEX: SolarFall Games is a new studio. You seem to have a lot of experience with visual technology and CryEngine. What else can you tell us about yourselves? And what led you to creating an action RPG as your first title?

DANIEL DOLUI, SOLARFALL GAMES: Well since we are on RPG Codex, it is important for us to let you guys know that we are also classic pen & paper RPG players. It has helped us a lot designing some of the cool feature of Umbra, like the Apocalyptic Form and the universe of the game. We are also huge video game players. Among our favourite games are Diablo, Morrowind and Dungeon Keeper.

Umbra’s development started as a modding project. At the time, Crysis modders were looking for a way to change the FPS into an RPG game, but didn’t have programming skills to do so. I decided to create an open-source “platform” for people to use and develop their own mod. The project evolved a lot, and quickly oriented to a Hack & Slash system. Then it soon became clear that Umbra should become a game it in its own rights.

We chose to develop an ARPG simply because it is the kind of game that we enjoy the most, and we had several cool ideas that have never implemented before. That’s how Umbra was born!​

Aside from the graphics – what sets Umbra apart from the legions of other action RPGs?

The Apocalyptic Form is the feature I am the most excited about. Apocalyptic Form is a customizable ultimate power every player will get. It allows you to turn into a personalized Avatar of Destruction for some time. It is built from up to three “Apocalyptic Upgrade” options, unlocked by your character according to your play style. Apocalyptic Upgrade can very different, for example, getting horns on your head to rush and knock down every enemies, or getting wings to make huge leap and access unreachable areas, having a third hand to equip with a new weapon and fight, or having an Aura of Death raising undead everywhere you walk. I can’t wait to see the combos that players will find and how they will manage to get the most out of it!

The freedom of development, allowing you to pick any skill from any specialization will also bring a lot of interest to me. I always wanted to be a barbarian with a huge mace walking in the middle of my zombie horde!

Our crafting module is also really cool, and quite a bit different from other games. We hope that people who don’t enjoy crafting will actually like ours, since it is a quite addictive and rewarding skill based mini-game.

Elemental Effect Interaction, managing the effects of Lightning / Fire / Water / Ice is also a very cool addition to the gameplay and will bring tons a great combos to the game.​​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Interview: Umbra

There are 19 comments on RPG Codex Interview: Umbra

Thu 21 May 2015
Shadowrun: Hong Kong Kickstarter Update #32: Screenshots, Teaser Video, Steam Pre-Order

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 21 May 2015, 21:41:33

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

It doesn't feel that long since Shadowrun: Hong Kong was Kickstarted, but we're now entering summer and the game isn't far from release. Today, Harebrained Schemes have finally released some proper screenshots, along with a teaser trailer. The game now has a Steam page, where you can currently pre-order the "Deluxe Edition" for just $20 - a 33% discount on the release price. The update has the details:

Howdy! Mitch here. Is it mid-May already? Time flies when you’re making games. I just pulled my nose out of the project long enough to give you a quick update on our progress.

Shadowrun: Hong Kong is on track for an important milestone at the end of this month: Feature Complete! That’s when the code for all our new features is working in the game. There will still be a little placeholder art remaining for some of the new interfaces we’ve added, but the underlying code works like it’s supposed to and everything will be in the hands of the artists and the designers after that. For the engineers, it’s all bug fixes, tweaks, and polish for the rest of the project!

On a different front, we’re pretty excited because as of today, Shadowrun: Hong Kong has its very own Steam page, complete with our first set of screenshots and a teaser trailer! Take a look!

[​IMG] [​IMG]
[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

When you go to our Steam page, you’ll see that the Deluxe Version of Shadowrun: Hong Kong is now available for pre-order at $19.99. (It’ll go for $29.99 once the game launches). The Deluxe Version comes with the original soundtrack and The Art of Shadowrun: Hong Kong PDF. Tell your friends who missed out on our Kickstarter campaign!



And, for our 3 year anniversary, we’re also offering Shadowrun Returns and Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director’s Cut at blowout prices - $2.99 and $4.50!!! This is a great weekend for new people to see what all the fuss has been about.
Yep, that's a Shadowrun game all right. It's looking good, but it's a shame there's no screenshot of the revamped Matrix.

There are 35 comments on Shadowrun: Hong Kong Kickstarter Update #32: Screenshots, Teaser Video, Steam Pre-Order

Torment Kickstarter Update #42: New Gameplay Video - "A World Unlike Any Other"

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Thu 21 May 2015, 12:21:49

Tags: InXile Entertainment; Kevin Saunders; Torment: Tides of Numenera

Once again, inXile surprise us with an unexpected Torment: Tides of Numenera gameplay video update. I guess the relative insubstantiality of yesterday's update should have been a hint. The video is entitled "A World Unlike Any Other" and true to its name, it focuses on showcasing some of the Ninth World's more bizarre locations, including the "moving floor" area described yesterday. There's also a brief look at combat near the end. Check it out:

Kevin here. It’s our pleasure to share with you some of what we’ve been up to. You may recall from our Kickstarter that we defined four pillars as central to a Torment game – the video below focuses on the second one: A World Unlike Any Other. This video doesn’t show final content, but should give you a sense of the diversity and wonder of Torment’s corner of the Ninth World.



We hope you enjoy these glimpses of more of TTON’s environments.
Outstanding. I bet this'll drive up those Bard's Tale IV pledges, same as that first Wasteland 2 gameplay video did for Torment back in 2013. I wonder if they're planning to produce three more videos for the other three pillars.

There are 157 comments on Torment Kickstarter Update #42: New Gameplay Video - "A World Unlike Any Other"

Pillars of Eternity Kickstarter Update #96: "The Road to Eternity" Making Of Documentary Released

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Thu 21 May 2015, 01:03:14

Tags: Brandon Adler; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity

Obsidian released a small Pillars of Eternity Kickstarter update today to announce that the full "Road to Eternity" Making Of documentary has been released to backers and buyers. Actually, it's been available on the backer portal since almost two weeks ago, but now you can get it on Steam and GOG too. I quote:

The long wait is over! We have officially released our documentary, The Road to Eternity. The documentary covers everything - from before the Kickstarter to after the game's release. It was an incredible journey, so take a look if you have the time.

Our next update will come when we release our next patch in a couple of weeks.

Addresses

We are shipping out game DVDs to tiers that get physical disc rewards very shorty. To ensure that your DVD will go to the correct location, please make sure your address is updated on our site. Next Tuesday, May 26th is the final cutoff to make sure that you have your address entered correctly.

Documentary

To access your documentary reward head over to your Products page on the Backer Portal. From the "Making Of Documentary" entry you can click the "Watch Video" button. If you prefer to download the documentary directly you can do so on Steam, GOG or Origin. In the future we will allow direct downloads from the Backer Portal. Steam and Origin currently have the documentary live and GOG should have the documentary live in the next day or so.

If you would like more information about redeeming rewards on the Backer Portal please check out our previous updates.
The update also contains a shameless plug for some books written by two Obsidian employees...but no Bard's Tale IV shoutout? Tsk, they'd better make up for that when the Kickstarter launches.

There are 19 comments on Pillars of Eternity Kickstarter Update #96: "The Road to Eternity" Making Of Documentary Released

Torment Kickstarter Update #41: Ray Vallese Novella, Moving Floors

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Thu 21 May 2015, 00:31:49

Tags: Brother None; InXile Entertainment; Ray Vallese; Torment: Tides of Numenera

inXile released a new Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter update today. Like yesterday's Wasteland 2 update, its primary purpose seems to be inform people of the upcoming Bard's Tale IV campaign and all its implications:

We’re very excited about our upcoming Kickstarter for The Bard’s Tale IV, which we recently announced will kick off on June 2nd! Follow our countdown on our official The Bard’s Tale IV site or sign up to get notified when we launch. We have also provided an early viewing of the Kickstarter tiers we plan to make available, you can join the discussion on our official forums.

If you’ve been with us along this wild crowdfunded ride, you may recall we funded Torment: Tides of Numenera while Wasteland 2 was still in production. This is grounded in our business philosophy going back to Brian’s days at Interplay. Running production cycles one at a time, only starting one as you close another, leads to redundancy in different departments at different times. For a small company like ours, but even for larger companies, this hiring-firing cycle can be par for the course even though it is undesirable and harmful to people and companies. But just as crowdfunding helped us make the kind of games publishers were not interested in, your support also helped us avoid this cycle. By having a small pre-production team focused on the next game while the current one is in full production, everyone is kept productively busy.

The majority of inXile’s staff is working on Torment: Tides of Numenera, and this will continue to be the case until it launches. No one is transitioning off of Torment until their work on the game is complete. A few people have been working on the Wasteland 2 Game of the Year Edition improvements, and as that moves through finalization and testing we’ll have those team members shift over to Bard’s Tale IV. As with Torment, Bard's Tale IV will have a pre-production period where a small focused team can work on the game’s story, concepts, systems, and look, getting us ready to jump into full production as soon as the time comes. But rest assured, until Torment is in your hands, it will continue to be inXile’s main focus.

Meanwhile, our work on Torment: Tides of Numenera has been progressing very well, including updating the game to use Unity 5. We’ll have more on the game’s production soon.

As a small but significant aside, our pledges counter on our official website now has us over 90,000 pledges! It’s exciting to see your support still carrying on so strongly, and we’re curious to see what the future brings.​

The update also announces that Ray Vallese's From the Depths: Indigo, the next novella in the pentalogy based on Torment's metaphysical Tides, has been released. Adam Heine's novella, released last year, was quite good, so I have high hopes for this one as well. There's also a technical segment by Nathan Fabian, a backer who has been been assisting inXile with the game's animation system, about the creation of animated floors via texture manipulation. I won't quote any of that here, but here's the result:

[​IMG]
Not really a gameplay video, but we'll take what we can get.

There are 17 comments on Torment Kickstarter Update #41: Ray Vallese Novella, Moving Floors

Wed 20 May 2015
Logic Artists reveal Expeditions: Conquistador sequel - Expeditions: Viking

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 20 May 2015, 14:08:26

Tags: Expeditions: Viking; Logic Artists

It took them a bit longer than a week, but today the Logic Artists have officially revealed their sequel to 2013's Expeditions: Conquistador - Expeditions: Viking. Here's the announcement trailer and accompanying press release, courtesy of Gamasutra:



Copenhagen, Denmark -- May 20th, 2015 -- Danish indie developer Logic Artists announced today that they have begun development on the second installment in their historical RPG Expeditions series, Expeditions: Viking. Set in the late 700’s A.D., Expeditions: Viking is a tactical RPG where players inherit the leadership of their clan. Charged with elevating their clan’s status, players must seek adventure in far-away lands and defending their home from their enemies, both foreign and domestic.

With the announcement, Logic Artists has also revealed some details about the game. Building upon the original designs of their first game, Expeditions: Conquistador, the Logic Artists team have also taken player suggestions to heart, announcing that the Expeditions Sequel will have an upgradable player village, which they must return to between expeditionary raids to build and protect. Over-land travel and combat will now exist as part of the same layer, transitioning from unrestricted, exploratory movement to turn-based combat smoothly. Additionally, players will see their character manifested in the game world, not just as a role-playing character for conversations and decision making (as was in the first of the Expeditions series), but also visibly represented in travel and combat as a custom character.

“We are very excited to return to our roots in the RPG genre, and as developers from the Nordic region, to make a game in a setting that is a lot closer to home than anything we've done before”, said Jonas Wæver, Creative Director for Logic Artists .“We're improving on the Conquistador formula with deeper and more dynamic systems for character progression, combat abilities, role-playing, choice and consequence, and expanding on our favorite part of Conquistador: camping and wilderness survival”.

About Expeditions: Viking

Expeditions: Viking is a Historically-themed RPG set in the Viking Age. As the new leader of a humble clan of farmers and fighters players must adventure into the unknown lands to the west to raid and/or trade their way to wealth, fame and glory. Will you rewrite history as a peaceful and benevolent trader? Or pave your road to Valhalla with the treasures and bones of your fallen enemies? Experience choice and consequence as never before in the much awaited addition to the Expeditions Series, Expeditions: Viking.
I guess they have the home advantage this time (is that accent authentic?). Maybe Paradox can publish it as a replacement for their cancelled Runemaster.

There are 86 comments on Logic Artists reveal Expeditions: Conquistador sequel - Expeditions: Viking

Serpent in the Staglands Kickstarter Update #20: Launch Trailer

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 20 May 2015, 13:22:16

Tags: Serpent in the Staglands; Whalenought Studios

With the release of Serpent in the Staglands only a week away, Joe and Hannah of Whalenought have put together a launch trailer for the game. It's got a Dracula accent! The latest Kickstarter update has that and more:

With the release just a little over a week away, we’re excited to show off our launch trailer! It showcases new areas you haven’t seen before, some new spells, neat puzzles and some of the voice acting from a wonderful VO that will be in the game, so we hope you’ll check it out!



GOG and the Humble Store!

Last week we signed on with GOG to distribute Serpent in the Staglands, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of their catalog! The game will be for sale there on May 28th as well as on the Humble Store! Getting the game DRM free is something we hold dear to our hearts, and we're excited to have these avenues to distribute the game through!​

Whalenought plan to showcase various fun character build examples over the next few weeks. The update comes with the first of them:

Part of the fun of a classless system is combining skills to create interesting builds for all your party members that work as a unit, and we’ll be showcasing some fun examples over the next few weeks on Twitter to help inspire you to create your own. The first is a favorite for ranged characters, and has some utility options for swapping Pin Shot or any other buffing or battlefield control skill: “The Poison Bombardier,” who's goal would be to proc as much unblockable damage as possible as a strafing archer instead of relying on raw physical damage.

We'll be adding Grade 3 Skills and Spells to the Manual soon so you can check all out and get some ideas rolling.
They're also raffling off one of their fancy physical journals to one of the people who comment on the trailer on YouTube, so go over there and give them some love. Coming up in the next update - the Serpent in the Staglands demo (that's right, a demo) as well as a walkthrough/combat advice video. Whalenought does it all!

There are 24 comments on Serpent in the Staglands Kickstarter Update #20: Launch Trailer

Wasteland 2 Kickstarter Update #62: GOTY Edition Improvements - UI and Quirks

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 20 May 2015, 00:27:03

Tags: Chris Keenan; InXile Entertainment; Wasteland 2

With the Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter campaign just two weeks away, inXile are making an extra effort to show their backers just how much they love them. In a new Wasteland 2 Kickstarter update, Chris Keenan describes two of the improvements which will be introduced in the game's upcoming GOTY Edition. There's an update to the interface, which includes the addition of a squad overview screen and a rearranged character creation GUI. And there's the Quirks system, which is the part I'll quote:

[​IMG] [​IMG]

The idea of a unique defining quality for your character has been a common and well-loved one in CRPGs for many years now. Quirks have great role-playing value by letting your characters have distinct personality elements from each other, which give them a special bonus that only they have. In a party-based game, we think it's important that all your characters feel unique, and that's what quirks will let you do.

When we approached quirk design for Wasteland 2, we wanted to achieve a few different goals. It was important for us to avoid quirks that you "have to pick" in order to play your character the right way, or create quirks that are so good you'll always want to pick them on all your characters. By giving each quirk both an upside and a downside, we can make sure that they are interesting to play without becoming overpowered. This also means that quirks are optional – you can choose to go quirk-free if you want to, and you won't feel disadvantaged in doing so.

We also wanted to have quirks that go beyond your typical stat tweaks, and act as fun or unpredictable gameplay modifiers. While some of our quirks take a simpler approach, some will give you a more radical change to gameplay that might require you make careful trade-offs and considerations. Of course, giving them a unique or compelling personality-based theme also means you'll definitely want to try them out.

One such example is Repressed Rage. Some people are more mild-mannered than others, but sometimes it's the quiet ones you need to be careful about. With this quirk, you'll keep your anger bottled up inside, but you can only keep it that way for so long. When you take a critical hit in combat, you become enraged and gain a heavy damage bonus, in addition to a higher chance of scoring a critical hit. But on the flip side, your mild-mannered self won't be able to inflict "normal" critical hits. Obviously, this will have some implications for how you choose to build your character throughout the game.

Another quirk we've had a lot of fun making is Two-Pump Chump. With this one, you live life fast – but perhaps a little too fast at times. You'll start combat racing for the finish line, and on those crucial early turns will have some bonus Action Points and a higher damage output to help you eliminate the enemy quickly. But after a few turns, your character will start to lose stamina and will suffer decreasing effectiveness over time. You'll want to make sure your initial zeal is powerful enough to take care of business before you become much less useful.

And that's just a very small sampling. We have 20 quirks in total, and we hope you'll have as much fun building out your squad with these new modifiers as we had coming up with all of them.
Pretty nice. Hopefully the Perks will be described in a future update.

There are 29 comments on Wasteland 2 Kickstarter Update #62: GOTY Edition Improvements - UI and Quirks

Tue 19 May 2015
The Witcher 3 Released

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 19 May 2015, 00:49:36

Tags: CD Projekt; The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

After years of hype and numerous delays, The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, the pride of the Polish nation, is finally released. It's now available for purchase on Steam, GOG and numerous other digital retailers (but definitely not GMG) for the standard price of $60. Here's the game's launch trailer, which has many familiar faces and a kinda faggy soundtrack:


Well, that's that then. Ever since the Kickstarter age began, we've all but completely phased out news coverage of AAA RPG releases. Only The Witcher 3 remained, mostly because I enjoy CD Projekt's approach to writing...and because the Codex readership demands a little graphics whoring now and again. Now that it's released, I guess we can go full-time oldschool. Or at least until gameplay videos for Deus Ex: Mankind Divided or CDPR's own Cyberpunk 2077 start showing up...

There are 85 comments on The Witcher 3 Released

Mon 18 May 2015
Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter campaign launching on June 2nd

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 18 May 2015, 17:57:08

Tags: Bard's Tale IV; Brian Fargo; InXile Entertainment

inXile launched a coordinated media campaign to promote the upcoming Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter today. Here are the basic facts. First, the Kickstarter is launching on June 2. Second, the funding goal is going to be $1.25M, to be supplemented by an equal amount from inXile. Finally, the game will not be using Unity but rather Unreal Engine 4, with a particular focus on an impressive graphical appearance, which perhaps explains the higher-than-usual goal. A whole bunch of sites have reported on this, but the most in-depth coverage is at Rock Paper Shotgun, Eurogamer, PC Gamer, and PCGamesN, all of which got the chance to interview Brian Fargo about it. All four are worth reading, but it's the PCGamesN interview by Jeremy Peel that explains most clearly just how faithfully oldschool the game will be. I quote:

You’ll build a six-strong party of adventurers - creating bards, magic-users and thieves from scratch. But in the time-honoured tradition of dungeon crawling, they’ll share just one pair of legs - exploring maze-like environments as a congealed mass behind the camera. Whether that party will appear in battle as portraits or fully-rendered characters is a question of budget, to be settled by the Kickstarter campaign InXile will launch on June 2nd.

The game will snap to a grid for combat which some might call turn-based, but which Brian Fargo calls phase-based - a back and forth exchange of blows and buffs that sees the player cycle systematically through each of their party members. By the time the sixth gets to throw a punch, they might be facing an entirely changed situation.

“You may tell person number one to do whatever he does,” explained Fargo. “But something’s going to happen over the other side of the board which is going to affect what you tell the person in slot number two to do.”

Players aren’t forced to keep to 90-degree angles during exploration - they can unhinge themselves from the grid and stretch their necks in all the ways contemporary first-person games have taught us to expect. But InXile’s environments will be designed at severe right angles, in accordance with the limitations they’ve set themselves.

“The grid does force us to design it a certain way,” said Fargo. “There’s a pureness to it, and a quick understanding of things which is nice. When I’m exploring a world that’s more structured, it’s easier for me to put it together in my head.”

While The Bard’s Tale IV will feature plenty of NPCs and a certain amount of civilisation, it’ll be predominantly subterranean. InXile have set the game around 160 years after the events of the first Bard’s Tale, and in a poetic touch the original city of Skara Brae is now one level down - a ruin buried beneath another, newer metropolis. For inspiration, the team visited Mary King’s Close in Edinburgh - a warren of 17th century streets found beneath the Royal Mile.*

Below the new city, players will find further dungeons, including recognisable locations from the trilogy. That network of caverns will be home to secret doors, and buttons that click but offer no immediate explanation of their function. It’ll house unlabelled teleporters, and areas of total darkness. Levels will be built one on top of the other and make spatial sense, to the extent that falling through a trapdoor will plant you in the logically-appropriate space on the floor below.

Fargo expects that some players will want to map them out on graph paper, “down to a square”.

“You have your smaller puzzles that are right there in the room, but then you have this macro puzzle of how the design of the dungeons are,” he said.

The grid-based conundrums of Legend of Grimrock spring to mind, and Fargo says he’s appreciated the design of more recent attempts at the genre - but believes there hasn’t been a “big, ambitious attempt at doing the dungeon crawl in some time.”

The only contemporary influence he cites by name is The Room - the tactile puzzler about feeling your way into sealed tomes or locked cabinets (“That kind of physical manipulation of the world, I think they did an excellent job”). InXile want some of the same interactivity for The Bard’s Tale, with optional puzzles and riddles that’ll reward patient players with better gear.

That philosophy will extend to item design. Fargo imagines a perfectly ordinary sword you might carry in your inventory for most of the game - until you happen notice a latch on its hilt which, when flipped, causes it to set aflame.

“That constant discovery, within the environment and in your inventory, I think there’s lots of things to be done with that,” he said.
So, can a dungeon crawling blobber based on a 1980s IP make millions of dollars on Kickstarter in 2015? We'll soon find out. It's worth noting that Rock Paper Shotgun's Richard Cobbett got a look at the game's prototype footage, and according to him, it makes Grimrock 2 and MMX "look as retro as the games they’re building on". I imagine that will help.

There are 154 comments on Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter campaign launching on June 2nd

Fri 15 May 2015
Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter Update #44: Tim Stellmach on Magic

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 15 May 2015, 21:27:42

Tags: Joe Fielder; OtherSide Entertainment; Tim Stellmach; Underworld Ascendant

In this week's Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter update, lead designer Tim Stellmach talks about the work he's been doing on the game's magic system, which we heard preliminary details about during the campaign. As with everything in Ascendant, the goal is maximum systemization:

In this early stage of Underworld Ascendant development, the fundamentals of the core game systems are a major design focus. We are fleshing out systems for movement, combat, character abilities, object interactions, and more. Right now, I’m up to my elbows in the magic system. The details are constantly changing (here I am, changing them), but the goals and overall approach are constant. So this week, we’d like to share a little bit about our direction for the game’s magic system.

As longtime fans will know, players chose spells in Underworld 1 & 2 by selecting sequences of collectible rune stones. One such sequence could be prepared at a time, indicating a spell that could then be cast repeatedly (while the character’s mana held out). Each rune was associated with a meaning such as “light” or “harm,” and the rune formulas for different spells had a kind of logic based on those meanings. This helped it to feel that certain laws of magic underlay the system, and players could even guess a few undocumented spells based on rune meanings.

The magic system in the original Underworlds was very well received, and a lot of things about it still hold up well today. There are also aspects of it that didn’t work as well, and things people liked which we hope to do even better. So, Underworld Ascendant takes that magic system as its jumping-off point, changing and improving the system where it seems appropriate.

First, as with every other aspect of the game, we’ll be modernizing the user interface. I’m developing systems now to reduce the large mouse-clicking overhead, making casting more streamlined and making it possible to switch prepared spells more smoothly.

Other changes in our approach to magic reflect the wider context of what we’ve learned about character progression in our years of development experience. The skill and progression systems in the 90’s took a lot of cues from pen-and-paper RPGs that don’t necessarily work as well through the veil of automation. As a simple example, maybe you have to make a die roll to successfully cast a spell in a tabletop game. You can see all the die rolls, because you’re the one rolling. But on a PC, if you try to cast a spell and it doesn’t work, the veil of automation can make that failed die roll hard to tell from a lost mouse click. So in Underworld Ascendant, the whole character skill system will be getting an overhaul to reflect the last 25 years’ advancement in user experience, and the magic system is no exception.

More fundamentally, we’d like to capitalize on the strong concept of the game’s rune language. As evocative as it was in the original Underworld games, players were ultimately still limited to a set of pre-authored spells. In Underworld Ascendant, we’ll be experimenting with using the runes as a true language for varying different aspects of players’ spells procedurally. For example, some Underworld spells had more powerful versions tagged with the “Vas” rune. But what if you could change the power level of any spell? Maybe change the way a spell is delivered to its target, or how it draws its mana? We have a number of ideas to try out, and these kinds of tests are a great opportunity afforded to us by our early access backers.

Finally, what it even means to be a wizard has changed as our culture has developed new ideals about adventurers of every kind. Gamers in the early 90’s had never seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. We can’t help but be influenced by Thief and the explosion of other stealth-action games since 1998. Truly fantastic abilities in RPGs are no longer the exclusive domain of spell casters. So the whole spell list is being reconsidered top to bottom, to make sure that each character building strategy has its own distinctive style and advantages. Hint:spider climb will not be a wizard spell, but not to worry, they’ll have other options of their own.
Also included in the update is the news that writer Joe Fielder, following the failure of The Black Glove project, has been promoted to full-time "Design Director" on Ascendant. The OtherSiders' next Twitch outing will be next Wednesday, playing Arkane's Dark Messiah of Might & Magic, so perhaps melee combat design is next on their agenda.

There are 3 comments on Underworld Ascendant Kickstarter Update #44: Tim Stellmach on Magic

Divinity: Original Sin Kickstarter Update #67: Enhanced Edition Officially Announced

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 15 May 2015, 11:56:19

Tags: Divinity: Original Sin; Larian Studios; Swen Vincke

We all knew this was coming, but now it's official. The latest Divinity: Original Sin Kickstarter update announces Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition, a comprehensive upgrade to Larian's 2014 hit that includes console/controller support, full voice acting, an improved ending, and more. I quote:

Today we are very excited to announce Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition for PS4 and Xbox One as well as PC, Mac, SteamOS and Linux. This isn't just some patch or minor content update to the game you all know and (hopefully) love; it's a whole new experience! With controller support, local co-op with split screen, fully voiced characters, a totally reworked story (with a brand new ending), and much more, we're very proud to finally be able to share what we've crafted here at Larian.

In the update video below, Swen reveals a little more about the fantastic new features you can look forward to in Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition.



We've also included controller support on PC, so now you can kick back and explore Rivellon from the comfort of your sofa with Steam's Big Picture. We've put a lot of effort into streamlining the experience and have designed a slick, new UI that makes playing with a controller just as intuitive and fun as playing with mouse and keyboard.

As well as local co-op, split screen and controller support, the Enhanced Edition also features:
  • All characters are now fully voiced by AAA-voice actors
  • New quests, new characters, and new content
  • Entirely new gameplay modes and character builds
  • A heavily rewritten story with a brand new ending
  • Massively reworked visuals and sound effects
  • And much more to be announced in the coming months!
A Gift For Our Fans

In appreciation of all the fans who helped make Divinity: Original Sin the success that it was, the Enhanced Edition will be completely free to everyone who owns Original Sin. This is a reflection of our immense gratitude to all of you. We deeply appreciate your support, and the feedback we received from you helped us create and polish this game into something that we're extremely proud of.

A Whole New Game

Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition is a completely separate game: not an update to Divinity: Original Sin. Both games will remain available on PC and Mac, and it is important to note that they are totally different entities, so if you've already bought Original Sin you'll see separate listings for Divinity: Original Sin and Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition in your Steam Library. This means that saved games can't be transferred from Divinity: Original Sin to the Enhanced Edition. This is largely because of the technical changes we've made to how the game looks and feels, but the story has also been rewritten so heavily that most saved games would no longer be compatible with the plot. (After all, it wouldn't make sense to load a game in which you're halfway through a quest line that's been replaced with something different.)

From the very first day of production, we designed the Enhanced Edition to be optimized for DirectX 11 graphics. For our Windows players, this means that Divinity: Original Sin Enhanced Edition will require a 64-bit system and a graphics card with DirectX 11 hardware support. However, both editions of the game will remain available to everyone on Steam, so Windows players with 32-bit systems and DirectX 9 will always be able to play Divinity: Original Sin.​

There's no release date for the Enhanced Edition yet, but perhaps we'll learn that at E3 next month. Note that the EE is not one of the two RPGs that Larian is known to be working on, so we're getting that and two additional Larian games. What a year!

There are 148 comments on Divinity: Original Sin Kickstarter Update #67: Enhanced Edition Officially Announced

The Witcher 3 "A Night To Remember" Launch Cinematic

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 15 May 2015, 00:37:23

Tags: CD Projekt; The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

Here's the latest in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt hype, a cinematic entitled "A Night To Remember", which CD Projekt are calling the game's "launch cinematic". It shows Geralt having a nightly encounter with a lady who isn't what she seems. He actually gets beat up pretty bad in this one, but proper use of alchemy saves the day.


Alas, poor monster. That was definitely a cooler and more Witchery cinematic than that rather lame one CDPR released last year. Maybe they listened to people's complaints?

There are 50 comments on The Witcher 3 "A Night To Remember" Launch Cinematic

Legends of Eisenwald to be released on July 2nd, gets cinematic trailer

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 15 May 2015, 00:12:15

Tags: Aterdux Entertainment; Legends of Eisenwald

Today we learned that Aterdux Entertainment's Legends of Eisenwald finally has a release date. If all goes according to plan, it should be arriving on the virtual shelves of its Kickstarter backers and Steam Early Accessors on July 2nd, which according to the latest Kickstarter update puts the game at five and a half years of development. Here's a cinematic trailer that Aterdux commissioned in honor of the occasion, with characteristic Eisenwald vocals courtesy of singer-composer Ressa Schwarzwald :


In case you're curious, according to the update, those are all in-game assets, which allowed Aterdux to produce the trailer relatively cheaply. Anyway, good news.

There are 15 comments on Legends of Eisenwald to be released on July 2nd, gets cinematic trailer

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