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Wed 22 November 2017

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?

Underworld Ascendant Update #40: Deep Slugs of Upper Erebus

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 22 November 2017, 00:35:44

Tags: Joe Fielder; OtherSide Entertainment; Underworld Ascendant

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The latest Underworld Ascendant development update continues to chronicle the game's progress towards release sometime late next year. This update describes OtherSide's work on a new level called Upper Erebus, which is apparently adjacent to the previously mentioned settlement of Marcaul. Among its inhabitants are the peaceful creatures known as Deep Slugs, who have a variety of uses. I quote:

“HOW’S EVERYTHING IN THE STYGIAN ABYSS?”

Joe Fielder, here. That question above was a message a friend and external tester sent me earlier this week. I was happy to relay that, for an incredibly dangerous environment on the borders of The Underworld, it’s quite well, in fact.

We’ve recently completed a Milestone where we allow the player to enter the settlement of Marcaul, make a choice of six, unique different quests in our Upper Erebus level, complete it, and return to town to collect their reward, grow their character, and choose another quest.

Since Upper Erebus is a level the player wouldn’t encounter for a few hours into the game, we provided a few choices of demo-only “hero kits” that represented growth and equipment choices they might’ve made by that point. Each mixed combat, stealth, and magic skills in a different, interesting ways.

While those kits won’t be in the final game, they let us hop in and quickly have fun and start experimenting in the simulation. One kit provided combat skills, the ability to heave heavy objects, a few movement options for tough-to-reach locations, and a Create Fire spell. Another focused on stealth skills, like soft step and a combat bonus for attacking enemies while undetected. The third was a combination of a little stealth and a lot of magic, with spells including those you’ve seen before (like Gravitate and Slow Time) and a few you haven’t…

The level is comprised of spaces that are interesting to explore and areas designed to provide a bevy of options for combat, stealth, magic, and interacting with the environment. One of the most fun things to interact with in the world so far is the Deep Slug, which we’ve mentioned a bit before, but haven’t previously shown you up close.

It’s an example of what we refer to as an “ambient” creature, which exist in the environment, don’t attack on sight, and have useful behaviors that the player can exploit. In short, a tool or toy.

In the Deep Slug’s case, it’s a peaceful creature that avoids conflict and has a few different useful trails. You can bait it with its favorite foods and its trails will change depending which one it devours.

For instance, if you feed it the fruit of a Ripper (a terrible tree monster), it’ll leave behind a flammable trail. Bait it into the patrol path of skeletons or near a wooden platform, apply fire, and enjoy!

If you feed it a Nether Caps? It leaves behind a trail of sight-blocking smoke. Beyond that, we’re not saying.

It’s not only fun to experiment with, it’s often vital when dealing with groups of foes to difficult to tackle one-on-one.

And, it’s kind of adorable. In a gross way.

Since hitting that milestone, we’ve been doing another round of external testing so we can get key feedback on how to further refine our core experience (combat, object interactions, spell interactions, and more). Ensuring that the logic underlying the game’s simulated systems (physics, physical properties) is clear – without overt handholding – is a key part of creating an immersive sim.

We’ve also been digging into VFX, expanding our bestiary with the Lich and Outcasts, adding new spells and skills, and design work on multiple levels, including the Necropolis and… well, a space that fans of Ultima Underworld will definitely appreciate. We’re holding back in-depth looks at those for a bit, both to refine and so it doesn’t get lost among news of holiday releases, but we’ve been making much progress and will have much new to share.

Last, but not least, we have some exciting news on the narrative front: the game’s script is approaching completion and we’re recording with Stephen (Thief, Fallout 4, Dishonored 2) Russell in a just few weeks.
Once again, things sound more fleshed out than ever before. It really feels like this game didn't enter full production until two years after its Kickstarter campaign, but better late than never I guess. OtherSide seem to be in good shape now, in general. Thanks to their new publisher 505 Games, they've finally got a decent-looking website for Ascendant. They've moved into new offices and have shut down crowdfunding too, so I guess money isn't a problem. Maybe the alpha and beta will be out sooner than we think.

There are 3 comments on Underworld Ascendant Update #40: Deep Slugs of Upper Erebus

Tue 21 November 2017
The New World Update #21: Grenades & Headgear

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 21 November 2017, 19:23:26

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

Vault Dweller's latest development update for The New World is titled "Grenades, Gadgets, and Headgear". If that sounds familiar, it's because there was an update called "Gadgets & Grenades" earlier this year which covered much of the same territory. But this one goes into further detail about the game's two types of grenades, adds descriptions of the its selection of protective headgear, and doesn't actually have any details on gadgets at all. It's also got lots of cool art, but there's no room for that here. I'll quote the part about the ship-made grenades, which seems to be the most fleshed out:

There are 3 main tactical elements:
  • Different attacks with pros and cons AoD-style
  • Cover (natural and energy shields) and gadgets
  • Grenades
The first two are self-explanatory, the third one is something new and hopefully exciting, so let's go over the design as we're about to start implementing it.

Ship-made Grenades (cheap and fairly common, many enemies will have several grenades on their belts).

1. Gas Grenade – creates a visible 7x7 poison cloud that hovers over the affected area for 2 turns and does X damage per turn for Y number of turns (once poisoned).

If poison gets through the respirator or mask (i.e. the mask doesn’t block the poison entirely), it causes low damage to physical stats (STR, DEX, CON), which is worse than 2-3 points of damage per turn.

So the gas grenades’ stats are:
- Damage per turn
- Number of turns once poisoned
- Stat damage (damage range is 1-3; 1 is common, 3 is rare).

Defense:
- respirators (half masks), gas masks (full masks), full helmets to reduce poison DR
- implant (synthetic heart with blood purifier) to reduce poison stat damage

2. Flashbang Grenade – instant flash in the middle of a 7x7 area that sets all affected enemies’ PER to 1 (thus lowering THC), reduces their AP by 10 (disoriented), and sets Evasion to 0. All effects last 1 turn, Evasion penalty starts during the player’s turn and ends after the enemy’s turn.

Defense: Combat goggles, full helmets, or implant (bionic eye) to reduce PER and AP loss

3. Smoke Grenade – creates a dense 7x7 cloud that hovers over the affected area for 2 turns. The cloud greatly reduces visibility: if your target is in the cloud or behind the cloud (i.e. there is a smoke cloud between you and your target), your THC is set to 5%, representing zero visibility.

Basically, it affects both parties (if you’re in the cloud, you can’t see anything outside of it either), so it’s best suited for charging melee attackers to generate some cover while they are on the move.

Defense: Goggles, full helmets, or implants (bionic eye with different properties) to increase visibility (thermal vision).

We assume that your THC is THC under perfect conditions. If the visibility is reduced, your THC is reduced with it. So if combat goggles give you visibility of 80% and your THC is 60%, then your adjusted THC is 60*0.8 = 48%

The AI will target your weaknesses, so if your character has high-quality goggles but a cheap gas mask, the AI will use a poison grenade, etc. This way reloading and equipping a better gas mask won’t make a difference because the AI will target a different weakness. Your headgear will be useful not only in combat but also while exploring the ship, so non-combat characters will still have a reason to look for better gear.
Be sure to read the full update on the Iron Tower forums. And wait, there's more! Unlike most games that have just one reputation score or one reputation score per faction, The New World will track your reputation in a variety of activities, including combat, stealth and exploration. In another thread on the forums, Vault Dweller is looking for help with coming up with better descriptors for the game's combat reputation ranks. So help him out while you're there.

There are 10 comments on The New World Update #21: Grenades & Headgear

Beamdog announce Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 21 November 2017, 16:40:46

Tags: Beamdog; Neverwinter Nights; Trent Oster

It may or may not be a coincidence that Beamdog chose to announce their next game just days after we gave them some press with our little Planescape scoop. Having given up on remaking Icewind Dale 2, they're finally leaving the Infinity Engine behind and moving on to the next D&D game on the list. Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition is both the most and least obvious game Beamdog could enhance. On one hand, the original Neverwinter Nights is a title that's very close to the heart of Trent Oster, who was its project director and lead designer. On the other hand, the scope for improving it is almost endless, making an Enhanced Edition a potentially daunting project for a small studio. And indeed, Beamdog's rerelease looks like it's going to be more of a version upgrade than the ground-up remake the Infinity Engine got, with full backward compatibility for mods. Here's the game's announcement trailer and press release:



Beamdog to release Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition

EDMONTON, ALBERTA - November 21, 2017. Video game developer Beamdog has announced the return of a classic. Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition is now available to pre-order on Beamdog for $19.99 USD and is available to wishlist on Steam.

As of November 21, 2017, Beamdog will begin selecting lucky fans from the pre-order pool on Beamdog.com for the Head Start program. This program allows pre-order owners to play, import modules, and update persistent world servers early.

“Neverwinter Nights was a unique game that distilled the essence of Dungeons & Dragons and allowed players to build, share and act as Dungeon Master for amazing gaming experiences.” said Trent Oster, Beamdog CEO. “I think this unique combination makes Neverwinter Nights one of the most versatile role playing game experiences of all time.” Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition combines the familiarity of the Forgotten Realms with new features like advanced graphic shaders, 4k support, updated translations (French, German, Italian, Polish and Spanish) and the fan community’s most requested bug fixes.

The release is accompanied by a Digital Deluxe bundle which includes three of the original premium modules (Pirates of the Sword Coast, Infinite Dungeons, and Wyvern Crown of Cormyr), two soundtracks collecting all of the original music, and a new portrait pack. Each piece of DLC will be available to wishlist on Steam All content will be available on Windows, macOS, and Linux. “I invite everyone interested in the future of Neverwinter Nights to join the Beamdog forums,” said Oster. “We hope it will become a new home where you can speak directly with the development team. We need to know what YOU want to see Neverwinter Nights become, and we'll do our best to meet and exceed those expectations."

To join the Beamdog community, visit our forums at http://forums.beamdog.com

More information on Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition can be found at http://nwn.beamdog.com.
Over eight years after they were taken down from sale, it appears the Neverwinter Nights Premium Modules will be premium once more. Though according to the description on the press kit site, the Enhanced Edition will include the expansions and Kingmaker modules, same as the Diamond Edition currently available on GOG. The game will be formally announced on Beamdog's Twitch channel today at 12:00 PST, at which point we might learn more.

There are 88 comments on Beamdog announce Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition

Fri 17 November 2017
Beamdog aren't working on a new Planescape game

Company News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 17 November 2017, 00:07:05

Tags: Beamdog; Trent Oster

Our little scoop about a possible new Planescape RPG from Beamdog has made the rounds over the past few days, with articles at PC Gamer, Eurogamer and USgamer. Today it finally elicited an official response from the studio. Unfortunately or fortunately, they aren't working on a new Planescape game. The concept art in the video was merely an "exploration project" for brainstorming purposes. Here's the statement about it from Trent Oster:

A note from Trent on the Planescape concept art going around:

The Beamdog creative and art teams often explore concepts, pitches, and designs touching on different Dungeons & Dragons and unique settings. This was the case of the Planescape: Unraveled character concepts shown in the recently released STORYHIVE Next Level documentary.

At any given time, there are a few of these exploration projects happening in different parts of the studio. They’re typically not shared outside of the company as they can be interpreted as a new project.

We do these exploration projects as a way to find new ways to bring different ideas and creative styles to projects we’re working on. We’ve found it’s a great way to let the creative team stretch themselves and expand their skills. Occasionally, we return to these explorative projects and incorporate them into other things we’re working on.

Does this mean a new Planescape game is currently in the works at at Beamdog? Afraid not, the team is hard at work on other projects at this time. Planescape is an amazing setting that we enjoyed exploring as a part of developing Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition and we’d love to visit it again in the future. Only the Lady of Pain knows if that’ll happen, and she’s not sharing.​

Well, so much for that. It's nice that Beamdog can afford to spend time on stuff like this despite however modestly their most recent releases may have sold. I wouldn't mind learning more about what they came up with for "Planescape: Unraveled", though. Was it just concept art or was there anything more?

There are 61 comments on Beamdog aren't working on a new Planescape game


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Wed 15 November 2017
Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #42: Backer Beta Released, Josh Sawyer Q&A Stream #7

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 15 November 2017, 22:58:02

Tags: Aarik Dorobiala; J.E. Sawyer; Katrina Garsten; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire; Pillars of Eternity: The White March

Josh Sawyer did his Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Q&A stream last night, at the end of which he announced that the game's backer beta would be released tomorrow - that is, today. Obsidian issued keys to eligible backers a few hours ago and formally announced the release in a new Fig update shortly afterwards. Here's the update's accompanying video, featuring Josh Sawyer and Katrina Garsten, plus a special video Josh put together for today's simultaneous release of the Pillars of Eternity: Definitive Edition (now available on Steam and GOG, and don't forget to grab the free Deadfire Pack DLC).


Naturally, yesterday's Q&A session included many interesting questions about the beta. The following gameplay stream by Twitch personality Ellohime ended up lasting over eight hours (including two hours spent entirely in character creation). Once again, a transcript of the Q&A has been prepared by the indispensable Fereed from Reddit. Here are the archived videos of both streams:


Our users who are playing the Deadfire beta have mostly good things to report. It's in much better shape than the first game's beta was. Although Obsidian seem to be longer committing to a release in March, perhaps the final game isn't far off. More information about the beta is available here.

There are 22 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #42: Backer Beta Released, Josh Sawyer Q&A Stream #7

BattleTech Kickstarter Update #45: First Look at the Campaign

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Wed 15 November 2017, 21:48:00

Tags: BattleTech; Harebrained Schemes; Jordan Weisman; Mike McCain; Mitch Gitelman

In the first major BattleTech Kickstarter update since August, Harebrained Schemes offer us a long-awaited first look at the game's single-player campaign. There's a screenshot collection and a 25 minute video of one of the campaign missions, which involves the player's mercenary team helping out a group of independent prospectors against a mining corporation. The game has come a long way since the simple skirmish videos we saw earlier this year. Watch the video until the end for a nasty little twist.


The update also includes a brief production report from Mitch Gitelman:

Things are rolling around here! We have the entire singleplayer campaign and mercenary simulation fully assembled and now we’re working through the game chapter-by-chapter, screen-by-screen, feature-by-feature to get everything to a shippable level.

Most mornings, Mike (Game Director) leads playtests/critiques of BATTLETECH in our break room. He holds them in our break room so everyone on the team feels comfortable wandering in and hearing what’s being said. He and Kiva (Lead Designer) determine what they’re going to look at ahead of time and invite the people responsible for that section of the game to play together and collaborate on a plan for improving things. This visibility is key to improvement. When you’re in the thick of making a game, it can be challenging to step back and play it from an audience member’s point of view.

The whole team is methodically working through every part of the game to “up-level” it - missions are getting second and third drafts, designer-created maps are going through full art passes, temporary voice-overs are being replaced with professional actors in missions and cinematics, quiet missions are suddenly filled with dramatic music, and programmer-created interfaces are getting the full art and audio treatment.

It’s a ton of intense work and the whole team meets briefly for announcements and general direction every day before breaking up into small groups for tight communication and progress updates. After that, it’s heads-down for the rest of the day. We try to keep meetings to a minimum and if we have to have one, we do our best to keep it tight and action-oriented.

In addition to all of this, a few members of the team have been diligently progressing on our multiplayer network infrastructure, analyzing data and updating the Double-Secret Multiplayer Beta with important changes. Expect a separate update on that soon.

There’s still a lot of work to do (including tons of balance work) but we can see the next milepost up ahead - the plan is to be feature and content complete by the end of the year, so we can go into full-on bug fixing and polish mode after a much needed break. As Jordan noted in our mid-August update, all indications are that Paradox & HBS will release BATTLETECH in early 2018.

Thanks for sticking with us as we develop our most challenging, complex, and aspirational game to-date. It’s a big one and we truly appreciate all your support.​

Harebrained embarked on a press tour last week, and several sites (PC Gamer, PCGamesN, Rock Paper Shotgun, IGN) have now published their own previews of the BattleTech campaign, including its strategic layer. There have been some misgivings about this game's mechanics during the past few months, but overall it looks to be shaping up into something pretty cool.

There are 12 comments on BattleTech Kickstarter Update #45: First Look at the Campaign

Pillars of Eternity II Early Gameplay Trailer + New Screenshots

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 15 November 2017, 00:56:49

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

It looks like Obsidian have begun to rev up the marketing machine for Pillars of Eternity II. Yesterday store pages for the game were launched on Steam and GOG, and today Obsidian published a new gameplay trailer:


The Steam page also features several new screenshots:

[​IMG] [​IMG]
[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
The trailer doesn't really contain anything we haven't seen before, but this is only the beginning. Obsidian will be broadcasting another Josh Sawyer Q&A stream on their Twitch channel tonight at 16:00 PST. That'll be followed by a gameplay session featuring Twitch personality Ellohime at 17:00 PST, which will be our first look at the game's Backer Beta. I imagine its release can't be far off now. But more on that tomorrow.

There are 50 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Early Gameplay Trailer + New Screenshots

Mon 13 November 2017
Beamdog might be working on a new Planescape game

Company News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 13 November 2017, 11:37:30

Tags: Beamdog; Phillip Daigle; Trent Oster

Last June, we reported that Beamdog were hiring people to develop a new Dungeons & Dragons RPG. It was unclear what this project was about or if it ever even got off the ground, but it was widely assumed that it would be a Forgotten Realms game. That assumption may have been mistaken. In recent months, bits and pieces of information have begun to leak out about what Beamdog might be working on. An concept art portfolio here, a local news report there. What little they showed didn't look like a typical fantasy RPG at all. Finally, yesterday Buck at GameBanshee spotted a twenty minute documentary video about Beamdog that was published on YouTube two weeks ago, part of a series about Alberta-based videogame developers produced by Avatar Media. It contains compelling evidence that Beamdog are working on a new Planescape RPG, possibly called "Planescape: Unraveled", an obvious reference to the character from Torment. See for yourself:


Here's a closer look at the relevant bit, at 2:37.

[​IMG]
The Fated, AKA the Takers, are of course one of Planescape's famous factions, a society of Nietzschean Social Darwinists who serve as the tax collectors of Sigil. As LESS T_T pointed out, the portfolio linked above includes concept art of townsfolk known as Golden Lords, which is another hint that the game Beamdog are working on will take place in Sigil's posher districts. Could this be a Lady's Ward expansion for Planescape Torment: Enhanced Edition? Or is it an entirely new game, perhaps turn-based as the image from the news report suggests? In any case, I suppose this might be what David Gaider has been working on all this time. If it's real, it won't be a surprise if Chris Avellone is involved as well.

There are 150 comments on Beamdog might be working on a new Planescape game

Sat 11 November 2017
Ash of Gods delayed to March 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 11 November 2017, 22:43:34

Tags: Ash of Gods: Redemption; AurumDust

Back in May we reported about the Kickstarter campaign for Ash of Gods: Redemption, an impressive-looking Banner Saga-like currently in development at Russian studio AurumDust. With such lavish production qualities, it's not surprising that the campaign was a success, and it even reached two stretch goals. But it didn't reach the highest stretch goal, which would have expanded the storyline for a character in the game named Lo Pheng. Apparently that's something the developers just couldn't let go of, and for that reason they've decided to delay the game's release from the end of this year to March 2018 in order to complete it. In the meantime, Ash of Gods has gotten its own Steam page for you to wishlist. There's no new trailer yet, so instead I'll post this hour and a half of gameplay footage that AurumDust streamed on their YouTube channel back in September:


What do you think, Codex?

There are 25 comments on Ash of Gods delayed to March 2018

Fri 3 November 2017
Odd Gods, a 90s-themed adventure through spacetime with simultaneous turn-based combat

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 3 November 2017, 23:03:11

Tags: Inn Between Worlds; Odd Gods

Back in June, Codex news hunter LESS T_T spotted a reference to an upcoming RPG called Odd Gods whose development was being funded by the government of the Australian state of Victoria. It's a "tactical time travel role-playing game" by an indie studio called Inn Between Worlds and headed by one Gil Maclean, who was one of the writers on the excellent Ultima V: Lazarus mod back in the day. We pretty much forgot about it after that, right until today when I discovered that Gil Maclean was none other than the Codex's own Grumpy Grognard. Gil was at PAX Australia this past weekend with a pre-alpha demo build of Odd Gods - the first time the game has been properly revealed, it seems. It's wonderfully weird, so it's probably best if I just post the description from the official website here, along with a couple of screenshots:

[​IMG] [​IMG]

Odd Gods is a 90s-style RPG about the 1990s. An isometric tactical role playing game about subcultures, music, spacetime travel, and facing your pop culture demons.

Odd Gods is an indie cRPG in early development from Inn Between Worlds, a new studio formed by industry vets in Melbourne, Australia.

Features


There is no chosen one. A grungy, low fantasy story set at the end of the 1990s.

Classic 'isometric' camera on 3D characters and scenes.

Colourful, 'low budget B-Movie' Art style

Subculture class system based on 1990s archetypes (Skateboarders, Goths, Ravers, Jocks, Nerds etc).

Music Genre 'alignment' system (Mainstream, Alternative, Underground).

Party-based turn-based combat system ('Same Phase' system with no RNG, no % to hit, just tactics).

Narrative features branching paths and multiple endings.

Hand-crafted exploration, narrative and combat content. No level-scaling, no procedural generation, no random encounters.

Original subculture soundtrack recorded with period instruments (where possible).

90s-era difficulty. Odd Gods is not a game for the faint of heart, but the system is 'fair'. Friendly fire is on by default. No bullet sponges. Permadeath, mostly.

Take modern weapons back to older eras (Ancient, Medieval, Early Modern) and vice-versa, but keep an eye on your ammo count and penicillin, for example.

.... No elves, no magic swords, orcs, or any of that guff.

Estimated length: 12hrs including side content:
(a) we're a small indie studio and don't have the capacity for more
(b) we actually want players to finish the game.

Coming soon to PC
As Ted "Theodore" Logan might say, whoa. There's no official gameplay video of Odd Gods yet, but somebody at PAX did upload a recording to Twitter. Additional screenshots are available on the website, and there's also an in-depth preview at Australian website Finder. Will this be the RPG that finally implements Frozen Synapse-style combat? We'll be keeping an eye on this one.

There are 98 comments on Odd Gods, a 90s-themed adventure through spacetime with simultaneous turn-based combat

Pillars of Eternity: Definitive Edition coming on November 15th, will include free Deadfire Pack DLC

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 3 November 2017, 01:54:04

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

After the release of Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition on consoles two months ago, it might not be surprising that Obsidian's RPG is set to receive a similar package on its home platform, entitled Pillars of Eternity: Definitive Edition. What makes this release definitive and not merely complete is that in addition to the White March expansion, it will also include a new Gun Runners' Arsenal-style DLC called the Deadfire Pack. The DLC will add portraits from the upcoming sequel to the game as well as an assortment of new items, and will be free for existing owners of Pillars of Eternity. Here's the press release for the Definitive Edition, which is coming on November 15th.

STOCKHOLM, Sweden and IRVINE, Calif. — Paradox Interactive, a publisher of games for characters of all builds, and Obsidian Entertainment, veteran developers behind Fallout: New Vegas and South Park: The Stick of Truth, today announced a new edition of Pillars of Eternity which provides the definitive experience and tremendous value to RPG fans everywhere.

The award-winning title is now available as Pillars of Eternity: Definitive Edition, a comprehensive version of Obsidian’s crowdfunded masterpiece that includes both White March expansions, all premium extras, and an all-new bundle of content, called the “Deadfire Pack,” inspired by Obsidian’s upcoming Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire.

Definitive Edition will be available for PC, Mac, and Linux on November 15, 2017. The new Deadfire Pack DLC will also be made available for free to all existing (and future) owners of Pillars of Eternity on Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs to thank them for their ongoing support of what has become one of the world’s most beloved RPGs. With these additions, fans will have the complete set of all Pillars of Eternity content ever created inside and outside of the game in the final, all-encompassing release.

On November 15, the Definitive Edition will be made available via digital distributors everywhere for a suggested retail price of $39.99, and will include:
  • The original Pillars of Eternity, a modern RPG with classic inspiration, and winner of multiple awards for its rich story, art, and world design
  • The complete, expanded world, characters, and content from The White March: Parts I & II, which adds new places to travel and quests to complete
  • All premium content originally sold with Pillars of Eternity: Royal Edition, including the original soundtrack, a digital collector's book, an original novella set in the Pillars universe, and much, much more
  • The all-new Deadfire Pack DLC, which includes new in-game items to earn and discover, and new portraits from the forthcoming sequel, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, releasing in 2018
Alongside the release of the Definitive Edition, the original Pillars of Eternity: Hero Edition game will receive a suggested retail price reduction to $29.99 on Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs.

Pillars of Eternity, originally the result of a crowdfunding campaign by over 75,000 backers, has led a resurgence in the classic RPG genre since its release in 2015. Winner of “Best RPG” from multiple critics, the game is now available for both PC and console platforms from retailers worldwide. A sequel, Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, is currently in development by Obsidian Entertainment.

For more information, visit www.paradoxplaza.com.​

Good excuse to replay the game and prepare a save import for Deadfire, eh? I wonder if Josh will put together one last balance patch for this release.

There are 53 comments on Pillars of Eternity: Definitive Edition coming on November 15th, will include free Deadfire Pack DLC

Wed 1 November 2017
Brian Fargo Interview Roundup: On hustling around and rising development costs

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Wed 1 November 2017, 00:12:04

Tags: Brian Fargo; InXile Entertainment

inXile celebrated their 15th anniversary this weekend. To mark the occasion, their entire catalog has been available at a 50% discount on Steam this week, Torment had a free weekend, and they even released a new enhanced version of their 2004 Bard's Tale action-RPG. Today the folks at PCGamesN, who are always up for an RPG interview, published an interview with Brian Fargo about the history of his studio, with a focus on its hardscrabble pre-Kickstarter years. Here's an excerpt:

Game development teams are often thrown together hurriedly around a new contract, but inXile started slowly. Fargo picked staffers he knew and trusted. Findley was one. Another was Maxx Kauffman, who he had seen do great work on Redneck Rampage.

“I brought them together,” Fargo says. “But then it became, ‘OK, what are we going to do here?’. And this struggle to find a business model took nearly a decade.”

That jokey card title was proving prophetic. In 2002, the ground was shifting beneath the feet of RPG developers. There was very little publisher interest in PC games. With Steam still years off, the digital sales business did not exist. And those contracts that did exist were mostly reserved for studios that were already well-established.

Fargo kept the lights on by “hustling around.” He attempted, without success, to win the Baldur’s Gate 3 license from Infogrames. He sold the Wizardry franchise off to Japan, where it continues to this day. For a short while, Fargo and a friend co-owned half the rights to GTA for Game Boy.

“We both did very well by selling it back to Take-Two,” he says.

[...] Fargo was itching to get back to making games - the impetus that had caused him to leave Interplay in the first place - and found out that the trademark had expired on The Bard’s Tale, the very name that had made a success of his first company. It felt serendipitous. Fargo did not own the copyright to the classic RPG series, however, so could not work on a straight-up sequel. Instead, he decided to create a genre parody.

inXile’s The Bard’s Tale, released in 2004, is very much a snapshot of the market at that time: a console-focused action-RPG and broad comedy, a world away from Tides of Numenera. It was as if there was no space for an RPG that took itself seriously. inXile licensed the Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance engine from Snowblind, and made publishing deals with Vivendi in the US and Acclaim in Europe.

“It was kinda funny,” Fargo says, though he is not laughing. “Right as we were launching, Vivendi sells the company and Acclaim goes out of business.”

[...] Sometimes, inXile would get close to making the games they wanted to make. For a while they worked on a game for Codemasters called Hei$t, which Fargo describes as a single-player version of Payday.

“It was all Quentin Tarantino dialogue, and they really wouldn’t let us finish it,” he says. “Christian Slater and Clancy Brown were in it. We had a great cast. That was a product I wish we could have finished properly and come out with.”

Even Hunted, a fantasy take on Gears of War that inXile saw through to the end, came with a dramatic comedown. At the peak of development, the company swelled to 70 people, and afterwards shrank right down to 13.​

The PCGamesN article's description of inXile's current situation is rosy, to say the least. Yet just three weeks ago Brian was interviewed at GamesIndustry.biz about the rising costs of developing mid-tier "AA" games, where he sounded considerably less optimistic. It's not hard to figure out that he's concerned with how Larian and Obsidian have outstripped his studio in terms of budget and production quality.

Ambition is a wonderful thing, and most developers have ambitious visions for their games, but then they meet the reality of what ambition costs. The double-A space is now having to invest more than is reasonable for small or mid-sized studios.

"The industry continues to get more binary between the haves and have nots," Fargo continues. "When I see something like salaries going to as high as $20,000 per man-month in San Francisco, that really only affects the smaller to mid-size companies. The big companies - take Blizzard, for example - they can drop $70 million on a project, kill it and then start all over again. Rockstar can spend five years on a game.

"The extra salaries really don't affect them, in my opinion, as much as it does the smaller to the mid-size companies. So yeah, it definitely puts pressure on us.

"Also, what I'm seeing recently is that there was the single-A and double-A indie space that was sort of ripe for opportunity for a while - us included, and we've been doing well - but that's getting more competitive. And the budgets of the double-A products are starting to approach triple-A budgets of 10 years ago."

Citing Ninja Theory's Hellblade and Larian's Divinity: Original Sin 2 as recent examples, Fargo laments that expectations for games coming out of the double-A space are rising too rapidly.

"All of a sudden double-A developers are spending in excess of $10 million," he says. "And it's only a matter of time before this rises to $20 million. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if there were some at those values already. So now what you've got is the triple-A people who are unaffected by the salaries and they're going to be spending hundreds of millions of dollars between production and marketing, and then you've got the double-A companies now starting to spend significant money. What that's going to do is to create an expectation from a user's perspective of what the visuals should look like.

"It creates a harder dynamic for even the smaller companies, because some product is at $39 or $44.95 that doesn't have a multi-million dollar marketing budget. It's still going to have production values that are incredible, and so what will people expect out of a smaller developer? That's the cascading effect of all these different things, and of course you layer on top of that the discoverability issue we've all got with an un-curated platform and it makes it very tricky."

[...] Fargo offers, "It feels like the budgets for the double-A products have doubled to tripled just in the last five years. Back in 2012 when Broken Age and Pillars [of Eternity] came out, I know what our budgets were then [for Wasteland 2] and I know what the budgets are going to now. I have a sense of what Larian and Obsidian are spending, and I know these numbers have gone up significantly.

"Curation has always been a hot topic. One might argue there's a greater risk of a game being lost in a sea of products, than that of a great game not making it through the quality bar to be in the store. The stats of more and more and more games hitting Steam have not been favorable for any of us... You've got kind of a one, two, three-punch against the smaller publishers/developers."

[...] "It depends on the genre you're in, but the scope and scale of the thing is what you really need to keep an eye on," Fargo advises. "The visual and audio expectations are rising as the budgets for the double-A games has risen... I would tell developers to keep a really close eye on the scope of the product; better to have something that's very small and tight and polished than something that's overly large... and hits a lot of different things but don't quite visually hold up to the others."
Of course, this wouldn't have been a problem if Torment hadn't bombed! I guess hustling up a new budget to replace that loss so his studio can develop a decent Wasteland 3 will be Brian Fargo's final challenge before retirement.

There are 91 comments on Brian Fargo Interview Roundup: On hustling around and rising development costs

Fri 20 October 2017
Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #44: Camping System in Action

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 20 October 2017, 23:35:42

Tags: Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

The Pathfinder: Kingmaker backer alpha has been running for the past few weeks. It's been a small and apparently private affair, so unfortunately very little has come out about what the game is like. Today's Kickstarter update announces that the alpha test period is coming to an end, although there will be a new alpha build at the end of December. In the meantime, Owlcat do have something new to show us. They've implemented the game's Expeditions-like camping system, which was the Kickstarter campaign's first stretch goal. There's a video of the system in action:



How nice is it to get some rest after a long, hard day of adventuring, knowing that your companions will have a watchful eye on the camp? Why not catch up with them and have a bit of a chat before you turn in for the night? We feel that companion conversations while camping are something worth turning a simple “rest button" into a fully fleshed-out part of our game.

Initially, when we started discussing the resting process in our game, each of us wanted to transfer the tabletop experience into the virtual world of Pathfinder: Kingmaker. We didn’t want to reduce resting to a single mouse-click, because in the tabletop version it’s never as simple as saying, “We’re going to bed now” and the Game Master responding, “Okay, you’re fully rested now!”

Looking for a good spot to get some sleep can be tricky! For instance, your party may wind up in a swampy location, where it takes a lot of time to find a place dry enough to set a camp. Almost always, before consuming ration packs, players try and go hunting – just to put their luck to the test. But there is no guarantee for success. You may send your bard and cleric on a hunting trip, and instead of finding food they end up bumping into a couple of quite aggressive dire bears. This actually happened during one of our weekly tabletop gaming sessions! And while resting, we often roleplay our characters. Especially when many of the players on our development team happen to be writers for the computer game. They really know how to bring their characters to life!

Taking all this into account, our camping has already gone through two incarnations: one that existed before our Kickstarter campaign and one we created after. At first we had the resting timeline and related functions, and only after we reached the first stretch goal on Kickstarter, the development of full-scale camping became possible.

The resting timeline is, in fact, a forecaster, that tells you what is due to happen after certain periods of resting time: after two hours of resting, casters gets their spells restored (if they've got a Ring of Sustenance), after 8 hours all the companions become fully rested, and after 40 hours all negative effects wear off. We believe it’s important to provide you with all the information instead of making you take standard 8-hours rest breaks and then you wonder why some of your companions still don’t have full health bars and one or three of them still suffer from Bestow Curse.

And this became our basis for all future iterations of the camping system.

In the second camping incarnation, our goal was to preserve the gameplay flow while emphasizing the importance of the rest process. That’s how our camping management interface was born. This is where you assign your companions for various tasks: main hunter, main camoufleur, cook, or guardian. Also, every companion will have a special ability he or she can use only while resting. Be careful, though: if a companion is assigned more than one task, he or she will remain tired after the resting ends, and a caster who doesn't get a good 8 hours of sleep won’t have their spells restored. At the same time, if you manage your companions right, hunters will be of immense help in saving you money, you would otherwise have to spend on ration packs, and camp camouflage will safely hide your party from the wildlife or bandits. And if you assign a cook, you’ll be able to make an excellent fangberry pie, which will not only feed your characters, but also give them a Bless effect for the whole next day. Of course, to cook delicacies like that, you’ll need to find the recipe and ingredients first, but the result is worth it.

By the way – did we mention that cooking in the camp is a thing now? This feature was officially tied to a community achievement and while we haven't quite reached it yet, we are more than 90 percent there. At this stage, unlocking it is only a matter of days, so it made sense to implement it in-game while we were already working on the resting feature.

Since the resting process is such an important part of the game, we need to preserve the feeling of immersion into the game world for you. To achieve that we wanted to visualize each character's role on stage. We cannot overstate our gratitude to each of you, dear backers, for allowing us to add such an important and atmospheric feature to Pathfinder: Kingmaker!

As many of you have certainly noticed, almost all our interfaces are full-screen and use elaborate artwork to help sustain the atmosphere. The resting process is special, because it focuses on the party's actions. To preserve the flow of the game, we made our resting interface in the form of a panel. Functionally and practically, the timeline didn’t change much. The only thing we added was a watch order. As for current role adjustments, we decided to place them on the panel to the left, which is a mirror image of the main game log. On the same panel, you can see the results of hunting and other skill-checks, and at the same time dialogues between companions will take place on the main screen. Initially we intended to make this stage unskippable, but many of our alpha testers told us they’d like to make the resting process a bit shorter. So, for those among you, who are not interested in camp conversations, we give the possibility to skip this part and instantly turn to further adventure-seeking instead. Our camp interface allows you to focus on the main game screen and logically separates the camping log from the general log.
Pretty cool, huh? These guys sure do love their user interface design. See the full update for screenshots.

There are 61 comments on Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #44: Camping System in Action

Underrail Dev Log #55: Global Map

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 20 October 2017, 00:19:26

Tags: Stygian Software; Underrail

Styg published an Underrail development update today to make a surprising announcement. As part of a major upgrade planned for release before the Expedition expansion, the game will be receiving a world map feature. It's a feature that many players have asked for (and many others have mocked them for). It won't cover the entire game, but it will include the cavernous zones that have given people the most trouble. The update has screenshots and details, and also an explanation on why the map wasn't added sooner. I quote:

[​IMG]
[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

While our development is mostly focused on the expansion there are a couple of issues that we wanted to address before its release as we think that they will greatly influence the experience of playing the DLC as well as the base game.

First of these is the global map. This was a contested issue since the alpha versions and is probably the most frequent complaint we get from the people that have a positive view of the game as a whole. Some people may be wondering if the global map was something that was originally planned for the game and, truth to be told, I don't really remember (original plans for the game were laid almost 10 years ago now), but knowing myself I would probably implement one if I had the (time) resources that I have now. Back when I was at it alone I had to cut corners in both content and feature departments, and map is a bit of both really. Later, when the game has grown monstrously in size, even though I then had the time to add new features, a good amount of geographical inconsistencies made sure that there was no quick and easy way to produce a quality map, but instead some major rearragements were going to have to be made.

But anyway, now that we got around to doing this, here's how the map implementation looks like (new players be careful, there are minor spoilers).

We're going to have separate maps for different depths and some maps for the bigger urban areas. We've only gotten around to SGS, Lower Caves and Lower Underrail so far, but here's how the full list will probably look like:
  • Lower Caves (includes Junkyard and Hathor)
  • Upper Caves
  • Lower Underrail (includes Rail Crossing)
  • Upper Underrail
  • Black Sea
  • Foundry
  • SGS
  • DC
Core City and Institute will not be included, at least not initially, because reasons. We are, also, not going to be making any maps for "dungeon" areas and such (like GMS) unless they are part of geography of existing maps (such as Depot A being part of Lower Caves by being an extension of Junkyard).

As you can see on the screenshots, maps will (usually, but not always) record and display what useful (or not so useful) creatures and plants you've encountered there as well as other points of interest (merchants, doctors, certain quest objects). These will not be updated after the initial encounter and do not always represent the actual state of the map, but are rather meant to be used as useful auto-notes for harvesting organs and plants and such. They will typically not record robotic and human enemies. You can also add your own notes to the map. A lot of static features of the map will also reveal themselves as you explore the map so that you won't automatically know, for example, if there's a power generator on that map immediately after entering.

The map will be available in the next updated which will be released sometime before the DLC which is going to be released when it's ready. But on a serious note, I do hope to release a new update on the experimental branch at least in the near future so you guys can play with all the new stuff that we've added over the months and we can finally get this huge pile of patch notes off of our shoulders (and replace them with bug reports).

Anyway, let us know what you think about the inclusion of the global map and about this particular implementation. In the next dev log I'll probably be talking about another important, but probably less impressive, change to the base game that we're working on.
Looks very cool, as always. Any guesses what that other feature might be?

There are 157 comments on Underrail Dev Log #55: Global Map

Wed 18 October 2017
Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #41: Josh Sawyer Social Media Feature Compilation #4

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 18 October 2017, 00:52:00

Tags: J.E. Sawyer; Katrina Garsten; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Obsidian have published the fourth installment in their series of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Fig updates showcasing various features of the game that Josh Sawyer has posted about on his social media feeds. The highlight of this episode is the introduction of Deadfire's four "sidekick" companions - Konstanten, Ydwin, Rekke and Fessina. The first and last of these have apparently replaced Bonteru and Radora from the original sidekicks stretch goal. Another cool feature demonstrated in the video is the game's simulationist injury mechanic, where you suffer different injuries depending on the attack that knocked you out. Watch the whole thing here. As usual, Katrina Garsten narrates:


The text part of the update has some details about a couple of Deadfire's backer rewards, but I'll let you read that for yourself. One thing you should definitely check out is this DLC survey that Obsidian have been running for the past two weeks. I imagine it's going to help determine what sort of DLC the game is going to get. The next update will have details about the long-awaited backer beta, so stay tuned.

There are 41 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #41: Josh Sawyer Social Media Feature Compilation #4

Tue 17 October 2017
ELEX RELEASED

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 17 October 2017, 19:55:14

Tags: ELEX; Nordic Games; Piranha Bytes

Gentlemen, after more than two years of breathless waiting, it's finally here:


From Gothic origins, it has Risen. ELEX!

Many Piranhas, it has Byten. ELEX!

Chop up robots with a sword, in ELEX!

Fire a laser rifle at an orc, in ELEX!

More Eclectic than Age of Decadence. More Lavish than Underrail. More Exhilarating than Divinity: Original Sin. More Xenial than Witcher 3. Join the cult of ELEX! today, for just $49.99 on Steam or GOG.

please don't be just a meme please don't be just a meme please don't be just a meme

There are 122 comments on ELEX RELEASED

South Park: The Fractured But Whole Released

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 17 October 2017, 18:59:30

Tags: South Park: The Fractured But Whole; Ubisoft

It was quite a surprise back in 2015 when Ubisoft announced that they were going to develop the sequel to Obsidian's well-received South Park: The Stick of Truth, the superhero-themed South Park: The Fractured But Whole, at one of their in-house studios. It was an announcement that elicited a great deal of Obsidian mockery at the time, particularly since Ubisoft also decided to adopt a sophisticated-looking grid-based tactical combat system in place of the first game's JRPG-style combat. That mockery fell away as it became clear over time that The Fractured But Whole was almost as vaporwarey as its predecessor, with the release date pushed back several times. But today it's finally out. Here's the launch trailer:


The game seems to be reviewing about as well as The Stick of Truth did, perhaps a tad worse. The reviewers like the new combat system, but some disapprove of the Ubisoft-style item collection or are just tired of the whole South Park thing. If you're not tired of South Park and you're not too busy playing Divinity: Original Sin 2 ELEX, you can grab the game on Steam now for $60.

There are 24 comments on South Park: The Fractured But Whole Released

Sat 14 October 2017
Wasteland 3 Fig Update #23: Building the Everest - Level Design & Setting the Stage

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Sat 14 October 2017, 00:49:17

Tags: InXile Entertainment; Paul Marzagalli; Wasteland 3

inXile's latest Wasteland 3 Fig update continues to chronicle the production of the game's vertical slice area, the murderous Everest Hotel. They're now at the level design stage, and the update describes in detail the various tweaks and iterations that have been applied to a particular area of the Suicide Forest, the hotel's exterior environment, to improve the flow of the area's associated questline. It's rather interesting, actually. The quest involves a missing group of hunters, who are now apparently themselves being hunted by an unnamed monstrosity from the forest. The encounter with the hunters is clearly the key event in the quest, so I'll quote that part of the update here:

Heading into the next area, the Rangers know (via some radio transmissions, and the clues encountered earlier) that the hunters are nearby and are seeking assistance.

What are our goals for this area?
  • Let players really go to town with one (or more!) interesting combat scenarios.
  • Pay off the mystery from before (which can lead to combat)
  • Deal with an unnamed twist that may put the players at odds with the hunters (see above).
Once you’ve found a few of the clues, it’s pretty easy to find the missing hunters. However, the story takes a dangerous turn, prompting a new question: what do you do with them?
  • Depending on how you decide to handle things – or, depending on your past choices, how things want to handle you – the Rangers may end up
    • (1) simply walking away from the situation
    • (2) engaging in combat with the hunters
    • (3) engaging in combat with something else.
(1) Leaving the situation has its own set of consequences that require quite a bit of thought and scripting to handle within the mission itself, but from a geometry perspective, the player simply needs to be able to turn around and leave. So: can the players turn around and leave? Looks like it. Great! Mark #1 done. From a level layout standpoint, at least.

(2) Okay, so what if they engage in combat with the hunters? This may sound a little odd, but there are developments in the mission that actually can make this a reasonable course of action.

To do this, the player will need to make their way through a trap-filled gauntlet (the kind of traps that the hunters are using work just as well on Rangers as they do on prey), then they'll need to take on three very well-equipped outdoorspeople. This is a variation on a typical “advance” scenario: braving a heavily fortified position. I’ll leave the details of combat design to a future developer diary by our combat designers, but for our purposes, we basically need an interesting approach that provides opportunities for clever tactical thinking that will offset your disadvantages.

Here’s what the Missing Hunters area looked like at first. This looked like it had potential, but as we playtested things, it felt a little small.

Also, as we ran it past more people, a story issue cropped up: it didn’t seem plausible that the hunters were really trapped. The ledge wasn't very steep, and if they were able to evade the something else long enough to set up their crazy trap gauntlet, surely they could have backtracked instead of digging in. We had several plausible explanations for why they ended up in the current situation, but that wasn’t the point of the mission: we needed players to look at the area and instantly think “oh yeah, you could end up in a bad situation here.”

I’m not going to show you the revised version yet, though, because it also ties into choice #3…

(3) Engaging in combat with the something else.

Internally, I’d been referring to this as the “ledge fight,” because it took place in the same area, but on the upper rim of the valley, wrapping around the trap gauntlet.

This concept was a lot of fun, but in practice, the limited width of the cliff edges, the large amounts of running around from edge to edge, and the lack of differentiation between each of the four sides led to unexciting playtests. So: big red flag, needs revision!

We made major changes to address the issues in both combat scenarios. A big part of this was adding more verticality to the fight itself by increasing the distance between the two sub-areas. We also decided to move the two combat areas alongside each other, rather than overlapping. Here’s the latest revision.

Section “A” (yellow circle) is where players can fight the hunters, which is spread out over a larger space to better leverage the hidden traps, and now shares only a single border with section B.

Section “B” (green circle) is where players can fight the unnamed adversary, which is now a limited to one side of the cliff, but has multiple variations in height and more potential cover.

The right-hand path connecting these areas contains the beginning of the ‘trap gauntlet’, as well as a special cave which can be accessed depending on the player's skills and equipment. We’ve also enlarged the upper middle area and added a one-way exit at the bottom. This eliminates the need to backtrack once you're ready to return to Suicide Forest. Also, the entire space has been flipped and rotated to better align with the rest of the level layout.
I imagine some people will frown at inXile's decision to "linearize" quests like these, although given that the update mentions excessive backtracking as a potential issue, maybe the entire area is large enough that it won't feel so linear.

There are 30 comments on Wasteland 3 Fig Update #23: Building the Everest - Level Design & Setting the Stage

Fri 13 October 2017
The New World Update #20: Crossing The Factory

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 13 October 2017, 20:40:42

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

Vault Dweller has published a great new development update for The New World. The update is ostensibly about "secondary location design", but it's really more an overview of one particular location - the Factory, a hazardous no man's land separating The Pit, the game's starting location, from the Habitat, where the major factions are headquartered. There will be many different ways to make your way across it, with different consequences for each. I quote:

A bit of history:


As you probably know by now, the Ship isn’t a state of the art colony vessel but a retrofitted interplanetary freighter (in the best traditions of Mayflower) with cargo holds big enough to fit entire districts. Cargo Hold #2 was split into two miles-long areas running in parallel: the Factory and the Hydroponics.

The Factory is an industrial area dedicated to the learning of skills the current generation of colonists would never use to pass them down to the descendants of their descendants who would one day claim the new world as their own.

Before the Mutiny, a rail system running high above the factories would deliver citizens to the dismal warehouses and facilities where they spent their working days. Unsurprisingly, the Factory was where the revolt had started, quickly spreading to the rest of the Ship. The war that followed gutted the Factory: the train overpass was blown up to prevent reinforcements from pouring in; the factories and warehouses were looted and stripped for parts, the local Environment Control system had to be shut down.

Within a few decades, the Factory had been mostly abandoned until growing trade between the Pit (Cargo Hold #3) and the Habitat (formerly known as Cargo Hold #1) breathed new life into it, turning it into a new Silk Road.

Until Jonas set up a camp in Cargo Hold #3 (which eventually grew into a container town known as the Pit), a few traders cautiously making their way through the ruins of the Factory attracted no attention, but as the camp grew into a town, trade grew into a steady stream of goods flowing in both directions.

With the train overpass lying in ruins, slow moving traders carrying valuable relics of the past looted in the Wasteland quickly became the target of gunmen eager to relieve the traders from their cargo and lives. The traders responded by hiring armed escorts, which forced the gunmen to form gangs and fight both the mercenaries and rival gangs until only two gangs remained: the Black Hand and the Detroit City gang.

One of the mercenary outfits, Thy Brother’s Keepers, that used to offer protection services in the Wasteland saw a great business opportunity and promptly moved their operations into the Factory. There, the Keepers established what became known as the Toll Road, offering a safe passage to the Habitat for an exorbitant fee. ​

Design:

You start the game in the Pit ('born and raised'). You can explore the nearby area but when you’re ready (or have a reason) to visit the Habitat, your options are:

1. Pay the fee and enjoy a scenic 'high above the ground' trip through the Factory, occasionally interrupted by different events to remind you that it's not a walk in the park. Those who played Dungeon Rats know how we handled the vertical aspect (as you climb up, you can see the area you explored earlier down below), so you’ll see the entire level from above.

2. Brave the dangers and climb down into the unknown, most likely to your untimely death:
  • Sneak through the level - infiltrator
  • Fight your way through the level - fighter
  • Exterminate the vermin; comes with two optional (meaning tough as nails) fights if you decide to clear both gang bases - combat specialist
  • Fight/Sneak past 'patrols', then inquire about employment opportunities (bonus points if you created a lot of vacancies) - fighter/talker or infiltrator/talker
3. You can also *try* to get into the Habitat via the Hydroponics but that’s a different story that puts an emphasis on an entirely different skillset (explorer) and gear.

Needless to say, the very fact that there is a toll road suggests that attempting to cross the Factory on your own is a bad idea. If most players would be able to do that regardless of their builds, it would damage the setting’s integrity so this option should be reserved for 25% of the players (1 in 4) and the difficulty will reflect that.

Wiping out both gangs is an epic feat reserved only for the natural born killers among you (1 in 10 players ). The first base is hard to enter but easy to leave. The second base is easy to enter (just take the elevator), but hard to leave so forget about attacking and falling back. You’ll have to be able to switch tactics on the fly and have good offensive and defensive gear and tactics.

The reward will be well worth it – the gangs have been preying on traders for a while and have accumulated quite a few relics.

If you decide to leave the gangs alone and come back later, be advised that both gangs will grow, both in number and firepower. It’s not level scaling as it won’t be tied to your level/skills but to the passage of time via ‘chapters’.

Using AoD’s mine as an example, assuming you could come back later after visiting Maadoran, you’d find the outpost reinforced by more soldiers and proper watchtowers, regardless of your skill level. Basically, a logical progression with proper consequences for both action* and inaction that doesn’t force you to watch the clock.

* the Keepers might not be too happy about you putting them out of business ; The Detroit City gang has ties to one of Habitat’s factions, so wiping out both gangs will be an action of an anarchist that doesn’t care about the established order, not of a hero vanquishing evil wherever he/she goes.

There will be a few side quests in the area, available to those who can explore the area (rescue & escort, retrieve a stash, breaking & entering, etc). Nothing random or generic. Retrieving a stash is an optional solution to another quest, rescue & escort will open up several quests later on (think Miltiades), breaking & entering will make you a legend and cause more trouble down the road than you can handle.
Awesome stuff. The full update also has a few pieces of Factory concept art, so check it out.

There are 42 comments on The New World Update #20: Crossing The Factory

Tue 10 October 2017
Divinity: Original Sin 2 Post-Release Interview at PC Gamer

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Tue 10 October 2017, 00:53:55

Tags: Divinity: Original Sin 2; Larian Studios; Swen Vincke

Over at PC Gamer, Swen Vincke has given what I believe is his first major interview after the release of Divinity: Original Sin 2. It's not very in-depth, about what you'd expect from a mainstream media interview less than a month after a game's release. There's the expected discussion of the game's stellar reception (now at over 700,000 copies sold), a few anecdotes from development, Swen's thoughts about speedrunning and the burgeoning mod scene, and a hint about Larian's future plans. Here's an excerpt:

PC Gamer: How are things at Larian Studios at the moment?

Swen Vincke: Quiet. Most people are on their holidays and [patch 3] is a big one. We're start working on patch four next and slowly people will start returning from their holidays and we're gearing up for our next things.

According to SteamSpy, you sold somewhere in the region of 700,000 sales in less than three weeks.

I think we're over 700,000 now.

Is there ever a point during the development and testing of such a big game where you realise: Hang on, this is really good, this might do better than we expect?

I think any developer will tell you that, first of all, you fall in love with your game. But then the relationship lasts so long that you start focussing on all the negatives. A very classic phenomena means that by the time you're ready to release, the only thing that you're aware of is everything that's still wrong with it.

Then somebody reminds you of how much good stuff is in there. We're busy focusing on: We need to fix this, we need to fix that, this is not good, man we need time to sort this, we need more resources to do that', and that basically dominated the conversation over the course of the last six months. But then there are moments where you're playing and you forget you're hunting for bugs and realise: Actually, this is a lot of fun.

With Divinity: Original Sin 2, this was particularly true. I don't know how many times we redid the beginning of this game. Every time we presented it it was different, and every single time I enjoyed myself. Luckily for us, this seems to have rubbed off on the general gaming audience.

But then there are moments where you're playing and you forget you're hunting for bugs and realise: Actually, this is a lot of fun.

Through your Kickstarter and Early Access phase you've had a pretty open development cycle—would be players got regular feedback throughout. With the first Divinity being received so well, did this make dealing with expectation easier or harder?

That's a really good question. Because it puts a lot of pressure on you, that's for sure. But you also can't make diamonds without pressure, right? I think that it's both. It is harder because the moment that the community figures out that they want it and you've said you're going to do it, it's very hard to change course—even if you later discover what you're doing won't work. We did actually change course a few times, but if you explain exactly why you're doing it, most people will listen. You're always going to have some people who don't, but that's just the way it is.

At the same time, things become easier because you instantly know what's wrong. You put it out there and you don't even have to wait a day, you know right away what's wrong. This type of feedback can be very hard to get, unless you have a large community playing. Another thing that's easier with a large community is that there's a large amount of them and can in turn let statistics speak for you.

You may have a very vocal minority screaming how badly something is done, but then you have 95 percent actually enjoy what you've done, so you say: Well, we can certainly say that that feature is okay because so many players are having fun with it. If you didn't do that, and that vocal minority were represented by, say, a couple of developers inside your company, you may wind up going in the completely wrong direction. That's where and why I really like the early access model.

You've mentioned the patch, however what does Larian have planned in the long run for Divinity: Original Sin 2?

We have a couple of things that are in the works but we'll only announce them when we're ready. There's stuff coming, for sure.

To that end: It's early days yet, but I assume the success of number two means we're in line for a Divinity: Original Sin 3, 4 and 5?


[Laughs] We have a couple of surprises planned. But we're going to work on the patch just now, then we're going to work in silence for a little bit so that we can get our shit together and then… yeah, I'm pretty sure there will be at least one big surprise in there.
A very vocal minority, huh? Why do I suspect that paragraph isn't purely hypothetical...

There are 77 comments on Divinity: Original Sin 2 Post-Release Interview at PC Gamer

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