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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?

RPG Codex 2016 Role-Playing Game of the Year & Age of Incline Voting

Community - posted by felipepepe on Sat 14 January 2017, 20:45:40

Tags: RPG Codex; RPG Codex Awards

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Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the RPG Codex 2016 GOTY voting!

But not only that! It has now been 5 years since 2012, the year that gave us Legend of Grimrock, reviving an RPG genre dead since the mid 90's, and the Kickstarter craze - Wasteland 2, Project Eternity, Shadowrun Returns, The Banner Saga, Legends of Eisenwald, Barkley 2, Dead State, Paper Sorcerer, SHAKER and many more all appeared in 2012, teaching Codexers the meaning of "hope".


We soon also learned the meaning of "delay", "disappointment", "scam", "regret", "cancel my pledge", etc... but the point stands: 2012 marks the start of what many call The Age of Incline - BioWare/Bethesda's oligopoly was shattered, great indie & mid-sized devs started to appear, ports, releases and translations started to flood Steam & GOG and there was much rejoice.

So it's about time we inspect that legacy and see just how great this so-called "Age of Incline" really was and what are its highlights. Thus, this year's voting span 2012-2016, and we ask you to patiently check this rather long list and rate all the games you played from this era:


The voting will run until Feb 1st, when our brave team of analysts will collect the data, sort it out and manipulate the numbers until their favorite games win.

Hope you all loved Lightning Returns. :shittydog:

There are 229 comments on RPG Codex 2016 Role-Playing Game of the Year & Age of Incline Voting

RPG Codex Review: Tyranny - You'd Think An Overlord Could Keep It Up

Review - posted by Infinitron on Wed 11 January 2017, 22:20:22

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Tyranny

Obsidian's latest RPG, Tyranny, only came out two months ago, but discussion of it seems to have pretty much died out over the holidays. One of the last people on our forums to really sink their teeth into the game before it drifted off everybody's New Posts pages was esteemed contributor Tigranes. Having recently retired from his longtime position as an Obsidian forums moderator, Tyranny seems to have put him in a contemplative mood, and he was compelled to write a review of it, which he presented to us a few weeks ago. I believe that those of you who were unhappy with our previous review's treatment of the game's narrative arc will be happy with this one. Plus, we do have a reputation for serial Obsidian reviewing to uphold. Here's the excerpt:

Let me be clear: the game I described above lasts for maybe five hours, depending on your playing speed. Then it's gone, all gone. The rest of the game is best described as "go here, kill everybody, become stronk". This is strange, because on paper, Tyranny's structure seems set up to continue the good work early on. Like The Witcher 2, you smell out all the factions in the first part, make your super-important choice (TM), then experience one of several branching storylines with X faction. And indeed, there is a nontrivial amount of nonlinearity when you try playing more than once - an asset traditionally praised by the Codex. So what's the problem?

Tyranny leaves us with the unusual lesson that having multiple paths doesn't help when the basic plot and gameplay underlying those paths is, well, bad. The Witcher 2 maintained consistency in the quality, style and density of its storytelling and gameplay before and after the branching point; Tyranny simply feels like you're riding the same boring railroad multiple times, just from slightly different angles. Of the four paths possible, I completed the 'anarchist' independent path, some of the 'rebel' path, and looked up info on the two faction paths. In all cases, the player is effectively told to go to region X, fulfil the conditions for breaking the Edict of Kyros (which means kill everyone except your chosen buddies), pick up powerful mystical macguffin, then rinse and repeat. You'll go to slightly different locations, since you won't exactly be assaulting your own faction's headquarters, and you'll fight in one playthrough a group that might help you in another. To be sure, there are relatively robust consequences to your choices in allegiance. Where you bulldozed over the local militia in one scenario, they might prove talkative and even cooperative in another, and many NPCs will have their own attitudes that cause them to rush headlong at the player for betraying their faction or take up a more cautious stance. It's not that Tyranny's branching is flawed; we know it can be fascinating to play through similar events from different ends of the stick, learning more about each side's motivations and operations, as masterfully shown in the Age of Decadence. The problem is that the core gameplay and plot at the centre of all the branches is mediocre at best, and awful at worst.

The core gameplay, as I described, is mindless box-ticking; there are almost no quests with any degree of complexity, and you are reduced to following simple directions through small, relatively linear maps. Nearly every location soon boils down to "kill baddie, get macguffin", and there are virtually no disputes to arbitrate, mysteries to solve, secrets to uncover. Although one of the main objectives in Act 2 is to gather 'evidence' of wrongdoing by the two quarrelling armies, the player never actively performs any investigation. The gameplay feels even more bare-bones because worldbuilding drops the ball as well. Whereas you were previously the lawgiver of a tyrant, mediating between two proud allied armies and subjugating a hostile population, you might now go to a forgotten dungeon of mysterious purpose or function and fight some blobby-looking mysterious creatures, or go to a burning library, fight the opposing faction, fight them some more, then pick up a mysterious item of hidden knowledge - in fact, so hidden that you never actually learn anything from it! The putrid smell of 'generic RPG' progressively overpowers the initial freshness. This becomes laughably apparent in the anarchist path: the player must constantly trot back to the ridiculously named 'Bleden Mark' (what's next, Daark Freddy and Edgy Knick?), whose dialogue each time consists of "oooh, you have grown more STRONK! Now go here, kill some people, and bring back MYSTERIOUS MAGIC ITEM, which will make you EVEN MORE STRONK." If this were a film, I'd feel sorry for the idiotic lines the actor is forced to spew.

The biggest issue is that whereas Act 1 focuses on your service as lawgiver to Kyros the Overlord, no matter what you choose, Act 2 ultimately becomes a standard RPG where your serial murder fuels your improbably fast-growing *powah* against all who might oppose you. In other words, all the things that made Tyranny's world interesting are now thrown out in favour of yet another juvenile power fantasy. To make matters worse, the game then throws at the player a motley of special magical powers, artifacts, connections, abilities, all of which remain either unexplained or handwaved. The Edict begins as the Overlord's signature move, one which obeys a set of rules that both the player and the world's denizens understand; once the power fantasy begins, they are all thrown out the window as the player's special snowflakiness allows him/her to basically do anything he/she pleases with them. And although I cannot spoil the ending here, the denouement in Act 3 is no less disappointing; there is merely a breakneck and forced elevation of the player from a hardworking fatebinder of the empire to a world-shattering power the likes of which has never been seen. (Bo-ring.) Kyros, who begins the game as an enigmatic entity whose calculated gestures allow him to control and anticipate events from afar, ends the game panicked by the newfound powers of the player - and to be fair, the player's special powers are so unexplained that it is hard to see how Kyros could have known, either. Whether in terms of plot and worldbuilding, or the actual gameplay, Tyranny just isn't compelling beyond the first Act.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Tyranny - You'd Think An Overlord Could Keep It Up

There are 118 comments on RPG Codex Review: Tyranny - You'd Think An Overlord Could Keep It Up

Wed 11 January 2017
Colony Ship RPG Update #11: Character System Overview

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 11 January 2017, 01:49:30

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

Vault Dweller has come out with a new Colony Ship RPG development update sooner than I expected. The purpose of the update is ostensibly to give us a look at mockups of the game's character and inventory screens. More importantly though, it includes a comprehensive analysis of the former. It's the most detailed description of the game's character system we've gotten yet. Have a look:

[​IMG] [​IMG]

1. Tagged Skills

The tagged skills will increase at a faster rate (let's say x1.25). INT will no longer give overall XP bonuses but define the number of tagged skills instead (up to 4 tagged skills at INT10). Thus a smart person will be able to excel in a larger number of disciplines.

2. Party-Based Mechanics used in DR

Charisma will determine the number and quality of your party members. The party size will range from 2 to 4. Experience points from quests will be split between the human party members (a droid will have its own leveling up mechanics and won't cost you any XP), thus a smaller party will be able to gain levels faster

3. Feats & Character Levels

Your characters will gain levels using experience points from quests. When you level up, you’ll select feats, unlocking or improving your abilities. The feats will be an important aspect of character development (i.e. they won’t give you minor bonuses but help you develop your characters along specific paths: lone wolf vs squad leader, offense vs defense, gunslinger vs sprayer or gadgeteer, melee vs ranged, which will go beyond which skill to develop, etc) and make as much of a difference as the skills levels.

The skills will determine your chance of success with certain tasks and the feats will define what you can do and how you can use these skills to maximum advantage. Basically, the feats will define your character much more than your skills.

4. Skills & Learn by Using

You will not gain XP for killing, talking, sneaking, picking locks, using computers, fixing mechanical things and such. You will not increase your skills manually. Instead your skills will be increased automatically based on their use.
  • The main problem with a party-based, skill-based setup is that even with a 3-man party you can easily cover all skills you want to have. You’ll have a fighter/talker, fighter/thief, fighter/fixer, which is something we’d like to avoid. The ‘increase by use’ system solves this problem in the most natural and logical way possible. Your abilities reflect what you do, not how (usually arbitrary) you distribute your skill points.
  • It reinforces our party-based goals. If you let one of the party members do all the repair work while you concentrate on other areas, losing this party member would hit you hard and you’d have to make sure (via choices made during quests) that he/she would stay with you no matter what.
  • It rewards consistent gameplay. Let’s say you need to deal with a gang that stands between you and that door over there. If you kill them, everyone’s combat skills will improve a bit. If you talk your way through, only your dialogue skills will go up.
Instead of counting how many times you did something, we’ll assign a certain value (let’s call it learning points) to each activity (attacking, killing, fixing, sneaking, convincing, lying, etc). So killing a tough enemy or repairing a reactor will net you more points than killing a weakling or fixing a toaster. Basically, it will work the same way as XP but go directly toward raising the skill that did all the work.

1-10 ranks with hidden grandmaster ranks going above 10. So essentially a 1-20 system. Basically, we don’t want someone to max a skill and then have the xp go to waste, so we will allow raising the skill above 10 in the unlikely event of someone going over 10 via extreme specialization.
The full update includes an early draft of a CYOA-style character generation sequence that will define your character's initial reputation and disposition. Among other things, it reveals that the colony ship's name is Starfarer. Perhaps that will be the game's title?

There are 108 comments on Colony Ship RPG Update #11: Character System Overview

Tue 10 January 2017
Stoic's John Watson at NASSCOM GDC 2016: The Banner Saga 2 was a commercial disappointment

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 10 January 2017, 23:55:17

Tags: John Watson; Stoic Studio; The Banner Saga 2

Stoic Studio's The Banner Saga 2 was one of very few oldschool-oriented RPGs released in the first half of 2016, and it reviewed rather well. For those reasons, one might assume that it sold well, but apparently that's not the case. So said Stoic co-founder John Watson at a game development conference called NASSCOM GDC, held in India of all places back in November. The game's sales were so underwhelming compared to its predecessor that Stoic are now struggling to fund the third and final chapter in the series. They blame this on their lack of engagement with the community during its long development, a much more crowded indie marketplace, and a difficulty spike in the first game that prevented many players from finishing it and proceeding to its sequel. Yesterday posted a summary of this interesting talk, which is relevant to more than just The Banner Saga series. Here's an excerpt:

"We were quite exhausted at the end of The Banner Saga," he continues. "Running a Kickstarter campaign is extremely demanding. There's the setup portion, there's running it for the month, and then for the rest of the development you're supporting that community, answering questions, giving updates. It's a full-time job, and we didn't have anybody dedicated to being that community manager. It was a scary prospect."

Ultimately, Stoic decided on what amounted to an "almost 180-degree turn" for The Banner Saga 2. "Let's just close the doors, close the curtains, spend our own money and do it our own way, without having to answer to anybody. And that's what we did.

"About halfway through, when the money starts getting tight, we started thinking, 'why the hell didn't we get a Kickstarter?'"

The reason might well be success. The Banner Saga raised far more money from Kickstarter than Stoic had expected, and it went on to sell more copies than expected, too. That money could fund what they wanted for The Banner Saga 2, while also being tangible evidence of a community of people who would be interested in playing the next chapter of the story. Stoic decided to focus on making sure that the next chapter was even better.

"I think we dropped the ball there," Watson admits. "We thought that audience would still just be there. We really neglected our community during the development of Banner Saga 2, because we were focusing on our work. I think that was a mistake. We all agree that was a mistake."

The Banner Saga 2 launched for PC in April 2016, and the mistake was immediately clear. In its first few months on Steam, The Banner Saga 2 sold around a third of what The Banner Saga sold over the same period. When spoke to Versus Evil, Stoic's publisher, last year, Steve Escalante lamented a massive increase in the number of competing titles on The Banner Saga 2's launch week.

"That is a factor," Watson agrees. "With The Banner Saga we launched against 70 games that month. With The Banner Saga 2 it was over 400, so that is a factor. You are fighting more for attention, and it's remarkable how many people I meet say, 'oh, Banner Saga 2 is out?' They just don't know, and we spent a lot of money marketing it. We tried to make it known."

[...] With The Banner Saga 3, the final game in a planned trilogy, the discussion around funding it was more difficult. "Arnie [Jorgensen] and I... all of our personal fortunes, all of our finances, are buried in The Banner Saga," Watson says. "We've been doing this for four years, we spent all of our retirement money, and we haven't replenished that yet. We both have kids, they have to go to college, and we can't just keep betting it all every time, because making entertainment is the riskiest thing."

It is still too early to seriously contemplate a return to crowdfunding, but Stoic's projected budget is likely greater than the sum they could reasonably expect to raise through Kickstarter - it isn't 2012 any more. Watson admits that he and Jorgensen seriously discussed seeking private investment, and even "shopped around" for options.

"That would have worked, but you're paying back quite a bit. The Banner Saga 3 is probably gonna cost about $2 million to make - that's a lot. So maybe we could get $500,000, but when you get investment you're basically paying it back 3x... That means when we sell The Banner Saga 3 $1 million of extra money goes away [to the investors], as well as giving back the $500k. That would take the pressure off us for sure, a little bit. We would each de-leverage ourselves by $250,000, but when the game ships we're paying back an extra $1 million.

"Is taking investor money gonna make the game sell? Is it gonna make it $1 million more profitable? No. It'll make it a little bit better; we could spend some of that money maybe doing some more animations, maybe we increase the quality level a little bit. The quality has to reach a certain bar for people to accept it as a sequel, because we set that bar for ourselves. But beyond that it won't really affect the profitability. It would be a vanity thing. We just want to make it better."

When Stoic is finished with The Banner Saga, when it is making an entirely new project from scratch, investment of that kind would make a great deal of sense. For The Banner Saga 3, though, taking an investor's money would be "kinda stupid" - a little peace of mind in the here and now in exchange for a lot more potential problems further down the road. Stoic is betting on The Banner Saga as a franchise, and once again it will make that bet with its own money.

"We have to do it," Watson says. "We set out to make this trilogy. We can't leave the story unfinished."
Stoic appear resigned to the fact that any new game they release will never do as well as the first one did. They're betting their futures on the idea that The Banner Saga 3 will increase visibility of their previous titles, helping the sales of the franchise as a whole. I fear that many of the other oldschool RPG developers may find themselves in a similar situation with their own sequels over the next couple of years. Some may have already. Be wary, gentlemen, and know when to slam dunk.

There are 118 comments on Stoic's John Watson at NASSCOM GDC 2016: The Banner Saga 2 was a commercial disappointment

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Sat 7 January 2017
KotC 2 Development Update

Development Info - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Sat 7 January 2017, 18:48:43

Tags: Heroic Fantasy Games; Knights of the Chalice 2

I have good news, guys. It's time for the yearly Knights of the Chalice 2 development update. Pierre Begue posted it in the closed buyers forum again, so odds are some of you can't access it, but no matter - my theory is, that Pierre knows I will shamelessly copy everything anyway and therefore decided to not concern himself with such plebeian details.

Here's the snippet:

Combat Maneuvres

All the combat maneuvres, such as Trip, Disarm and Sunder, have been implemented (except Distract, which I may leave aside completely), as described in the page about feats. With the right feats, they can be performed as a free action when taking an attack of opportunity. Enemies can do that too, of course. So, for example, you can use Trip as an AOO, just like the original rules of D&D 3.5 allow.

You choose the action to take during AOOs in the character's Spec screen (Specifications). From that screen, you can also access a new screen which I have created for the wizard/sorcerer transformation (see screenshot). It's a simple screen showing whether you meet the requirements or not.

[​IMG] [​IMG]
[​IMG] [​IMG]

Entire thing here.

There are 27 comments on KotC 2 Development Update

Icewind Dale in ToEE Engine: the first chapter demo beta or something

Mod News - posted by Elwro on Sat 7 January 2017, 11:04:04

Tags: Icewind Dale; Temple of Elemental Evil

*taptaptap* Is this thing on?

*ekhm*, OK, I haven't posted news here in a while. But you just have to see this.

Anyway, it looks as if our forum member Allyx has laid the groundwork for a total conversion of Icewind Dale to the Temple of Elemental Evil engine, bringing the turn-based goodness to the icy hills around Kuldahar. Just look at this screenshot and weep with joy:


It seems the first portion of the game is completed and, as expected in the case of all good turn-based projects, the whole thing will take years. But I sincerely hope more people will help with this. In general, my humble opinion is that purging the Infinity Engine games of the real time combat could lead to their improvement.

Here's the link:

Congratulations, Allyx, you're a true hero.

Uh, Happy New Year to all of you!

There are 86 comments on Icewind Dale in ToEE Engine: the first chapter demo beta or something

Thu 5 January 2017
Dead State, Wasteland 2, and Torment Statue Raffles

Competition - posted by DarkUnderlord on Thu 5 January 2017, 02:06:16

Tags: Codex Dead State Campaign; Codex Statue in Wasteland 2; Dead State; Kickstarter; Numenera KickStarter; Torment: Tides of Numenera; Wasteland 2

Many moons ago we did fundraisers for Wasteland 2, Dead State and Torment 2. Many people donated money and in return, I got shit in the mail for them. At the time, we didn't know what to do with that shit so I just held on to it.

Plus the final piece of that Wasteland 2 gear arrived only last month - the "Exploded like a Blood Sausage" figurine. So with everything here, it was a perfect time to raffle that shit off. So if you donated to Wasteland 2, Dead State, or our Torment drive, you may very well be a winner! Watch the exciting videos below to find out!


Congratulations to our winners, and thanks to our donors. I will be in touch with the winners shortly, who now need to tell me where they live.

There are 34 comments on Dead State, Wasteland 2, and Torment Statue Raffles

Wed 4 January 2017
RPG Codex Review: Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun

Review - posted by Infinitron on Wed 4 January 2017, 23:40:51

Tags: Daedalic Entertainment; Mimimi Productions; Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun

First there was Commandos: Behind Enemy Lines and its sequels. Then there was Robin Hood: The Legend of Sherwood and the Desperados series. Now, a new game has taken the throne of the unlabeled "character-based puzzly real-time tactics" genre. Announced back in March and released last month, Mimimi Productions' Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun shocked the jaded hearts of Codexers by proving that a genre-defining modern classic was something that could still happen in the year 2016. Although not an RPG, the Codex is always glad to post reviews of cerebral titles like Shadow Tactics, so when Ludo Lense (who also reviewed the not-quite-RPG Hard West just over a year ago) volunteered to write one up, we gladly accepted. Here's an excerpt from the finished piece:

Possibly the best way to describe the game is “Desperados-style characters with large Commandos-style maps”. The player controls a squad of Japanese period stereotypes as they go about their daily lives by ending lives with various sharp implements and high velocity projectiles. Indeed, ST is very heavy on the murder aspect. This is mainly because death is the only way to permanently neutralize guards. Of course, you can sneak about, but patrol paths are rather long so wouldn’t it be more convenient to just shank a few fellows, even if they are innocent civilians? ST makes no moral judgement on your kill count (unlike Desperados where killing civilians immediately fails the mission) but simply accepts it as another path, the easiest path.

Indeed, a big part of what makes the game tick is the badge system. The game comes with three difficulty settings and nine achievements per map called badges. These badges more or less contextualize different playstyles. Most maps have badges like no civilian kills or no kills at all. When trying to acquire them, you can see how the game's levels have this very thoughtful multilayered design which takes into account wildly different ways to play through them. My only objection is the existence of the Easy difficulty setting. It is basically a Story Mode and this type of experience doesn’t really work with such an approach. This might sound condescending, but the game is designed for you to struggle at times. There are many tools and techniques at the player’s disposal to get past different situations, and you are bound to find the proper “key” to progress forward if you try. Only the other two difficulty settings, Normal and Hard, allow for badges to be acquired, so the game does discourage the use of Easy difficulty.

The biggest innovation that ST brings to the table is verticality. A large part of the cast are basically Olympic-level gymnasts. This involves being able to jump from rooftop to rooftop and use their hookshot at predetermined locations to scale different levels of buildings. There is no mission where you don’t have an agile character, so the developers clearly knew this was an important part of the game that makes it unique among its peers. Indeed, the missions lacking in verticality are by far the weakest of the bunch. Two in particular show just how dependent the game is on this integral element. One takes place on what is arguably the game's smallest map, a tiny village with almost no hiding spots which is an exercise in tedium, and the other requires carrying a body through a war camp. Obviously it is challenging, but stripped of different levels of elevation the whole experience becomes much weaker. It is not “hard fun” as it were. On the other hand there is a mission where you have to break into a keep behind enemy lines which I personally found to be by far the best due to how height connected the map.

Complementing this vertical element are environmental modifiers that are progressively introduced to the player. Snowy areas where guards will follow your footsteps, night maps where torches can be put out but are relit by guards, puddles formed by rainfall that make a great amount of noise when stepped in, etc. There are enough such variations and scripted moments to keep feeding the player's interest at a steady pace. The game has around a dozen maps. Two thirds of the way through, it stops introducing new gameplay elements but enters into a kind of graduation mode, where the difficulty amps up and you'll need to exhibit some degree of system mastery to survive.

On top of this you have AI and enemy variety, which is where ST is tangibly weaker than its predecessors. The game has only three different enemy types, each with its own AI pattern. The devs did squeeze a lot of mileage out of them and I was surprised by how many different configurations they were able to create, but in the end I couldn’t help but feel that additional enemy types were necessary to mix things up. It is a matter of variety, not necessarily quality. The AI is the only part of the game where a random element is introduced. Enemies that are searching or alerted while looking for your characters shift their view cones haphazardly, which can make a world of difference when it comes to being spotted and starting a fight. For enemies, death is a binary affair with no numbers popping up. Your attacks kill or do not. The player characters are a bit different in that they have a set number of hit points, but they are wet paper towels except on Easy difficulty. Given that alarms spawn a large number of guards, all of whom have hitscan weapons, holding your ground isn’t really an option because ammo is quite limited. This is a clear step up from the infinite ammo in Desperados, where waiting around a corner and pumping your enemies full of lead was an all too effective tactic. Stealth is the name of the game in ST, which fits nicely with the ninjutsu theme it sells itself on.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun

There are 89 comments on RPG Codex Review: Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun

Wed 28 December 2016
Underrail Update: Version Beta

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 28 December 2016, 20:54:52

Tags: Stygian Software; Underrail

Styg and his crew are working on the Expedition expansion for Underrail these days, but it looks like they've also been spending some time on improvements that are relevant to the base game. Today's development update announces the launch of an "experimental" beta for the game's next version, which players can opt in to if they want to participate. The update includes a thematically appropriate screenshot and an extensive changelog, of which I'll quote a portion:

Hi guys, soon we'll be ready to release a new update for the game. For those who wish to help us test it, we've set up "Experimental" branches on Steam and GOG Galaxy.


To play experimental branch on Steam, you right click the game in your library and go to "Betas" tab. To do so on GOG, you select the game and choose More->Settings. Make sure you don't override all your live version saves just in case something goes horribly wrong.

Here are the patch notes:

  • AP reduction from Gunslinger feat will now properly affect only firearms
  • Added feats: Bowyer (crossbow crafting)
  • Ripper feat will now properly work with serrated knives
  • Added a new visual model for siphoner, ancient rathound, and super steel armor
  • Telekinetic proxies and electrokinetic imprints will now be visible behind walls
  • Added tooltips for empty gear slots
  • Forcing the vent with crowbar will now be done through Quick Invoker (once the crowbar is equipped, you'll get the ability there)
  • Changed the "Focused" tooltip to be gender neutral (tested for all 99 genders)
  • Cats nerfed
  • Dreadnoughts buffed
  • When a character that has nightvision turned on gets flashbanged, they will also be dazed for 5 turns
  • Some of the merchants now have additional mercantile checks which (if passed) will expand that merchant's store inventory
I guess those cats weren't as harmless as the Underrail wiki claims they are. Read the full changelog for details on the bugs that have been fixed in the new version and the changes it makes to items and quests.

There are 86 comments on Underrail Update: Version Beta

RPG Codex Interview: Josh Sawyer at GDC Europe 2016

Codex Interview - posted by Infinitron on Wed 28 December 2016, 10:03:16

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

Back in August, Obsidian Design Director and Codex anti-hero Josh Sawyer gave a talk at the annual Game Developers Conference in Cologne, Germany. The video of the talk, which was a Pillars of Eternity retrospective entitled Looking Back and Moving Forward with Pillars of Eternity, has yet to be publicly released, but the original slides and a summary are available. But that's not what this post is about. Former Codex contributor Bubbles was in the audience for that talk, and after it was done he met up with Josh for what was meant to be a brief interview. They ended up talking for nearly two and a half hours.

A couple of days after that Bubbles was off to Gamesom, and unfortunately he never got around to transcribing his recording of the interview before his unfortunate departure. We did however manage to secure Bubbles' permission to allow the Codex's #1 Josh Sawyer fan, Roguey, to transcribe the interview in his stead. We sent the recording to Roguey, expecting a long wait...and were provided with a near-perfect transcript less than 72 hours later. Probably should have done that sooner. So there you have it, four months late and just in time to be the last piece of Codex content for 2016. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and enjoy the read. It's a long one.


Read the full article: RPG Codex Interview: Josh Sawyer at GDC Europe 2016

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Sun 25 December 2016
Colony Ship RPG Update #10: Companions Overview

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sun 25 December 2016, 01:21:38

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

In the seventh development update for his Colony Ship RPG, released way back in July, Vault Dweller promised the game's next update would introduce its first companion, a helpful riot suppression droid named Unit Romeo Whiskey Sierra. That plan seems to have fallen by the wayside, but Romeo was not forgotten. Today's update not only brings him back, but introduces several other companions as well. A fine treat for Christmas Eve. Here's an excerpt:

As I’ve mentioned earlier, the CSG is a party-based game and the party dynamics will be one of the areas we’ll focus on. There will be 12 potential companions (max party size is 4) filling different roles: psychotic paranoia, racial superiority, religious intolerance (works best when mixed with homicidal tendencies), political idealism, and other delightful personality quirks. In other words, the party members won’t be loyal and obedient slaves but will have their own beliefs, agendas, and personality traits (or in some cases, programming).

To give you an idea, here is a quick overview of the top four gunmen who might be persuaded to join you (keep in mind that men of violence are rarely well adjusted individuals):

The Gunfighter – an unstable and somewhat paranoid (which is why he’s still alive) gun for hire. He doesn’t care which side he’s fighting for as long as he gets paid. He doesn’t have much patience for diplomacy or long winded conversations, and if he gets a bad feeling he goes for his guns. Being paranoid, he gets bad feelings a lot, so unless you like shooting your way in and out, consider getting someone else. Holding out on him might give him the wrong ideas about the partnership. Other than that he’s a great guy to be around.

The Preacher – a man of God dedicated to saving sinners’ immortal souls but showing a callous disregard for their mortal bodies. He’ll join you if you join the Church of the Elect to make sure you deliver what you promised and keep you from having second thoughts. He won’t act against the Church’s interests and won’t tolerate your lack of faith, should you ever display it (he would find it very disturbing). Once he’s in your party, you either do what he says or you kill him, which will displease the Church greatly. You might think it’s a bit harsh but religious fanatics rarely make great traveling companions and joining the Church is more than a cosmetic choice.

The Colonel – a former officer of the Protectors of the Mission, makes the best damn fried chicken on the ship. He failed the Mission one time too many and had to switch sides in order to avoid honorable death by firing squad of his peers. The Protectors want him dead more than ever and tried to kill him several times, so he’s well motivated to help you, should you side with the Brotherhood. Then again, he’s equally well motivated to fuck you over if it ends the “misunderstanding” with the Protectors and restores him to his rank and privileges afforded by it.

The Wastelander – a rather antisocial mutant who makes a living exploring the damaged areas of the ship and stripping them of anything valuable. Sort of the ‘mountain man’ of the ship. He had a falling out with the Covenant, so now he bears a special hatred for all religious folks, including the Church. Religion is the only topic that can get him all worked up, so don’t take him places where someone might ask if you have a moment to talk about our Lord and Savior. He will leave you if you join a faction, but if you’re a “burn it to the ground” kinda guy, the Wastelander is your man.

Fortunately, there's one party member who's actually very easy to get along with - Unit Romeo Whiskey Sierra, model XV. When you first find this droid, it's barely more than some scrap metal, but if you put enough effort (not to mention Mechanical and Computer skills, as well as some missing modules), Romeo will blossom into a beautiful, murderous butterfly.

Flood lights, two built-in grenade launchers (brainwave disruptor and stasis field grenades if you can find them, can be modified to use ship-made grenades (gas, flashbang, smoke), two plasma guns. You can replace pretty much anything including the armor, building a heavier or much lighter, "dune buggy" style model.
The full update has some cool concept art of the Wastelander's home and a sample of Romeo's dialogue, which I'd put somewhere between RoboCop and ED-209. For next month's update, Vault Dweller will be talking about the development of the game's engine, which is apparently going well. It looks like Unreal 4 has proven suitable.

There are 60 comments on Colony Ship RPG Update #10: Companions Overview

Fri 23 December 2016
Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter Update #32: More Monsters + inXile 2016 Year In Review Video

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 23 December 2016, 21:10:49

Tags: Bard's Tale IV; Brian Fargo; InXile Entertainment; Nathan Long; Torment: Tides of Numenera; Wasteland 2; Wasteland 3

inXile have published one last Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter update for this year, just in time for Christmas. The update offers a look at some of the game's monsters. If that sounds familiar to you, it's because there was a similar update back in March. However, this one has more structure and detail, with the game's bestiary divided into classic enemies from the original Bard's Tale trilogy (including the iconic Berserker hordes) and more exotic creatures borrowed from Scottish folklore. And that's not all. Alongside the update, inXile have published a "year in review" video in which Brian Fargo sums up the studio's activities in 2016. Here's the video and an excerpt from the monstrous menagerie:


In the original games Berserkers were famed as much for their numbers as their battle rage. You never encountered just one. In The Bard's Tale IV, berserkers are worshipers of Vidlsvin the Boar, the Einarr god of War. While the rest of the Einarr people are content to be fishers, farmers, shepherds, and good neighbors to their Baedish and Fichti cousins on the mainland of Caith, the Berserkers crave a bolder, bloodier life. Whipped up to a frothing fury by the priests of their cult, they seek to bring back the ancient Einarr traditions of raiding, pillaging, and slaughter, and thus restore the lost glory of the Jarls of the Stanish Isles.


There are actually few mentions of the Fachan in old Scottish lore, save one tale where Murachadh MacBrian, the King of Ireland, won a footrace against one of them, and a suggestion that they might have come from muddled tales of druids standing on one foot while they cast spells. In all the tales, however, they are described as fierce creatures having one leg, one arm, one eye, and a stiff tuft of hair sticking up from their ugly heads.

Our Fachan are twisted monsters of corruption and darkness, the result of a botched summoning by the Fichti outcasts known as the Siambra Du. No one knows how their numbers have multiplied since that first malignant mistake (perhaps by regeneration from severed limbs?) but now Fachan are seen all over Caith, and populate the hellish realm of Malefia too, from whence evil conjurers can call them forth to fight for them in battle.


Also known as Blemmyes, Anthropophagie are not as particularly Scottish as the other monsters on this list, but we liked them too much not to use them. They come from medieval books such as the Otia Imperialia, a "book of wonders" that presented garbled translations of earlier works about far off places and peoples. The Anthropophagie were said to be giant headless cannibals from Syria whose faces were in their chests.

For The Bard's Tale IV, we have made them denizens of Malefia as well - monsters out of your worst nightmares who can be summoned to fight against you, and our artists have really emphasized their hellish aspects, with not just their mouths displaced, but hands, teeth, and eyes. Horrifying.
In the video, Brian reveals that inXile plan to release a Bard's Tale IV combat system video at the end of January. He also hints that something VR-related is coming from them next year. I guess all that tweeting of his wasn't just idle amusement.

There are 34 comments on Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter Update #32: More Monsters + inXile 2016 Year In Review Video

Wed 21 December 2016
RPG Codex Review: The Dwarves

Review - posted by Infinitron on Wed 21 December 2016, 23:52:22

Tags: KING Art Games; The Dwarves

Last July, the world learned that KING Art Games, the eclectic German game development studio best known for their Book of Unwritten Tales series of adventure games, were working on a horde combat-focused RPG called The Dwarves, based on a German series of fantasy novels of the same name. The game was Kickstarted that September and released this December, exactly 15 months later. The Dwarves wasn't really the Codex's type of game and we hadn't paid much attention to it, but Bubbles' Gamescom visits kept it on our radar. A week before the game's release, we were able to acquire a review key, which was snatched up by talented contributor sser. We've had an unprecedented backlog of content this winter and some of you will be aware by now that The Dwarves has not reviewed well elsewhere. Unfortunately, our review offers no surprises:

The Dwarves’ combat is mostly as advertised: it’s a whole lot of orcs colliding with a few dwarves and bodies don’t stay grounded for long. When it works, it looks great. You feel a momentum to the crowds of combatants and the weight of your crushing, bashing, upheaving abilities. Characters use abilities on cooldown (the horror) and have a limited amount of regenerating AP that must be expended carefully as your ‘warriors’ are amusingly unthreatening when left without. Action flows in real-time, though you'll often spend most of it pausing to assign orders and activate items.

And everything in The Dwarves is about crowd control. The best of it is knocking enemies off cliffs, obviously, but when high altitudes aren’t available you must commit to bad attitudes (oh god why). Managerial crowd control is necessary to properly batter and bash a group of misunderstood peaceniks. Enemies need to be kept bashed away, off their feet, or stunned so as to prevent your fighters from being overwhelmed. The mechanics to thin out the waves of enemies tie directly into all this CC: viridian villains take extra damage if stunned or are instantly killed if you strike at them while they’re on the ground. Your tougher enemies will be complaining on the forums as you constantly CC them into haplessness. Sometimes you can combine abilities, like bashing enemies into one spot and then gassing them. Sometimes, the chaos of the battles gets too crazy and you accidentally charge off a bridge or smash an allied character in the face.

Unfortunately, it just does not always work.

Most scenarios are simply poorly designed, oddly reminiscent of the sort of amateur attempts found on a Starcraft UMS. The battlefields are short and mowed through all-too quickly. Nice ideas, very poor execution. A great example is a snow map in which there are crevices, cliff sides, fortifications, and an army of orcs crashing down on you. My first few attempts at this map had me desperately using all the resources I had: spreading my dwarves out, using combinations, pausing constantly to queue up new orders. And I failed. Repeatedly. After coasting through so many battles, I thought I’d finally found the point in the game where it was going to turn up the heat.

Then I realized my objective was just to reach the edge of the map. This battlefield was fairly large with three branching points, but I only needed to get to one. So, what did I do? Well, your fighters can naturally push through enemies when they move so I gathered all my dwarves and simply walked through the orc hordes to the exit zone and promptly won. This theme of expedited endings is shockingly constant through The Dwarves. In far too many battles you can shortcut your way to a victory ostensibly due to a lack of foresight by the designers, why else would so many assets go virtually untouched?

The characters themselves also have so little balance done – some are absolute shit while others can carry the team singlehandedly. Combine an all-star team with a few of these wonky scenarios and you can quickly start zooming right through battles (playtime: a generous 9 hours). One feature slotted in seemingly for no reason is a ‘friends’ meter on your characters. Blandly displayed by an undescribed number on the character sheets, if fighters are friendly with one another they’ll acquire AP at a quicker rate. Honestly, I never noticed this having any effect and threw my squads together regardless of their being Facebook friend status. The items and abilities are similarly imbalanced. Some are completely worthless while others are gamebreaking. For example, one character has a single-target, low damage “stab.” For the same amount of AP, you can do an AOE that does damage in a huge cone and simultaneously sends enemies scattering on fire. Letter opener pin prick vs. napalming greenskins. Not once did I find myself weighing out the pros and cons of these things.

Speaking of enemies, there is not much variety on that front. You will mostly face orcs, surprise surprise. The orcs themselves really do not work that hard to differentiate themselves despite an ostensible ranking system. Aside from the larger ogres, I never really found myself identifying specific threats. A few other enemy types appear now and again, but I never noticed. There is a horsey type of enemy that skates across surfaces like a primadonna making the game look real fucking bad. And a couple of bosses that do the same. To the game’s credit, one of the primary villains is spookily imposing, but like a lot of fantasy idiots he’s frequently monologuing in place of murdering.

I so desperately wanted the game to just give me awesome, large, and environmentally varied battlefields to fight and survive on. Unfortunately, most scenarios are condensed into one spot and the few that find ‘range’ probably only feel long by comparison. It would have been well served by the huge scope of, say, a Freedom Force style of map where you travel large distances across varied terrain. Freedom Force had tightly designed resource usage and maps could be genuinely grueling. You’d get to the end of them with a battered squad of heroes, just surviving by the skin of your teeth. The Dwarves frequently fights in a Smash T.V.-esque phonebooth and all too rarely captures a sense of struggle despite, visually, doing a great job of making you feel hopelessly outnumbered. As the game rushes to its conclusion you are given some genuinely chaotic battlefields, but even then it just felt hamstrung. You fight one boss on the edge of a cliff about the size of a shoebox. Because The Dwarves looks its worst on these small-scale fights, this dramatic battle ended up looking more like a grade school play than the bombastic world-changer it was supposed to be.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: The Dwarves

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Torment Kickstarter Update #62: Final Beta Update

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 21 December 2016, 22:23:25

Tags: Brother None; InXile Entertainment; Techland; Torment: Tides of Numenera

Yesterday inXile released the long-awaited final update for the Torment: Tides of Numenera beta. There's no new content in this version, but it's got all of the visual and user interface changes mentioned in October's Kickstarter update, as well as some rebalancing. Initial impressions on the Codex are mixed. The new interface is largely an improvement, but it's got some obtrusive console-ish characteristics, including a follow-style camera (mostly optional) and an objectives hint display that appears during Crises (inexplicably non-optional). Today's Kickstarter update formally announces the new beta update. It's also got a link to Techland's trailer introducing the last of Torment's three classes, the Jack. I'll post it all:

Hot on the heels of our release date announcement (it's February 28th, 2017 in case you missed it!), we're pleased to announce our last big beta update for the Steam Early Access version of Torment on Windows before the final game is out. In celebration of this last stretch towards release, we're calling it the Tidal Surge Update!

We know many of you have been waiting for this update, and now we're very happy to be able to deliver a much-improved version of Torment for you to enjoy. Like previous builds, this one will allow you to play the game's first major chunk, taking you through Sagus Cliffs and some parts of the Castoff's Labyrinth – the remaining content will come with the final game, as we don't want to spoil everything, after all!

Update Notes

The Tidal Surge Update includes literally thousands of changes from the last version. There's simply far too many to show you as we'd probably start to approach the word count of the entire game just in version notes, but the highlight features are:
  • Voice-acting has been added to key characters and conversations.
  • Huge balance improvements across combat, loot and economy.
  • Tweaks and adjustments to character stats, such as armor and resistances.
  • Many interface art and functionality improvements, fixes and other refinements.
  • Improvements to visual and sound effects, especially combat abilities.
  • Reworked early-game crisis flow.
  • Game settings such as key rebinding and text size are now available.
  • Added tutorials and other helpers (optional).
  • Hundreds of bug fixes and performance optimizations.
For a list of known issues with this build, please see this thread.

We still have a bit of time left on the game, so we encourage you to check out our forums and let us know of any bugs or issues you run into, as well as for your general feedback!​

We encourage you to do that too, Codexers.

There are 20 comments on Torment Kickstarter Update #62: Final Beta Update

Tue 20 December 2016
BattleTech Kickstarter Update #34: All About Melee

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 20 December 2016, 16:01:49

Tags: BattleTech; Harebrained Schemes; Kevin Maginn; Mitch Gitelman

This year's final BattleTech Kickstarter update is rather different from the previous one. It's all about the game's melee combat (i.e. giant 'Mechs beating each other up!). The melee combat model Harebrained Schemes have chosen is fairly simple, but it sounds and looks extremely satisfying. I'll quote the main part of its description here, but you should definitely check out the full update to see all the cool animated GIFs.

Bringing these three concerns together -- complexity, head shots, and visual consistency -- we decided to collapse all melee actions down to just one, “Engage”. When you engage, we look at your relative size, your relative position above or below the target, whether you have arms suitable for punching, whether those arms are intact or blown off, and so forth. Then we pick an attack that best fits what you have available.

To ensure this isn’t unfair to some ‘Mechs, we also collapsed all the consequences of the attacks into one outcome. This means that, in terms of effect, a punch and a kick are the same thing, a shoulder check is the same as a punch, and so forth. Some ‘Mechs are still more powerful in melee than others due to both tonnage and design; the Atlas is always going to wreak more melee destruction than the Catapult. But every ‘Mech can melee, regardless of their build.

The system works like this: every ‘Mech has an “engagement range” at which it can move up and take a swing at an enemy. If you’re within the engagement range of a target when you start your action, that target gets a gold box around it to show that you can punch it. Then, as your entire action for the round, you move up and swing (or kick, or shoulder-check, or stomp).

Which of the possible attacks you perform is based on your ‘Mech, your opponent’s ‘Mech, and your relative heights. If you’re standing on a hillside facing an Atlas whose head comes up to your waist, you’re going to kick the Atlas. If you’re driving a Catapult, you’ll kick or body-check, but never punch (you have no real arms!). If you engage a vehicle or a downed enemy, you’ll try to stomp them instead of kicking. The goal is to make sure that whatever your situation, the attack looks and feels like it solidly connected.

‘Mechs do melee damage based on their tonnage, and whether they’re particularly good at melee -- you can build your ‘Mech to be a punching machine by installing melee-focused actuator upgrades, and Jordan and I both still dream of one day getting the Hatchetman. In keeping with the goal of making close-range melee a decisive moment in battle, the damage is tuned to be quite large. After all, you’ve had to walk up under a hail of fire from every long-range and mid-range ‘Mech, survive all of that mostly intact, and then hit with an attack. Gambling all that on a single attack roll is risky, so we want to be sure you’re well-rewarded for doing so.

Probably more important than the damage of a melee attack is the instability it inflicts. Melee is by far the easiest way to knock another ‘Mech down. Especially if you outweigh the target, you can put them on the ground with just one or two attacks, leaving them vulnerable to further attacks and forcing them to stand up on their action instead of moving. And, of course, when you fall down, if your MechWarrior fails her piloting roll, she’ll take an Injury. Enough knockdowns and an enemy pilot could end up as a red paste inside the cockpit.

We also wanted ‘Mechs to be able to use some of their weapons in melee, but that led to a problem: even as powerful as punching was, short-range, high-damage weapons like the AC/20 were the kings of melee. We wanted melee range combat to be for everyone, not just the Atlas and the King Crab. So when you punch, you don’t use all your weapons.

This turned out to be an excellent opportunity to address a part of the game I wasn’t satisfied with: the small weapons. Machine guns, small lasers and flamers are woefully underpowered, underused, and generally a poor choice when you’re customizing. Especially when melee is so powerful relative to other weapons, why would you ever fire your small laser at all?

So the small weapons are simply incorporated into your melee attack. If you have them, and you punch, you also fire any small weapons you have. For a good time, get in close with a Firestarter and punch the enemy. You’ll also blast them with four flamers worth of damage and heat, on top of the punch itself. It’s pretty great, and gives ‘Mechs with high tonnage and small weapons (looking at you, Battlemaster) a reason to have the small weapons: the punch rips off the target’s armor, and the MGs spew possible criticals into the structure.

I’ve talked about how we rolled most of the melee actions together into one overall “Engage” action, but there’s one melee attack we kept separate. We knew from the start that we’d be including the Death From Above attack as a special and deliberate action. It’s too iconic a moment to not let you choose it yourself.

If your ‘Mech has jump jets, and you’re within the melee engagement range, you can jump and land on top of your target, smashing them to the ground. It’s powerful, does a ridiculous amount of damage, smashes your legs up something fierce, and it looks really damn cool.

In a recent fight, I DFAed an enemy with my Shadowhawk (and let me tell you, the SH is nothing to sneeze at when you use it as primarily a melee attacker). I landed as the enemy ‘Mech’s head and center torso both turned black. I’d basically ripped it in half with the DFA. Mission accomplished.

After several rounds of iteration (as always!), we're very happy with the state of melee in the game. It feels really satisfying to engage in, and ensures that the battles that make it to close quarters become bloody and decisive, rather than bogging down in frustration. We're excited for you to punch 'Mechs in the Kickstarter Beta next year!
The update also includes an extensive changelog detailing everything that Harebrained Schemes have added to the game over the past several months. The combat portion of the game is already in alpha, and everything is on schedule for the beta release next year. Good news to end the year with.

There are 5 comments on BattleTech Kickstarter Update #34: All About Melee

Sat 17 December 2016
Unknown Realm: The Siege Perilous, a retro RPG inspired by 80s classics, now on Kickstarter

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 17 December 2016, 00:02:34

Tags: Stirring Dragon Games; Unknown Realm: The Siege Perilous

The IBM PC compatible has been the dominant computer gaming platform since 1990 or so, leaving rivals such as the Commodore 64 and the Amiga by the wayside. Unbeknownst to most, a small hobbyist scene has continued to develop games for these platforms over the years. I usually regard these projects as mere curiosities, but sometimes the amount of effort that goes into them is impossible to ignore. One such unignorable project is Unknown Realm: The Siege Perilous, a very oldschool RPG inspired by Ultima and other classics of the 1980s (but mostly Ultima, I think). The game has been in development for several years, and now the developers, Bruce and Laura Gottlieb of Stirring Dragon Games, are ready to take it to the next level with a Kickstarter campaign. Mainly for physical costs, because they plan to release it on a C64 cartridge. But don't worry, the game will work on PC as well, via a "special PC platform" - presumably some sort of custom-made emulator. Here's the pitch video:

There's a lot to read on Unknown Realm's Kickstarter page, but the most impressive part is the game's feature list, which includes many desirable hardcore RPG features, as well as various modern touchstones such as cutscenes and user interface conveniences. I'll quote part of it:

Alive World:
  • Open world with lots of secret locations to discover.
  • 64 different day, night, and seasonal monsters.
  • Landscape reacts to the choices you make. Locations, characters, and game world will be impacted by your decisions, and your actions have real consequences.
  • Dual-mode exploration using either overworld view or zoomed in location view.
  • Traveling NPCs and settlements – stumble upon a gypsy caravan, traveling merchants or bandit encampments!
Interesting NPCs: Just because our NPCs have 8-bit brains doesn't mean they have to be dummies.
  • Find NPC or animal companions to join your cause.
  • Hire mercenaries to aid you on those really dangerous quests.
  • NPCs might strike up a conversation with you or blurt out for you to get lost.
  • NPCs can treat you differently based on their mood or how well they know you, or react to what they see you do or hear you say.
  • NPCs may travel between locations in the game.
  • Some monsters might even talk with you, if you happen to speak their language!
Very cool stuff. If Mr. Gottlieb wasn't a veteran game programmer and member in good standing of the Ultima fan community, I would say it was too good to be true, even. Stirring Dragon are seeking $65,536 to finish development of Unknown Realm, which is a nice programming reference but seems like a lot of money for this kind of project (although they already have almost half of that so maybe not). You can secure a copy of the game for $19, with retro ziplock bags and other physical goodies available from $49 and up. The estimated release date is December 2017.

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Fri 16 December 2016
Betrayal at Krondor Released on Steam

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 16 December 2016, 15:16:14

Tags: Activision; Betrayal at Krondor; Betrayal in Antara; Dynamix; PyroTechnix; Return to Krondor; Sierra Entertainment

Activision have released another batch of legacy Sierra games on Steam that were previously only available on GOG. This time they're mostly titles that were only published by Sierra, and among them is Betrayal at Krondor, Dynamix's classic roleplaying game set in Raymond E. Feist's Riftwar universe. The game is available for $6 as part of the Betrayal Collection, along with its inferior cousin Betrayal in Antara, just like on GOG. Betrayal at Krondor's forgettable sequel, PyroTechnix's Return to Krondor, is also available for the same price.

Both games have a 40% launch discount until next year, but if you're looking to buy them, you might also want to take a look at the new Classic Sierra Bundle, where pretty much every single Sierra game on Steam is currently available for an incredible 91% discount, including the two nu-Sierra titles(!). I guess that should tell you how those did. I wonder if this means Activision are done with these re-releases. There are still a few Sierra games left on GOG that aren't on Steam.

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Thu 15 December 2016
Sweden Game Conference 2016: Cautionary Tales and (More) Design Lessons Learned with Chris Avellone

People News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 15 December 2016, 20:04:16

Tags: Chris Avellone

Chris Avellone was once again a speaker at the annual Sweden Game Conference this year. That was back in October, and today they finally got around to uploading a video of his talk to their YouTube channel. Entitled "Cautionary Tales and (More) Design Lessons Learned", the talk is essentially a stream of random game development and project management advice, structured as a kind of word association exercise. It's impossible to summarize, but makes for a fast-paced and entertaining watch:

There's no new information about the games Chris is working on here, nor is there much of the implied drama we may have been conditioned to expect from him, but with a close watch one might be able to pick up some hints. For example, judging by the repeated references to SHODAN, it seems like that as of October, the game that was most on Chris' mind was the System Shock remake.

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Wed 14 December 2016
RPG Codex Preview: Expeditions: Viking

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Wed 14 December 2016, 22:57:36

Tags: Expeditions: Viking; Logic Artists

Tomorrow begins the beta of Expeditions: Viking, sequel to 2013's Expeditions: Conquistador and one of next year's most anticipated indie RPGs. You may have noticed that various websites have been publishing previews of the game over the past few weeks. The RPG Codex was also offered an Expeditions: Viking preview key, but with November's RPG releases looming ahead we weren't sure what to do with it. It was former Codex collaborator Bubbles who felt that it was important that we make use of what we were offered, and one of his final actions was the recruitment of esteemed community member Abu Antar, who is a big fan Expeditions: Conquistador, to write our preview. His impressions? In short, he found Viking to be a bit better than Conquistador in some ways, a bit worse in other ways, but it's really too early to tell. Tomorrow we'll all know more, but for now, have a snippet:

Expeditions: Viking begins with a feast. Your father has passed away and you are to become the new chieftain. Some runts come in to interrupt the event, and you have to choose how to deal with the situation. This introduction eases you into the game’s mechanics and demonstrates some of the things you can expect to see throughout the game.

The game begins with a few fairly easy fights to help you get the hang of how combat works. Things get a bit more challenging later on, but I never saw a Game Over screen. Most encounters consist of six or so enemies pitted against five of your chosen soldiers and your main character. You'll have to be careful how you approach a fight in the first few encounters after the tutorial or you will end up with dead team members fairly quickly. Try to bide your time or find cover. Archers are deadly, especially with their aimed shot ability that significantly raises accuracy.

The game's first few fights were the most challenging for me, because I didn't know what to expect. Once I had fought a few battles however, there weren't many fights that gave me any trouble. I can't really say that any of the game's scripted story battles were spectacular, but they were decent enough. You'll have enemies coming at you from different directions, and in some battles you'll start out in the open and have to try to find cover or the enemy archers will whittle down your hit points bit by bit. There was one battle that I particularly liked which I couldn't beat on my first try. Coming back to it later, I realized that I had to be more careful with how I advanced towards the enemy, making proper use of cover.

The battles I didn't enjoy were the ones you fight at campsites when you rest on the world map. Almost all of these battles are identical and they're not very challenging. This was something I had hoped would be improved from the previous game. It's more of a waste of time than a real challenge.

While I did enjoy Conquistador a lot, its combat encounters became repetitive pretty quickly because there weren't many enemy types to deal with and the combat maps were forgettable. Viking improves on this somewhat with its story battles, which are fought directly on the detailed 3D maps that you explore, but I think encounter design could still be improved a bit more.

[...] If a character falls in combat, they become injured but are not permanently gone. (Similarly, you can also lose your entire party without losing the game, although this never actually happened to me.) While camping, you can heal your wounded characters' injuries using medicine. Wounds to different body parts will cause different types of penalties specific to the body part. For example, a groin injury lowers movement range, while arm injuries lower strength. In my game, my character suffered a light puncture wound, and therefore lost two points of Strength before I healed her.

One thing particularly worth noting is that your injuries deteriorate over time. This can cause a wound to go from light all the way up to lethal (there are five stages before you get to the most dangerous phase of an injury). If you go beyond that, your character will incur a permanent stat loss or even risk permanent death. This is basically the only way to lose a character forever. As your wounds go from light to moderate and so on, the deterioration chance increases. In other words, you need to keep a close look at the injuries your characters sustain in order to manage the deterioration. A character can have more than one wounded body part, making it important to choose which injuries are healed and when.

In addition to wounds, your characters also suffer from hunger. Hunger can sated by eating either meat or rations (which can be created from meat with the right set of skills). Meat is more filling than rations, but it deteriorates over time, so proper resource management is key.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Preview: Expeditions: Viking

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Torment Kickstarter Update #61: Release Date - February 28th, 2017

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 14 December 2016, 16:59:28

Tags: Chris Keenan; InXile Entertainment; Torment: Tides of Numenera

inXile's Chris Keenan published a brief Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter update today announcing that yes, Torment finally has a release date - February 28th, 2017.

Hello Exiles,

Today's update is a little on the short side, but I think you'll forgive us this time…

We are extremely excited to announce that Torment: Tides of Numenera will be releasing February 28th, 2017! It has been a long journey, and without your help on Kickstarter it would never have happened. We could not be happier to be delivering a successor to the Torment name and legacy, and we look forward to you enjoying it early next year.

When the game releases, those of you who already have your Steam keys redeemed for the beta version of the game will auto-update to the final build, and those of you who are planning to enjoy the game DRM-free from GOG will be able to as soon as that version is ready. We will also make a key exchange option available around that time for those of you who want to deactivate your Steam key and switch to GOG. At that point, most of the remaining digital rewards will also be made available to you.

For those of you with physical goods, we'll be prompting you to confirm your final shipping information in the near future. We do not have an exact shipping timeline for those goods just yet, but Techland is hard at work getting them ready for you as soon as possible. Please be sure to keep us advised of any changes by updating your shipping details on the Torment backer web site!

Rest assured that while we have our release date, that doesn't mean our work is quite done yet. We'll be using our remaining time to polish the game for you up to the last possible moment. And of course, once we get closer to release we'll have more news to share with you as well.

Chris Keenan,
VP of Development​

When the game is released, it will have been just under four years since the Kickstarter campaign was launched. Most of the prominent Kickstarted games released thus far have been rushed to one degree or another. They definitely won't have that excuse this time. It's great news, but I wonder what's going on with that final beta update they mentioned last time?

There are 61 comments on Torment Kickstarter Update #61: Release Date - February 28th, 2017

All funds raised in this special campaign will be sent to Bubbles as a thank you for his contributions.

TARGET: $1,000 USD

RAISED: $423.23 USD (42%)
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