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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 Report: Gamescom 2016 - Pathologic, Shock Tactics, End State, Demons Age and more

Editorial - posted by JarlFrank on Tue 21 February 2017, 23:55:55

Tags: Bigmoon Entertainment; Demons Age; End State; Gamescom 2016; Ice-Pick Lodge; Iron Sight; Pathologic; Pixelated Milk; Point Blank Games; Regalia; Shock Tactics; Sunburned Games; The Great Whale Road

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Finally, after a long wait, here's the last part of the Codex's Gamescom 2016 report, and it comes with quite a few juicy bits.

We're starting this off with our interview with the Pathologic team:

J: Will the time limits of the original game still be...

Alexandra: That will still be in there, yes. That is still one of the basic aspects of the gameplay. In the original Pathologic, quests simply had a fail state; in the new version, we're hoping to allow the player to kind of "drag himself back into the plot." We don't want to encourage the player to load an older save file; we want to encourage him to go on playing. The original Pathologic had this mechanic of people dying if you didn't meet your quest objectives; now we want to make it a bit more flexible. Failing should be a part of the experience, because it's a depressing game; and the original Pathologic was depressing, but it also encouraged you to cheat. We want to encourage players to not cheat and embrace the despair. [laughs]

B: So if you don't die throughout the game, you can arrive at an ending?

Alexandra: Yes. Obviously, if you spend all your time just looting containers and eating and sleeping and nothing else, then the ending will be disappointing to you as a player, because it won't make much sense. Because the world moves on around you. One of the [playable] characters, the Haruspex, is perceived as a sort of messiah by some characters in the lore – and you can play as a very lazy sort of messiah who just does nothing. And maybe there will be an ending with someone else taking your place as the new messiah...

If the player wants to play against the game, we're not going to punish them in terms of resources and so on. But the ending will be more confusing to them, and that will be their punishment for not being engaged in the game. "Okay, so you wanted to play a game of looting containers? Well, you were successful in that! And as for the plot? Well, it went on without you!" For me, one of the references is The Last Express, a game which I think did it unnervingly well. This feeling of the world just moving on... Do you know, does The Last Express have any spiritual successors in that regard?

B: No, no remotely.

Alexandra: Well, for me, [Pathologic] is an attempt to work in that vein. Because The Last Express was splendid, and I found it very disappointing that the idea wasn't explored further.​

Then we give you some juicy previews of two excellent squad tactics games, Shock Tactics:

We're told that the defining element of this game compared to others of its genre is that the player is encouraged to play offensively rather than defensively, to rush foward and conquer enemy positions quickly rather than sitting back and camping. "Most games of this genre have you progress slowly, move one tile forward, one tile, another tile, look around the corner, select overwatch to defend the position and so on. We want to give the whole formula a new take and force the player to be aggressive, you have to push forward, you have to push forward quickly, you have to flank the enemy, you can't just keep your soldiers behind cover and shoot at enemies who are also behind cover until you get a good hit."

The way the game manages to achieve this is by throwing reinforcements at the player if he takes too long, so if you play defensively rather than pushing forward and fulfilling your objective, you might simply be overrun. To enable the player to actually do this with some modicum of success, the devs have implemented something they refer to as "controlled-aggressive approaches". When you tell one of your guys to move forward and he spots an enemy, the soldier will stop in his tracks and only the movement points that have been used up until that point will be substracted from the movement point pool. This means you don't have to slowly progress one tile at a time but can just charge forward without risking to rush into an enemy position that you could have spotted had you progressed more slowly. "We want to give the player as much control as possible and never take away control because of a decision he made."

Another element that supports aggressive approaches is the AI. "In some games, you can eliminate enemy groups one by one - you attack from the left flank, and the soldiers all the way over at the right flank will still patrol the area as if nothing has happened. Here, as soon as you fire off your first shot, the entire enemy base is triggered and they're going to attack your last known position, so you will have to be quick before they manage to form up and push you out." And if that isn't enough to deter the player from employing a defensive camping tactic, in most of the game's missions enemy reinforcements will spawn if the fight takes too long.

"Once you fire off your first shot, you pretty much have to take out an enemy each turn if you don't want to be overrun. Ideally, you would attack the base, go inside, wipe out the entire garrison, and when the reinforcements arrive you've already prepared an ambush for them and are ready to take them."​

...and End State:

Apart from sight, there is also sound, which works in a similar way to Silent Storm. When your guys hear footsteps, you will see where the footsteps came from and you can shoot at the enemy's position, for example when you hear footsteps behind a group of bushes and don't see anyone since they block your line of sight. Since the AI operates by the same rules as the player (the devs assured me that it doesn't cheat: it plays with the same line of sight, simulated bullet trajectories, and noise propagation rules as the player), the enemy will also be able to hear you if you run everywhere rather than slowly sneaking about, so you always have to be mindful of that. Speaking of the AI, each enemy soldier will have his own personality: one might be cautious and try to camp behind cover, setting up ambushes and trying to get interrupts; another might be more daring and charge forward with his SMG; some might even be stupid and just run into your position to be gunned down. There is a lot of variety in AI behaviors, which makes the game less predictable and requires the player to adjust his tactics. You can never be certain how the AI will react to your actions, since every single solidier has his own AI profile with slight behavioral variations.​

And finally we shine some light on the rather questionable design decisions of Demons Age:

The most questionable of these ideas is the character creation system. For reasons I did not entirely understand, you cannot create a full party of 4 to 6 characters, nor can you freely create your main character. "In games like Baldur's Gate," we are told, "you play this special character, like the Bhaalspawn, but you can choose this character to be anyone! You can be male or female, elf or dwarf, fighter or mage. Similar in action RPGs like Morrowind: you are the Nerevarine, but you can choose to be any race or class. So in the end, the character you build feels divorced from the role he takes in the game. You have a role given to you by the story, but you build a character without any backstory so it doesn't feel like that character actually is the role! To fix this, we don't let the player create just any character, but select from an amount of pre-made characters each with their own backstory, but we have enough of these to choose - many combinations of race and class and sex - that you don't feel forced to play a fixed character. It is the best of both worlds, giving you freedom while still keeping you grounded in the story! You play a prisoner from a stranded prison ship, and there are 16 prisoners from different races and different classes on the ship, each with their own backstory, and one of them will be your character."​

Apart from these major articles, there are also shorter reports about The Great Whale Road and Polish JRPG Regalia, so go and give the whole thing a read. It's worth it.

Read the full article: RPG Codex Report: Gamescom 2016 - Pathologic, Shock Tactics, End State, Demons Age and more

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Tue 21 February 2017
Underrail Dev Log #51: New Weapon Types

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 21 February 2017, 19:51:41

Tags: Stygian Software; Underrail; Underrail: Expedition

Other than the recent experimental beta, it's been quite a while since we last heard anything about Underrail and its upcoming expansion, Underrail: Expedition. In a new development update published today, Styg and crew reveal what they've been working on for so long. The Expedition expansion is set to feature three new weapon types - spears, machetes and shotguns.

Hi guys. In the past few months we've been working (and we're still working) on a couple of major features for the expansion, but we didn't want to show any of them before they were ready. First of these that are now done are the new weapons, so without further ado I give you the three new weapon types - the spear, the machete and the shotgun.

[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

The choice of spear and machete as new weapons was mostly thematic (you will learn why in some later dev log), but these weapons will also have their own place in the melee arsenal. Spears are meant to be versatile offensive and defensive weapons, while machetes are meant to be high risk-high reward weapons that will rely on the user keeping up the offensive. More on the exact mechanics of this will be revealed later when I get to implementing their specific feats. There are two types of machetes that differ slight in critical chance/damage stats.

Now the interesting one of the bunch is the shotgun. I say this because the mechanics of the shotgun are unlike anything else that we had in the game so far when it comes to weapons. When a shotgun is fired it launches a number of pellets that may hit the intended target, some other target in the attack cone or might miss completely. So the chance to hit with the shotgun is not so much indicative of weather or not you'll inflict damage on the enemy, but how much of the damage you launch their way is going to land on the primary target.

I'm going to give you some random shotgun stats below, but keep in mind that this has not be properly balance tested and that before we get a chance to play around with this new weapon a bit it's hard to gauge it's effectiveness and what the numbers should be in order for it to fit into the role intended for it. There is a lot of factors that come into play here depending on the situation and it will take some time to make sure they perform as expected at different ranges (medium, close and point blank) and against different enemies (low armor/high armor). By the way, pay attention to the interaction with the different ammo types when considering the raw damage stat.

I've also implemented the ability for weapons (and gear in general) to grant you special attacks and abilities so expect more of that in the future.

The process of adding these new weapons took a long time because we had to change the way we handled animations of all the different human models and it required a lot of manual labor to get things in order. However, now that we have done this, it will allow us to add more new weapons in the future (not in this DLC, though), to which we are rather looking forward to. I'm not gonna lie, we already know what weapons we want to add in the future, so just keep that in mind when you're posting your wishes.

Anyway, let us know what you think of the new weapons.
The full update has some more images, including sample weapon descriptions with stats. Better late than never on adding shotguns!

There are 10 comments on Underrail Dev Log #51: New Weapon Types

Mon 20 February 2017
Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #15: Companion Relationships Unlocked, Final Week

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 20 February 2017, 22:18:01

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

After getting another big chunk of investment money, the Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Fig campaign reached $3M of funding last night, unlocking the companion relationships system stretch goal. The campaign is now in its final days, and the big question is how much higher it can go. Obsidian don't seem too concerned about that though, because they've taken Presidents Day off, leaving us only with this brief update teasing a "super cool" feature (seriously we know it's a ship guys) and announcing a couple of silly physical rewards:

Thank you, thank you, thank you to all our fans, backers, and investors for helping us reach the amazing milestone of $3 million dollars! It's truly amazing that we've hit this point. We're now the campaign with the most backers in Fig history, and it's due to our amazing fans who, like us, want to make Pillars of Eternity II the deepest, most robust, and most engrossing RPG it can possibly be. We're so excited to be able to include companion relationships, which we know are going to make the game even more incredible.

While we have more in the way of stretch goals and -- only a few days left to achieve them! -- we'll save them (and a big announcement about a really important, super cool, and heretofore extremely hush-hush game feature) for our next update, which will be coming very soon. For now, we'll keep it brief and just say thanks.

And by way of saying thanks, we want to announce that we're including two new rewards for several of our backer tiers, both of which feature the unofficial, super cute, pet mascot of Pillars of Eternity, the Space Pig!

Please note, that due to the holiday, it make take a day or so before the item lists on the tiers on the Fig page reflect the additional pin and plushie, but rest assured, if you're at $149 or above you're getting the pin, and if you're at $500 or above you're getting the pin and the plushie!

Thanks again to everyone who's helped us get this far. With your help, let's see how much more we can add to Pillars II before the campaign ends in the next few days!
Deadfire's funding rate has slowed down quite a bit over the last week, but has been periodically bolstered by these suspiciously well-timed influxes of investment money. The investment cap was increased to $2.25M several days ago due to high demand, so in theory the campaign could have as much as $3.75M guaranteed right now. These last few days will be interesting to watch.

There are 15 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #15: Companion Relationships Unlocked, Final Week

Sat 18 February 2017
Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #14: City of Neketaka, Sidekicks Stretch Goal, Tyranny Discount

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 18 February 2017, 00:01:19

Tags: Bobby Null; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire; Tyranny

The Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Fig campaign took in a big chunk of investment money today, putting it over the $2.8M mark and unlocking the orchestra, level cap and subclasses stretch goal. As I anticipated, Obsidian were ready with a new update introducing Neketaka, Deadfire's major city, but also an unexpected stretch goal. When the campaign reaches $3.25M of funding, the game will receive four "sidekicks" - basically simpler, BG1-like companions that don't have sidequests and aren't integrated into the relationship system. But I'll let you read about those in the update. Onward to Neketaka, with a video and introduction by lead designer Bobby Null:

The one and only metropolis in the Deadfire is Neketaka. You may ask yourself, why only one big city this time around? While having two big cities in the first game was an awesome experience, looking back, the team felt splitting them into two made neither one as amazing as it could have been. This time around we wanted to make a bigger city than Defiance Bay or Twin Elms, but smaller than the two combined. Coupled with some awesome new features and overall direction, Neketaka should feel like the fantasy city you’ve always wanted to explore. Below I’ll list some goals we had and how we plan on achieving them.

Goal: Build a city that feels different from anything in Pillars I and/or other Infinity Engine games, while not being so different as to feel alien.

  • Build a city vertically. The district structure you expect in this type of game still exists, but some of these districts are organized vertically as shown in the video.
  • Add parallax features. To really sell the idea of a mountainous island, we’ve added multiple parallax layers to the art scenes for some spectacular views.
  • Architecture varies based on the cultures that dominate the districts. Vailian buildings and locations are distinct from Huana and Rautai locations.
Goal: Create a city that feels more alive than our previous work. Retain and reinforce the “fantasy scale” of a massive city.

  • The new city map and encounters– This map shows the size of a truly impressive city without the need to model every home, alley and citizen. We’re creating interstitial content when traversing districts on the map. These take the form of special combat and narrative encounters, as well as randomized events. Meet a strange fortune teller that may reveal cryptic prophecies about your future. Cross paths with a drunken noble with a large coin purse lost in the dangerous back-alleys of Neketaka. These encounters take place in scripted interactions as well as on all-new, city street scenes. It is important to note that many of these encounters still include choice & consequence and none are of the “fight x generic enemies” variety.
  • The time of day matters. Ambient NPCs use schedules to live their lives in Neketaka, but so do many of the quest NPCs. This allows us to add creative, and sometimes hidden, ways for players to solve problems/quests. Wait for an NPC to go outside and take a smoke break before picking his pocket for that key you need. Follow an NPC to the bathhouse and eavesdrop on a conversation to gain some juicy information. Infiltrate a location in the dead of night to avoid any unwanted civilian casualties.
The update also announces another leg of Fulvano's Voyage (they've already reached another one since it went up), the opening of a new $65 "Ultimate Digital Edition" tier with additional digital goodies (no in-game stuff, though), and perhaps most interestingly, the addition of a Tyranny Steam discount coupon as a reward for all backers. Backers at the $29 tier will get a 33% discount, and $45 and above get a 50% discount. That's a pretty decent perk.

There are 28 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #14: City of Neketaka, Sidekicks Stretch Goal, Tyranny Discount

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Fri 17 February 2017
Pillars of Eternity II Josh Sawyer Q&A Stream #3

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Fri 17 February 2017, 01:23:26

Tags: Aarik Dorobiala; Carrie Patel; J.E. Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

There was no Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Fig update yesterday, and it doesn't look there's going to be one today either. There was however another Josh Sawyer Q&A stream, this time guest starring writer Carrie Patel. As you might expect, there were a lot of questions about narrative and about the recently revealed companion relationship system. I managed to get in a couple myself, but the most important revelation from the stream was that Obsidian have plans for an eighth companion. The helpful Fereed from Reddit has once again provided a transcript in case you don't want to watch it yourself.

Tomorrow looks like it's going to be a big day for Deadfire. According to Feargus in the comments section, Obsidian are planning to publish the Neketaka gameplay footage update, and judging by the current rate of funding, there's a good chance that'll coincide with the unlocking of the $2.8M orchestra, level cap and subclasses stretch goal, and perhaps the unveiling of a new stretch goal for that eighth companion. There's also a new leg of Fulvano's Voyage that needs to be properly announced, and possibly a campaign add-on that will allow Deadfire backers to buy Tyranny. Obsidian are also thinking about doing an expansion add-on like they did with the first game, but that won't be decided until next week.

There are 2 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Josh Sawyer Q&A Stream #3

Wed 15 February 2017
RPG Codex Retrospective Review: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002)

Review - posted by Infinitron on Wed 15 February 2017, 23:49:11

Tags: Bethesda Softworks; Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind

I'm pleased to present the next chapter in esteemed community member Deuce Traveler's chronicle of the Elder Scrolls series, coming nearly a year after his retrospective review of Battlespire (well we've actually been hoarding it since November). Released in 2002, The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind is widely considered to be Bethesda's last good game before their full embrace of the dark side. It's one of Deuce's favorite RPGs, so there are a lot of things that he likes about it, and a few that he doesn't. For example:

After you complete the introduction, you are processed as a released prisoner and receive your first quest: go out and get a job. You can take up your first job offer to deliver a document to an Imperial official named Caius Cosades in a faraway town, but even when you meet with him he tells you that you need to go out and find more work before he'll trust you with additional errands. I took forever to deliver that first document, instead opting to travel around and explore, investigating the small dungeon close to the ship I'd arrived on and at the same time learning about the local politics. It is in that starting dungeon that you first run into slavers holding captured Argonians and Khajiit, highlighting that this is a game that takes the racial and political strife seen in Arena and Daggerfall and cranks it up to a new level.

The Dunmer, Argonians and Khajiit have their tensions, but the stronger conflict is the one between the Imperial occupiers and the Dunmer who have lost their political independence. The game doesn't shove this conflict in your face, but you can see it everywhere, reflected in the architecture and the clothing of the different populations. The strange native architecture is found in the heartland of Vvardenfell, and the Dunmer of these cities are well-dressed and make up the overwhelming majority of the population. Argonians are more commonly found in the swamps and backwaters of the island, dressed in poor materials and living in squalor. The Imperials have several outposts and ports along the edges of Vvardenfell, which are heavily patrolled by armored soldiers. These locations have familiar Western European aesthetics, which look quite out of place next to the strange fauna and flora outside their gates.

The Dunmer themselves are quite diverse, which is another source of conflict. They might be united in their dislike of the Imperial occupation and their feelings of superiority over the poor Argonians, but if you take those external targets away the animosity is quickly directed inwards. The Dunmer Great Houses are in harsh competition for dominance over the island, and the regions they control deviate sharply in cultural norms. House Redoran is martially inclined and its members live in traditional adobe domiciles, members of House Telvanni live inside giant mushrooms and are strong practitioners of magic, and House Hlaalu mimics Imperial culture to some extent while focusing on trade and stealth. And if that's not enough, there are also several nomadic clans of Dunmer called Ashlanders who despise their urban cousins as much as they do outsiders. The Dunmer outnumber the Imperials and could probably kick them out of Vvardenfell if they wanted to, but they can't seem to get their act together enough to do so.

Moving onward, visiting Caius Cosades will initiate Morrowind's main quest, but as mentioned previously, he turns you away at first, telling you to go take some odd jobs and come back later. The game really encourages you to avoid the main quest at the beginning and to try joining up with the various factions and doing some side quests instead. These quests will beef up your character and earn you some coin to buy better equipment, so it's a good idea to take them early on. There are many joinable factions in the game, ranging from professional guilds to religious cults to Dunmer houses to the Imperial army. It's possible to rise in the ranks of a faction, but in addition to performing tasks for it you'll also need to show that you are talented enough in the appropriate skills. For example, you might be able to peform several important services for the Mages Guild using only the strength of your sword arm, but you won't get anywhere in that organization unless you also display some strong talent in spellcasting.

Morrowind's faction quests usually deal with increasing the wealth or power of the questgiver or acting against a rival, further fleshing out the game's setting. Going through a faction's entire questline is worthwhile, allowing you to earn a positive reputation through your heroics while gaining unique artifacts, such as the Skeleton Key, a high quality lockpick which is the reward for the final mission for the Thieves Guild. If I have any complaint about these quests, it's that their progression is anti-climactic. The early quests you can do for a faction are typically simple courier missions, which are usually quite low on risk if you pay to use the game's various transportation services. The financial rewards for these quests are generous enough to allow you to upgrade your equipment so that you can survive the harder ones later on. The mid-tier faction quests are the best. You might have to march deep into hostile territory to retrieve a holy relic from the body of a fallen knight, or delve into the bottom of a dungeon to retrieve lost technological marvels. But the final faction quests are too often overly simplistic, merely asking you to travel to another city and murder an NPC at their residence. By the time you get these missions, the cost of transportation will be negligible and your stats and equipment will make them utterly trivial.

When you finish a faction's final quest you become the faction leader... and that's it. There are no more missions, and you can't order the faction to do anything or make any other changes. The designers could have added some sort of random quest system like in Daggerfall, or at least have you make the occasional administrative decision to make it feel like faction business was under your control, but there's nothing like that in Morrowind. I think the game would have been better off if your character was elevated to an honorary position in the organization instead of becoming a faction head who has no executive responsibilities.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Retrospective Review: The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (2002)

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Tue 14 February 2017
Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #13: Introducing Maia Rua and Serafen, Relationships Stretch Goal

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 14 February 2017, 21:27:18

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

Obsidian's big Valentine's Day Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Fig update is here, and it's everything we expected. The two new companions mentioned in last night's update turn out to be the unknown characters from the game's title artwork. They are Maia Rua, island aumaua ranger, ship captain of Rautai and sister of Kana Rau, and Serafen, orlan cipher/barbarian and pirate of the Príncipi sen Patrena. But the section of the update I'll quote here is about the new stretch goal, which will give more meaning to those companions. When the campaign reaches $3M of funding, Deadfire will receive a complex companion relationship system. Yes, that means romances, but not just romances. I'll let a suave-looking Josh Sawyer explain:

Hail and well met. I'd like to talk to you today about a subject that's quite appropriate for Valentine's Day: companion relationships. At the beginning of Deadfire's development, I came up with some designs for a system to define and tag certain types of behavior and attitudes in conversation. These tags exist so that companions can react to them both in the moment and systemically over longer periods of time. As the player makes choices, companions note the player's attitudes and build an opinion of them over time. Additionally, companions also react to the attitudes expressed by other companions and will build opinions of them. In the long term, the companions will develop stronger opinions and more concrete relationships with each other.

Our end goal with all of this is to write characters in a way that makes them develop their relationships in response to the actions of others, combining hand-scripted elements with system-driven elements to reflect the dynamism of a player's role-playing choices.

As an example, we'll use Edér. If you remember Edér from the original Pillars of Eternity, you may recall that he has a soft spot for animals, has a troubled relationship with his god, Eothas, and doesn't think highly of zealots. You may also remember that he has an unwitting tendency to express racist attitudes toward orlans. In mechanical terms, we create tags for the following behaviors/attitudes: Cruel to Animals, Kind to Animals, Pro-Eothasian, Zealous, and Racist.

When the Watcher or a companion expresses an attitude that a companion cares about, they will respond directly -- positively or negatively-- and adjust their opinion of that character accordingly. In some cases, the response may be major. In others, it may be minor, simply a minor expression of discontent and a correspondingly minor lowering of opinion. E.g., the Watcher kicking a cat would draw a strong immediate negative response from Edér. Threatening to kill the dog of a thug would lower his opinion of you, but he wouldn't derail the conversation over it. Edér also doesn't hold it against people if they say things that are anti-Eothasian. He understands why people may not be thrilled about the return of his god, but he does appreciate it when people uphold the positive aspects of the faith.

On the flip side, some companions may take exception to Edér's casual racist remarks, either directly or passively. Some companions may also view his Eothasian faith, mildly expressed though it maybe, in a negative light. These can alter their opinions of him over time. Depending on what companions travel with Edér and the Watcher and how the Watcher chooses to steer conversations, certain subjects may come up a lot, a little, or not at all, possibly altering when (or if) a relationship moves an expected direction.

But this entire system does not simply exist for its own sake. These small adjustments to opinion eventually culminate in conversations or confrontations, either with the character in question or with a third party. During these sequences, the player can choose to have the Watcher step in, take a side, or simply sit back and see how things play out. Depending on how the Watcher intervenes, the relationship can develop indifferent ways. We are striving to make the relationships advance in ways that feel natural and believable. Each relationship development will require its own unique set of responses to go in a new direction. That is to say that while we use systems to track behavior and attitudes, systems cannot take the place of the writers' dedicated time to flesh these interactions out.

As far as where the relationships can lead, companions may develop strong feelings of camaraderie, loyalty, loathing, fear, contempt, or even love. The culmination of these relationships may be a conversation, a scripted interaction, a special talent or ability, or even a unique item or recipe. The important thing to our narrative designers is that we treat each relationship as its own unique story that develops in ways that feel true to the characters and themes of Deadfire.
Finally, the update also includes a new artwork that shows for the first time all seven of the game's companions - including the mysterious sixth companion, who turns out to be an odd-looking blue-skinned aumaua. Prince Aruihi, perhaps?

There are 34 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #13: Introducing Maia Rua and Serafen, Relationships Stretch Goal

Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #12: Berath's Blessing Unlocked, Final Two Weeks

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 14 February 2017, 16:45:18

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

The Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Fig campaign reached $2.6M of funding last night, unlocking the Berath's Blessing stretch goal. It also gained enough backers to add an additional leg to the Fulvano's Voyage "mega-island chain". With the campaign now in its final two weeks, Obsidian have published a Fig update to recap the events of the last week and hint at what it is to come:

Only two more weeks left in the campaign, but we're far from done adding to Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. Tomorrow, February 14th, we have a super special feature announcement, and we're thrilled to give you details on two new companions. Later in the week we'll have a new video that shows off Neketaka, the big city in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire that we're pretty sure is going to leave you impressed.

$2.6 Million!

Amazing! We've hit the $2.6 million and unlocked Berath's Blessing. As a reminder, Berath's Blessing is our version of New Game+ that features optional bonuses and challenges that unlock as you gain achievements. The next goal at $2.8 million adds a full orchestra soundtrack, an increased level cap, and one more sub-class per class. Thank you so much for the continued support. We still have a lot of announcements and amazing things to show off in the next two weeks, and in addition to the companion introductions, we will be unveiling the $3.0 million stretch goal in tomorrow's (Valentine's Day!) update too.

Fulvano's Voyage Continues to Dunnage, Facebook and Twitter Unlocks Added!

This weekend we hit 22,000 backers meaning that the next leg of Fulvano's Voyage is unveiled! The next leg will be reached at 23,500 backers. In addition we will be unlocking a new leg if we hit 15,000 likes on the Pillars of Eternity Facebook or 5000 followers on the Pillars of Eternity Twitter, whichever comes first! Spread the word of the Fig campaign and let's travel with Fulvano together! As of today (Feb 13th), Fulvano has made it almost half-way there and a new hidden isle is hinted at upon the horizon. What will Fulvano find next?

Upon discovering Dunnage, Fulvano wrote these notes in his journal before he continued his journey:

"When the Príncipi sen Patrena needed a waypoint, trading post,and hub of merriment in the desolate waters of Deadfire, the settlement of Dunnage was the only natural conclusion. The temporary, shoved-together structures are a mockery of urban planning. Dunnage is a refuge where thieves and backstabbers alike can put their feet up and trade coin, goods, and tall tales."

A "super special feature announcement", stretch goal and details on new companions on Valentine's Day, huh. Brace yourselves, boys.

There are 7 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #12: Berath's Blessing Unlocked, Final Two Weeks

Colony Ship RPG Update #12: The Protectors' Enclave

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 14 February 2017, 02:44:04

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

Another month has gone by and it's time for another Colony Ship RPG development update. This one is a brief introduction to the faction known as the Protectors of the Mission, first described in an update last year, and their imposing enclave in the ship's "government district". I quote:

We’re picking up speed and working on the starting town (the Pit) putting together the very first level. The new engine makes a huge difference and so far everything is going very smoothly, but obviously we’re still in the early stages.

The writing for the starting town is almost done, the quests will require 14 portraits and Mazin is already working on the first two, so we can dedicate the next update to the Pit, introduce some characters and tell you what to expect design wise. Our new concept artist is still working on the locations. Here is his recent work - The Habitat, the Protectors of the Mission’s enclave (the government district):


Each enclave is like a giant deckhouse, a vertical city built on the ship to provide the inhabitants with all necessary accommodations. Maintenance is at the bottom, the local Ship Authority’s offices at the top, living quarters in the middle. That was before the Mutiny so things changed a bit since then.

The new central building is the Protectors' headquarters. Strong geometric shapes, a step pyramid implying ascension built over the main bunker, a blocky building raising all the way to the ceiling, a lovely podium for speeches and proclamations, anti-riot towers, flood lights, and banners.

To remind you:

The Protectors' one truth is the Mission, and the sole way to ensure successful completion of the Mission is to follow the Old Ways. The ways of the fathers, forefathers, and Founding Fathers are together the beam upon which the Ship travels to our ultimate destination. The mutiny, which through their steadfast and timely intervention was thankfully aborted, was the ultimate betrayal of the Old Ways, of everyone who had come before, the nullification of every sacrifice and every life dedicated to the Mission.

Sworn to regain control of the Ship, the Protectors will subjugate anyone who threatens the Mission. Over the last century they have managed to expand their enclave somewhat, but the Brotherhood is deeply entrenched. To overcome them with violence would result in a massive loss of life, an unfortunate consequence which itself would endanger the Mission.

The Protectors are governed by the Mission Control Council, which appoints the Mission Commander to implement their policies and decisions. Failure is regarded as a deviation from the Mission. As such, Commanders are twice as susceptible to death-by-misadventure as the average citizen.

In other words, the Protectors are militaristic, dogmatic, and totalitarian. Order, duty, and obedience above else. Mission above all; 'my honor is loyalty'. Faith that they will win in the end because their Cause is righteous. They see the "world" in black and white: they're right, ergo their enemies are wrong. They didn't betray the Mission, the others did. The Protectors remained loyal, so it's their sacred duty to right the wrong and purge the Ship. There can't be any compromise with the traitors whose continuous existence is an insult.
The update also includes concept art of a couple of other locations. You can view all of the Colony Ship RPG's concept art released thus far in this thread on the Iron Tower forums.

There are 45 comments on Colony Ship RPG Update #12: The Protectors' Enclave

Mon 13 February 2017
inXile say Bard's Tale Trilogy remaster probably not happening

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 13 February 2017, 17:48:50

Tags: Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight; Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate; Bard's Tale: Tales of the Unknown; Brother None; InXile Entertainment; Olde Skuul; Rebecca Heineman

One of the brighter spots in the otherwise dull Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter campaign was the announcement that backers would receive a remastered version of the original Bard's Tale trilogy, to be developed by veteran Interplay programmer Rebecca Heineman. Burger Becky had a lot of ideas for the remaster and at first things seemed to be progressing well enough, but a year later in an October interview on Shane Plays she revealed that that the project was on ice due to a lack of funding from inXile. We asked inXile about this then and did receive a brief response, but this weekend, presumably in a bid to make good on their recent commitment to improve their communication with backers, they made an announcement that's much more conclusive. I think we've all seen this coming for a while:

The Bard's Tale Remastered Status Update

Hi everyone,

From time to time we've been seeing questions about the Bard's Tale remaster and its development status. Normally we don't discuss details like this, but in the interest of giving you more transparency and clearing up some of those questions, we felt it was a good idea to post a statement here.

When the BT4 Kickstarter campaign started, we initially promised the emulated versions of the original BT trilogy - those were finished and delivered to backers many months ago.

Shortly after the BT4 campaign began, Olde Skuul expressed interest in developing remastered and updated versions of the classic BT games. We were a bit reluctant, as we had concerns about Olde Skuul completing development, however, we agreed on the condition that inXile would provide payment on completion of the project. Because of this, our wording around the BT remasters was a bit more tentative:

"Meanwhile, Rebecca will be working on the updated versions of the games and if that goes well we'll get you those as soon as she delivers them to us, also for free! As we're not working on these versions ourselves we cannot give an ETA or guarantee on their release, we'll all be waiting for Rebecca to deliver us an upgraded version worthy of the name!"​

More recently, Becky has made appearances, such as on the Shane Plays podcast where she suggested Olde Skuul stopped working on the project because they haven't received payment. This implies that they've stopped working because we haven't paid them monies that are due, but as mentioned above, we agreed no monies would be due until completion.

There was some initial work done on the remasters, and we released some of those beta builds to you as a way to keep you guys involved during BT4's pre-production stages, as well as to help fuel development and get feedback for Olde Skuul. Unfortunately, Olde Skuul's progress slowed and eventually stopped. Our emails and IMs would sometimes take weeks or months to get replies. During this period we even provided internal and external QA resources at our own expense to help push development along, but those efforts didn't help much either. At this stage, we feel it's unlikely that Olde Skuul will finish development on the BT remasters.

Obviously, we're not happy with this situation, and it has been a frustrating sequence of events for us, but we felt it was right to let you all know what happened. In the meantime, we've removed the BT remasters from our reward packages on the Bard's Tale backer web site. The emulated version we previously released as promised will remain available to everyone who backs The Bard's Tale IV.​

Oh boy, drama! Of course, this isn't the first time Becky has left a game remastering project unfinished. inXile knew what they were getting into here. Couldn't they have hired the guy who did the Wasteland 1 rerelease instead?

There are 53 comments on inXile say Bard's Tale Trilogy remaster probably not happening

Sat 11 February 2017
Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #11: Orchestra, Level Cap & Subclasses Stretch Goal, Graphics

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 11 February 2017, 00:50:58

Tags: Justin Bell; Kazunori Aruga; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

With the funding level already closing in on the next one in line, Obsidian have announced the $2.8M stretch goal for Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. This time it's a big one. When the campaign reaches that amount, they'll be able to hire an orchestra to compose the game's entire soundtrack (apparently the first game only had one for some of its tracks), and they'll also increase the level cap to 20 and add additional subclasses (for a total of 3 per class, presumably?). The new Fig update doesn't really have any details on the latter two elements of the stretch goal, but as promised in the last update, it does include a primer on Deadfire's graphical features by lead artist Kaz Aruga. That makes for an update that's all about sound and visuals, with a video for each. I'll post them here, along with the beginning of Kaz's primer:

Hey backers! This is Kaz Aruga, lead artist on the Deadfire team and I'd like to share with you some of the new visual features we've been developing for PoE II: Deadfire! Our artists and programmers have been hard artwork upgrading our legacy pipeline to make content creation more efficient, and researching tech to unlock new possibilities for our artists. To us this means eliminating tedious and error prone work through automation, and empowering artists with shiny new toys. We've made great strides across all art departments over the past year, and I'm very excited to share with you some new features that will make your next visit to Eora a much richer and dynamic experience.

I'll kick things off with a quick list of graphical features we have working in the current build:
  • Dynamic weather system - Things like trees, ocean, VFX particles and capes all dynamically react to wind. Clouds will cast shadows on the level as they roll by. A feature well worth its own update!
  • Parallaxing backgrounds - This is one of the few ways we can convey depth in our areas. Not only can we display backgrounds that scroll at different rates, we can now place VFX and blur them together with the backgrounds. This allows us to add movement and bring these distant backgrounds to life.
  • Shader parity* between 3D assets and backgrounds - The rendered backgrounds look amazing now when characters walk by with torches and other in-game light sources. Tight highlights bloom on metals and dance over patches of wet med. *It's not 100%, but it's pretty darn close!
  • Antialiasing & Ambient Occlusion - These are more subtle but really help the characters blend into their environments.
  • Various Fancy Shaders - Our character artists now have access to shaders that offer better translucent, refractive, and transparent materials. Expect better looking water, ice, and adra materials on our in-game 3D assets.
Read the rest of the update to learn about the process for lighting Deadfire's characters and environments. Also, bloom effects. Perhaps there'll be more details about the new subclasses in a future update.

There are 25 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #11: Orchestra, Level Cap & Subclasses Stretch Goal, Graphics

Fri 10 February 2017
Torment: Tides of Numenera Story Trailer

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 10 February 2017, 18:08:42

Tags: InXile Entertainment; Techland; Torment: Tides of Numenera

inXile and Techland have released a new "story trailer" for Torment: Tides of Numenera, that tells the origin story of the Changing God and the Castoffs. It's really quite nice - a cut above the usual Techland trailers, which makes me wonder if it's not the work of some third party. Some might find the trailer inappropriately spoilery, although there's little in it that won't be familiar to somebody who's followed the game's development closely. Here it is, along with the accompanying press release:

Wroclaw, Poland – February 9, 2017 – inXile Entertainment and Techland Publishing revealed today the latest trailer for their upcoming, highly-anticipated science-fantasy RPG Torment: Tides of Numenera, the thematic successor to one of the most critically revered and in-depth CRPGs of all time.

This epic cinematic story trailer recounts the lore leading up to the very moment that players begin their odyssey as the Last Castoff – the flesh-and-blood by-product of a megalomaniacal deity known as the Changing God.

A billion years in the future a man discovered a way to cheat death. A seeker of knowledge and wisdom, his ultimate goal was to leave an unforgettable mark on the world. In his quest for everlasting legacy, he discovered ancient technology – the Numenera – that allowed him to transfer his consciousness to a body of his own design. Thus he became known as the Changing God.

In a bid to escape death, the Changing God inadvertently awakened a fearsome, ancient beast known as The Sorrow – a terrifyingly powerful guardian of balance, bent on destroying the Changing God and all of his Castoffs.

It is at this point that the dramatic events of your birth unfold, and your story to answer who you are, and what your legacy might be, begins...​

I find the depiction of the Changing God as a kind of Biblical patriarch to be inspired. Let's hope the game's story can live up to the power of that imagery.

There are 41 comments on Torment: Tides of Numenera Story Trailer

Thu 9 February 2017
Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #10: Voice Acting Doubled, Josh Sawyer Q&A Stream #2

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 9 February 2017, 18:11:44

Tags: Aarik Dorobiala; Adam Brennecke; J.E. Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire; Tim Cain

The Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire reached $2.4M of funding last night, unlocking the Voice Acting stretch goal. It happened just in time for another hour-long Josh Sawyer Q&A stream, this time also featuring executive producer Adam Brennecke. It was a pretty interesting watch, and less controversial this time. The highlight of the stream, if I may say so myself, was Josh's reply to my follow-up question about the controversy from the previous stream, about 13 minutes in. Once again, if you don't want to watch it, a transcript has been made available on Reddit.

Shortly after the stream ended, Obsidian published a new Fig update to announce the achievement of the stretch goal. They don't have a new one for $2.8M yet, but the update does include a few other goodies. First of all, Josh Sawyer and the team have decided they're going to develop a Pillars of Eternity pen-and-paper RPG(!). The Starter's Guide for the new ruleset will be free for all backers at the $45 Premium Digital tier and above, and can also be acquired as a $7 add-on for lower tiers. Also available at those tiers (but not as an addon) is a cookbook by Tim Cain, who isn't otherwise working on Deadfire.

But the highlight of the update is probably the introduction of a new creature called the sand grub. Check out that animated GIF, which also demonstrates the game's new ground physics feature:

Deadfire's funding level continues to climb (have you checked out our fundraiser?) and in fact, a glance at its Fig investment page will show you that $3.2M is probably already guaranteed. Coming up next - a graphics-related update by Lead Artist Kaz Aruga, and sometime later on, an update about the game's main city, Neketaka.

There are 37 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #10: Voice Acting Doubled, Josh Sawyer Q&A Stream #2

Giant troll statues, pets and game keys for Beautiful Desolation + PoE2

Community - posted by DarkUnderlord on Thu 9 February 2017, 01:25:16

Tags: Beautiful Desolation; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire; The Brotherhood

We are privileged to be running two campaigns at the moment. The first, our Beautifully Desolate campaign from the adventure game guys who brought you STASIS.

Our target is to get some kind of a thing, possibly giant troll statue, into the game. Our target is $2,199 but:

Pyke: Heres a deal - no matter how much you raise (even if its not the full amount), if you pledge it to the campaign we will meet the community reward. You're getting your statue!​

So we're there already, yay! However, you can still donate to our campaign and guarantee yourself a game key if you donate at least $19. And because of our wonderful support over the years, Pyke has also said there'll be a few extra game keys in there too. So donate at least $19 to guarantee yourself a game key, but something a bit less might still leave you with a chance of scoring a copy too.

Check the game's details out here, and have a pretty picture because I know you're all secretly graphics whores:


In other news, we're also now running a campaign for Pillows of Eternity 2: Josh Sawyer's Wet Dream Pet Adventure. Obsidian have said it's the same deal as with the Fig campaign. Our target is at least $500 but if we raise more:

$500 Name a Pet
$750 Create an Item
$1,000 Two Pets??
$1,500 Be an NPC
$1,750 Portrait In-Game
$2,000 Super Pet
$5,000 Build a Pirate Party
$10,000 Josh Sawyer private strip tease​ (I will film this and make it digitally available to all our backers!)​

Likewise, donating through our campaign not only gets in the credits (maximum butthurt achieved) but $29+ gets you a Digital Key, and $45+ gets you the Premium Digital​ tier. Check out the Fig page for what that entails. As we're donating via PayPal, this campaign will run a little longer than the official Fig campaign too.

Now give us all your monies!

There are 60 comments on Giant troll statues, pets and game keys for Beautiful Desolation + PoE2

Wed 8 February 2017
Expeditions: Viking Makes Landfall On April 27th

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 8 February 2017, 21:34:21

Tags: Expeditions: Viking; Logic Artists

After the last newsletter, I figured Expeditions: Viking was going to be delayed, and sure enough, the Logic Artists published an update on the game's Steam community page today confirming a new release date of April 27th. I guess that's not too bad. Here's what the update says:


Danish indie studio Logic Artists along with distribution partners EuroVideo and IMGN.PRO are announcing that Expeditions: Viking, the highly anticipated sequel to Expeditions: Conquistador, is scheduled for release on April 27th, 2017.

After the warm welcome of Expeditions: Conquistador - Logic Artists’ PC debut title, the developers are finally ready to do it again four years later with a long awaited sequel. Logic Artists is pleased to announce April 27th as the release date of Expeditions: Viking.

Expeditions: Viking features a branching dialogue system that allows the game to manage and react to player choices. We initially estimated a word count of 200,000, but we’ve decided to increase it by an additional 80,000 words to provide players with more content and give them more options and choices on how they progress through the story. Said Ali Emek, Expeditions: Viking Producer.

With that amount of content, managing localization takes more time. We think it’s worth it to make the game accessible to international audience. That’s why we’ve arranged a number of language localizations, so from day one players will be able to enjoy Expeditions: Viking in English, French, German, Polish, and Russian. Emek added.

In addition to this, Logic Artists stated that additional development time will allow them to tweak and balance combat gameplay, implementing new special abilities to the most interesting villains and will also include added flavor and improvements to Expeditions: Viking’s animations.

We received great feedback from the testers after our last closed beta session, and rescheduling the release a bit is allowing us to spend our final weeks of development on improving usability and addressing the bugs reported during the beta test. - Emek adds.

More information about the game can be found on the official website where folks can sign up to the official newsletter where they can learn more about the game every month, gain access to the the final closed Beta test, and receive special release week rewards!
Hoping to see more Codexers opt in for the beta this time. I'm sure the game could use some of our love.

There are 12 comments on Expeditions: Viking Makes Landfall On April 27th

BattleTech Kickstarter Update #35: Backer Beta starting March 15th

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 8 February 2017, 02:48:51

Tags: BattleTech; Harebrained Schemes

Harebrained Schemes' first BattleTech Kickstarter update for this year is a cursory announcement that the game's beta is set to begin on March 15th. The beta release will be available to anybody who pledged $50 or more. If you pledged less than that and last year's mechanics updates and melee animated GIFs impressed you, there is an option to upgrade. The FAQ included in the update has more information:

Can I still upgrade my reward level or get in as a Late Backer?

If you’re a current Backer and you want to upgrade to the MechWarrior tier at the current $50 price, email us and we will give you directions on how to do this since it’s a manual process.

If you have friends who are kicking themselves for not backing the project earlier, let them know they can still get in on our Digital Reward Tiers, including the MechWarrior level which grants access to the Kickstarter Beta. Just send them to to our Late Reinforcements website to get in on the action. But tell them to act fast! On February 15th, the prices for each digital reward level will go up by $10.

When will the Backer Beta start?

Our target delivery date is March 15th. While we’re on track for this date and looking good, this IS game development, so please take the date with the expected grain of salt. Something may break as we head into this date and it may require us to take additional time to fix it to ensure a good experience for our participants. We’ll let you know as far in advance as possible if something like this comes up!

How long will the Backer Beta last?

We haven’t finalized exactly how long the Beta will remain live, but it should be up for at least two months.

What will the Backer Beta include?

As outlined in our Kickstarter Campaign, the Backer Beta will feature 1v1 multiplayer and single-player Skirmish play. The Beta will include a subset of the 'Mechs and Maps that will be found in the game at launch. Note that the Backer Beta will not include the story campaign or mercenary company management, nor will it include the ability to modify your `Mech loadouts. We hope to update the Beta later with the `Mech Lab feature but can’t commit to that at this time.

What `Mechs will be in the Backer Beta?

We're still determining which `Mechs will be included in the Backer Beta. The target list of ‘Mechs for the full game can be found in our Kickstarter page FAQ.

Will the Backer Beta be under NDA, or restricted in any way?

The Kickstarter Beta will not be under a non-disclosure agreement, though there may be an end-user licensing agreement required to participate.
It'll be interesting to see how the game has changed since the "Super-Pre-Alpha" back in August.

There are 1 comments on BattleTech Kickstarter Update #35: Backer Beta starting March 15th

Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter Update #33: Combat System Video

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 8 February 2017, 02:08:28

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

The long-awaited Bard's Tale IV combat system video is finally here, in early February rather than late January, but close enough. It actually starts out with some exploration, as a party of three adventurers infiltrate a goblin-infested dungeon, chattering and solving a couple of rudimentary puzzles on the way, before getting into a fight with a group of the goblins and their Fachan minion. Other than the out of place-looking 2D adventurer cutouts, the game looks very pretty indeed, although I suspect that UI will not be popular with everybody. But of course it's all still a work in progress. The new Kickstarter update explains:

Combat is the core of a dungeon crawler and our goal has always been to make sure that it is tactical, deep and pays off visually. We also knew to stay with our roots with combat being party based and phased based, yet we’ve come up with a unique way to present this style of gameplay. You’ll note that we still support six characters for the player to command along with two empty slots for summoned creatures.

Obviously, this is still in development and there are things we’re not in love with yet. Namely, the characters on the HUD are still at a first pass. We will be updating their visual look and likely not have them bouncing around as they speak. And the visuals will only continue to improve as we layer on more VFX for world atmosphere, spells and combat effects, add additional post processing, upgrade the materials for the character models and greatly dial up the ambient life in scenes. Already you can see small touches in our use of planar reflections in the puddles of water, and what you can’t see is our system for dynamically corrupting the forest based on the actions of the player. We want you to feel the effects you have on the world constantly.

Additionally, though the camera movement allows for and shows off free movement, we have laid the maps out such that you can snap into grid movement as well.

Getting personality and character into games is paramount to me, and you get a small glimpse of one of the moments when the party runs across the goblins. Expect more of these small scenes that show the world operating outside of what the player chooses to do.
And some additional details about the combat:

This is what many of you have been waiting to see. We talked about some of our high level ideas in previous updates, specifically with respect to our grid-based system. Now you are seeing it in action. On the game HUD, you can see your party occupying 2 rows of 4 spaces each. Enemies will line up on the opposite grid with the same number of slots. The exact positioning of enemies, as well as your own party, will determine which attacks can land, and which will swing wild past their mark.

Another system you are seeing in place is opportunity. The blue and yellow gems on the HUD represent your party's and your enemy's opportunity. Opportunity is a shared resource that each side has, and it is granted each turn in combat. Unlike some other games where you will be forced to use action points for each character (or skip their turn), opportunity is a bit like a shared action point pool. The flexibility of this system means that party members can set up multi-hit combos, reposition for multiple attacks, or evade danger more effectively.

One thing that is harder to see in the video is our input queuing system. When you take an action in combat, you can begin ordering another party member before the action has played out. Although we intentionally slowed things down for the video to keep it a bit easier to follow, in practice this keeps the flow of combat moving along faster than a traditional turn-based system.

There's a lot more to talk about here, from the way elements like health, mana, and armor interact with each other, how channeling abilities and focus work, the way that temporary status boons can affect a character's functionality, or how positional tactics can let you set up more devastating damage. These open up a lot of subtle possibilities, but we'll save more of those details for future updates.
What do you think, Codex? It's definitely no Grimrock clone.

There are 52 comments on Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter Update #33: Combat System Video

The Age of Incline: RPG Codex's 2012-2016 GOTY Results

Community - posted by felipepepe on Wed 8 February 2017, 01:55:25

Tags: GOTY 2016; RPG Codex; RPG Codex Awards

Are RPGs better than 5 years ago? Has Kickstarter really delivered? Have indies done any great RPG? Are we getting more PC ports? Has the "Age of Incline" truly arrived?


Join us now as we analyze the results of our latest poll, where 800 users rated 200 RPGs from the past 5 years, and see just how real the hype really is.

Read the full article: The Age of Incline: RPG Codex's 2012-2016 GOTY Results

There are 1037 comments on The Age of Incline: RPG Codex's 2012-2016 GOTY Results

Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #9: Factions, Fulvano's Voyage, Berath's Blessing Stretch Goal

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 8 February 2017, 00:59:06

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Paul Kirsch; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

As promised yesterday, Obsidian have published a big Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire Fig update today. First of all, it announces "Fulvano's Voyage", an in-game island chain that will be expanded for every 1500 backers who join the campaign. That's right, it's a megadungeon! Let's hope they know how to keep it under control this time. Second, the mysterious $2.6M Berath's Blessing stretch goal is back. It turns out be something like a New Game+ mode, but more complex. I quote:

Berath's Blessings is a new feature for Deadfire that gives players special bonuses when they start a new game, based on achievements that have been completed in previous gameplay. Berath plays a large role in the story of Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire that we don't want to reveal quite yet, but she will aid you at the start of your adventure with her blessings. These can be used as a helping hand to defeat that next difficulty level, to provide additional challenges, and to increase the reward for chasing down and completing achievements. Each completed achievement gives the player points to spend on blessings when they start up a new game.

Players will be able to spend these points on a wide variety of unlocks. Some players may simply want a more powerful starting character - better starting gear or more attribute points. Other players may choose to more quickly advance through a part of the game that they don’t really want to repeat - bonus faction reputation, or starting the game with extra copper coins. Players will even have the option to start the game with some of their favorite things acquired during a previous journey – starting with a favorite companion or Soulbound weapon from an earlier playthrough. There will even be unlocks that make the game harder, boosting the challenge of the next campaign.
But the most interesting part of the update is the following lore piece by writer Paul Kirsch, which is all about the factions you'll encounter in the Deadfire Archipelago.

The Deadfire Archipelago consists of hundreds of islands spanning thousands of miles, which means there is plenty of territory to cover - land and sea. There will be numerous opportunities to explore undiscovered islands, ancient ruins, shipwrecks, treacherous storms, and more still to come.

The local kith (humanoid-types) are the Huana, a culture of semi-nomadic tribal aumaua who spread themselves thin across the islands. The tribes are distinct from one another, but they cleave to a shared sense of identity and tradition. Each Huana is part of a caste system that defines their role within the tribe. The warrior and priest class are at the front, with skilled artisans following close behind, and at last the modest laborers bringing up the rear. Equal treatment is not one of their core values, but those born in the disadvantaged underclass content themselves with knowing they'll earn a better place in society in their next life.

The Huana have populated Deadfire for as long as they can recall, but their mutable lifestyle has led to few permanent settlements and no shortage of history lost along the way. The very presence of tumbledown, monster-infested ruins suggests that local history goes deeper than legends can recall, but it would take a Watcher to know for sure.

The treasure of Deadfire is luminous adra - a more vibrant and powerful expression of the soul-channeling rock that was found in the Dyrwood. Luminous adra is a rarity that exists nowhere else in Eora, and its nature and properties remain a mystery even to those who seek it out. Vailian animancers are baffled by the volume of soul energy that luminous adra can hold - several times more than the normal variety. Subjecting the adra to processing and refinement yielded an unexpected result - draughts that restore vitality and vigor. What started as a curiosity is now a coveted resource.

With this discovery, opportunists flock to the unclaimed riches from different corners of the globe. Eager to turn a quick profit, the Vailian Trading Company brings bankers, merchants, miners, and animancers to dig up every last fleck of luminous adra. From distant Rauatai, the Royal Deadfire Company brings an armada to colonize and fortify the region in the name of civilizing the wild frontier. Last but not least, the Príncipi sen Patrena - a network of pirates who trace their lineage back to Old Vailia -peck away at the new arrivals with skill and calculation.

From the great city of Neketaka, Queen Onekaza II watches as these foreign powers encroach on the homeland of her people. To all outward appearances, she is an installed figurehead, lacking any true power over the combined might of the Vailians and Rauataians. She is smart enough to encourage this misconception, letting it grow so that she is perpetually underestimated by her enemies (even as she pits them against each other). At her side stands Prince Aruihi, observing her seeming inaction with disapproval. Though he lacks his sister's flair for subtlety, he makes up for it with the charisma and determination to unite the Huana against a common foe.

Of course, the Deadfire is populated by uglier monsters than just imperialists. Strange and exotic creatures call the archipelago home -nagas, grubs, imps, unforgettably deadly beetles, and - of course - dragons.

If nothing else, let these facts draw a treasure map for the type of conflicts that the Watcher can expect to face in Deadfire. And I haven't even mentioned the rampaging god.
Very comprehensive. And now we know what the "VTC" on Josh Sawyer's Twitter profile means.

There are 22 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #9: Factions, Fulvano's Voyage, Berath's Blessing Stretch Goal

Tue 7 February 2017
Wasteland 3 Fig Update #17: Status Report and Vision Document

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 7 February 2017, 01:09:24

Tags: Brother None; InXile Entertainment; Wasteland 3

inXile have published the first major Wasteland 3 Fig update since the campaign concluded back in November. It's a brief status report.

It is time to give you all another status update on Wasteland 3! As we mentioned previously, we are deep in our pre-production phase. We have a set of core team members working to build out the vision for the game. In the coming months we have a set timeline to ensure our future team members will roll onto the project smoothly. Lead Designer George Ziets and the content team are hard at work hammering down the overall storyline, as well as working on area design and coming up with all kinds of quirky characters and companions to populate Colorado.

Beyond area and system designs, a key goal for our pre-production period is to get working prototypes for our internal use. These are focused on major gameplay elements, such as combat, missions, exploration, skill use, and so on. A lot of those designs are heavily rooted in Wasteland 2, which gives us a firm basis in the kind of rich reactivity and systemic depth we want. Our prototype work will focus on answering larger questions about new gameplay elements, such as vehicles, multiplayer, and ice and cold. We showed some of this prototyping work in our crowdfunding campaign, but for pre-production it is essential to create prototypes that explore the riskiest gameplay elements, and this will be our focus in coming months.

Since we now have a good idea of the basics, our humble team has been growing. The art lead on Torment, Charlie Bloomer, has begun work on Wasteland 3, and will be concepting and prototyping scenes to figure out how we can maximize the aesthetic of our unique, wintery setting. Dan Jenkins and Chris Wiedel, engineers who worked on Wasteland 2 and Torment, have started exploring Wasteland 3's programming needs, such as integrating useful code from Wasteland 2 and Torment, as well as investigating our requirements to get multiplayer off the ground.
It's clear that the game still has a long way to go, but they have put together a vision document for it. It's not quite as detailed as Torment's was, but there are some reassuring-sounding things in there. For example:

Improved Combat System

In Wasteland 2, we created a combat system that allowed for myriad tactics and weapon types, and in the Director’s Cut, we added perks and quirks that let you play through combat your own way. We know that people loved that greater level of depth and customization, and in Wasteland 3 we are planning to push this even further.

Combat Abilities are special attacks, techniques, and benefits that are tied to your characters’ skills and perks, as well as to their equipment. Maybe one character is especially good with melee weapons and can learn to kneecap enemies to knock them flat on their backs. Another might be an expert spotter who can mark targets so the rest of the team gets an accuracy boost. And maybe one character really, really likes to attach portable flamethrowers to their arms. These strategies, and many more, will help you outwit and outflank your enemies, allowing you to dominate the battlefield through smarter tactics and respond to different situations in clever ways.

Encounter design is another place where we want to innovate. Wasteland 2 had a few memorable encounters, such as battles against the Scorpitron, or huge firefights inside enemy bases, and we want to continue making more and more battles you’ll remember. This extends to more careful level design and placement of cover, but it also includes more ways to interact with the environment. Over the course of some encounters, you will be faced with new and daunting challenges, battlefields that shift as reinforcements come in, or objectives that change mid-fight. We want to vary your combat experiences throughout the game so that each significant fight brings something new with it.

Last, the overall look and feel of combat are getting an overhaul. Wasteland 3 will feature faster-placed gameplay with snappier animations, player input queuing so you spend less time waiting and watching, and a new level of intensity in violence and chaos.
I like that "encounter design" has become a thing worth boasting about. Some of our readers (hi, Zombra!) will also be glad to hear that the document explicitly clarifies that "Wasteland 3 will be a party-based game, meaning you play a party of Rangers rather than one individual with followers". Better late than never on that!

There are 25 comments on Wasteland 3 Fig Update #17: Status Report and Vision Document

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