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 Retrospective Interview: Toshio Sato on StarCraft Inc., Phantasie IV and Tunnels & Trolls
Codex Interview - posted by Crooked Bee
on Wed 20 August 2014, 14:12:19
Today, Japanese role-playing video games are usually associated either with "JRPGs", exemplified by the likes of Final Fantasy, or with niche Wizardry-inspired dungeon crawlers. The first Dragon Quest game may have been famously conceived as a cross between Wizardry and Ultima, but since then JRPGs have evolved in a different, distinct direction.
There was a time, however, when it seemed that some of the other, more "advanced" kinds of Western computer RPGs might also take root in Japan. The Japanese company that ported the early Ultima games to Japanese computers, StarCraft Inc., also localized other important WRPGs — from Might and Magic to Phantasie to The Magic Candle — which even sold fairly well in the Land of the Rising Sun. In this interview, we talk to Toshio Sato, who worked with StarCraft and programmed many of their important titles. In a way, this is a continuation of our interview with Winston Douglas Wood, the Phantasie creator, since Mr. Sato was part of the team that made the Japanese-only Phantasie IV (which Doug Wood designed himself). Aside from that, Mr. Sato worked on New World Computing's Tunnels & Trolls: Crusaders of Khazan, the only Western RPG to be coded in Japan first and then ported to the West, as well as on many of StarCraft's localizations. There isn't much information in English on StarCraft's history, so we also talk about that in the interview, as well as about the difficulties they had in porting English-language CRPGs to Japanese computer systems. Here are a few snippets:
RPG Codex: You worked on two projects that should be of particular interest to our readers, the Japanese-only Phantasie IV and the Japanese version of Tunnels & Trolls: Crusaders of Khazan. We have a question about Phantasie IV first. In his interview with us, Douglas Wood said that StarCraft were the ones to contact him about doing a fourth game. What were the reasons why StarCraft decided to reach out to Douglas Wood to make a new game - and why the Phantasie series in particular?
Toshio Sato: In comparison to the Japanese RPGs of its time, the Phantasie series had plot, dungeon crawling, events, etc., that were miles better than what was being done then. It was also featured a lot in magazines, and thus its popularity was on the rise. StarCraft ported the Phantasie series starting from the first game. Phantasie III especially got a Macintosh Plus-like interface with icons, mouse and windows which caught the eye of the users. I heard it also received praise from SSI.
With such potential, responding to the fans' enthusiasm, the director made the decision to continue releasing sequels and thus, after the release of Phantasie III, I believe he went into negotiations with SSI and Doug.
RPG Codex: On the projects that you were involved with, what were the main challenges when it came to localizing and porting the Western role-playing games? Was it mostly a smooth process, or did it involve many technical or other difficulties?
Toshio Sato: One of the company's mottoes was "Never make lifeless copies". At that time, Japanese PC monitor resolution was quite high. It felt like a waste to simply port the games, so the main challenge was to make something that would surpass the original [from the technical standpoint].
We had some technical problems with the memory size and the drawing speed. As the resolution was higher, we had more graphical data to compute and so we needed to figure out how to make the drawing speed faster. Again, window and icon systems were new and experimental. We had to match the mouse cursor to the terminal's scan lines refresh timing, meaning we had to find a way for the process to take very little time. Oh yes, we also worked on the data organization to lower the number of floppy disks necessary.
There were other difficulties too. For example, in Might and Magic II, in order to learn how the experience system and the item selling calculations were done, we had to learn the 6502 assembly language from scratch.
Regarding the question about porting, at the time we couldn't just casually get in contact through the internet. We usually met once in America, and then the rest was done by fax... Isn't it hard now to believe how it was done back then?
RPG Codex: To what extent do you think these RPGs that you worked on managed to influence the Japanese video gaming landscape? In retrospect, what do you think came of StarCraft’s efforts to bring Western-style, non-Wizardry-like RPGs to Japan?
Toshio Sato: If you look at the Japanese game industry as a whole, I don't think my work had a big influence. However, I think what we did was make the yet-unknown game company New World Computing into a recognized name in Japan, although I don't think that's such an achievement.
RPG Codex: To build on the previous questions, although they were a huge fever in the late 80's and early 90's, Western RPGs' popularity in Japan seems to have declined afterwards. What changed, the games or the audience?
Toshio Sato: I cannot tell you much about that, but I can at least tell you three things:
-First, the RPG genre was getting overcrowded, game development was rushed and the product quality dwindled.
-Secondly, the new fad was simulation games.
-Then there is the hardware. In the 90s, Sega and Sony changed their business from consumer goods to game development platforms. Nintendo also released the Super Famicon, but as far as small development companies are concerned, the fact was that the best platform to develop for became the Playstation.
Furthermore, as the players' age group shifted, mature RPGs became less and less popular.
Today's Wasteland 2Kickstarter update has the official announcement of the game's final release date, which you may have seen on Brian Fargo's Twitter feed yesterday already.
It took a while to get every moving part settled down whether it was physical boxes or waiting on ratings from different agencies, but now we're finally ready to name a solid, final release date: Wasteland 2 will be coming your way September 19th!
We won't be sitting on our hands until that date. While the disc gold master is done and set, it's all hands on deck for the day 1 version and we're working hard to ensure that is the best version of the game possible. Bug-hunting and balance passes are our major focus in the month leading up to release.
With the ship date closing in it is now vital to ensure your reward and shipping info are up to date on your Ranger Center account. Log in (or activate your account here). Check under the Rewards tab and verify your reward choice (it is possible no reward choice has been input so please check this), we will lock reward choices on Monday 25th of August.
If you're receiving physical goods, check your address listing and click the confirm button to lock and confirm your address with us. The deadline for updating your shipping info is one week from now: Wednesday 27th of August. If you do not have any info listed or need to make changes after that date we will not be able to ship the game to you in the first batch. Please check your Ranger Center info as soon as possible, if you have any more questions don't hesitate to contact us there.
Late Backer Store Closing
As part of our locking up for shipping, we will be closing the late backer store next week on Monday. Last chance to back this game and grab this style of big box!
The update also contains a shout-out to Obsidian for their Pillars of Eternity beta release. Speaking of Pillars, it's come to my attention that backers of Torment: Tides of Numenera at the $750 and above tiers have received a complementary copy of the beta. That's a pretty bro move.
It looks like Adam Smith has replaced Nathan "nth notch on Zoe Quinn's bedpost" Grayson in the role of chief Kickstarter RPG reporter over at Rock Paper Shotgun. Today he posted his impressions article on the recently released Pillars of Eternity backer beta. Have a snippet:
If Pillars of Eternity were nothing more than an attempt to recreate the past with a new paintjob, I’d be happy enough to play but might not be quite as curious about the end result. The Infinity engine template forms the outline for Pillars and the broad strokes are D&D-ish, but the deviation is in the details. Rather than pulling apart every alteration to the expected systems, I’m going to focus on camping, resting and healing.
It’s an integral part of the game and an aspect of adventuring that has traditionally been an afterthought or means to access a ‘quick heal’ button. Obsidian have made it part of each player’s personal narrative, by adding flavour and building a set of healing and buff mechanics around the need for rest. Checking into the beta village’s inn provides a choice of rooms, each named and some with implied backstory.
One of the rooms looks out onto a stinky workshop, which means that you’ll do little more than recover while you rest there. Other rooms, pricier rooms, provide buffs to stats, which last until the next time the party rests. That provides an incentive to utilise inns whenever the chance arises and to spend as much time between bouts of snoozing as possible. This seemingly slight change creates a tension – venturing out into the wild unknown leaves the party reliant on their limited supplies and requires intelligent management of short-term and long-term damage, as well as any abilities that are reliant on resting.
On higher difficulty levels, the limit on camping supplies is stricter and with party member permadeath enabled, Pillars is the rare RPG in which combat has consequences and mortality makes itself known.
The classes are immediately recognisable but skillsets and playstyles are very different from one to the next, which provides a variety of tactics to master, and raises the potential value of a second or third playthrough. Sawyer says the game has been designed to provide paths for any character build and reckons each should be as interesting as the next, or thereabouts. A high Might stat is as likely to open up dialogue/interactions options as a soaring Intelligence, and a clumsy wizard should be as viable a character choice as a muscular rogue.
The proof of all that will be in the pudding, of course, and the beta is little more than a spoonful of sugar. Mechanically, Pillars is close enough to an Infinity engine game to be mistaken for one, but it’s shot through with novel ideas and tweaks to the formula. The same is true of the setting, which is packed with all the usual fantasy bits and bobs, but appears to be at least aspiring to thematic coherence and interesting inventions.
As with the rest, the deviation is in the details. There may be an ogre stomping around the place but don’t presume to know exactly what ‘ogre’ means in this new world. There’s a lovely sense of rediscovery while uncovering lore and filling in the bestiary. New thoughts and histories attached to traditional types and tropes. The first time I saw the beta content, Obsidian were playing through it themselves, and a combination of overconfidence and haste left them with two maimed party members as the presentation drew to a close. Outwitted by spiders and limping toward the end of a quest, they answered my questions about permadeath and injuries while keeping some of their attention on the screen.
“What happens if the player character gets maimed? Is that a permanent injury?”
“Here, we can show you.” They instructed the party’s warrior to attack the leader. Evidently the spiderbites had taken their toll because the blow didn’t knock her out or maim her, it killed her outright. Death of the party. I’ve fared somewhat better but I’m picking each class apart as I go, learning the tricks of the trade. The possibilities in battle can be slightly overwhelming at first but that’s at least partly due to plunging in with a full set of characters at level 5. Less time to learn each ability as it is gained.
Nostalgia may be the initial draw, for some of the audience at least, but Pillars doesn’t map directly onto any of the Infinity engine games. The layers of interaction and intricacy of class roles are evidence of a developer comfortable with the familiar, and able and willing to flex the creative muscles where appropriate. It may be partly an exercise in nostalgia and looking backwards but, along with Original Sin and a few other potentialbrightspots, Pillars is making me super excited about the future of CRPGs for the first time in years.
Well, well, well. Shortly after we posted about Tactical Simulation Interactive's Seven Dragon Sagapen-and-paper RPG website the other day, they locked it down, password-protecting most of its pages. Tsk tsk. However, what they failed to hide was the website of their computer RPG, which was located by Codexer LESS T_T using the almighty powers of Google. Here's what it says:
Seven Dragon Saga allows the player to create and customize a full party of adventurers and maneuver them in detailed, turn-based tactical combat. You won’t find any rat-hunting farmers here- characters begin with a suite of talents. Rather, the characters are ‘Touched by the winds of chaos’, and destined for great successes or spectacular demises.
Explore a rich world, uncover lost treasures, deal with challenging social and political situations. The player’s choices alter the world in meaningful ways, both physically and socially. Sent by the Empire of the Seven Dragons to the minor Kingdom of Afelon, the party must uncover who is driving the land to civil war and whether that conspiracy might pose a threat to the Empire at large. What mysteries lie in the surrounding, monster-infested peaks? Who is worthy of trust and who only of death?
The website also has a news blog, which already has three posts. They're not long, so I'll just post them here:
TSI started out as a dream. A dream many of you seem to share. It’s the return of a company you could depend upon to consistently deliver a meaningful RPG experience. While there are many classic RPG franchises and several talented studios, SSI and the Gold Box games delivered, time and again, a new adventure using the same type of compelling, tactical experience. You knew exactly what you were getting: proven technology, a great system/setting, and strategic, party-based combat. Our company, TSI, was formed in that same spirit. While we’ve quietly been working for several months, it’s still early in the overall scheme of things, so please be patient as we role out assets and additional details for what we have planned. We are thrilled to finally be able to share information about our company and our projects.
TSI is a new enterprise. Naturally, there are a lot of questions including “what took you guys so long”?
Honestly, it took time for the industry to mature and for us to find the resources. Three things had to happen:
1. The technology and costs had to allow for the opportunity to make sense. The shift from PC to consoles was a contributing factor to SSI being sold, as was, PC RPG’s falling out of vogue for publishers. However, digital distribution and terrific tools like Unity3D have lowered the barrier to create quality games.
2. There needed to be a clear demand. Reaction to titles like “Legend of Grimrock” and “Wasteland 2” has demonstrated that there IS an interest for classic RPG gameplay.
3. Getting a passionate team together was vital. Like many of you, David Klein grew up playing SSI games on his Apple IIe (then AppleIIGS/Amiga2000/PC). David’s the one that raised an initial round of funding, and then set out to create a company that could recapture the classic games he loved to play. He sought out David Shelley, a lead designer on many of SSI’s games, to lead the design on TSI’s first project. David Shelley was part of a close circle of alumni friends, and he brought in Paul Murray, an engineer and designer of Wizard’s Crown, Eternal Dagger, many Gold Box games, as well as, the Panzer General series. Every member of the team is excited about creating a compelling experience. We’re fortunate to have several former SSI members and other artists and engineers contributing to the ground work for Seven Dragon Saga, a classic RPG for the modern age
People will ask “why aren’t you (re-)making (insert favorite here)”, instead of Seven Dragon Saga?
The short answer is that it isn’t entirely up to us. We are, however, incredibly excited about the new endeavor we’ve chosen.
Once our core team decided to embark on this venture, the very next question was: “what should we do for our first project?” We knew initially that we wanted to do a fantasy RPG but, we also needed to take a hard look at how the landscape has changed and what our development roadmap would look like. Fortunately, we had an immediate opportunity to work with a robust rule system and game world. The Seven Dragon Saga is the brainchild of David Shelley and Keith Brors (also an SSI alumni and veteran engineer). Both have been part of a weekly tabletop role-playing since before SSI formed. Being engineers and designers, David and Keith have created and refined their own system over the years. Licensing the game to TSI and getting to work on the computer game itself became a tremendous opportunity. TSI gained a developed system to work from, access to its creators, and the creative freedom to make the ideal game.
Opportunities to work with (insert favorite game/RPG system) are a definite possibility for the future.
The website has an illustration of one of the game's classes, a "Dwarf Knight", who is dressed in an Arabian-styled garb (and is decidely non-animesque, if you were worried about that). There's also a "Pledge Now" button, that currently just leads to Kickstarter's main page. But I guess that confirms this is going to be a Kickstarter.
The good-looking pixel art, Darklands- and Baldur's Gate-inspired RPG Serpent in the Staglands has a new Kickstarter update, talking about pre-buffing, incantations, and the upcoming beta. Oh, and it also includes a new video. Here's a little something:
Incantations and Imps
The two aptitudes in the video below demonstrate some ways of augmenting your character and surroundings, of which all of the aptitudes can do with their non-dialogue uses. The incantation book can be used by those with linguistics, and it allows you to type in curses against people, monsters and the environment. The imp is for philosophers, and it allows you to drain stats from fellow party members and boosts your own.
Embracing tactical creativity and giving you fun systems to use/abuse on anyone is an undertaking, and you can bet that’s been taking a while to test properly, but we think has been worth the development time. We’re setting up the game to be a good DM to any party, whether they want to burn down an entire village or kill the one thief hiding out in an inn. Nothing levels with you, so wandering into a high-level area with some good tactics to use can net some well-earned XP.
Pre-Beta and Beta Testing
As we prep the rest of the beta areas, we were hoping to get some help in the form of us sending out our original vertical slice, augmented with all the polish up to this point, to get a few folks thoughts on controls and layout. We’ll pick a few backers at random for this, so if you’re interested in playing around with mechanics, leave a comment letting us know and include the operating system you’re using. Much obliged in advance!
We know we said that the beta would be ready around end of summer, but we decided to re-arrange our timeline a bit and move some polishing and testing to before the beta, so that the game and it's many features would be fully functional and included. With this change, our testers would get the best representation of the game possible for testing the things we'd like them to and what they'd like to give feedback on. Primarily that would be skills, balance, and how many ways they can find to OP their party. This means we'll ultimately have less polish to do down the road than originally planned, and hopefully the beta delay won't affect the release plans by much.
Check out the full update (which also includes some nice-looking gifs) here, and be sure to vote for SitS on Steam Greenlight.
So, all those Witcher 3 gameplay demos that have been posted lately, that seemed to be part of a larger whole? CD Projekt have finally uploaded the complete, uncut 35 minute demo where they were all taken from. Well, almost all of them - it's actually a continuation of the E3 demo from June. If you've watched all the previously released videos, though, then the new stuff starts at around 29:00, following what we saw in the Downwarren video from last week.
After killing the werewolf, Geralt climbs into a cave where he finds the heart of a twisted "tree spirit". Although it claims to be benevolent, Geralt chooses to kill it. In return, he receives a rather gruesome token from the ealdorman of Downwarren, and on his return to the abode of the Ladies of the Wood, he discovers that they aren't quite as nice as they looked in that tapestry. I'm thinking maybe that wasn't necessarily the right choice to make...
So, the Tactical Simulations Interactive countdown we reported about last week expired today. In its place, came...another countdown, this time 15 days long. Perhaps realizing that was a bit silly, the TSI folks quickly altered the countdown's website. There's still a countdown, but now something of the nature of the game that will be announced has been revealed there - a reference to something called Seven Dragon Saga. What is Seven Dragon Saga, you ask? Evidently, a pen-and-paper roleplaying game developed by the people behind TSI, an additional SSI veteran by the name of Keith Brors, and a non-SSI vet named Gil Colgate. The latter two also work for MMO developer Cryptic Studios, so I guess this is more of a hobby for them. But don't take my word for it, check out the game's website.
Seven Dragon Saga (SDS) is an unpublished paper and pencil fantasy RPG, which and I my friends have been developing for many years. I may a convert it to a single player computer game in the near future, so I thought I would talk about some of the choices we made and the reasoning behind them. I’m hoping the insight into our processes may help others who want to tweak their favorite system or even create their own.
My friends and I are all designers and engineers in the computer game industry, so we approached things from a technical perspective. The system is designed to model many of the cool effects seen in anime and wuxia (foreign martial arts) films. So the feeling is over-the-top fun, but still balanced to provide challenge and interest.
SDS falls squarely in the simulation category of RPGs, meaning that we have detailed rules covering most aspects of play. Considering our background as computer game designers and engineers, I suppose it isn’t surprising we came down on that side. We find narrative games, where rules are simpler and adjudicated by the GM at play time are fun, but they favor those who can talk best, or manipulate the GM best. Several of our core players are deliberative and structured rules help them get the best out of their characters.
Of course, we have to fight the temptation to create a new algorithm, or create rules which only a computer would keep track of. In a computer version we can have plenty of conditionals, and take into account more variables, but it drains the fun from tabletop play.
We once allowed players to build their attacks from a lot of components (armor piercing x2, extra damage, extra target, etc.), but the min-maxers stopped play to evaluate every situation, and the casual players stuck to the one technique they could remember working. Slow play, big advantage to the min-maxer. Now we allow a single Stunt to modify attacks during the turn. It adds a bit of color and flexibility, without confusing things. And in a computer version we can automate the selection process and give the player just a few attack styles for a given situation.
You can view all of the system's rules and details on the website, including a brief overview of the campaign setting. Now, how all of this weirdness will come together in the form of a nostalgic Gold Box-like CRPG? That remains to be seen.
As you've probably heard by now, the Pillars of Eternity backer beta is finally here, and is already being played by those backers who pledged for it. If you're eligible for a copy, go get your Steam key from the game's portal and join in! The accompanying Kickstarter update has all the details, plus this little greeting from Josh Sawyer in Cologne:
The Nuts and Bolts
The Backer Beta is initially being released only through Steam and only for the Windows platform. We are working hard on bringing Mac and Linux to you guys in the next few weeks. Note that if you are concerned about linking the Backer Beta to the final product, you need not worry -- the Backer Beta is considered a separate product. If you want to participate in the Backer Beta, your final product will not be locked into Steam or Windows.
The first release of the Backer Beta is the build we have put together for the Gamescom convention in Cologne, Germany. What you will be initially playing is what we are showing there. We plan to update the Backer Beta over time to test performance improvements, bug fixes, balance passes, and other changes we'd appreciate your feedback on.
There are no NDAs for those who are participating in the Backer Beta. If you want to share images, videos, or general feedback on content with the public, we appreciate your thoughts and criticism.
The content of the Backer Beta encapsulates the village of Dyrford and surrounding wilderness and dungeon environments. You will begin by choosing basic difficulty settings (Easy, Normal, Hard, or Path of the Damned), optional modes (Expert and Trial or Iron), and building your character. In the Backer Beta, you have access to all character races and subraces, all classes, and all starting cultures and backgrounds.
You build a character at 1st level, but you will start the game with enough experience to advance to 5th. While we have very few Talents in the Backer Beta, you should be able to get a very good idea of the core functionality of all eleven classes. It is extremely important to us that the fundamentals of each class feel solid before we implement more Talents or move Abilities around.
In addition to the character you make, you will start with a list of four pre-made, intentionally (extremely) generic party members: BB Fighter, BB Rogue, BB Priest, and BB Wizard. The characters are lightly equipped with Fine (quality) gear and set to level 5. None of these characters are companions in the full game and they are under-equipped in terms of overall gear (rings, cloaks, booties, consumables, etc.).
The quests available in the Backer Beta have an artificially-inflated amount of experience points associated with them to ensure you can advance from 5th to 8th level assuming you do everything offered. We want you to advance your characters significantly within the Backer Beta so you get a sense of how the different classes change from level to level.
Other than exploration, conversation, combat, and loot-grabbing, there are other systems you can experiment with in the Backer Beta:
Crafting and Enchanting - Crafting allows you to make consumables (food, potions, and scrolls). Enchanting allows you to modify weapons, armor, and shields. Even unique items can have additional effects added.
Hiring Adventurers - If you speak with Dengler at the Dracogen Inn, you can ask to hire adventurers, allowing you to make additional party members.
Camping Supplies and Inns - Pillars of Eternity primarily uses a resource-based rest system. While "in the field", you can rest using a limited number of Camping Supplies (the number in the corner of the campfire icon near the center/bottom of the main HUD). The number of supplies you can carry is limited by your level of difficulty. However, you may also choose to rest at the Dracogen Inn. Resting in the stables is cheap but provides no additional benefit. The more expensive rooms provide the party with long-term benefits in the form of buffs.
First, nothing in the Backer Beta has a direct connection to the critical path/main story of Pillars of Eternity. We have intentionally excluded any spoiler content so our backers can play the beta worry-free. None of the quests are connected to the crit path and none of the pre-made companions are going to be in the final game.
Second, the stronghold mechanics aren't in the Backer Beta. The stronghold includes a lot of additional maps, characters, and content, some of which are part of the critical path. Including them would have been difficult and the scope would have increased a great deal.
Finally, no content above 8th level is in the Backer Beta. If some bits and pieces wind up in the Backer Beta data, they have not been a focus for us at all. You may, through the magic of h4x, find a way to access them, but they are out of scope for these tests.
The full update has details on the sort of backer feedback Obsidian is particularly interested in, a list of currently known issues with the beta, and also a plea for civility in the forums. Yeah, good luck with that, Obsidian. Let the fun begin!
Today's Dead StateKickstarter update is mostly about the game's upcoming second showing at the PAX Prime Indie Megabooth. It does, however, also have some information more relevant to the average gamer. I quote:
We're very excited to announce that DoubleBear Productions will joining the Indie MEGABOOTH at PAX Prime again this year, showcasing Dead State alongside 60+ other awesome indie developers!
You can check out our Indie Megabooth page here: Dead State at IMB Take special note of the new gameplay video, too - it's sort of a sneak preview of new content and features coming in the public beta We'll have an exciting professional trailer coming soon that we can't wait to show off, too!
If you'll be at PAX and you'd like to check out the demo, buy a Steam code for a friend, or just say hi, you can find us at Booth #29 in the Indie MEGABOOTH, towards the back of the 4th floor exhibitor area. We're conveniently located by an exit aisle on the right so you can make a quick escape in case of sudden apocalypse
Oh, also be sure to check out Annie's panel while you're at PAX: "Be So Good They Can't Ignore You: Tales of Successful Indies" at the Sandworm Theater on Friday, Aug. 29, at 11:30 a.m. Annie will be talking about her experience in the trenches of the industry along with Fryda Wolf, voice actor; Michelle Juett Silva of Ska Studios; Megan Fox of Glass Bottom Games; and Alix Stolzer of Robot Loves Kitty.
But wait, there's more!
I'm happy to say we appear to be on track for releasing public beta next week, barring any unforeseen complications. We've been working double-time to make sure both Dead State's public beta and our booth at PAX would be as awesome as possible, and we're pretty dang excited to show you everything we've done in the last couple of months! Next week is going to be really crazy for us, so forgive us if there's a bit of radio silence in the meantime. I promise the end results will be worth it
Here's that "new gameplay video", which was actually uploaded back on June 4th according to YouTube:
Looks pretty interesting. Why'd you hide it for so long, guys?
Dex is a cyberpunk "sidescroller open-world non-linear RPG" with action combat, which looks kinda Shadowrun Returns-inspired to me and has now been released on Steam Early Access.
Explore the futuristic city of Harbor Prime and meets its many inhabitants, answer the challenges the city has to offer, roam the neon-lit streets, and augment your character with skills and implants.
Designed as a tribute to the classic RPGs from the ‘90s, updated for a modern audience, Dex invites you to become part of a living, breathing cyberpunk universe as you decide which ultimate path you will embrace.
The current version is limited in both content and features. Right now it is a small tour of the cyberpunk universe we are crafting. You can do a couple of quests and visit a handful of locations in the city of Harbor Prime. After that you’ll be able to follow along with the development as we progress.
We expect the final version of the game to be released by the end of 2014. However, the exact launch date and total development time will depend, to some extent, on the input and feedback we receive from the community.
The current Early Access version is still very early in development, though, with only a handful of NPCs, quests, etc., available.
Divinity: Original Sin, the latest entry in Larian Studios' series of Divinity games has finally been released from its Early Access status, and the ever-speedy RPG Codex staff embodied by Angthoron has already provided a review a mere two months after the game's release. Is this game divinely good, sinfully bad or stuck half-way in purgatory? Here are but a few spoilers:
What did I expect a year or so ago when Larian Studios announced their Kickstarter campaign for Divinity: Original Sin? A fun, light-hearted isometric game with lovely music, lots of hit-and-miss humor, a fair bit of filler combat, hours of enjoyment to rival the chunk of my life that was torn out by Dragon Knight Saga and a meaningful co-op mode in which my partner would blow me up with well-placed fireballs and lightning bursts. Were my expectations fulfilled? Oh, yes. Granted, things like the absence of the mega-dungeon and the cut-short soundtrack are somewhat of a disappointment, and there seems to be a whole lot more than just a fair bit of filler combat, but overall, this is the game that all the subsequent Kickstarter RPGs will be measured against, and I admit that a part of me worries that some of the upcoming projects might not measure up quite that favourably.
The writing in Original Sin is by its nature fairly light-hearted and humorous as is common to Larian Studios’ style. [...] It does, however, occasionally suffer from jarring tone deafness and anachronistic expressions. Being addressed with “Sup, mate” by a rooster, or have a ram admire a cow’s derriere is certainly amusing, but not quite appropriate in a context of high adventure in the enchanted lands.
The character system in Original Sin is a simple enough thing that most RPG developers in the recent years have managed to screw up. Fortunately, Larian hasn’t, and the result is a simple and solid system based on genre-standard ability scores, skill points, slightly less standard traits as well as minor boosts coming from playing the characters consistently in dialogue.[...]
[...]The world is well designed, with distinct locations, appealing vistas and high attention to detail. Characters and objects clearly stand out from the backgrounds, effects are almost always obvious and visible and the secrets are obscured within reason. The side character models are also more detailed than certain models from Dragon Age 2 despite the isometric perspective instead of third person, so there’s also that. If it’s better than a game from the masters of the RPG genre, it’s gotta be good.[...]
The co-op multiplayer mode in Original Sin isn’t just a hasty afterthought – it’s one of the game’s major hooks. Larian’s intentions from fairly early on have been clear: they wanted to make an RPG that could be played together by friends, couples and strangers alike, where all parties involved would have their say at critical moments, and where all would find something to do. With but a few minor issues, their intentions can be considered a success. The multiplayer experience can be a great amount of fun thanks to the chances for distracting the NPCs (and stealing all their paintings), creating unexpected scenarios in combat and arguing through loads of dialogue[...]
Pillars of Eternity wasn't on the main Gamescom Twitch broadcast yesterday, but it did show up on two other sites - Gamereactor and Orkenspalter TV. Once again, Adam Brennecke plays while Josh Sawyer provides commentary. The latter video also contains a short interview with Josh.
As an added bonus, here's a playthrough of Wasteland 2's Ag Center over at Joystiq, with commentary from Brian Fargo.
The latest Shadowrun ReturnsKickstarter update has new details on the recently announcedShadowrun: Dragonfall Director's Cut version. Actually, it's more like an announcement that they're going to reveal more details in the coming weeks; it looks like Harebrained Schemes is putting more effort into marketing this thing this time around. The update does, however, come with a few screenshots demonstrating the Director's Cut's new features, which include a new armor system, new missions, and GORE! Check it out:
Hello from GenCon! As promised a couple weeks ago, we’re ready to tell you more about Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director’s Cut. In fact, Mitch and Jordan will be talking about the game at their Shadowrun “What’s Next” panel tomorrow at the Crowne Plaza. If you’re at GenCon, come check out the panel! You can also drop by Booth 2343 to chat more with members of the Harebrained team, play some Golem Arcana, or catch a sneak peek of the new Dragonfall trailer.
But if you’re not here at GenCon, don’t worry! We’ve got you covered. Here’s the scoop on the Director’s Cut:
Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director’s Cut will be released for Windows, OSX & Linux on September 18th, 2014 for $14.99. It will be available on Steam, GoG, and the Humble Store. And - in case you missed our previous update: as a continued “thank you” for your support, the Director’s Cut will be FREE to all Backers and owners of the original Dragonfall release.
To tell you more about what’s in the Director’s Cut, we’ll be posting a new developer diary each Thursday between now and launch, looking at a different aspect of what we’ve been working on.
Week 1 (8/21): Andrew McIntosh discusses the new missions and other kinds of content we’ve added to Dragonfall.
Week 2 (8/28): Jon Everist talks about his experience composing music for Dragonfall and expanding the game’s soundtrack for the Director’s Cut.
Week 3 (9/4): Trevor King-Yost explains the major improvements we’ve made to Dragonfall’s combat systems.
Week 4 (9/10): Mike McCain shows the new in-game interface and talks about how it makes combat more fun and intuitive.
In the meantime - here are a few teaser screenshots of the new stuff!
We’re really excited to share the Director’s Cut with all of you and to bring a whole new set of players into the world of Shadowrun. We believe that with all of the new content and improvements, and with your support, Dragonfall can be the definitive Shadowrun PC gaming experience.
There's also a FAQ, which doesn't really contain any super-interesting information. It does reveal however, that contrary to what some people have assumed, there is no third Shadowrun Returns campaign currently in development. Too bad.
Remember that Witcher 3three-partgameplay demo from E3 back in June? Yesterday at Gamescom, some folks from CD Projekt sat down with a representative from IGN to show off yet another demo, that continues the story from E3. It begins with Geralt scaling a mountain and slaying some harpies in search of a cure for the muteness of his strange little companion, Johnny. After regaining his speech, it quickly turns out that Johnny doesn't quite fit the stereotype of the Yoda-esque wise hermit creature, but he does put Geralt in touch with an old lady who is the earthly representative of the powerful "Ladies of the Wood"...
The new content starts at around 4:20 and lasts for about ten minutes. Interestingly, the demonstration ends with Geralt receiving a mission to defeat an evil power near the village of Downwarren - which brings us to the official teaser that was released on Wednesday. Very clever, CD Projekt.
There was more Pillars of Eternity at Gamescom today, once again starring Josh Sawyer and Adam Brennecke, and this time with a less annoying host. The action starts at around 1:35:45 and runs for about 16 minutes. Adam does a better job this time, and gets a cosmetic pet pig as a reward for his efforts. In addition, there's also a shorter gameplay video over at GameStar that focuses on character creation.
GameStar also got their hands on some new screenshots of the game:
It's noticeable that Obsidian are far less shy about showing off spell effects, compared to July's initial gameplay demonstration.
Update: But wait, there's more! This evening is also Paradox FanCon, and Pillars of Eternity made an appearance there as well:
CD Projekt uploaded a new Witcher 3: Wild Hunt gameplay video to their YouTube channel today. In the video, Geralt visits a rustic village by the name of Downwarren, where he learns about an Ancient Evil That Has Awoken™ from one of the locals. He runs off into the nearby swamp in search of answers, where he fights drowners, and also werewolves, and starts hearing ominous whispers...
As an added bonus, here's another video that CD Projekt uploaded yesterday, in which several of the game's writers and designers explain the essence of the Witcher setting:
The part about monsters in Slavic lore being part of the natural ecosystem is actually pretty cool.
The latest update on the Legend of Grimrock 2 dev blog introduces a new playable race, the Skaven Ratlings. They're about what you'd expect from the name:
As a ratling you may seem weak and disease ridden on the surface, but you are actually one of the most adaptable and hardy creatures in the world. You are hoarder in nature and greatly enjoy fiddling with mechanical contraptions…
As some of you may know, we’re introducing a new playable race in Legend of Grimrock 2. There is no place in the Northern Realms without them scurrying around. They have spread all over the lands as they seem to wander around endlessly and seldom stay in one place for a long time. Those creepy rodents are sometimes hated and feared for their scruff looks and contagious diseases they bear. But hardly anyone denies the fact that they find their way around the realms and that they are known to be some of the most seasoned creatures there is.
When you pick a ratling in the game’s character generation section, you get to choose your looks from the portrait gallery, done by our friend Emile Denis. Read more about the creation of the new portraits in here. In game terms ratlings have Strength -4, Dexterity +2, Max Load +15kg and are immune to diseases. Ratlings also get a chance to pick a special racial Mutation trait which boosts one randomly chosen ability score by 1 at level up.
But ratlings are not only found in your party. Like mentioned above, ratlings are everywhere and I mean everywhere, even on the Isle of Nex. Ratlings often enlist to ship crews and pirate galleys to roam the seas of the realms and some of them have shipwrecked and get stranded on the Island. On the Isle of Nex they have nested in the western parts of the island, but they often wander about the island but carefully avoid “The Boss”. Whenever you smell gunpowder in the air, you’re sure to know there’s ratling pirates around.
Gunpowder, eh? Does that mean Grimrock 2's going to have guns, too?
It's the first day of Gamescom, the premier European videogames convention. Twitch's representatives there decided to devote some time to Paradox Interactive today. One of the Paradox-published games they got to see was Pillars of Eternity, played by none other than Josh Sawyer and Adam Brennecke. It's actually the game's beta, the same one which will be released to backers on the 18th:
The Pillars of Eternity segment starts at around 1:04:35 and is about twenty minutes long. Watch Adam get his ass kicked by beetles!
Daedalic just released a new teaser trailer for their upcoming tactical RPG Blackguards 2, showing some scenes from the game. Here's the relevant part from the accompanying press release:
Daedalic Entertainment’s Blackguards are back – better than ever before. In a new teaser we can not only show you first scenes from our upcoming SRPG Blackguards 2. Our development team also listened closely to all the community and press feedback on the games’ successful first installment. Now they’re putting their back into making Blackguards 2 even better than its predecessor.
Blackguards 2, which just like the first game is based on the ruleset of The Dark Eye Pen & Paper RPG, will offer players a further improved implementation of the Dark Eye rules and a more comprehensible character generator – but also larger and more demanding battle maps, more interactive items as well as new enemy classes and many new mission, which will require the players’ whole strategic skills.
You should also hear more from our very own Darth Roxor soon, who is currently on his way to Gamescom.