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Wed 15 August 2018

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?

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 15 August 2018, 00:50:48

Tags: InXile Entertainment; Krome Studios; The Bard's Tale; The Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight; The Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate

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Krome Studios and inXile have released their remastered edition of the classic dungeon crawler The Bard's Tale. Originally released by Interplay back in 1985, in recent years The Bard's Tale was only available as an inferior port bundled with inXile's 2004 Bard's Tale action-RPG, so this is all-around good news for the genre. As explained in last week's Kickstarter update, buying the trilogy will grant you access to the second and third games when they launch later this year. You've already seen the launch trailer, so I'll just post inXile's press release here:

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. – Aug. 14, 2018 – inXile Entertainment, the studio led by Interplay founder and industry icon Brian Fargo, is proud to announce the release of The Bard’s Tale Trilogy, a complete remaster of the legendary series that helped define the RPG genre. Featuring updated graphics and optional quality-of-life gameplay improvements, The Bard’s Tale Trilogy is the ideal way to experience the dungeon crawling challenge that made the original games beloved classics. The title is now available for Windows PC on both Steam and GOG.com with a retail price of $14.99.

Features of The Bard’s Tale Trilogy include:
  • Remasters of all three original The Bard’s Tale games. The first volume, Tales of the Unknown, is available today, with The Destiny Knight (fall 2018) and Thief of Fate (winter 2018) arriving later in the year.
  • A uniform playing experience across all three titles without the need for emulation or compatibility concerns.
  • Create a party in the first volume and play it across all three volumes to create a heroic narrative all your own.
  • For the first time, play as male or female across all three games. Also includes other quality-of-life changes such as automapping for all three games, spell access, and updated equipment/inventory management.
  • Updated art that holds true to the spirit of the originals, featuring never-before-used character art by series creator Michael Cranford!
  • An opportunity for new players to experience the events that led to The Bard’s Tale IV: Barrows Deep and The Mage’s Tale!
  • The final content to be released will be a Legacy Mode, a set of options which allows players to make the titles play similarly to the 1980s originals… with all the challenge that entails!
Like the announcement says, the remastered Bard's Trilogy is available now on Steam and GOG for $15. As of this writing, game keys have yet to be mailed to backers of The Bard's Tale IV. Some kind of technical issue related to adding GOG support, apparently. Hopefully that won't take much longer.

There are 27 comments on Bard's Tale 1 Remaster Released

Tue 14 August 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 14 August 2018, 23:22:27

Tags: Cliffhanger Productions; HandyGames; Jagged Alliance: Rage!; THQ Nordic

Back in December, members of our community noticed the existence of a new "jaggedalliance.com" website. With the venerable turn-based tactics franchise under the capable new ownership of THQ Nordic, there was some hope that a new Jagged Alliance game might turn out better than the previous attempts at resurrecting the brand over the past decade. I'm not sure that's what we have here, though. Behold Jagged Alliance: Rage!, set 20 years after the first game in the series and starring the same familiar mercenaries, now older, more tired and apparently pissed off. Here's the announcement trailer, which has weird-looking graphics:


The developers this time are Cliffhanger Productions, the studio behind the unfortunate Shadowrun Chronicles online game. Jagged Alliance: Rage! doesn't seem to be online, but it does have a two player co-op mode. The real issue is that it's unclear whether you get to control more than two characters at once. It may be telling that the game is actually being published by HandyGames, a recently acquired subsidiary of THQ Nordic that previously specialized in mobile games. See what can you understand from the extensive preview at PCGamesN:

Jagged Alliance: Rage takes place a full 20 years after the original. That’s not so much to make changes in the equipment you’ll have access to – you’re still essentially a jungle rebel armed with AK47 equivalents and hunting knives – but to make it so your familiar mercenaries are now much older. Ivan, the heavyset Russian from the original game is back but now he suffers from alcoholism. He will act as your heavy weapon specialist but if he doesn’t have ready access to booze then he will start getting the shakes, throwing off his aim and making him a far less effective fighter. Other fighters suffer from panic in night fighting, others can’t handle the sight of civilian deaths, and others, like the slim Spec Ops soldier Shadow, are particularly susceptible to illness.

When you start a campaign you can only pick two mercs from the roster, so you will need to balance their strengths and weaknesses. This also means that each island campaign will have a distinctly different tactical flavour depending on which two mercenaries you take into the field.

Like its predecessors, Jagged Alliance: Rage! Is a turn-based tactical game, much like XCOM. Your fighters will arrive in one corner of a hand-crafted map populated by enemy soldiers and you will take it turns with the AI to sneak and fight your way to victory – be that eliminating all enemies, freeing hostages, or destroying objectives.

Combat in Jagged Alliance is unforgiving, with each of your mercs only possessing a few flimsy hit points. Damage can be negated by armour but it’s a much better strategy to stay hidden, taking out enemies with stealth kills for as long as possible. When you must join a full on firefight, it’s important to get behind cover, increasing the chance of enemy shots missing.

Jagged Alliance uses an action point system, which dictates everything you do. You can only move as far as you have action points to move, and that distance is significantly shortened if you’re sneaking. Abilities like whistling to lure an enemy, setting a mercenary up in overwatch, or firing your weapons all require action points, too, so you’ll have to think about whether you really want to move closer to your target for a better shot or just stay where you are and fire your weapon twice.

When firing on a target you can choose to shoot at the legs, body, or head, with much greater chance of hitting on a body shot. You can spend more action points to increase your hit chance, though, if you really need to pull off a headshot, for instance.

The first missions of Jagged Alliance’s campaign are going to be linear, you fight your way out of captivity and meet with the local rebels, but the campaign soon opens up into one where you call all the shots. The island is covered in a web of possible routes and missions – villages that need to be freed, enemy camps that can be destroyed, and also more unusual locations, like reservoirs and water treatment facilities. This is because you aren’t just fighting to clear the island of enemies but to support your revolution as you go.

Your soldiers need access to water or they will become dehydrated. You can find water bottles on the bodies of soldiers sometimes but a better bet is to take control of a reservoir. If you have Ivan on your squad you need to feed his alcohol addiction, so this might lead you to taking control of a storehouse. The island has a major pollution problem, with the enemy’s operations pumping out toxic sewage into the sea and rivers, if you drink polluted water or stay in dump sites for too long your mercenaires will become ill so you want to make sure you do what you can to treat the island’s water when the opportunity presents itself.

Time passes as you move around the island, too, meaning sometimes you will be fighting at night, sometimes at day. This can play a huge part in missions, both in the obvious – you and your enemy can see less well – and the more subtle – some of your soldiers can’t stand the dark, others thrive in it.

Jagged Alliance’s island changes in ways you can control and ways you can’t, all of it needs to be taken into account when you’re making strategic decisions in the campaign.
Other than the two character thing this doesn't sound all that bad, but of course the Jagged Alliance fanbase has heard plenty of promises over the years. They're not calling this one an RPG so we probably won't post much about it, but I'm sure our users will have plenty to say. Additional details are available on the game's Steam page.

There are 54 comments on Prepare to rage at Jagged Alliance: Rage!

Tue 7 August 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 7 August 2018, 01:02:02

Tags: Brian Fargo; InXile Entertainment; Krome Studios; Paul Marzagalli; The Bard's Tale; The Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight; The Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate; The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep

Krome Studios' remaster of the original Bard's Tale trilogy was supposed to be released on Steam Early Access last month, with only the first game included initially. However, in a brief Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter update on the day of its intended release, inXile informed backers that they'd changed their plans and now intended to release the trilogy as a regular product at a later date in mid-August, though still including only Bard's Tale 1 at first. The episodic (for lack of a better term) remastered trilogy now has its own pages on Steam and GOG, with an exact release date of August 14th. According to inXile's press release, it'll cost $15. The second and third chapters in the trilogy are scheduled for release this fall and winter, respectively. Here's the launch trailer, which prominently showcases the remaster's new animations.


In actual Bard's Tale IV news, today's Kickstarter update features a list of changes and improvements that inXile have decided to implement based on player feedback. Some of these changes should make our resident blobber purists a bit happier.

We were thrilled with the reception of the beta both from the public and our backers, particularly through the submission form link that let players give their feedback directly from the game. It was great to read all the kind words, and even where there was criticism, it was constructive. On that note, we've been poring over the comments and data in the near-month since the beta's release and discussing it in-depth daily.

We are now at a point where we can share some early feedback from the dev team on your comments. As we begin to implement fixes and other tweaks, we wanted to give you an update on some of the changes we have planned for the launch version of the game (as well as some changes that we are considering) thanks to you. Here's a list, along with a call out of some of the many names whose comments were read and considered.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as Zortok, we are increasing the number of mastery slots from 3 to 4.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as mdntblue, we are working on granting mercenary tokens earlier so that you can make you own characters sooner.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as dpisacane, we are speeding up how quickly you get to six party members.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as Paranoiac, merchants will have multiple pages so that it is easier for you to sell your stuff.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as Sirtechfan, along similar lines, we’re tuning the item economy for the early part of the game based on your feedback.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as Drool, we are working on improved ways to compare items in the shop. You will be able to compare items in a store with items equipped on your characters.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as Nystrom, one quality of life feature for inventory: we’ll have pages for inventory items, lore items, and quest items so players can more easily track/understand what they are picking up.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as lemiarty, starting inventory will be larger.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as Jalis, after the eight main narrative quests, there will be significantly fewer waypoints telling you where to go. For the most part, it will be a destination marker and that’s it.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as Omelet79, we are adding a cost to resetting your characters’ skill trees. It is no longer freely available anywhere. You now pay using a mercenary token at the Review Board to do so.
  • Courtesy of feedback from users such as Entrei, adding a “surrender” button on combat that allows you to reload your most recent checkpoint rather than play out a losing combat. We will be sure to add a “Are you sure?” double-check to avoid any accidental activations!
If you didn’t see your suggestion here, that’s not because we haven’t seen it. We are tracking and considering everything that is coming in. The above are items that we’ve reached consensus on, and wanted to share with you now. Thank you again for the feedback so far. It is helping to make The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep a better game.​

The update also includes links to all the recent Bard's Tale IV previews and a glimpse at one of the game's character models that inXile have polished for release. Perhaps the game will meet the high graphical standard they set for themselves during the Kickstarter after all.

There are 58 comments on Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter Update #49: Beta Feedback, Bard's Tale 1 Remaster Coming August 14th


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Mon 6 August 2018

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 6 August 2018, 23:39:24

Tags: Divinity: Original Sin 2; Larian Studios

Possibly the most significant addition in the upcoming Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition is the overhaul of the game's third act, which was criticized for its lack of content in the original release. The guys at PCGamesN had a look at this new content recently, in particular the expanded questline for dwarven pirate companion Beast. Here's their preview article, accompanied by a video interview with Larian combat designer Edouard Imbert.



How do you improve on the most ambitious RPG of the decade? It’s a question that’s faced Larian Studios ever since it released Divinity: Original Sin 2 last year, and one that no doubt overshadows whatever the Belgian developer produces next. Yet Larian is not solely focused on the future, and as such, that very same question has been applied to Divinity itself. The result is Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition: an enhanced version that further improves what is already one of the finest videogames ever made. And, as anyone who has played the original version will know, this means Larian has made a very good game indeed.

Revised versions are not new ground for the studio. The first Divinity: Original Sin was relaunched with an ‘Enhanced Edition’, and the changes were significant: a new ending, totally rebalanced combat, additional difficulty levels, and full voice acting being chief among them. On the surface, there’s less need for Original Sin 2 to receive such an overhaul, yet the changes demonstrate Larian’s obsession with detail and pursuit of perfection. As such, 150,000 new words have been written for the game, adding to or modifying existing dialogue to expand and enhance the story. And that’s just the headline.

Much of the new work has been applied to Arx, the city setting of the game’s concluding chapter, based on feedback that informed Larian of loose ends that needed tying up and elements further clarified. The city is where many characters see their final quests unfold, including that of Beast - the dwarven pirate attempting to prevent a Deathfog genocide orchestrated by his own monarch. Larian recognises that Beast was underwritten in comparison to the likes of Lohse, Sebille, and The Red Prince, and so significant time has been spent overhauling not only his backstory, but the threads of his questline.

Word of warning: if you’ve not experienced Beast’s questline, or the city of Arx, you may want to skip to the conclusion. Spoilers lie beyond here.

The city now features far more ‘breadcrumbing’ of quest information to foreshadow Queen Justinia’s Deathfog plot. Beast can find a fellow dwarf in the city who will provide a key to the sewers, whereas before many players found themselves simply stumbling upon the underground home of Justinia’s evil plan. If you’ve played this quest you’ll also know that the plot is in fact the brainchild of royal hand Isbeil, not Justinia, and thus Isbeil is name dropped several times prior in order to build up to the moment of her betrayal.

Further aiding in foreshadowing and atmosphere, segments of Arx’s sewer network have been redesigned. Booby-trapped teddy bears are strewn around the environment, signalling that the tunnels are inhabited, and foreshadowing the gang of children that you later find near the Deathfog stockpiles. Shadow effects point to huge turbine fans rotating above the isometric map, indicating that the sewers are the perfect place to vent deadly gas into a city. Redesigned assets help cement the area as sewer system, as opposed to simply a wet dungeon. These are small but significant changes, all contributing to Larian’s need for perfection.

Upon reaching the doomsday device itself an even more notable redesign rears its head. Rather than the original game’s valve in a wall, the Deathfog disperser is now a colossal machine; two huge vats of fog plumbed into a meters-wide brass turbine. It even gets a cutscene introduction. Coupled with this is an added moral quandary. Previously, you could opt to leave the machine alone or destroy Arx - a simple binary choice. In Definitive Edition, the machine is leaking and is thus a problem to be solved: do you vent the Deathfog into the city, or into the sea? Both have consequences, and so a bit of internal soul searching is required to conclude the quest.
Eurogamer have their own preview of the Definitive Edition, which is less detailed but does mention that the game's second act has been expanded somewhat as well. There was also something about a revamped arena mode last week, but we don't care about that.

There are 11 comments on Divinity: Original Sin 2 Definitive Edition Previews at PCGamesN and Eurogamer


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Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Mon 6 August 2018, 00:15:54

Tags: Iron Tower Studio; Mark Yohalem; The New World; Vince D. Weller

This month's development update for The New World is a bit different than the usual. Basically, it's an examination of what it takes to create engaging faction-centric choice & consequence scenarios. It's a topic that has apparently weighed heavily on Vault Dweller's mind. The Age of Decadence's choice & consequence was impressive, but he believes there's much to improve and has been consulting with the esteemed Mark Yohalem to achieve that goal. Mark wrote a big chunk of the update - an analysis of a particular scenario in which the player needs to convince a mercenary to side with one faction or the other. Here's an excerpt from that:

The dialogue at issue is a quest and mirror-quest where the player meets Lord’s Mercy, a gunslinging lady at the head of a gang of toughs. Mercy is currently in the employ of one Jonas Redford, the owner of a brothel and the de facto boss of the Pit. A powerful outsider gang, called the Regulators, was recently brought into the Pit to help keep out another faction, The Brotherhood of Liberty. But now the Regulators are themselves trying to take over the Pit, and their leader Jeremiah Braxton (erstwhile Faithful Gunner of the Church of the Elect) is hoping to take down Jonas. (Anyone familiar with the television show Deadwood should have an immediate sense for Jonas and the interlopers trying to give him the boot.) The player winds up on one side or the other of this conflict and needs to either make sure Mercy stays loyal to Jonas, or flip her to Braxton’s side.

At the outset of my conversation with Vince about the mechanics of the dialogue, I gave him my thoughts on what I understood the dialogue’s themes to be. (That’s because Lajos Egri’s The Art of Dramatic Writing persuaded me that when the writer knows what thematic significance a dialogue has, it helps him keep the dialogue lean and focused.) Now, with a little bit of editing, I share my thematic assessment with you.
  • The struggle over the Pit is, like in Deadwood, basically a story about frontier independence being swept away by powerful forces from back in “civilization.” Also, as with the overrunning of Greece by Rome (or any other of a hundred historical examples), it's about how the shortsightedness of internal factions in inviting outside powers leads to all the insiders losing their stature.
  • This struggle is taking place against the backdrop of a failing colony ship, so there’s also an undercurrent that as the world breaks down, power can perversely become consolidated into a few factions’ hands because the middle-class prosperity and law-and-order that maintain individual freedom are lost.
  • Jonas is a stalwart of the frontier/insider old guard: a rough and ugly man, but ultimately an exemplar of rugged/ruthless independence. Braxton represents the more sophisticated, more cultured, more connected, more powerful, more modern outside/civilized strength.
  • Being a Badass Lady, Mercy already starts halfway off third base in terms of player sympathy. She values her Word, her God, and her Gun, which is to say, she's an All-American Hero. Given that she's an All-American Hero, she's naturally on the side of rugged independence, which is where we find her.
  • The effort to flip Mercy to Braxton is thus about the prostitution of Lady Liberty to wealth and power, no? It's Arthur Miller’s Death of a Gunswoman in one short act. (Ironic that her prostitution should entail abandoning a pimp in favor of a churchman, but life is rich with such little ironies.)
  • Conversely, the mirror interaction with Mercy is a matter of saving her from such prostitution.
  • Because a huge part of AOD's appeal, and I think TNW's appeal, is the squalid bargaining the player is tricked(? enticed? invited?) into carrying out, it's excellent that the interloping powerful faction should be in many ways more appealing than the local independence faction because that lets the player think, for a while, that he's doing the Right Thing when helping Braxton and the Wrong Thing in helping Jonas. And in neither case does he come off clean, since it's not like Jonas is George Washington and of course Braxton is a straight-up warlord.
    So, with this set-up in mind, helping Braxton to subvert Mercy’s loyalty to Jonas should be about humiliating Mercy and/or undermining the values that are important to her. It’s about getting her to trade her code of ethics for blood money, cheap status, or personal safety. Logically, helping Jonas to keep her loyal should be about the flipside, but in order to make it work within the bleak message of AOD/TNW, Braxton’s men should have an opportunity to point out what kind of scum Jonas is. Ultimately, the proviso to “fight for the American dream” given by The New World is “on behalf of an aging pimp who beats his whores and slits kids’ throats.” The game is set at a point where the gangrene has gone too far—mutilation, death, or mutilation followed by death are the three options for the colony ship. There’s neither a Flood nor a Redeemer coming.
  • If I'm right on these themes, I think the dialogue could use just a little bit more length (probably one more node's worth) so that you have more room for Mercy to waver and falter. And rather than having her persuaded in a way that makes her decision seem increasingly reasonable and confident, I would do it in a way that makes her seem increasingly weak and fearful, or at least compromised. My suggestion would be that the two roleplaying paths you’re offering the player (other than just fighting Mercy) are:
    (1) You establish an awful Et tu, Mercy? in which you show that even the steely-eyed, gang-leading, gun-slinging, hand-over-the-quickdraw-holster, views-the-scripture-like-Sam-Jackson-in-Pulp-Fiction-before-he-goes-soft lady can be bent and broken by the shabby corruptions of the world.
    (2) You carry out the grim work of convincing a good woman to lend her gun to a petty pimp so that he can keep the Pit as his fief, which is really another way of saying that we are doomed to have at best the devil we know. And, of course, having bumped off the Protectors and having lost a good swath of his own gunmen in the process, Jonas has simply exposed the Pit to domination by some other outside faction down the road.
    (3) You might also offer a “player is also naive” path in which he persuades Mercy to side with Braxton because he’s a Good and Noble Man in contrast to Jonas, leading to the inevitable discovery that actually Braxton is simply a better class of bully bastard.
    Ultimately, I think this early quest will pull of the neat trick of simultaneously establishing that the player is a free agent capable of tilting the balances of power in a world of deadlocked factional struggles and establishing that there isn’t really room in this setting for a “good guy with a gun” to drive out the bad guys. After all, Mercy is the good guy with a gun, and at the end of the day, she’s just a trigger lady for one or another of the bad guys.
The update also describes the various long-term consequences for this scenario:

You can convince Mercy to join your cause, whatever this cause might be. If you aren't much of a talker, you can kill her (either in a more or less fair fight or via stealth assassination) to weaken your enemies. Alternatively, let Mercy convince you to side with her when she makes her own play for power (she will help Jonas defeat Braxton, then you'll help her take out Jonas). Thus, the outcomes are:
  • The meddling carpetbaggers are defeated, the Pit remains independent ... but virtually defenseless. Now that the Regulators are gone, the Brotherhood might will surely come knocking on their door again.
  • The Regulators take over, bringing much needed law & order. Being a realist, Braxton knows that he must make an alliance with a major faction. The question is which one but we can leave it up to you. It will be relatively easy to make a deal with the Protectors of the Mission, the hardest with the Church as you'd have to convince Braxton to make amends and do some groveling for the greater good.
  • Lord's Mercy takes over. Maybe now is a good time to tell you she's an Old Testament kinda woman. Her God is a vengeful God and said so Himself in the Good Book. He's all fire and brimstone to His enemies, never thinking twice when it came to righteous retribution. If that’s what her name means, Mercy does her best to live up to it.
Hopefully, this update will give you an idea of what to expect in terms of quests, conflicts, and themes. Your comments, questions, and complaints are always welcome.
Cool stuff. It's a good thing that Vince is thinking about this, given his plans for the game's dialogue system.

There are 4 comments on The New World Update #29: Factional Choice & Consequence

Sat 4 August 2018

Game News - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Sat 4 August 2018, 09:31:42

Tags: Star Traders: Frontiers; Trese Brothers

Trese Brothers released their space RPG Star Traders: Frontiers.
steam page



Command your ship and crew as a space pirate, merchant, bounty hunter, and more in Star Traders: Frontiers – an epic space RPG from Trese Brothers Games. Venture forth into a massive open universe, rich with adventure and the lore of the Star Traders. Choose your path by assembling and commanding your custom crew and spaceship in a constantly evolving galaxy torn by internal strife, political intrigue, and alien threats. Will you fly as a pirate terrorizing shipping lanes, join the solar wars as a military captain, or track targets across the stars as a fearsome bounty hunter?​

Some key features:
  • Explore a rich, open universe: Discover endless procedurally-generated galactic maps, meet unique characters, and take on enemies to conquer the galaxy!
  • Become an intergalactic captain: Take on the role of a spy, smuggler, explorer, pirate, merchant, bounty hunter, and more (26 jobs total)!
  • Customize your own spaceship: Choose from more than 300 upgrades and build your very own vessel to venture across the vast reaches of space.
  • Assemble and tailor a loyal crew: Assign talents and equip specialized gear for every spaceship crew member.
  • Experience an ever-changing narrative: Decide to make friends or foes with other factions and influence political, economic, and personal vendettas.
  • Mold the crew by your choices: As you make decisions and set the tone for your ship, your crew will grow and change to match. Destroy enemy ships with all hands on deck and your crew will become more bloodthirsty and savage. Explore distant worlds and loot dangerous wastelands and your crew will become intrepid and clever ... or scarred and half-mad.
  • Varied Difficulty Options! play with save slots to try out different builds or storylines or turn on character permadeath and enjoy classic roguelike experience
People have been posting their (positive) impressions in this thread.

There are 41 comments on Space RPG Star Traders: Frontiers Released

Game News - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Sat 4 August 2018, 09:18:16

Tags: Battle Brothers; Overhype Studios

Overhype Studios announced an upcoming Beasts & Exploration DLC for Battle Brothers on their developer blog.

We’re very excited to announce that we’re working on a full-sized DLC for Battle Brothers. Yes, you heard that right – there’s going to be a real and meaty expansion with fresh content coming for that game that you like. The name of the upcoming DLC is going to be ‘Beasts & Exploration’.

That’s a pretty telling name, and as it suggests, the focus of the DLC will be on introducing new beast opponents in order to bring more variety to every stage of the game, and to make exploring the world more interesting and rewarding. But that’s not all!

[​IMG]

Here’s the list of major features you can expect:
  • A variety of challenging new beasts populating different parts of the wilds. Each with unique mechanics and loot.
  • A bigger world to explore, full of unique hidden locations throughout that offer new possibilities and rewards to the daring adventurer.
  • Trophies from slain beasts that can be crafted into charms, potions and other items to customize the look of your hardened mercenaries and benefit them in combat.
  • New contracts that have you engage in profitable beast hunting, exploration and more.
  • New weapons, tools, shields, and armor to equip your men with.
  • New paint items that can be used to paint shields and helmets in the colors of your company.
  • Lots of new events.
  • New music tracks.
In addition to these major features, the DLC will also include countless smaller additions. Just like in the past, all the major points and most of the minor ones will be explained in detail in future dev blogs as we go along, so you’ll always know what we’re working on and why. We expect to be working on this for several months and will announce a release date and final feature list once we’re closer to the finish line. We’re also making good progress on our new game, and will continue to work on it in parallel.

Alongside the DLC, which will not be free, the game will also receive a sizable free update. This update will contain a whole bunch of improvements and balancing changes, as well as some minor content additions.​

There are 15 comments on Battle Brothers Beasts & Exploration DLC Announced

Thu 2 August 2018

Game News - posted by Zed on Thu 2 August 2018, 12:32:47

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - Beast of Winter

Today is August 2nd, and that marks the release of the first major DLC for Pillars of Eternity II – Pillars of Eternity II: Beast of Winter.
The DLC should be available in 6 hours from when I have posted this news.
Steam: https://store.steampowered.com/app/821940/Pillars_of_Eternity_II_Deadfire__Beast_of_Winter/
GOG.com: https://www.gog.com/game/pillars_of_eternity_ii_deadfire_the_beast_of_winter



Far in the southernmost reaches of the Deadfire Archipelago, frost and death have encroached upon the land of the living. You, Watcher, have received a missive from the isle's residents: worshipers of Rymrgand, the god of entropy and disaster. They call you Duskspeaker, a harbinger of the end, and pray you fulfill your destiny.

In this new DLC for Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire:
  • Embark upon an adventure that will take you to Hel itself.
  • Join forces with Vatnir, an Endings Godlike and Priest of Rymrgand, to bring battle to the monstrosities that roam the Beyond.
  • Confront an ancient dragon, whom even the gods fear, before she brings Eora to an icy end.
There's also a new backer update video about Beast of Winter.

There are 24 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #53: Beast of Winter Released

Wed 1 August 2018

Game News - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Wed 1 August 2018, 20:53:29

Tags: Copper Dreams; Whalenought Studios

There's a new Kickstarter update available for Whalenought's Copper Dreams.
The update covers examples of the new art style, like this...

[​IMG]

... news about a new community website and some gameplay related stuff like, for example, cybernetics:

You can automate cybernetics by just toggling them on in your medical screen, they'll show up next to your normal fleshy limbs if available. Characters are a single entity whose turns are the use of one skill and item at a time, but cybernetics that extend themselves, like tentacle arms or floating robots, are controlled as individuals with their own AI and turns, effectively making them like companions attached to you. Each of these entities get their own tile that can take damage (fortunately sometimes in place of you). You'll be able to direct some commands to them from the companion dock.

During development we split the design of cybernetics and items, so things like harpoons and 1-time use objects are now just going to be items you carry, and things that operate on their own are cybernetics. We found the previous system limiting, as their isn't action points to distribute we can go off the rails and just have lots of things taking turns at once. You can toggle enhanced armor, vision, reflexes, laser arms or more powerful melee attacks, but you'll be equipping items for your own ticks.

To run cybernetic hardware you’ll need to have battery packets in your inventory. These take up some room and are heavy, so if you’re doing a cybernetic-centric build your inventory will resemble a power station and you'll need the Vigor to carry it all.​

There are 10 comments on Copper Dreams Kickstarter Update #20: New Art Direction, Driveable Vehicles, Cybernetics and More

Editorial - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Wed 1 August 2018, 11:17:17

Tags: Dungeons & Dragons; Gary Gygax

A couple days ago DnD Beyond penned a retrospective on the birth of Dungeons and Dragons, in memory of Gary Gygax (PBUH) who's rolling the dice in Sigil right now or on whatever plane of existence he ended up on.

On this day, we celebrate the birth of the founder of our hobby, and look back at the story of its creation. Where did D&D come from? What inspired Gygax and Arneson to create this game that has become not just a hobby but a lifestyle for so many people? Could they have possibly anticipated the success of the fifth edition of their game, or that it would ever become a mainstream sensation that attracts not just Hollywood actors, but millions upon millions of normal people like you and me to play this game, and even broadcast their gameplay online for others’ enjoyment?​

Wait... what? Did this soyboy not just imply that 5th ed. isn't irredeemable garbage but that oldschool nerds are "not normal" and that thanks to their butchering of a once splendid system the game can now be enjoyed by "normal" people, i.e. idiots? I don't even...

One more excerpt:

TSR released a new edition of Dungeons & Dragons in 1977. In fact, two new editions were being created at once. One was J. Eric Holmes’s Dungeons & Dragons Basic Set, which was essentially a cohesive and unified revision of the game created by Gygax and Arneson. The second, known as Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D), was produced by Gygax himself. AD&D was separated into four hardcover books: the Player’s Handbook, Monster Manual, and Dungeon Master’s Guide—a tradition that has been replicated by AD&D’s descendants for decades—plus a final book, Deities and Demigods. As Gygax’s creation, AD&D went on to become the “official” version of D&D. It received a 2nd edition in 1987, and by the time its 3rd edition was produced by Wizards of the Coast in 2000, it was so ubiquitous that AD&D was simply known as “Dungeons & Dragons.”

As this new edition was made following Arneson’s departure from TSR, Gygax declared the game his own creation and excluded Arneson from any royalties related to AD&D as a separate entity from the original Gygax & Arneson D&D books. Arneson sued TSR in 1979. While he emerged victorious, the lawsuit over AD&D (and a second lawsuit over the AD&D Monster Manual II) ended the partnership between Gygax and Arneson for good.

The story of Gygax and Arneson ultimately ended in tragedy for both men. Brian Blume’s brother, Kevin Blume, became the new COO of TSR by buying out his father’s stock, and dozens of TSR employees were laid off in the wake of his ascension. Some voiced support for Arneson and disdain for Gygax and the Blumes, but the Blumes were no friends of Gygax’s, either. In 1982, Kevin Blume forced Gygax to step down from TSR’s board and supplanted him as CEO. Gygax remained with TSR for the next 3 years, but his influence over the company only waned—with a brief but glorious resurgence in 1985 with the release of Unearthed Arcana and other major hardcover books—until he finally left TSR, defeated, on the final day of 1985.​

There are 27 comments on On the birth of Dungeons and Dragons

Game News - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Wed 1 August 2018, 09:30:45

Tags: OtherSide Entertainment; Sam Luangkhot; Underworld Ascendant

As the release date draws near Otherside's Underworld Ascendant receives a new update.
It hardly contains new info though, save for a few screenshots, and reads more like a sales pitch.

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They're still looking for play-testers though, if you're into that kinda thing.

Thank you to everyone who submitted feedback through our Backer Alpha survey, and those of you who have volunteered to help us playtest Underworld Ascendant! Your feedback has been incredibly important to us, and nailing the feeling of the Abyss has been one of our highest priorities over the last few weeks.

Nearly 1,800 of you unlocked access to the Backer Alpha build last month, and we received over 80 detailed survey responses.

If any of you would like to continue playing Underworld Ascendant, or are a new fan and not a backer, we are still looking for external playtesters. (Note: Windows ONLY).

There are 1 comments on Underworld Ascendant Update #48: New Screenshots

Sun 29 July 2018

Review - posted by Infinitron on Sun 29 July 2018, 17:23:12

Tags: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption; Transolar Games

Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption has been out for about three weeks now. Commercially, it's done about as well as you might expect from a game with exactly zero mainstream reviews. Who cares about that, though? We like it! It's not a great game, but it is a good game, and most importantly, 20 years after Quest for Glory V, it's indisputably a Corey and Lori Cole game. Frequent contributor Deuce Traveler has written a review that should give you a good idea of what it's like to play Hero-U. Here's an excerpt:

In Hero-U, you play as wannabe master thief Shawn O'Conner, who is caught stealing a certain special coin from a rich man's manor. To atone for his crime, Shawn is forced to attend the titular Hero University. At Hero-U, you're just one student in a classroom full of aspiring rogues (though they insist upon calling themselves "disbarred bards" in public to avoid scrutiny). Your teacher, Master von Urwald, encourages you to take the virtuous path of the roguish hero instead of that of the thieving villain. Over the course of the game, you'll have to survive through the fifty day long school year, with the goal of making it to graduation without being expelled or killed. Expulsion is the most immediate threat since the school hands out demerits like candy. You start out with a few coins worth of valuables and have to find a way to purchase your own school uniform before the school administrator Terk starts dropping them on you. If you collect 100 demerits then it's game over.

Terk is a great example of an effective one-dimensional villain. He's a power-hungry weasel, delighting at every opportunity to torment you and your fellow schoolmates. As a character he has no real depth outside of being weak and opportunistic, but the man is utterly relentless, always ready to drop a demerit on you for the slightest perceived insult, or if he catches you walking around past curfew, or if you aren't wearing your full uniform during school hours. Every time Terk spots you he'll stop you in your tracks just to heckle you, making you want to strangle the man for the needless disruption. The petty asshole is everywhere, constantly abusing his power, for which you have no immediate means to strike back.

Terk does a good job of setting the game's tone. In Hero-U, you're not a paladin ready to take on swarms of foes, or a sorcerer who can bend the fabric of reality. You're just some poor kid with a bit of talent for sneaking, thrown into an unfamiliar academic setting where you have to put in real effort to survive. In this game, time is your greatest enemy. You spend the majority of your days in class, with about an hour to yourself before your elective class starts, another hour before dinner, and another three hours before curfew. After curfew you'll want to shower so people don't complain about your stench, do some studying, and chat with your roommate before going to bed. You could stay up late, but if you overdo it you'll be too exhausted to stay awake during the next day's class and suffer penalties to your skills.

Therein lies much of Hero-U's difficulty. I'll get to the combat system later, but for now just be aware that you can successfully retreat from a fight at any time, and if you fall to an enemy often the game will tell you that a classmate rescued you from death. But despite not having to worry about death, the experience of playing Hero-U is stressful because you always have to keep one eye on the clock. Over the course of the game, you'll have to find the time to explore the dungeons beneath the school. Having to sneak past threats down there will slow you down, and one wrong move can cost you hours. Personally, I found this enjoyable, since it kept my mind focused and I never felt like I could just glide effortlessly through the game. But I could see people feeling that Hero-U is just too slow to give them the buzz that they need. I will admit that it gave me unpleasant flashbacks to my college freshman year. No other game has ever done that to me, so at least I can say it's a great university simulator.

The downside of Hero-U's time-based structure is that there are some situations that seem like you should be able to solve them right away, but the game won't allow you to until enough days have passed. For example, early on I discovered some secret passages that a nighttime thief may have been using, but I wasn't allowed to set a trap for the thief until I'd collected all of the clues to what was going on. It's frustrating when a game that allows so much choice still finds ways to railroad you, especially when there's no hint that you need to sleep in order to progress.

Do you like choice and consequence? Every decision you make in Hero-U has some sort of consequence. The type of training you decide to take will improve your character in different ways, as will your choice of elective. If you decide that your basic thieving skills are more important to you, you can ditch the electives altogether and ignore invitations to hang out with your classmates, giving you the time to build a very talented character at the expense of losing out on craftable items, clues and extra coin. The story continues whether or not you decide to become involved with events.

Ignoring important quests in favor of other pursuits will result in one of the other students stepping up to solve them instead, which will impress your teacher. Impressing your teacher doesn't actually matter much unless you care about what he has to say when you graduate, though. You can also decide to be an asshole, earning the appreciation of the class bully at the expense of alienating everybody else. For example, at one point your roommate thinks someone stole his instrument when it was actually lost in a pile of junk. You can give it back to him, but you can also keep it to mess with his head. Hero-U wants you to perform good deeds, but it also allows you to pass on all of the heroics and gives you the opportunity to selfishly pull the rug out from under everyone at its conclusion.

As INXS would say, there's not enough time for all that I want to do. In order to survive, you'll have to quickly figure out what kind of disbarred bard you want to be and train up your skills accordingly. Skills can be increased by taking classes or by practicing them. Shawn's scores are pretty pathetic on day one and you won't be able to max them all out in a single playthrough. The first time I played the game, I was only able to max out my Climbing and Magic skills, while on my second run I maxed out Smarts and Gaming skills. Every one of your skills has some use. When you try to use one of them to overcome a challenge, it's compared to a hidden threshold. For example, you need a high enough Gaming skill to beat your fellow students at a game of billiards and take their money, otherwise you'll lose and have to pay them. If you have no magical skills, forget about being able to cast a spell to get through a magically locked portal. And if you're charming enough, you just might be able to pass one of the toughest challenges in the game and get your roommate to clean his side of the room without pissing him off.

The game has three such social skills - Charm, Smarts, and Moxie. Different characters will respond more positively to different skills depending on their personalities. Charm dialogue options allow you to be compassionate when people are talking about their issues, but you might also come across as a bit of an ass kisser. Smart rogues come across as cold and calculated, but the skill can be helpful for walking people through solutions to problems. And Moxie allows you to unleash your inner troll and piss off everyone with snarky comments. You should focus on one of the social skills and stick with it, since different characters will be drawn to you and different events will open up depending on your choice. Storywise there isn't much of a difference between Smarts and Charm, but playing a character with high Moxie will drastically change your outcome.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption

There are 35 comments on RPG Codex Review: Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption

Fri 27 July 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 27 July 2018, 01:35:36

Tags: Stoic Studio; The Banner Saga 3

Ah, Banner Saga. Once one of the banner (heh) examples of early Kickstarter success, it's since become perhaps the archetypal victim of RPG sequel fatigue syndrome. The Banner Saga 2 was a commercial failure, but developer Stoic swore they'd conclude the trilogy anyway, and so they have. In The Banner Saga 3, the heroes of the Norse-themed setting make their last stand against the darkness that's engulfing the world. While one half of the party helps defend the last human city of Arberrang, the other half must venture forth into the darkness in a desperate attempt to defeat it. You can see some of that in the game's launch trailer:


Reviews of Banner Saga 3 are quite positive, citing its dramatic storyline and extensive save import reactivity for praise. Not all of the journos were happy with the game's challenging multi-wave combat scenarios, though. Here are all of the reviews I was able to find:


The Banner Saga 3 is available now on Steam and GOG for $25. Good luck to Stoic - this may be the last we ever see of them.

There are 35 comments on The Banner Saga 3 Released

Thu 26 July 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 26 July 2018, 23:52:34

Tags: Code of the Savage

No matter how plugged in you think are to the RPG scene, there are always games that surprise you. Code of the Savage has been in development since at least early 2017 and was on Steam Greenlight last year, but it completely flew under our radar, until today when it launched on Kickstarter. The game's creator, an Australian chap named Geoff Jones, say it's inspired by classic RPGs from the 80s and 90s, in particular the Ultima and Gold Box series. The Ultima VI and VII influences are particularly obvious, though I'd also add that the game appears to be single character, with fast-paced combat similar to traditional roguelikes. But you should really see it for yourself. The pitch is very simple, but the video will tell you everything you need to know.



Code of the Savage is a tale of vengeance and survival. After escaping a slave ship, you have found yourself in chains and washed ashore on the island Kingdom of Daneth. You must find your way in a brutal and unforgiving world where nothing is black and white.

Deep and disturbing quandaries underpin the driving force of the game.

Code of the Savage is a no-holds-barred classic western style RPG. Inspired by the greats from the 80-90’s with a modern flair. There is a strong emphasis on player freedom through social and moral interactions… Will you choose to fire bomb the brothel, the church… Or both? Will you do it for money, glory or just because?

I think a problem with many of today's RPGs is that they expect you to know and care about their lore and backstory before you even take your first steps. In Code of the Savage, you and the main character are totally new to Daneth. So I don't want you to know the lore and backstory straight away. I want you to discover these things on your own terms as you play the game and interact with its inhabitants.

I wanted to create a role playing game that brought me back to my gamer days as a child on the C64 and MS-DOS PC. There is just something lacking in today's RPG's that I miss. Tired of micro-transactions, and randomly generated worlds; I am creating a world that is hand crafted with purpose. Essentially, I am creating the game that I want to play.

I believe one of the most important aspects of an RPG is the characters you meet in the game. I have therefore placed a great emphasis on NPC interaction. Each NPC in Code of The Savage has their own story, their own character portrait and a daily schedule. They will, go about their daily lives, going to work, eating and sleeping.

Level up your character and adventure forth to discover the treasures, history, and people of Daneth.

Features
  • Open world - A large open, seamless, non-linear, hand-crafted world for you to explore. Including day and night cycles, and weather.
  • Exploration - Discover towns, cities, hidden caves and dungeons. Unravel the rich lore of Daneth.
  • NPCs with depth - Meet a rich cast of NPCs with a dynamic branching conversation system. NPCs remember your name and react differently depending on the situation.
  • Dark themes - I don't hold back on what some may consider offensive content. If you're easily offended, Code of The Savage is probably not for you... This is not a "slay the dragon" and "save the princess" RPG.
  • Player freedom - There are various ways to progress through the game, with no right or wrong answers. Morality in Code of The Savage is not black and white. You decide what's right, and you decide what's wrong.
  • Adventure - Battle giants, undead and other creatures, hunt to gather resources, or go on a murderous rampage, the choice is yours.
  • Combat - Fast-paced dynamic combat system which is a mix between turn based and real time. Combat encounters happen in real time, without loading to a separate combat screen.
  • Inventory - An intuitive and easy to use inventory system. Any equipment and armour the player is wearing shows on their avatar.
  • Controls - Smooth grid-based movement. Easy and intuitive mouse and keyboard controls.
  • Fun - A familiar old school RPG game mechanic. Cast spells, hack, slash, level up, upgrade gear and kick ass!
Looks pretty cool, eh? Geoff is looking to raise 5500 Australian dollars to finish Code of the Savage. That's just $4000 in American, a completely achievable goal. But the project definitely needs more attention, so let's give it some. You can get yourself a copy of the game for a mere 10 AUD. The estimated release date is November 2019.

There are 52 comments on Ultima and Gold Box inspired RPG Code of the Savage is now on Kickstarter

Wed 25 July 2018

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Wed 25 July 2018, 23:56:55

Tags: Brandon Adler; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - Beast of Winter

Last week's Pillars of Eternity II Fig update had some pretty screenshots of the upcoming Beast of Winter expansion DLC, but not much in the way of hard detail. In a new interview, oddly split between MMORPG.com and GameSpace, game director Brandon Adler provides some clarity about the DLC and the accompanying Patch 2.0. Here's an excerpt:

MMORPG: What is the story in Beast of Winter about?

Brandon Adler: The high-level, mostly spoiler-free version is the player is contacted by a Rymrgand-worshipping doomsday cult stationed on a quickly growing iceberg in the southern Deadfire. Quickly growing is underselling it a bit as the iceberg has started to expand rapidly recently and is threatening to swallow the world in frost in short (relatively speaking) order.

The cult is convinced that the player is the Duskspeaker, a herald of the end times, and has invited them to Harbingers' Watch to celebrate the end of the world. The player will learn about the cult, their leader Vatnir, why the iceberg is spreading, and how to deal with the problem. Dealing with the iceberg sends the party into Rymrgand’s realm in the Beyond, where players will see some fantastic areas and learn about the inner workings of The Beyond and the White Void.

MMORPG: What kind of content can players expect (i.e. how many new quests)? Will there be any new followers and / or crew to find?

Brandon Adler: Beast of Winter adds all of the things you would expect from an Obsidian game – new areas and dungeons to explore, dozens of new items and creatures, and fun, engaging quests. We have also added Vatnir, an Endings godlike the player can convince to follow them into the depths of the White Void.

Due to the nature of the DLC, some of the game’s previous companions will also have quite a bit to say. For example, Ydwin, as a pale elf animancer, has a lot to talk about as it relates to the people of the cult, Rymrgand, and the nature of souls.

MMORPG: Are there any completely new features being added in this DLC or in the other two coming later this year?

Brandon Adler: There is a new item type being added to Beast of Winter – the Trinket. Trinkets are items that allows characters to cast powerful, once per rest abilities that can turn the tide of a battle.

We also have many other new features planned for future DLCs and patches, but we will talk about those later.

MMORPG: What if a player has “finished” the game prior to the DLC? How do they access it?

Brandon Adler: The DLC is accessed by heading directly to the iceberg in the southern portion of the Deadfire. While players can access the DLC content at any time after they have their ship, it is specially crafted for parties of levels 14 – 15. For players not in that level range, level scaling will work with the DLC content.

If a player has finished the story from the base game, they can access the “point of no return” save and start their Beast of Winter adventure.

MMORPG: Do the events in the DLC have any impact on the end of the game?

Brandon Adler: The adventure for Beast of Winter is a mostly self-contained experience that is resolved separately from the main story in Deadfire. That said, there is some reactivity in Deadfire based on things that happen in the DLC, and the game boasts additional end slides for the Beast of Winter content.

GameSpace: What about the free update for all players. What can everyone expect to find with the update that launches alongside Beast of Winter?

Brandon Adler: Along with Beast of Winter, we are also releasing The Deck of Many Things DLC for all players. It’s a free DLC which introduces a new ship to the world map, The Deck of Many Things. This ship, ancient Engwithan in origin, has some of the most unique items and crew in all of the Deadfire. And for those that want to try to take the ship on in naval combat, it’s the hardest ship fight in the game.

We are also adding Magran’s Fires, which are special challenges that allow players to go through the game with additional limitations. For example, a player doing Berath’s Challenge is unable to flee from combats and their party members are permanently killed if not revived within six seconds of being knocked out. One of the stranger challenges is Galawain’s Challenge, which gives all Beast type creatures additional random abilities in combat.

These challenges are all played on Path of the Damned and have a special version of level scaling enabled which only allows for upward scaling.
If you'd like to know even more, Brandon will be answering questions about the new patch on Obsidian's Twitch channel tomorrow.

There are 10 comments on Brandon Adler talks Beast of Winter at MMORPG.com and GameSpace

Fri 20 July 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 20 July 2018, 23:59:31

Tags: Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

For a while it seemed like Owlcat were actually going to hit their original August release window for Pathfinder: Kingmaker, but today we received the predictable delay announcement. The game is now coming out on September 25th, which isn't that bad. That's a week after The Bard's Tale IV, so it'll be quite a month. Kingmaker is now available for preorder on Steam and GOG, and there's a new teaser trailer too.


What the Kickstarter update doesn't mention is that the game is being sold in a variety of editions. Notably, the $85 Imperial Edition includes a season pass granting access to three future DLCs (yes, just like Pillars of Eternity II). According to Owlcat's community manager in the comments, this edition doesn't correspond to any Kickstarter tier. Meaning that no matter how much money you backed the game with, you'll have to buy the season pass separately. It would be nice if they at least offered a discount upgrade for backers. Pillars II did!

There are 112 comments on Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #54: Releasing on September 25th, Preorder Available

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 20 July 2018, 20:38:34

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - Beast of Winter

Last week Obsidian officially revealed the Beast of Winter expansion DLC for Pillars of Eternity II in a Twitch broadcast. For those who missed that news, they've now published a Fig update about it, with some screenshots and details about Vatnir, the expansion's grotesque Godlike sidekick.

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If you tuned into the stream or took a look at the VOD, you may have noticed Vatnir, the sickly-looking Endings Godlike. This new sidekick has been a studio favorite since his conception, and we've been anxiously waiting to finally, officially, reveal him to the community.

Vatnir is a rare Priest of Rymrgand with the Condemnation domain and a focus in Famine, Entropy, and Winter. Additionally, any spells that depend upon a priest's god and faith reflect Rymrgand's portfolio. Vatnir's Spiritual Weapon summons dual battle axes, Incarnate summons a scourge, and both the Call and Symbol of Rymrgand summons the cold from Rymrgand's realm to freeze his enemies. If Vatnir is just one too many priests to have in your party, he also has the option to multiclass as a Celebrant (Priest+Chanter), or a Zealot (Priest+Rogue).

Vatnir's role won't just end with the DLC, however - you can bring him on your adventures throughout the Deadfire and he will chime in where he can...If he survives what awaits him in the cold depths of Harbinger's Watch.​

In other news, Obsidian have released a minor new patch for Pillars II that gives players the option to buy the items from the pre-release secret code scavenger hunt if they don't have them (a category that includes all players on non-Steam platforms). You can read the patch notes for that here.

There are 22 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #52: Beast of Winter Screenshots

Wed 18 July 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 18 July 2018, 23:25:12

Tags: Eric Schwarz; George Ziets; InXile Entertainment; Paul Marzagalli; Wasteland 3

inXile have been busy with The Bard's Tale IV, but they've finally found the time to put out a new Wasteland 3 Fig update. The previous update three months ago promised a continuation of last year's "Building the Everest" series which chronicled the development of the game's vertical slice area, but it looks like that's been left behind. Instead the update introduces a new area called the Garden of the Gods, an agricultural site that's been occupied by a gang of raiders. Lead designer George Ziets gives us the overview of this area while systems designer Eric Schwarz describes his approach to designing its combat encounters, and there's a brief video of the place too. I'll quote the latter two here:



Eric here to do a dive into how I approached combat design in the Garden of the Gods - and more generally, throughout the rest of the game. Just a disclaimer that I'll be talking some specifics about combat encounters below, but keep in mind that these details may change before final release as we continue to tweak and tune the game.

When I begin with the design of combat in a location, I will use the story, characters, and other details of a scenario as a starting point. Who are these people? Why is the player fighting them? Are they an organized force of mercenaries, some killer machines gone rogue, or a bunch of punks? What kinds of weapons do they use? Do they have any special abilities? Do they rely on animals or robots to help them out? I try to factor it all in when it comes to conceptualizing the gameplay, as I've found it's often the best way to start building the encounter. It's always a collaborative process between the higher-level narrative and gameplay vision, the level designers working on each scene, and myself on the gameplay systems end.

In the case of the Garden of the Gods, the area is inhabited by the Dorseys that George discussed above. When you encounter them in the game, they've only been in the Garden a short time, so haven't had a chance to set up permanent fortifications. Although this is a relatively early-game location, I still wanted the Dorseys to be enough of a threat to deter a completely fresh team of Rangers. They dress in animal skins, and use mostly conventional weapons geared towards the outdoors - improvised bladed and blunt weapons, sniper rifles, assault rifles, handguns, and occasionally, larger machine guns and grenades. However, these early Dorseys aren't necessarily experienced soldiers either – they're bloodthirsty fanatics – so that means they don't have access to military-grade equipment, heavy armor, and they don't fight using lots of advanced techniques.

Once I've got a sense of what types of weapons the enemies will use, what their abilities are, and what their place in the game world is, and have spent some time building the NPCs in a sandbox test scene, I'll start working on the individual encounter design. The easiest way to start is to simply play through the level, getting a sense for the overall flow – where is the player likely to visit, and in what order? I generally try to scaffold the individual fights so that players get introduced to a specific enemy faction or type, and then we build up from there over the course of the scene. Having a good introduction not only makes the scene flow and play better for players, but it also lets us as designers ramp up the challenge and complexity.

That said, we always want to do what we can to give you more than "just some guys" to kill. In each location, I try to vary things up by using turrets, environmental objects like explosive barrels, elevation like watchtowers and cliff ledges, hostile robots, and more. In the case of Garden of the Gods, the Dorseys are not a brand-new enemy when the player encounters them, but as it's a few hours into the game, we want to start ramping up the complexity and difficulty of the encounters.

For instance, the first fight against the Dorseys is a mid-sized group with a mix of weapon types, and players are able to approach from a couple of different routes: they can either take the frontal assault, or look around to find a way up to the high ground overlooking them for a tactical advantage. The second, larger group the player finds later on has set up tripwires to keep out any pesky intruders, but observant players might be able to find a flanking route. They're also backed up by a mini-boss who makes use of pets – ones which the player might be able to turn back on their master, provided they have the right skill set.

Last, but not least, cover placement is a big part of combat design. Wasteland 3 uses a cover system just like Wasteland 2, and many design points inform how cover gets arranged, including the enemy weapon types, whether a location is indoors or outdoors, and the kinds of tactical opportunities we want to provide. The environment also contributes to how we design the layouts of our combat spaces. In an outdoor space like Garden of the Gods, you probably aren't going to find many heavy fortifications, but there's plenty of more spread out, natural cover, like rocks, snowbanks, and tree stumps that have you leapfrogging from point-to-point. Additionally, most cover in the game is destructible, so the type and relative strength of cover is also a factor for players to consider. All of these produce different combat dynamics.

That's just a taste at the kind of process we have when building combat in a scene. Of course, we continue to iterate from there many times over for just about every fight in the game, and we'll be balancing and polishing everything throughout development.
Also included in the update are a couple of photos of George and the team hard at work, and a short Q&A with details about multiplayer, dialogue, vehicles and more. There's nothing in it about what comes next, though. I'm guessing there probably won't be another one of these until Bard's Tale IV is released.

There are 26 comments on Wasteland 3 Fig Update #25: Garden of the Gods

Fri 13 July 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 13 July 2018, 23:38:42

Tags: Fallen Gods; Mark Yohalem; Wormwood Studios

You might recall that there was supposed to be a combat-focused Fallen Gods development update last month. That update never came out, on account of the combat system not really existing yet. As a result, this month's update was kind of a surprise. It's all about the game's world map - its visual inspirations, design goals and the sorts of places we'll find in it. As the update explains, the world of Fallen Gods will be made up of four different location types - dwellings, dungeons, "locations" (basically the sites of special non-repeatable events) and encounters. I quote:

Dwellings

When the fallen god reaches a dwelling, the player is given a menu of options for how to interact with it, similar to Darklands. The god can rest, buy food, hire followers, gather lore, and, in some instances, resolve crises to his advantage. But each kind of dwelling has its own distinctive characteristics.

Steadings—“villages,” if the word weren’t impermissibly French—are the lowest tier of civilization in Fallen Gods. They can be found on the plains (most commonly), in woods, or up in the hills. They are a fine place to recruit the lowest tier of follower, churls, who—overawed by the presence of a god and eager to escape a life of drudgery—will follow for free. In woodsteads, you can also find woodsmen (who are good guides and hunters, and whose archery can give you an edge in pre-combat skirmishing), and in hillsteads, where raiding is commonplace, you can find the occasional fighter. The lore steadings offer is mostly local gossip (i.e., information about nearby points of interest) and the quests tend to revolve around local issues such as feuds, food shortages, wolf problems, and the like. Since all steadings are centered around food gathering (farming, hunting, and grazing), food is usually inexpensive. And since the local headman is a petty leader, the obligatory guest-gift to rest in his hall is relatively light.

Towns, always located on either coasts or riverbanks, are hubs of trade and commerce. Churls still make up most of the population, but there are also mercenary fighters to be hired. Food is more expensive than in steadings (given the greater demand and proportionally smaller supply), as is rest, befitting the greater stature of a town’s thane. The lore tends to be broader—reflecting the wide-roaming nature of the town’s long ships—and the quests are directed seaward, dealing with plagues or visitors from abroad, river monsters or beached whales. A unique aspect of towns is that you can hire a ship to take you to any other town on the map, a quick way to travel in a game where time is the one resource that can’t be regained.

Strongholds are the seats of power for jarls, the highest-ranking leaders in a world where Orm has insisted on keeping his kingship even after becoming a god. Fighters are plentiful, and the god can also hire a skald here. The jarl’s own skald provides a rich source of lore, including not merely about what is going on in the land but about where legendary treasures and foes may be found. Stronghold quests reflect the intriguing that goes on around the powerful, particularly regarding matters of succession.

Shrines are dedicated to the worship of Orm and the Ormfolk, and are thus a welcome haven for the fallen god. The priests who tend the shrine and its holy fire will, for a suitable offering to their principal god Orm, provide magnificent healing services to any who rest within their temple. And if the god has no priest following him, the shrine will gladly provide one, to advise him on the laws of gods and men and to provide healing on the road. As for information, shrines’ loremasters know more than anyone, and thus a god can learn much about lost relics and the like. Finally, quests in shrines tend to be about questions of doctrine, performance of rituals, resolution of schisms, and similar theological issues.

Dungeons

Unlike dwellings, which primarily offer comfort and support, dungeons are interesting as challenges. In essence, they are a stack of event “cards,” with the bottom-most card presenting a significant reward but also a significant challenge, and the upper cards presenting obstacles that wear down the god’s strength and resources. As with dwellings, however, there are distinctions among them.

Barrows—the characteristic above-ground burial mounds of the Norse—are the smallest dungeons, and indeed they are almost always only one “card” deep. There are many barrows on the map. A few contain nothing, a few contain minimal threats and rewards, and a few contain more significant adversaries. In general, barrows naturally feature the dead (draugar in Fallen Gods’ parlance), though one may also meet cavewights, outlaws, wizards, and wurms.

Caves can be of varying depth (from three to seven events down) and are full of subterranean foes: wolves making dens in the upper levels, trolls and trollshards seeking shelter from the sun, and cavewights and dwergs for whom these depths are home. Some dead from times long past may be interred in the depths, and wurms and other ancient evils can likewise be found at the bottom.

There is a single marsh dungeon on the map, and it is the largest dungeon, befitting the wending swamp paths. The waters are full of the unhallowed dead left behind in the Overthrow, as well as bogwights and worse. At the heart of a marsh a god may find a rotting Firstborn god, an encampment of dead men still fighting the old wars, a wise witch, or a wurm who thinks himself a king. Thematically, if caves are about the dark unknown and the preservation of the past, swamps are about filth and the decay of the present.

Locations

Locations, as the generic name should suggest, are much more common and much more varied than the points of interest described above. Locations are events that spawn when the world is created and persist until the player triggers them (i.e., by entering the hex containing the location). In almost all instances, once the event is triggered it no longer persists—the location may still be a visible map feature, but there will no longer be anything to do there.

While the player can see the entire map when the game begins, locations are shown in a way that makes their nature somewhat non-obvious. When the god draws near, the location resolves into a clearer state. For instance, what initially appeared to be large boulders may turn out to be dead trolls. A tall pole may turn out to be the binding place of an outlawed berserk or a scorn pole with a horse’s head atop it.

The map will include many features like boulders or cairns or farm houses that are not location events; as the player draws near, they will not resolve into anything more interesting, and entering the hex will not cause an event to trigger. Thus, while the player may have some guesses about where he can go, he won’t know for sure that a map feature is a location event until he either investigates it, gathers lore about it in a dwelling, or uses the Foresight skill (at the cost of a soul) to scry it out from a distance. Bird fetches (ravens or eagles) have the benefit of expanding the god’s range of investigation, such that he can discern location events from a greater distance than a god with a wolf or fox fetch.

Encounters

Finally, encounters are transient events. They spawn as the god explores the world, appearing at the edge of his range of exploration. If he does not investigate quickly, the encounter disappears for good. An encounter might involve a churl bringing his harvest to market, a songspeaker hastening down the road on his unholy horse, or a pair of outlaws splitting the fruits of a murder. While other points of interest help make the world feel like more than empty space, encounters help bring it to life by suggesting that things happen on their own, and resolve on their own, rather than waiting in abeyance until the god deigns to intervene. Moreover, because they spawn near the god, encounters ensure that there is always something interesting to do, even when doubling back across ground you’ve already covered.
Although we already had a good idea of what Fallen Gods' gameplay mechanics are like, this is probably the first update that nails down how it'll actually feel like to play. Along with the obligatory soundtrack sample, the full update includes a whole bunch of screenshots and concept art, so be sure to check it out.

There are 17 comments on Fallen Gods Update #6: Mappa Mundi

Thu 12 July 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 12 July 2018, 23:57:46

Tags: Aarik Dorobiala; Alex Scokel; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - Beast of Winter

In a Pillars of Eternity II developer stream broadcast today, Obsidian finally revealed the game's first expansion DLC, Beast of Winter. In this new adventure, the Watcher is invited to a remote wintry island inhabited by a cult of fanatical Rymrgand worshippers who have come to appreciate his capacity for destruction. There's a new sidekick, the high priest Vatnir, and apparently things get more than a little crazy from there. We got to see about 21 minutes of new content during the stream. I'll post that here along with the expansion's brief teaser trailer.


The guys at PCGamesN appear to have gotten an exclusive look at Beast of Winter, and their interview with writer Alex Scokel reveals some additional details about it. It may be an epic level DLC where you face off against the god of entropy, but it's suffused with a heavy dose of dark humor. I quote:

Beast of Winter begins with a letter. You are cordially invited to an island at the very bottom of the map made home by the worshippers of Rymrgand. Rymrgand, the beast of the DLC’s title, is the god of collapse: famine, plague, and disaster. The locals call you Duskspeaker - they’ve seen the way death follows in your wake, and they’re really into it.

“The people there throw a feast in your honour,” Scokel says. “Because they respect the way that you go about messing things up.”

When asked whether Beast of Winter’s story is commentary on the player as a destructive force in the Archipelago, Scokel phrases it another way.

“There’s certainly a recognition of the destructive nature of a protagonist in an RPG,” he says. “The world spins around the player, and these cultists have recognised that and placed you within the context of their own myths.”

The cult says you’re the harbinger of the end. Frankly, they can’t wait for the cataclysm. Whether or not that’s who you want to be is a question you’re encouraged to start pondering in this DLC.

[...] Throughout the quests and writing of Beast of Winter, dark humour has emerged as a consistent feature. It’s something of a surprise: while there are dashes of dry comedy in the Pillars of Eternity series, it rarely feels as if it could indulge in a Fable-style slapstick aside.

For the DLC, though - a story about the ways people fight back against the inevitability of death in a world with magic, gods, and immortals - comedy became necessary.

“We obviously don’t want to make an incredibly depressing piece of DLC,” Frey says. “It’s definitely an opportunity for us to show how people feel about this sort of thing, but also show the humour of it.”

“One of the reasons we wanted to be funny,” Scokel adds, “was to lighten what could otherwise be a really [miserable] experience.”

The world design of Pillars of Eternity began with Obsidian designer Josh Sawyer flipping over a map of the Forgotten Realms’ Dalelands. But over the course of two games, his team have fleshed out Eoras with unique lore - some of which we only ever read about in books or told by NPCs. Realistically, we’ll never see all of the places referenced in its stories.

“Scale-wise, Pillars is similar to the Infinity Engine games,” Scokel explains. “It’s not really a globetrotting game, it’s more a region-trotting game. And so we look for opportunities to bring in these other areas of the world.”

One example of this in Deadfire is the Valian Trading Company - a colonising influence in the area that allows you to see the culture and architecture of a people from faraway lands. Beast of Winter goes further, taking you to The Beyond, a strange dimension stuffed with devious challenges and shared by ancient souls. There will be some revelations there.

“We’re trying to find opportunities to take the player places that have been mentioned before in lore but haven’t been pulled into fruition,” executive producer Alec Frey says. “It digs into the history of Eora in some ways we haven’t done so far.”
The Beast of Winter DLC is coming out on August 2nd, missing its original July release window by a bit. The Steam and GOG store pages aren't up yet, but we already know it will cost $10. Additional details about the DLC and its accompanying patch are available here. I imagine we'll learn more in the next Fig update.

There are 23 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Beast of Winter DLC revealed, releasing on August 2nd

Blackthorne needs a kidney


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