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?
Larian opens new office in Quebec, has two new RPGs in development based on the Original Sin engine
Company News - posted by Infinitron
on Thu 18 December 2014, 18:29:35
Yesterday, GameSpot named Divinity: Original Sin its PC Game of the Year for 2014. This was only the latest in a long list of accolades earned by Larian's game, but apparently it was surprising enough to inspire Swen Vincke to write a new blog post about his company's future plans. The gist of it is that Larian is opening a new office in Quebec City, and that they're now working on two new RPGs, both based on the Divinity: Original Sin engine. That doesn't mean they'll be clones, though - Swen is quite aware of Original Sin's faults, as he explains in the post:
Since I like contrast, today’s blog entry is going to be about everything that sucked about Divinity:Original Sin
Or rather, it’s going to be about how we hope to do better in the coming years, and what steps we are taking to make it so. In other words, I’ll try to tell you without telling you exactly what our plans are for the next years.
Progress can only be made if you’re aware of your faults and intend to do something about it, so explaining our plans starts with explaining what I think sucked about D:OS and more importantly, why those sucky things made it to the final game.
In one paragraph and unsurprisingly, my biggest issues with the game are the same things most people had issues with. I think the main story can be told a lot better and has more potential than is apparent, that combat falls a bit flat after act 1 and that crafting,inventory & trade UIs could use a bunch of improvements. Certain dialogs should be done better, there’s still a lot of feedback missing from tooltips & skills, and at higher levels character progression isn’t as cool as it should be. Our loot system doesn’t behave as hoped for, and the companions could use some work.
Add a few hundreds to that and you have my list but, and it’s an important but, despite all this, I still think it’s a pretty good game. There’s plenty of good stuff in there that compensates for the bad, even if there’s a lot that can be improved. And there’s another but too. Those criticisms are not aimed at anybody in our team. They are merely the result of the constraints we worked under when making the game.
Anyway, can you guess what is keeping us busy for the moment?
Yep, we’re fixing parts of the story, improving the UIs, revisiting the encounters, rebalancing the loot, rewriting certain dialogs, adding extra feedback, looking at what we can do to fix character progression, improving the companions etc…
[…] Fixing things is not all we’re doing however, far from it. We’re not hiring all those people just to transform D:OS in a better experience, no, obviously we’re also working on our new RPGs.
Notice the ‘s’. It’s intentional and while I’d love to tell you more about them, I need to refrain for fear of losing whatever press momentum we’ll be able to muster when we’ll announce them. But there’s one I thing I can already tell you, and it fits well with the second big thing we’re doing to improve the quality of our future offerings – both RPGs are being built on top of the D:OS engine.
It’s an important thing, because it means that whatever we fix in D:OS, will automatically be present in our new RPGs. It also means that we can spend most of our resources on developing new cool stuff without having to reinvent things that worked well already. And it immediately gives us a rationale for putting unreasonable amounts of effort in fixing the things we didn’t do that well in D:OS, meaning our existing players will continue to get improved gameplay for as long as we can maintain compatibility. Furthermore, it also means that the toolset is going to be improved for a long time to come and so eventually we’ll get more and better mods. We’ll even have a Linux version
We call it the secret Larian plan which now obviously isn’t that secret anymore, if ever it was. Our goal is to make new campaigns based on the same core single- and multi-player RPG engine which continuously gets improved, to perfect the rulesets driving it and to increase the amount of stuff you can do in our RPG worlds, all the while making the lore and universe(s) more solid. That latter (s) btw is something that may or may not materialise, so don’t wonder about it too much right now
There’s tons of stuff we can do in the type of gameworlds we pioneered with D:OS and we intend to show that it was a mistake to abandon this type of gameplay in the beginning of the century, taking full advantage of the effort we already poured into D:OS.
You’re not going to see huge animated movies with barely interactive worlds from us in which millions of dollars go to cutscenes. Instead, you’ll see dense, highly interactive worlds where the amount of possible interactions continuously increases and your freedom to do as you want approaches that of a pen & paper RPG. That too costs a lot, but it yields gameplay which is much more up my alley and thankfully, there are a lot of you who enjoy it. As long as that is the case, we’ll keep on making games like this.
Our ambitions are really very high and I can’t wait to play some of the new things we’ll be trying. Throughout its history, Larian has always tried to do new things in each game we released, and we won’t stop doing that. It goes without saying that we’ll fuck things up from time to time, it is our way, but luckily our players are there to tell us when we do, and we’ll keep on listening. I recently looked at the list of suggestions we received during development, and the amount of those suggestions we implemented. It’s a very impressive list but what’s even more impressive is the list of suggestions we didn’t implement, yet.
And that’s really the gist of it.
Swen Vincke - receives GameSpot PC GOTY award on Wednesday, writes a blog post about how his game sucked on Thursday. What a guy!
Special thanks to Crooked Bee for organising the bet and Chris Avellone for being a sportsman.
Now, part of this is MCA will also draw a special 2015 release troll. Expect to see that later, possibly next year. If there's enough support (and the design works for it) we may even turn it into a USB drive!
The Codex has known for a while now that a new Shadowrun campaign from Harebrained Schemes was probably on its way. Today, they've released the first public-facing confirmation of that, in this very brief Kickstarter update:
That's right, they're going back to Kickstarter. Guess that can tell you something about how Dragonfall and its Director's Cut did. Meanwhile, a look at HBS's Job Openings page reveals that the contract for one of the new campaign's "content designer" positions runs until the end of July, which might give us a clue when it'll be released. Let's hope it all works out.
UPDATE: Newly registered Codexer Blackstaff noticed that the filename of the image on the official Shadowrun Returns site is HK-KS-Teaser.png. HK...Hong Kong. Hong Kong was the (very close) runner-up in the "second city poll" that determined the setting of what eventually became Shadowrun: Dragonfall. I guess we probably know what the setting of the new campaign is going to be now.
The survival roguelike NEO Scavenger, featuring a complex crafting system and unique "1D" combat based on the distance from your opponent (yes, I took that description from our Steam curator page), has officially launched today after having spent some time in Early Access.
NEO Scavenger has officially launched! After almost four years of development, nearly three of which were in Beta/Early Access, it's finally time for the big v1.0!
NEO Scavenger is my first commercially released game, and is a sort of love letter to the pen and paper role-playing games I grew up playing. In it, the player takes on the role of a character who wakes up in a strange facility where the world has experienced some cataclysm. Using their wits and anything they can scavenge from their surroundings, they explore this strange wasteland, piecing together clues about their past.
It's a hard game, where the player must take care to think of everything from dressing appropriately to disinfecting wounds. The story will not come spoon-fed to you, and the game will not hold your hand. But for those who are persistent and clever, rewards and answers await!
RPG players are generally pretty addicted to the coolest form of game playing around. But what about if you are in the mood for something a little different? The people at All Slots download list their favorite slots games for you to choose from. Slots are fun and can win you a stack of cash.
Dark Souls Migrates from GFWL to Steamworks
Game News - posted by Crooked Bee
on Mon 15 December 2014, 21:25:46
In a move that should have happened sooner, From Software's Dark Souls no longer uses the dreaded GFWL, now relying on Steamworks instead:
Dear Dark Souls fans,
You can now update your Dark Souls™ Prepare To Die Edition for PC game to replace the Games for Windows Live functionality with Steamworks functionality. The update is available from today – December 15th and will let you keep both your Save Data and Achievements.
If you played or are currently playing Dark Souls™ Prepare To Die Edition, you will be able to update and keep your Save Data and Achievements. The Save Data and Achievements transfer service is being provided from December 15th to February 16th. From February 16th, the new version using Steamworks functionalities will become the default version of the game.
The post also contains detailed instructions on how to proceed in order to get your copy of the game to use Steamworks.
The update breaks DSFix's framerate unlocking feature, though, so be warned. Here's what Durante has to say about it:
The Dark Souls Steamworks migration update is now live. As I expected, most DSfix functionality I implemented (which is based on API call interception) remains operational, but the framerate unlocking (based on binary hooks) does not work with the new version. This part was implemented by Nwks, so we should hope that he is still around and interested in updating it for the latest version. If not, I can try, but it lies outside my expertise and could potentially take a lot of time (which I’d rather spend on other projects). Of course, there’s also the chance for anyone else to step in, as all the code is available on github.
For now, you can use DSfix with the new version as long as you disable the framerate unlocking feature in the .ini file.
And finally, since From Software couldn't avoid messing this up somehow, apparently the Steamworks multiplayer is region-locked. Have fun.
Soldak Entertainment, the company behind Din's Curse, Depths of Peril, and Drox Operative, has sent in a press release announcing their new game, Zombasite, to be released in 2015:
Zombasite is a zombie apocalypse action RPG set in a dynamic, evolving, fantasy world for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
The dark elves have always played god by creating and enhancing underworld slave creatures. As they watched a horde of zombies destroy the huge demon city Kraval, the dark elves were tantalized by the devastating power of uncontrolled zombies, and desired to control and increase it. When they wove their dominating magic into a few captive zombies something went horribly wrong!
They hadn't known the powerful necromancer, Ciglio, had created these zombies. To control his huge armies of undead, Ciglio permanently bound his zombies and their infected victims to him. This binding was so powerful, their loyalty surpassed his untimely death. In the dark elves pride and lust, their magic twisted into Ciglio's binding, fusing into a new, uncontrollable creation, the Zombasite.
Zombasite is a nasty, voracious, all-consuming Zombie Parasite. It doesn't just reanimate the dead into mindless zombies. It is intelligent, insatiable, and unstoppable-infecting and killing the living, spreading faster and in more ways, helping the dead utilize many of their original skills, and mutating the dead with new powers. Dark elf zombies are terrifying!
So what does this have to do with you? You are the leader of a clan trying to survive the apocalypse. This is easier said than done. When a follower dies, they can't be saved by any means. The Zombasite is highly contagious and zombies are quickly ravaging the world's surface. Food is a critical resource that must be obtained. Vendors are rare and have limited supplies. Some of the stronger monsters have survived and are as dangerous as ever. Clans of humans and monsters are fighting over what few supplies are left. Even within your own clan it isn't safe. Humans living on the edge are even more unstable than usual. So yeah, survival isn't easy.
Survive the zombie apocalypse in a fantasy world
Experience uniquely created worlds for every game, with different areas, monsters, items, and quests
Explore a dynamic, evolving, living world
Lead a clan of followers who have their own personalities and skills
Navigate relationships with rival clans using diplomacy, trade, war, and raids
Adventure with your friends with co-op multiplayer
We have to admit: we liked Daedalic's 2014 RPG Blackguards a lot. It was a turn-based, tactical, combat-oriented RPG with encounters that made us feel like they were crafted by a passionate GM leading a P&P campaign.
A lot of Codexers loved Blackguards. Some people from the outside (*shiver*) thought the game's pretty straightforward character system was "insanely complex." Fortunately, Daedalic said "fuck 'em!" and released the game without dumbing it down. In other words, Daedalic were bros. Yes, Blackguards was undocumented as fuck, which might have led more than one popamole casual-fag to stab himself in the eye with frustration. But after RPG Codex user felipepepe wrote an informative guide for the game, everything was just peachy.
In short: we couldn't wait for Blackguards 2. And now it's almost here! We were bursting at the seams with expectation when Darth Roxor received a preview copy of the game and started writing about the marvels we could expect.
So, without further ado, let's have a sneak peak into what he has to say:
The Underrail Early Access release received an update today, and as usual, a new entry on the game's devblog is here to tell you what it's all about. It looks like the end of development is finally in sight...although Styg is still unwilling to commit to a release date. I quote:
Hey guys, the new version is available on Steam now and, as before, it will be available on other platforms as soon as we stabilize it.
In this update we added new factions with their optional questlines, namely - Free Drones, Protectorate and the super secret one. We added most of the remaining areas that we planned for the game, which include Upper Underrail and Lower Underrail passages, so speaking geographically most of the game is complete. If you want the full list of what's new, check out the previous two dev logs before reading further.
One thing to note, however, is that if you want to experience the new questlines you'll probably have to start a new game, unfortunately, since we had to make some changes to existing areas and quests in order to fit them in.
Before I insert the obligatory list of miscellaneous changes, here's a little sneak peak at some of the new areas, focusing primarily on the mighty Protectorate war machine.
The leveling/XP changes introduced here are just the first step. I'll be tweaking leveling speed and level cap stuff further in the next update. From those that start a new playthrough with a new character in this version I would appreciate any feedback that they can provide on the leveling speed, time they hit level cap, and just general leveling experience (of both classical and oddity systems).
* * * * *
Now I want to talk a bit about the future development plans. I won't be giving you a release date, though I can safely say it won't be this year as I initially hoped. However, know that the end is in sight.
When it comes to mechanical stuff, there are still stuff like components, items, feats, abilities, etc to be added. However, there are currently no plans to add any more major mechanics (gas and fire should be the last). From the content side there are two parts of the main quest left that, as it happens, take part in two locations that are yet to be added - Institute of Tchort and Deep Caverns.
So here's what going to happen.
The next content update that we release will feature Institute of Tchort part of the main questline. This will be the last Early Access release. Afterwards, only the Deep Caverns are left before the game is complete. When we finish those, we will take extra time to polish up the game (we won't release Deep Caverns right away), especially the older areas which are no longer up to par with the new stuff. We will also take extra time to test the game to stomp out as many bugs as possible. Then we will release the game in full, make lots of money, retire to a tropical island and live happily ever after. That's the plan at least.
How long will this take? As long as it needs to. It would be pointless for me to give you a release date estimate, since I will gladly ignore it for the sake of the game as I did before. The quality of the game is my primary concern and in the long run that is best for everyone. We're nearing the end, though, so stay patient, dudes.
Godspeed! Be sure to check out the full update for a more detailed list of changes introduced in this version.
Since we published our inXile trademark scoop last weekend, a multitude of sites, large and small, have reported on the news. Last night, IGN published their own report on the matter. Unlike all the other sites before them, they also managed to get a substantive comment from Brian Fargo:
"I truly feel fortunate that with crowdfunding and the great response to Wasteland 2 I can actually start to plot out a long RPG future for us," Brian Fargo, CEO of inXile Entertainment, told IGN. "I think it's important to remember that some of these ideas are, at best, many years away. While they are not a part of what's up next, I certainly would not have filed for them if I didn't have a deep interest in exploring these concepts."
Well, I guess that settles it. Bard's Tale IV, here we come?
IndieDB is doing their annual Top 100 Indie Games of the Year thing, and we got contacted by the developer of a Codex-approved RPG asking us to do a newspost about it. Apparently, getting into Top 100 is a nice thing that can bring the game some additional publicity.
In the interests of fairness, we have decided to post not just about one game, but about the competition as a whole, as well as to make a small (and no doubt incomplete) round-up of Codex-approved titles that you might want to support. Let me know if I missed any important recent/upcoming releases among those featured at IndieDB.
After a month and a half of quiet, Torment: Tides of Numenera is back with a new Kickstarter update today. The development team used that time to meet up with each other and begin to really ramp up the game's production. Much of the update is concerned with the new hires they've brought on (including a Pillars of Eternity environment artist poached from Obsidian) and additional hires they'd like to make. There's also information about the game's alpha release (formally, the "Alpha Systems Test"), which is set to launch "early-ish next year". From the sound of it, it's more like an assortment of component tests than an alpha in the Divinity: Original Sin sense. I quote:
Alpha Systems Test
Early-ish next year, we intend to have the first alpha systems test (AST). These are not exactly a common part of current game development, so I wanted to explain them a bit. Each AST will be a very limited build (version of the game) that highlights particular elements and is released to our alpha systems testers for their feedback. For example, the first one will likely focus on the Conversation UI. It won’t include any actual game world or characters. What it will have is a reasonably complete implementation of the Conversation UI, along with a single conversation that will be fairly involved, but still only take a couple minutes to play through.
The ASTs will hopefully be interesting for the testers, but they are by no means game demos or beta tests. To be blunt, these ASTs are for the benefit of the game, not those who play it. Alpha systems testers should expect them to be be ugly (or, more accurately, bland), with clearly placeholder graphics for anything that’s not central to the AST. (For example, the Conversation UI AST will have candidate final art for that interface, since its aesthetics contribute to the overall conversation gameplay experience.) They may have some bugs, though in general we're looking more for the alpha systems testers to be providing feedback, not finding bugs.
Because of the development goals of the ASTs, we’re not planning to announce them in advance – while we have our own internal deadlines for these things, I don’t want the team to feel compelled to make compromises to meet publicly announced expectations or deadlines. I want the ASTs to be whatever they should be, whenever they should be, as will be best for Torment. Also, while we’ll be mentioning the ASTs a bit in these Kickstarter Updates, we will generally communicate more about them through Tumblr and directly to the eligible backers (i.e., those whose tier included AST access (Artifact Collector and higher Tiers), or who chose it as an add-on).
In addition to that, the update comes with a new lore dump, courtesy of Adam Heine (where's Colin?). It's about the Oasis of M'ra Jolios, one of the game's cities, and a location that we've seen before. Here's an excerpt:
The underwater city of M'ra Jolios has existed since the beginning of recorded time, and possibly much longer than that—but no one knows who built it or why.
It is home to the Ghibra Ny'kul, the collective name for a variety of water-breathing races from all over the Ninth World. The Ghibra believe M'ra Jolios was created by their god, and that they were placed in the Ninth World to bring "water and life" to the Ninth World. It was this worldview that guided their meeting with the first Jerboans hundreds of years ago.
The Jerboans were (and mostly still are) humans, refugees from the surrounding lands. The Tabaht still held sway in much of that region, enslaving some and driving many from their homes. Hundreds crossed the mountains into a vast desert valley with a sparkling dome at its center (its exact center, by the way, which is a point of interest among those who study M'ra Jolios). Thinking it to be an oasis, and having nowhere else to turn, these refugees hazarded the enormous wasteland in hopes of a safe haven.
Most of these migrants were never heard from again. The wasteland surrounding M'ra Jolios is called the Lost Sea for a reason. It's more than just an enormous desert; ripples in space-time make it nearly impossible to traverse. You could walk in a straight line for weeks on end and find that you were still exactly where you started. Or you might end up on the other side of the valley without ever having gone near M'ra Jolios. Or you could wake up every morning in a different place than where you slept, never able to escape even if you went back the way you came. But with the right numenera (or a lot of luck), people could sometimes get through. That's how the first Jerboans arrived at M'ra Jolios.
[tits] Today, most Jerboans view their relationship with the Oasis as a symbiotic one. The Ghibra give the Jerboans the means to survive—literally giving them water and life—but the Jerboans bring significant trade and tourism to the Oasis, making the Ghibra exceedingly wealthy. Many in M'ra Jolios agree that their relationship is mutually beneficial, and though the Ghibra are leery about giving Jerboans permanent access to their waters, they have come to Jerboa's defense on more than one occasion over the centuries.
But as the Jerboans bring more and more attention to the Oasis, the air-breathers are becoming increasingly discontent with being forced to live outside in the hot desert, allowed to enter the Oasis only with a guide holding their hand. The Ghibra are mixed in response to this, and there are rumors the Oasis hides an éminence grise, a shadowy figure who works behind the scenes to maintain M'ra Jolios's seclusion for his own purposes.
The tranquility of this desert paradise is wavering, and in the brewing storms are opportunities for the daring (or devious) to exploit the conflict for their benefit.
Sounds New Vegas-y. Check out the full update for some concept art of the Oasis' denizens, and for a raw render of one of the game's areas.
Daedalic sent us a press release today, announcing the release of the second episode in their series of videos about the new features of Blackguards 2. This episode discusses the game's new strategic layer, including the mercenary recruitment mechanic and defense missions. It also describes some of the streamlining introduced to the game's systems ("simple misses are a thing of the past") and the new Endurance mechanic.
Besides that, there have also been a handful of Blackguards 2 previews published over the past week, at sites such as Softpedia, Entertainment Buddha and BioGamer Girl. Our own much angrier preview, courtesy of Darth Roxor, is on the way, so stay tuned.
Today's Serpent in the Staglands Kickstarter update announces the launch of the game's Steam store page, as promised in Saturday's trailer. It appears that Joe and Hannah have decided not to make it available for purchase as a Steam Early Access title (is that becoming a thing now?) but they will supply Steam keys to backers later on, or GOG keys if they'd prefer that. The update also describes what the Whalenought couple are planning for the game's upcoming 1.5 and 2.0 beta versions. Of particular interest is their description of balance and itemization, which seems like it was inspired by a certain upcoming Obsidian Entertainment title - namely, by certain criticisms of it. I quote:
Late game balance implementation
Upcoming beta 1.5 implements a balance patch for the low-level game. This is resulting in a need for more tactics for your party in the way of coordinating pre-buffs, offensive and defensive skills to overcome enemies (they pack a punch), while continuing to minimize the micro-manging required with pausing frequently. As always we’re designing with the strengths of real-time in mind, which we think is pausing infrequently while issuing macro orders to your party, and have their skills working automatically and together. We’ve had good responses for it thus far, and are continuing to design the same for late game, albeit with much more challenging enemies, potent buffs to hack around, and larger groups. The five coven witches random encounter in the wilderness will look like a tea party later on.
One of the biggest threats to your party, with some ailment exceptions, are skirmishes. With a low level spell caster in your group you can heal your entire party with some time, so the skirmishes, especially later on are fast and hard hitting with a pretty massive RNG-god pulling the strings. The other macro-element of the game working against you is town supplies. Aside from being completely wiped out and losing their potential sellable goods, merchants have a finite number of resources to sell you. Scavenging the settler’s ruins, bandits, and natives will ultimately become your main source of equipment, save the traveling merchants and small-town fletchers you happen across.
The real interesting thing we’re starting to test is how these late level skills can all stack and work together simultaneously. Having enemies with particular stats, defense, and damage dealing skills and spells is one thing, but knowing how a party of 5 with up to 15 skill points worth of skills and spells can augment each other is just as important. There’s a lot of defensive shields and hard-blocks of certain attacks (complete missile, spells, and melee resistances), as well as area effects and ailments to deter even the most powerful party. We’re getting as creative as possible to counter the strategic designs that players can come up with while using such a loose system.
Most of your character’s power comes from your skills and stats, but that doesn’t mean your equipped items are worthless. While there is a range of weapons that have different damage potentials based on their craftsmanship and materials, there are also some exquisite and magical items of power buried throughout the game.
Important items in the game are finite, and unique and rare items are even more difficult to get your grubby, perhaps even pickpocketing, hands on. Bespoke armorers that work with fine bronze, or particularly exotic materials you can bring them, are going to net the best armor in the game. The Staglands settlers are poor, most with little possessions besides the warm furs and tweeds on their back, and these armorers are rare and only work with certain materials, some with only certain statured people. Finding both is part of getting your characters the best equipped as possible, if that’s how you’d want to use your resources and time.
Hard blocks, eh? I see what you did there. Anyway, check out the full update for screenshots and information about the game's puzzles and stuff.
CD Projekt's official Witcher site regretfully informs us today that The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt has been delayed yet again. The new release date is May 19th, 2015. Since they've pinpointed an exact date this time, let's hope this is the final delay. Here's the full apology:
Ever since we started working on The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, we knew it would be an ambitious game. We wanted, and still aim, to give you an incredible experience, an epic adventure in a vast, completely open fantasy universe.
The sheer size and complexity of The Witcher, key features of the title, have had a decisive impact on production. Now, nearing the end of our work, we see many details that need to be corrected. When we release the most important game in our studio’s history, we must be absolutely sure that we did everything we could to limit any bugs to a level that will allow you to enjoy the game thoroughly.
With this in mind, we took another look at current workloads and what they mean for the team. Even though everyone is working at full speed, we concluded that we need another 12 weeks, so we are shifting the release date of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt to May 19th, 2015.
We owe you an apology. We set the release date too hastily. It’s a hard lesson, one to take to heart for the future. We know what we want to do to make Wild Hunt one of the best RPGs you will ever play. And we continue to work hard to achieve just that. So, we apologize and ask for your trust.
Thank you for the all support you show us on a daily basis. We truly do appreciate it. It has fueled us in our passion since the start and will continue to do so.
That's right, Roguey has done it again! As you probably know, we recently learned that inXile Entertainment had begun preliminary work on their next RPG. The popular assumption was that the game would be a proper revival of The Bard's Tale, the series of "Wizardry killer" dungeon crawlers that put Interplay on the map way back in the 1980s. But now, this:
Meantime, in case you're unaware, was an ambitious time travel RPG that was in development at Interplay in the late 80s but never saw release. A resurrection of Meantime has been a popular "black horse candidate" for inXile's next game among fans, but most people thought it was too obscure for that to ever actually happen.
But now, this trademark. Once again, as was the case with Torment back in 2012, it's owned by "Roxy Friday, LLC", which we know is an entity owned by Brian Fargo. Does this mean that inXile's next game is definitely Meantime? I'm not totally sure about that - it is possible that they're just grabbing everything they might someday need before anybody else does. It could even be an elaborate put-on. But judging from what has happened before, the odds just became a lot higher.
It would be fair to say that, at the time of its release back in 2012, the success of the original Legend of Grimrock took not just any one of us, but everyone by surprise. A first person tile-based dungeon crawler in the vein of Dungeon Master? An RPG without BioWare-like epic plot or any NPCs to speak of, taking place in a single underground dungeon? What is this, Wizardry: Proving Grounds of Mad Overlord (which, as a prominent RPG designer told us, wouldn't even be considered an RPG if it was made today)? And still, it proved to be a smashing success. Surprisingly, yet deservedly so. Yes, it was streamlined compared to Dungeon Master. No - I might add - it did not have the same sense of danger or the same feel of a living, breathing dungeon that Chaos Strikes Back had. In any case, though, it was a good dungeon crawler.
However, when your first title is so successful, how do you go about making the sequel? Playing it safe, or expanding upon it? Thankfully, Almost Human went for the latter - while also acknowleding the limitations that are pretty much necessary to make a focused game. No NPCs or branching dialogue, just non-linear exploration. No C&C, just exploring the varied world not limited to a single dungeon anymore.
In this review, esteemed community member Decado elaborates on that, and introduces LoG II in general to those of you who, for whatever reason, haven't played it yet. Here's just one good excerpt:
Almost Human have turned up the level of environmental interactivity, and it really shows in both the puzzles and the exploration. You can now equip a shovel and dig for buried treasure, and the different terrain heights make for some great moments, such as an Indiana Jones-esque leap into the abyss that ends with a sturdy magical bridge under your feet. Secret areas can be found by resting in certain spots, and gold keys and treasure await the intrepid canal diver. All of these mechanics work in harmony to not only spice up the normal game world travel, but the puzzles as well.
I have to point out: there were one or two puzzles that, in retrospect, seem particularly unfair. A hard puzzle is one thing, but a hard puzzle with no clues -- or worse, no indication that you're in a puzzle at all -- can be infuriating. And more than once I ran into game-stopping puzzles, e.g. things you had to figure out to proceed, as opposed to figuring them out for a hidden item or some nice loot. These weren't absurdly difficult for me personally, but they would probably be showstoppers for some other people. Finally, sometimes the visuals themselves could make a puzzle difficult. It is hard to know that you should throw a rock onto yonder pressure plate if you can't see the goddamn thing. And I don't know about you, but I don't have a bunch of free rocks to be throwing around. Rocks don't grow on trees, for chrissake.
The only other big hiccup in the game is the navigation. LoGII is a pretty big world, and even the improved minimap cannot fix the lack of narrative direction. You eventually figure out you're supposed to be collecting these floating crystals, and you get pushed towards a foreboding castle that somehow requires all of these things to enter, but that's it. Some scattered, smart-assed notes from a hooded jerk-off are all you really get by way of instructions. Now, I don't want my hand to be held the whole way through, and I suspect most people playing this game don't want that either. But the lack of a journal or some kind of overarching story besides "You're stuck on this island!" presents a big hole in the presentation, especially because LoGII is such a huge game. In the first game, you were limited to a certain number of squares per dungeon, and you always knew you were heading down so, getting lost was virtually impossible. The second game, with its huge outdoor maps and multiple connection points between areas, requires a more robust framework. I like wandering around, but I don't like wandering around because I don't know what the hell else to do. [tits]
When you put it all together, you get a hell of game. Challenging combat, an interesting skills mechanic, great visuals, terrific music, intelligent level design, and an overall feel for developing a living, breathing, dangerous world, puts Legend of Grimrock II quite high on my list of favorite RPGs. I will have to play it a few more times to be sure where I rank it, but it is probably in my top five of the last 15 years. Which means I will have to move Dragon Age II off of my list.
We've always known that Stoic Studio's The Banner Saga, released back in the January of Incline, was meant to be merely the first chapter in a trilogy. Many people believed this meant that the game would be episodic, but as the months passed by with no second episode in sight, it became clear that Stoic had bigger plans. Yesterday at The Video Game Awards, they finally officially announced The Banner Saga 2, a full-blown sequel. Here's the trailer:
The folks at Stoic must be very busy, since they haven't yet updated their site or even uploaded the trailer to their own YouTube channel, but I guess we'll learn more next week. For now, you can enjoy the pretty animation.
The Codex's favorite new RTwP game(!), Serpent in the Staglands, was originally supposed to be released this year. As often happens, that date turned out to be a tad optimistic, and so it's been delayed to early next year. In the meantime, the game was finally greenlit for Steam release last month, so we can expect to see the beta there soon. How do I know all of this? Because they've released a fun new teaser trailer announcing it.
Serpent in the Staglands trailer, featuring new areas, combat, and spells. Available on the Steam store soon, releasing early 2015!
Great news. May a hundred thousand Early Access dollars bloom!
With the termination of the long-running Spike Video Game Awards show, its producer and host Geoff "Dorito Pope" Keighley found himself in need of a new job. So he launched a spiritual successor, The Game Awards, an event whose name is as original as its award criteria are unbiased and free of corruption. The first TGA show was held last night in Las Vegas, and Codexers will surely be overjoyed to know that BioWare's Dragon Age: Inquisition won the awards for both Game of the Year and Best Role Playing Game!
As far as trailers go, CD Projekt managed to squeeze one of their guys in for a few minutes to show a new one for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. He also revealed that the game would have a "second playable character", who was one of the characters appearing in the trailer.
Since this is being announced as a major feature, I would assume that this second playable character is correspondingly a major character, and not just a minor character we get to control for a few minutes for storytelling convenience purposes, as in Witcher 2. Then again, considering all the hype at these sorts of events, maybe that's exactly what it'll be.