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You're in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down and see a tortoise. It's crawling toward you. You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that? Why are you not helping?

Jarl interviews Swen Vincke; Questions about Original Sin 2 and other things are answered.

Codex Interview - posted by JarlFrank on Wed 21 June 2017, 19:27:55

Tags: Divinity: Original Sin 2; Larian Studios; Swen Vincke

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A few weeks ago I went to Ghent Dublin in Belgium Ireland to play some Divinity OS 2 with Swen and two other Larian bros. We played the game's gamemaster mode for about an hour and it was a lot of fun. Of course, I also used the opportunity to pepper Swen with some questions provided by our wonderful community.

Here's a snippet:

From Projas and Jinn I should ask if the itemization has been changed, or if you’re still using the Diabloesque item drops. Personally, I’d also like to know your reasons behind this system – in Original Sin 1 most things were hand-placed. The locations were hand-made, the encounters were hand-placed, only the items are randomized. Why do you do that and why would you say this is a good design decision?

(laughs uncomfortably) I read the Codex, so I know very well what you guys think about it, but there’s a practical point to it. We change our balancing a lot, and all of our balancing is relative, so all those stats change automatically when we change something in the base systems. That’s the first part of it. The second part is that people do replay our games, and when you replay them, you will find different things. Third point is, we do place quite a few items that are hand-placed actually, and they’re set in stone, but often we give our items only one or two fixed abilities and have the rest of the stats be flexible. So you could have a dark sword that is always there and always gives you a certain ability, but its other stats will be randomized. It’s a mix of things. When I play it, I kind of like it that way. I don’t think I’d want to have it so that I get the same item every time, because that way I could always min-max one hundred percent, knowing which items are where, and I don’t think that’s a lot of fun actually.

But, theoretically, if you use the editor and make a fan campaign, you could make everything hand-placed if you wanted?

You can fix all our mistakes, yes.​

This is the first of a three-part series of articles on my visit to Larian's Dublin studio, so if you're interested in Original Sin 2 you can keep looking forward to the other two parts. With any luck, they'll actually be released before Original Sin 2 itself!

Enjoy the interview. And make sure to give me more awkward questions next time, didn't have enough of those to ask.

Read the full article: Jarl interviews Swen Vincke; Questions about Original Sin 2 and other things are answered.

There are 53 comments on Jarl interviews Swen Vincke; Questions about Original Sin 2 and other things are answered.

Thu 22 June 2017
Winners of the MS Paint your way to a copy of Tyranny or PoE with GOG

Competition - posted by DarkUnderlord on Thu 22 June 2017, 09:03:08

Tags: GWENT; MS Paint Competition; Pillars of Eternity; Tyranny

A few weeks ago, to help celebrate GOG's RPG week and the launch of GWENT, we held a competition where you could MS Paint your way to a copy of Tyranny or Pillars of Eternity.

In usual Codex fashion, the competition turned into a horrible disaster with most entries being crappy in-jokes.

After discussion, the judges agreed that there were only 2 worthy entries, and that those 2 entrants would receive a copy of both Tyranny and PoE as a prize.

Our first winner is Explorerbc who was hilariously on point with his entry:

Our second winner is Nekot-The-Brave who unlike everyone else, actually bothered to put in some effort:


In recognition of that effort, Nekot not only wins a copy of Tyranny and PoE, but also a third game of his choice, courtesy of the guys at GOG.

Thanks to our two winners. The rest of you suck and can go die in a hole.

There are 27 comments on Winners of the MS Paint your way to a copy of Tyranny or PoE with GOG

Kickstarter Roundup: Ealdorlight, Longsword Table Tactics, Pillars of History

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 22 June 2017, 00:51:52

Tags: Ealdorlight; Longsword Table Tactics; Pillars of History; Revelation Games; Tritan Studios; Zero Sum Games

In between E3 and all the Pathfinder: Kingmaker updates, there have been a few indie Kickstarters recently that are worth mentioning. I'm not sure any of them have a chance of succeeding, but if we don't give them publicity, who will? The first of them is Ealdorlight by British indie dev Chris Parsons of Revelation Games, who previously created the space game Sol Trader. It's a single character turn-based fantasy RPG with Dwarf Fortress-like procedural world generation and a realistic damage model. The Kickstarter launched a couple of weeks ago and is looking to raise £40,000. You can grab yourself a copy of the game for £15. Here's the pitch video:

The second game is Longsword Table Tactics by Daniel DiCicco of Zero Sum Games, creator of the space 4X game StarDrive and its sequel. It's a highly customizable tabletop-inspired turn-based tactics game with an emphasis on PvP, though it will also have a single player campaign. The Kickstarter launched yesterday and is looking to raise $20,000. Unusually, the game is planned to be F2P, with the Kickstarter pledges starting from $10 offering pre-alpha access and other goodies. It still looks pretty cool though.

And finally there's Pillars of History, a historical isometric action-RPG set in the medieval Balkans. No, it has nothing to do with Josh Sawyer's historical RPG. The developers are a Bulgarian team called Tritan Studios, and they launched their Kickstarter today. They don't seem to have uploaded the (rather awkward) pitch video to their YouTube channel, but some development videos are available there. They're looking to raise $50,000 to develop the game. A copy can be secured for $15.

There are 5 comments on Kickstarter Roundup: Ealdorlight, Longsword Table Tactics, Pillars of History

Wed 21 June 2017
Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #12: Chris Avellone's Narrative Design Goals

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 21 June 2017, 00:25:09

Tags: Chris Avellone; Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

After taking a rare day off, today Owlcat Games deliver the long-awaited Chris Avellone Kickstarter update for Pathfinder: Kingmaker. It's a succinct description of Chris' design goals for adapting the Kingmaker module in a way that'll make it fresh even for people who have already played the pen-and-paper version.

I’ve wanted to do a Pathfinder RPG for quite some time. When the opportunity came up, Owlcat explained they wanted to do something surprising – take one of Pathfinder’s existing Adventure Paths (an interconnected series of six modules that act as long story) and turn it into a computer RPG.

So my first thought is - what the hell do you need me for?

…but the next thought was – I wonder how you could take a module and make it a compelling experience, especially if players may have already read it/played it. This wasn’t anything new to me – it happened all the time in my early gamemastering days. Any time a new published module came out, every gamer would buy it, tear off the shrink wrap, then scour every page so they’d know how to find every secret and magic item.

Then innocently, they might prompt their idiot gamemaster to run the adventure. I know because I was one of those GMs. (And um, one of those players.)

But back to the question. So how do you implement a story that others may have already experienced?

There were a few simple answers – one is, what really makes the adventure? The players around the table. In the computer game, those players are you – and your companions. And all of you can bring stories of your own which can be interwoven into the plot and depending on who you travel with, suddenly the adventure has not one story but several, depending on your choices and which allies you've selected.

Second, when implementing a story many hold dear, be respectful to the franchise and the original content. One of the challenges is that the Kingmaker story is one a lot of Pathfinder fans have experienced and loved, so we want to be respectful of that – there are certain touchstone moments that are key to the experience and we want to preserve the moments that are heart and feel of the original story.

Third, expand the story in new ways. With Pathfinder, this is easy to do because the modules themselves are structured with an open-world feel, so the ability to add events, dungeons, and encounters is easy – the Kingmaker plot wasn’t gated in the first place, so the adventure already has room for all these elements.

This is especially true of the characters in the Adventure Path. There are some in the Adventure Path that are described only as an event… and the GM is allowed to integrate them into the game as they see fit. And so have we. Veterans of the pen-and-paper adventure will find existing characters and NPCs in new areas, new ways, and sometimes, even with a new arc.

This also gives us room to introduce new allies, new foes, and a variety of side quests – some of which may grow naturally from the module’s original content, and veterans may appreciate it even more because they’ll understand the reason for these new elements perhaps quicker than most.

One example is the gnome explorer Jubilost, who players can encounter trying to ford a river early on in the Adventure Path… but in the computer version, you don’t just encounter him, he has the potential to become a companion in your party.

Part of the reason for this addition is because Jubilost… despite his sharp tongue… is a great walking encyclopedia for any party, and a great way to introduce both the player and their character to the Stolen Lands, so having him as a companion in that role makes sense, and across the entire game as well.

But the evolution of Jubilost’s role is just one example – we’ve taken many of the characters and expanded their roles and woven them into the plot and events in ways that Adventure Path veterans will understand – and some that will be a surprise. Expect a lot more content both from the Adventure Path itself and off the beaten path as well.​

That sounds good, but I have to say that it's strange that we still don't know who this game's other writers are going to be. We know from the recent AMA that Chris doesn't have time to do it all himself.

There are 23 comments on Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #12: Chris Avellone's Narrative Design Goals

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Sun 18 June 2017
Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #11: Characters and Animation

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Sun 18 June 2017, 20:13:45

Tags: Alexey Drobyshevsky; Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

The Pathfinder: Kingmaker Reddit AMA took place on Friday. A number of new details about the game were revealed, including details about the extent of Chris Avellone's involvement with its development. In short, it's not as large as we'd like it to be, although he's definitely not short on enthusiasm. You can read our impressions here, and an enterprising user on the Paizo forums has put together a summary of the entire session. But now we move on. Today's Kickstarter update introduces Owlcat technical director Alexey Drobyshevsky, who has the most amazing shirt. He's here to talk about Kingmaker's character models, inventory and animation in a six minute video, which offers a good look at the game's character UI.

Impressively, Kingmaker's character models appear to visually display nearly every item a character has equipped, including the potions on their belt and the contents of all four of their weapon set slots. Has any other RPG done that before?

There are 53 comments on Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #11: Characters and Animation

Sat 17 June 2017
Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter Update #37: Modern Lore, Multiplatform Release, Michael Cranford

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 17 June 2017, 00:18:40

Tags: Bard's Tale; Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight; Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate; Bard's Tale IV; Brian Fargo; InXile Entertainment; Michael Cranford; Nathan Long; Paul Marzagalli; Rebecca Heineman

The Bard's Tale IV was supposed to be at E3 this week, apparently represented by Techland, but other than this photo we didn't see or hear anything about it. I suspect something unusual may be going on here, but inXile aren't ready to talk about it yet in their new Kickstarter update. That's okay, because they have plenty of other things to say, starting with this curiously apologetic note from Brian Fargo about the style of the game's lore.

Hard to believe it's been nearly two years already since the game's Kickstarter campaign. I want you all to know that I'm very pleased with the way The Bard's Tale 4 is shaping up. The visuals are outstanding, the level design is strong, the puzzles are clever, and much of the personality and charm is starting to make it in. We've also worked out a deal to have someone very special provide input - you can find out about him at the end of the update. It's really coming together now and I can't wait to show you more.

Games today demand a deeper lore and sense of world than back in the day. My goal is to broaden the Bard's Tale world without losing the key people, places, spells, bard songs, etc. When we created Bard’s Tale back in 1985 we were young and excitable...more interested in mapping dungeons and torturing our players with teleporters, brutal combats, spinners, and darkness areas, than we were in telling a coherent story. We threw everything except the kitchen sink into those games - Nazis, ninjas, zen masters, robots, vampires, lizard men. We weren't exactly concerned with it making sense. Why did Mangar trap Skara Brae in ice? Does anybody ever say?

Well, we're for sure going to keep all the villains: Mangar, Lagoth Zanta, and the Mad God Tarjan. And we gotta keep Roscoe's and Garth's and the Adventurer’s Guild. Skara Brae's in there too, and the bard songs, the old spell names, along with all of the character classes including the ever popular Archmage. But knowing the lore is a bit thin and inconsistent (a lot of players made up better stories during their play-throughs than the games actually told) we needed to add some depth to the world. How do we stay true to the spirit and substance of the original games while adding the depth, history, and personality that today's players expect from a modern game?

Maybe we should start by figuring out how the events of the first three games fit together. How are Mangar, Lagoth Zanta, and Tarjan connected? What ambition drove them? Where did they come from? In what kind of world would beings of such power exist? What is the history behind it all? And can we give it all a unique flavor that will allow it to stand out from other fantasy games?

The Bard’s Tale was based loosely on Scottish and Orkney Island folklore so this seemed a good place to fill out the world and give it a unique look and feel. So let's deepen that - give it the mood, melancholy and menace of an old Celtic fairy tale. Let's make a world where elves keep humans as pets, where dwarves demand impossible payments for a broken deal, where the trow are a cursed and vagabond race, where Mangar and Lagoth Zanta and Tarjan were all corrupted by the whispers of evil entities from before the rise of man, where a ring of standing stones or an old stone arch or a tune whistled in a deep forest glade might open a door to worlds beyond the mortal realm.

Of course going in this direction required making some hard choices. Elves and dwarves are entirely in keeping with old Scottish lore. But orcs and hobbits are a bit played out and inventions of more modern authors, and aren't such a good fit. We dug deeper into the Orkney fairytales and found a race with a long and storied connection to Scottish legends, the Trow. So they will be our third non-human race, with unique combat abilities and useful songs they can teach your bard.

In the end it's a balancing act. Fighting to keep as many of the touch-points of the original Bard’s Tale series as we can, while at the same time filling out the story, giving the background some consistency, and updating the combat, graphics, and game-play to state of the art standards. And with every design decision, we are doing our best to make The Bard's Tale IV a game that new players will love and old fans will welcome as a true sequel to the original Bard's Tale trilogy.
Perhaps he's addressing the complaints about it that have been posted by oldschool Bard's Tale trilogy fans on the inXile forums from time to time. That may not be the only reason to strike an apologetic tone, though. The update also announces, as many people have been expecting for some time, that The Bard's Tale IV is now a multiplatform game. That's not really a big deal in this genre in my opinion, but inXile seem pretty contrite about it.

E3 is a time for announcements, and we do have a brief (but important) one of our own: inXile Entertainment is pleased to announce that The Bard’s Tale IV will be coming to consoles. We will have more to announce, including which consoles and who our publishing partner is, at a later date. We are also investigating ways for backers to opt for console versions of The Bard’s Tale IV, but please keep in mind that we do not currently know if the console version will ship at the same time as the PC one. Be on the lookout for more news across our social media channels and in these updates for further information. As soon as we can share details with you, we will.

For all our backers, it is important to note that The Bard’s Tale IV is a PC-centric release. As with our other Kickstarter projects, no crowdfunding money for the PC version was spent on console development. In addition, whether it is a partnership with Oculus that allows us to develop assets we can use for The Bard's Tale IV, hiring talented developers who bring a knowledge and passion for the series, or investing our own funds on top of the raised money, we are always looking for ways to make the best game possible for our fans. This is the next chapter in a classic franchise that goes back to mid-1980’s computer gaming, so that is the legacy which we are focused on (as you have seen throughout this update). We want to grow the fan base for this game and introduce the series to a new generation, but most of all, we want this to feel like a coming home party for those backers and fans who grew up with the games.​

And so to sweeten the pill, they announce the return of a name that we haven't seen since the Kickstarter was funded two years ago - original Bard's Tale creator Michael Cranford.

We've saved the best for last. In 1984, a very young Paul was playing Adventure Construction Set, a program which allowed users to build their own RPGs. Over the next couple of years, I learned the highs and lows of what it meant to make games. In 1986, I was wandering the aisles in Toys R' Us when I saw a box for the Commodore 64 version of The Bard's Tale, a game I had seen and loved, but was previously only available on Apple. I was finally able to play the game, and it was everything that I hoped it would be. As amazed as I was by the game, I was equally astounded by this picture on the inside cover of the game box:

The guy who made the game wasn't some grizzled, professional-looking white collar type. Instead, Michael Cranford looked like a version of every friends’ big brother - only a few years older, letting us young'uns know what high school and college would be like. The difference was that Michael wasn't making games just for fun; he was doing it as a job. When I interviewed for this position, I cited that memory from 1986 as the moment I realized that I could do more than just enjoy making games, I could possibly do so for a living. The Bard's Tale series was the inspiration for many developers who would go on to make role-playing classics over the next few decades. Any computer role-playing fan owes a debt to the young man in that picture!

This is why everyone at inXile Entertainment is proud to announce that Michael will be contributing to The Bard's Tale IV, providing feedback for us and even contributing a bit to the game itself. He may even have a cameo in the game somewhere. See if you can find him when the time comes! For new players to the series, this is just one more way we look forward to introducing you to the special magic of The Bard's Tale series. For returning veterans, it's that much more thrilling to know that we're not alone in our excitement to return to Skara Brae - Michael Cranford will be returning with us, too!
There's plenty more of that kind of thing in this update, including the news that lead writer Nathan Long is writing a series of Bard's Tale novellas to help tie together the lore more convincingly, and that an apparently pacified Rebecca Heineman has resumed work on the remastered Bard's Tale trilogy. I guess we're looking at the post-Torment inXile - humbled and desperate to appease their core audience. I'm not complaining!

There are 19 comments on Bard's Tale IV Kickstarter Update #37: Modern Lore, Multiplatform Release, Michael Cranford

Thu 15 June 2017
Pillars of Eternity II Gameplay Footage on IGN E3 2017 Broadcast + Josh Sawyer Interview at PCGamesN

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Thu 15 June 2017, 23:52:01

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

I was worried that E3 2017 was going to end without a single live showing by a Real RPG™, but Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire has come through at the last minute with a surprise appearance on IGN's daily E3 broadcast. Josh Sawyer and Adam Brennecke don't waste any time and hop right into the game, giving us ten minutes of continuous gameplay footage. It's a hectic romp through the Deadfire Archipelago that starts on a ship on the high seas, continues to a native town and from there to a dungeon crawl through an ancient temple, ending on a cliffhanger in some sort of alternate dimension. The whole thing's got a BG2-esque high level campaign feel to it. Check it out:

Other than the gameplay footage, there's nothing much new in this stream if you've been following the news about Deadfire. More interesting is this interview with Josh Sawyer at PCGamesN, which goes into detail about some of the game's new mechanics. The interviewer also asks Josh about the future of the Pillars of Eternity IP and about the commercial viability of the oldschool RPG genre given some of its recent disappointments.

A number of other websites (GameSpot, PCWorld, Bleeding Cool) have also published articles about Deadfire, but they're not as in-depth. They appear to have been given a shorter version of the footage that appeared on IGN.

There are 78 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Gameplay Footage on IGN E3 2017 Broadcast + Josh Sawyer Interview at PCGamesN

Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #8: The Sound and Music of Pathfinder

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Thu 15 June 2017, 22:47:37

Tags: Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

The Pathfinder: Kingmaker team are pretty dedicated to their daily update schedule. Their latest Kickstarter update is about the game's sound and music, a topic made more interesting by the fact that they already have a few samples to show off. Kingmaker's composer is none other than Mr. Poor Man's Jeremy Soule himself, Inon Zur. The developers appear to be putting an emphasis on creating ambient audio that is rich and adaptive, an important thing for making a game that feels alive. I'll include two of the four audio samples from the update in this post.

Sound and music became an essential part of every pen-and-paper RPG session, and it is an even more important part of the computer game. While working on Pathfinder: Kingmaker our first goal was to bring the world of Golarion to life. To achieve this goal we had to approach sound from many directions: sound effects are here to illustrate all the important actions and conditions of the player, while music and dialogues are helping to create a unique atmosphere of good old fairy-tale. This tale, we hope, will keep the player occupied for 40 or more hours.

To make our game audio vivid and memorable, first, we've conducted a research of several classic CRPGs and detected the brightest elements of their sound design. For example, Baldur's Gate 2 has great ambient sounds and emotionally charged magic spells while the strongest side of Dragon Age is its vivid dialogues and harsh, brutal combat sounds. And it is impossible to imagine Arcanum: Of Steamworks And Magic Obscura or Divinity: Original Sin without their excellent soundtracks.

Inspired by those games, that many consider classics in cRPG genre, we decided to take those ideas and approaches and make them fit for the modern game, but still very familiar and a bit nostalgic. On this basis, we created our sound document, which defined general aesthetics of the audio for Pathfinder: Kingmaker.

To start our work we had to set a mood for the whole game, and the best approach to this is to write a musical theme that represents this mood. We started our extensive creative research for the theme with the "Anvil of Crom" track by Basil Poledouris.

This musical composition proved to be an excellent reference - just like the events of Kingmaker module, the movie "Conan the Barbarian" is full of epic battles, intrigues, extreme manifestations of human nature and exploration of strange and inhospitable lands. We wanted to add these kinds of emotions to our game, so the composer Inon Zur wrote for us several beautiful pieces of music, which set the mood and provided the main theme for the Stolen Lands.

When we talk about sounds for the computer game, it's vital to remember, that unlike the game master, the game has no freedom of expression of its own. One of the important goals for the game audio is to make the player feel at home in the imaginary world, and for that, it must tell much more than we can see on the screen. To achieve this, we've created several systems which help to highlight the main emotion in every single moment of the game - whether it's a quiet conversation, a fierce battle against multiple enemies or a cautious exploring of an unknown location.

Besides, we can control the atmosphere of the game by changing the ambient sounds according to the activities on the screen, such as starting a battle. We want to concentrate on the action - so birds and other non-combat loud sounds around the player should immediately become quieter. Same thing happens in a dialogue.

Or we can change the mood of the scene, for example, we highlight the importance of the player in the throne room by changing lively chatting ambiance to whispers as the player, being a Baron, starts a conversation with one of the companions.

We try to avoid static nature sounds. The audio presentation for every location usually consists of several sound layers. Some layers are playing all the time; other depend on the hour of day or night. And a lot of the layers can only be heard if we are nearing some particular place - it can be chirping of various birds, humming of insects, creaking of trees, the rustling of gravel near the rock and so on. Also, we can hear something we can't see, if it is important for the right feeling of location - it can be the howling of a lone hungry wolf in the middle of the night, or distant rumble of an avalanche in the mountains, growl of hiding monster or laughter of playing children. All these sounds can tell us something about the location we are visiting.

Combat sounds have their specific qualities too. There can be more than 10-12 characters fighting against each other on the playing screen - each of them moving, attacking, taking damage, casting spells and commenting actions. Our sound system highlights the noises made by the members of our group: their attacks, hits, voice reactions to important changes (health-bar low, critical hit, fainting or death). This solution is important to the UI as it makes combat scenes understandable and clear. Some actions are so important that their sound will be heard even from a distance, like dealing a mighty blow to your enemy, which knocks him out or tears him into pieces. So even without paying attention to some particular part of the battle, you'll understand you've got one less problem to worry about.

The music in Pathfinder: Kingmaker isn't meant to be too catchy: tracks change each other after a significant pause, which lets the player feel the atmosphere of the location without unneeded distractions. However, if something important is about to happen - like a sudden battle or a cutscene - you will learn about that by a recognizable tune. And this tune is meant to be the signal that warns the player about an incoming situation.

All these systems must still undergo some fine tuning, but we won't stop even after that. In the future, we plan not only to improve what we've created but also to add some new sound mechanics. For example, we plan to add ambient location sounds which depend on the character's actions. When entering Stealth mode, we will correct the sounds of out footsteps and armor. We will provide voiceover to the most important and emotional dialogues, and the composers will create more tracks to create a special atmosphere in even more locations.​

The music is pretty nice, and the gameplay snippets look fun too. That writing is totally Avellone. Imagine if we could have an entire game like that...

There are 10 comments on Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #8: The Sound and Music of Pathfinder

Wed 14 June 2017
Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #7: Camping System Stretch Goal

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 14 June 2017, 23:51:37

Tags: Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

The Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter campaign is now in its second week. It's raised over $400k, but the funding rate has now slowed down and it seems like it'll take a while longer to reach its goal of $500k. Over the past few days Owlcat have published a series of mostly uninteresting updates, concerning topics such as map creation, tabletop sensibilities and a certain Mary Sue-ish companion (poor MCA has to write that?). The latest update is about something important, though - the campaign's first stretch goal. If Kingmaker manages to achieve $550k of funding, Owlcat will add an elaborate camping system to the game. I quote:

We received many inquiries about our further goals, and we are happy to answer. Today we are revealing our first stretch goal - Camping. As in, getting some sleep and recovering from a long day of adventuring. Not the kind of camping where you watch the enemy spawn point with a sniper rifle.

It is a feature, which we feel is often oversimplified in computer RPGs. In most of them, resting in the wilderness is as simple as hitting the snooze button. Some party members might be injured or they complain about feeling tired, so you click the camp button and everyone is rested a second later. Worst case scenario, you may get ambushed, so you finish a quick battle and try resting again until you succeed. If you're familiar with tabletop role playing, then you'll agree that most good GMs won't let you off so easily. If you're in dangerous territory, then resting for the night will require a certain amount of preparation, such as appointing guards. Sadly, this is a rare feature in computer RPGs. In Pathfinder: Kingmaker we want camping to be more than just a button.

You're miles away from the nearest inn. There are monsters and bandits lurking everywhere. Sure, your party could try dropping everything right there and take a nap, though they may as well put up a big sign, saying, "We're over here! Please murder us and take our stuff!" The wiser option is to set up a camp. But you can't rest on an empty stomach. You've been adventuring for days and provisions are running low. Why not choose for one of your companions to be the designated hunter for the night? If they're skilled enough, they will refill your packs to keep you going for a few extra days. But beware - dinner fights back in the Stolen Lands and your hunter may get chased all the way back to the camp by a raging monster!

You have to select a place to rest carefully! If you pick a spot, which is too close to monsters, they will decide to investigate and attack your camp. In a dungeon you will have to get rid of at least some of its inhabitants, or they will never allow you to rest. It's always a good idea to assign a companion or two for guard duty. They will watch over the camp while the rest of the party sleeps. They can spot an impending ambush when they pass the required perception checks and warn the rest of the group to help them prepare. In case of a surprise attack, your unprepared party members may not always fight at their full strength. For instance your fighter may step into the fray wearing only his undergarments, because there is just not enough time to get dressed. Have you ever tried to sleep in a full suit of plate armor? Or if your guards fell asleep, monsters can gain a surprise round against your sleeping party - and that is an experience you'll want to avoid! There will be several special maps and events for the encounters while camping, be it a monster that is chasing your hunter, or travellers that decided to join you by the campfire.

Your camp is also a great place for your party to talk and bond. One of your companions may have been badly injured in a fight with an angry troll earlier. Perhaps they're feeling a little under the weather. Or maybe you have made an amazing discovery on your journey today? Or some information they remembered from the stories about this region? Your companions will want to talk about recent events, about what's they've seen and done in the Stolen Lands. You can take the time and listen to how they feel about your adventure together. We want this to be a fun, meaningful part of the game. Few other games ever do anything like this - Darkest Dungeon or the Realms of Arkania trilogy come to mind. We always loved it when games put a little extra thought into their camping system, which is why we're doing it this way for Pathfinder: Kingmaker.​

There's going to be a Kingmaker AMA on the Pathfinder subreddit in the coming days. Alexander Mishulin and Chris Avellone will be there to answer questions. We've also learned that Chris is planning to write a Kickstarter update, where he'll hopefully clarify his exact role in the game's development. No set date yet on either of these things, though.

There are 30 comments on Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #7: Camping System Stretch Goal

Tue 13 June 2017
Tyranny gets New Game+ patch and Event Pack DLC, Bastard's Wound expansion coming later this year

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 13 June 2017, 20:49:51

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Paradox Interactive; Tyranny; Tyranny: Bastard's Wound; Tyranny: Tales from the Tiers

Back in March we learned that Obsidian were working on DLC for Tyranny, their 2016 RPG set-in-a-world-where-evil-won. Soon after that the game received a piddling portrait pack, with the promise of more significant content later on. Tyranny was a no-show at PDXCON last month, but Paradox management reassured us that something was on the way. Today that something has arrived. First of all, the game has received a significant new patch adding a New Game+ mode among many other changes. Second, there's a new DLC called Tales of the Tiers. Paradox are calling it an "Event Pack" and it claims to add new world map events, new quests and new dialogue to the game. Third, a full-blown Tyranny expansion pack called Bastard's Wound will be coming out later this year. It's set in a hidden enclave where refugees from Kyros' war are hiding, and will flesh out the game's notoriously barebones companions. Here's Paradox's press release about these new releases, which includes a short teaser trailer for the expansion:

New Area, Stories, and Characters Coming Soon in "Bastard's Wound"; Expanded Game Content Available Now in "Tales from the Tiers"

STOCKHOLM - June 13, 2017 — Paradox Interactive, a publisher of games for good and evil players alike, today announced new content for Tyranny, the award-winning role-playing game (RPG) developed by Obsidian Entertainment. Tyranny: Bastard’s Wound will launch later this year on Windows, Mac, and Linux PCs, and will offer players a new major quest line set in the mysterious illegal settlement of Bastard’s Wound. Read more about the upcoming expansion here:

In addition, for players who can’t wait to experience new content, a new Event Pack has been released today, titled “Tales from the Tiers,” featuring new world events and expanded quests for the original Tyranny. Tales from the Tiers is available now; find it here:

Tyranny, an original RPG from Obsidian Entertainment, takes place in the fantasy realm of the Tiers, where evil has conquered the known world and it’s up to the player to decide what is right or wrong as a Fatebinder - to mercilessly enforce the law or recklessly flout it. During this quest, the player will encounter Bastard’s Wound, a settlement and refuge from the dark, war-torn world, established in secret as a haven for those fleeing the wrath of Kyros the Overlord. The player must decide what is to become of the inhabitants as they mete out Kyros’ justice.

Featuring new characters and storylines, Bastard’s Wound takes a closer look at the race of the Beastmen, the fate of the refugee settlements, and all-new companion quests featuring three of Tyranny’s most memorable party members: Verse, Barik, and Lantry. Bastard’s Wound will also arrive alongside a free update to Tyranny, including new voice acting, expanded content in the game’s third act, and an all-new path to an unseen ending.

What’s more, players can explore new content starting today with a series of hidden stories from the world of Tyranny in Tales from the Tiers, a new Event Pack available now. The Event Pack features the untold stories of the many inhabitants of the hazardous, war-torn Tiers, including rebels, merchants, servants of Kyros, and even dangerous creatures. With new random encounter events, new quests, and new interactions with iconic Tyranny characters, Tales from the Tiers will allow players to experience a new facet of the game’s rich and compelling story.

For more information on Tyranny, please visit

The Tales from the Tiers event pack is available on Steam and GOG for $7. The base game is currently on sale with a 50% discount on both sites, and the Bastard's Wound expansion already has a Steam page as well. The full changelog for the new patch is available here. This is Tyranny's attempt at a comeback. Does it stand a chance?

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Ubisoft E3 2017 Conference: South Park 2 is still on the way, coming October 17th

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 13 June 2017, 01:27:34

Tags: South Park: The Fractured But Whole; Ubisoft

This year's Ubisoft E3 press conference was pretty crazy. The highlight was undoubtedly the surprising announcement of the long-awaited Beyond Good & Evil 2. The new Assassin's Creed (which is apparently an RPG now) was given some more love after its introduction at the Microsoft press conference yesterday. Oh, and there was also some sort of Mario XCOM game. No, really. For our purposes though, we'll focus on South Park: The Fractured But Whole, Ubisoft's in-house sequel to Obsidian's RPG, now making its third E3 appearance. Here's its new trailer and an eleven minute gameplay video:

South Park 2 was originally supposed to have come out in December, but has been delayed at least twice, most recently last month. Turns out Matt & Trey don't work with Ubisoft any more efficiently than they did with Obsidian. The game's release date is now October 17. Hopefully that will be the final one.

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PC Gaming Show at E3 2017: BattleTech Campaign Preview

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Tue 13 June 2017, 00:21:37

Tags: BattleTech; Harebrained Schemes; Jordan Weisman; Mitch Gitelman

This year's E3 press conferences haven't been very relevant to the Codex compared to previous ones. With their RPG franchises on hiatus, BioWare are now focused on Anthem, their new Destiny clone. Despite rumors to the contrary, Bethesda also had no RPGs to announce, and the most interesting thing their conference had to offer was Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, an unexpected Dishonored 2 standalone expansion. Today's PC Gaming Show was as dull and poorly paced as ever, but at least it had some actual Codexian games on display, chief among them Harebrained Schemes' BattleTech. This year, both Jordan Weisman and Mitch Gitelman showed up to offer an early glimpse at the game's single player campaign, including the Argo DropShip that will serve as the player's base of operations. The full segment can be viewed here. PC Gamer have helpfully split out the two gameplay bits:

There was more to see at the PC Gaming Show, including the announcement of Griftlands, a fun-looking turn-based RPG from hotshot indie developer Klei Entertainment, and the obligatory annual appearance by Mount & Blade 2: Bannerlord. For all you strategyheads, there was also a new XCOM 2 expansion pack called XCOM 2: War of the Chosen and Age of Empires: Definitive Edition, an HD rerelease of the original. On the other hand, despite their known presence at E3, there was nothing from Obsidian or inXile. Whatever they have to show, they'll be doing it independently.

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Sat 10 June 2017
Vault Dweller talks about life and The New World at RPGNuke

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Sat 10 June 2017, 17:50:01

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

There's a new interview with the illustrious Vault Dweller over at Russian RPG website RPGNuke. It starts with some questions about VD's opinion on the current state of the RPG scene and about his life after Age of Decadence, before moving on to The New World. The interview isn't quite as righteous as the one he did there in 2013, but it does have one great zinger. I quote:

Let's talk about your new game. It promises to be visually richer, as it is developed on the basis of Unreal Engine 4. Are there any plans for cutscenes or the narration will be conducted only through dialogue means, as in The Age of Decadence?

Only through dialogues. Animating numerous cutscenes would require resources we don't have. Apparently, Bioware doesn't have them either.

What are your inspirations for creating The New World? Aside from Orphans of the Sky, obviously.

Assorted 50's sci-fi from Asimov's Foundation to Van Vogt's The Weapon Shops of Isher and Aldiss' Non-Stop.

There will be 12 potential party members in The New World. Even if we consider that we will not meet all of them during a single playthrough, it's quite a lot. How much will they be integrated into the plot?

A lot compared to what and why?

Anyway, first and foremost, the party members are mortal and expendable, so you'll need extra companions in case you start running out. You'll get up to 3 out of 4 characters in the starting town (the Pit) to make sure you get all the help you need, the rest as you explore the ship. While they won't be as one-dimensional as Dungeon Rats' companions, they won't have tragic backstories, childhood issues, or personal quests of self-fulfillment. Their job is to watch your back, occasionally backstab you or to keep you in check, and affect your options.

Most party members will be "unlocked" via exploration and side quests, a couple will be provided by factions.

There are mutants planned to be among the party members. Will they have any abilities that are inaccessible to ordinary people?

No. Our mutants aren’t Fallout-like super soldiers but outcasts and that’s what we’re focusing on.

How will the faction reputation system work? Basically, in old games, if you were performing a task for a rival force, it would mean that all the NPCs in the location became "red" and started attacking you, which is pretty stupid and primitive. Will The New World use a different approach? Maybe they'll send an assassin for you or try to punish you in some other way?

We’ll continue developing concepts we used in AoD. Working for a faction will slowly reduce your reputation with the rival factions, reducing your employment opportunities and eventually reaching a point demanding actions (attacking your base of operations, sending bounty hunters after you, etc).

In AoD we hesitated to go too far as such actions would mean instant death for non-combat characters but the party setup offers more flexibility when it comes to the “righteous infliction of retribution”.

In one of the updates you wrote about new hit system in The New World. Can you give a detailed explanation about how it works.

Instead of rolling for passive and crits separately (like in AoD), we'll go with a single roll and 4 outcomes:
  • Miss
  • Graze (half damage)
  • Hit
  • Critical Hit (damage X modifier, which is 1.25 (default) + feat bonus)
Basically, something like this:
  • 1-5 critical hit
  • 6-70 hit
  • 71-80 graze
  • 80-100 miss
By default CS range is 5 and Graze range is 10, but they can be modified by certain weapons and attacks. For example, a shotgun would have a much wider graze range than a pistol.
That attack resolution system looks familiar, doesn't it? I would assume that enemy defenses are also a factor in the calculation.

There are 39 comments on Vault Dweller talks about life and The New World at RPGNuke

Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #3: Building the Kingdom + Gameplay Videos at IGN

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Sat 10 June 2017, 14:43:16

Tags: Alexander Mishulin; Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

Owlcat have published another Kickstarter update for Pathfinder: Kingmaker. This time it's about their plans for the game's kingdom management mechanic. Unlike the previous update, this one is conveyed in video form, with a six minute explanation from creative director Alexander Mishulin. Unfortunately, he isn't any more comprehensible than he was in the pitch video, so I'm not sure I could give you a summary.

Luckily, there's more. Over at IGN, there's a preview of Kingmaker by Rowan "Poor Man's Cobbett" Kaiser. This one includes for the first time full-length gameplay videos from the prototype that was shown at Paizocon. They reveal a game that has been undeniably inspired by Obsidian's recent RPGs, with scripted interactions, use of prose in dialogue, and even Tyranny-style lore tooltips. Not that there's anything wrong with that!

Looks pretty fun. Character movement/animation is a bit off, but that can be excused at this early stage.

There are 35 comments on Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #3: Building the Kingdom + Gameplay Videos at IGN

Fri 9 June 2017
Druidstone to use randomly arranged handmade maps, not pure procedural generation

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 9 June 2017, 13:45:20

Tags: Ctrl Alt Ninja; Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forest

Druidstone, the top-down turn-based tactical thingie from the former Grimrock devs at Ctrl Alt Ninja, has a new development update (not sure if it's an official "dev update", but whatever). It addresses what is probably the game's most contentious feature - its use of procedural generation. Apparently, the developers were genuinely surprised by people's unhappiness with this. The update explains that the game's individual "rooms" will be handmade, and the procedural generation will only determine how they're arranged on the grid:

To our surprise, there has been some heated discussion about Druidstone being procedural. We didn’t really expect that but in hindsight it’s easy to see that we should have communicated more clearly what it means when we say Druidstone has procedurally generated content. Otherwise it’s way too easy to get the wrong idea.

So let’s talk about proceduralism in Druidstone. Procedural games can be roughly split in the following categories:

1. Fully procedural games like Minecraft, Dwarf Fortress and No Man’s Sky, which generate the whole world procedurally. Most of them have sandbox type of gameplay.

2. Procedural games with some predefined content. For example, most roguelikes have special rooms that are handmade (often called “vaults” in roguelike jargon).

3. Games with handmade, predefined content in randomized order. E.g. FTL has designed encounters but their order is randomized and Binding of Isaac has handmade rooms whose order is also randomized.

So, which category does Druidstone fall into? Druidstone has a story that unfolds as your progress in the game, so option 1 would not work. Telling a predefined story in a fully procedural generated world would be almost impossible. Technically options 2 and 3 would both work but in the end we picked option 3 because it just fits better into the game design and is just so much easier to accomplish.

What that means in practice is that the world of Druidstone is split into areas that are “randomly” connected. An area could be almost anything, a room in a dungeon, a forest meadow, a graveyard, an encounter with a NPC, you name it. Internally we call them all “rooms” even though they may not resemble a real room at all. Basically each room is a handcrafted mini-level in itself, and can have enemies, traps, NPCs, etc. Rooms are picked from a large pool of rooms, so that there are more rooms than fits into a single playthrough.

Technically each room is defined by a piece of Lua code, so the system has a lot of flexibility. With Lua it’s easy to have some randomly varying content in the rooms as well, if we want to. For example, the enemies or items in the room may be randomly determined. We try to keep the rooms relatively small to maximize the potential of surprising room combinations.

The rooms are essentially 2D grids (tactical battles are just so much better on a grid), so it’s only natural that the rooms themselves are connected on a grid. We really like our grids!

In addition to these randomly chosen rooms there are special key encounter rooms that can only appear in predetermined points in the game. The key encounters usually advance the story but they may also be some cool moments or bad-ass boss fights.

So there you have it! If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section. Until next time!
So there you go. Did my prediction come true? Close enough!

There are 3 comments on Druidstone to use randomly arranged handmade maps, not pure procedural generation

Kingdom Come: Deliverance to be delivered on February 13th, 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 9 June 2017, 13:23:29

Tags: Kingdom Come: Deliverance; Warhorse Studios

It's been over a year since the release of the beta for Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Warhorse Studios' ambitious historical action-RPG set in 15th century Bohemia. The game was delayed to 2017 back around last May, and for a while people were worried about its progress, but in recent months it's been looking increasingly promising as the final bits of polish come together, including celebrity voice acting from the likes of BRIAN BLESSED. Today, it finally has a release date. That's right, February 13th, 2018. I guess in a game like this, even the final bits of polish take a lot of time. As the trailer will show you, it's come a long way since the "Bohemian village simulator" of the alpha and beta.

The Hussite Wars: This time it's personal. Yeah, Warhorse are definitely making a play for the Witcher 3 audience here. And with CD Projekt tied up with Cyberpunk 2077 for the foreseeable future, they might just succeed.

There are 55 comments on Kingdom Come: Deliverance to be delivered on February 13th, 2018

Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #2: Gameplay Mechanics - Character Building and Difficulty

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 9 June 2017, 12:46:01

Tags: Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

The Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter campaign has gathered over $280k since launching three days ago. At least on the Codex, one of the most common questions about the game has been whether it would actually adhere to the Pathfinder ruleset and to what degree. In response to questions like that, the developers have decided to write a series of Kickstarter updates about their plans for Kingmaker's gameplay mechanics. The first of them, which was definitely not written by Chris Avellone, is about character building and gameplay customization.

Your perfect hero

We wish to make it possible for you to create and develop characters fitting as many concepts and play styles as possible. We want you to be able to replicate the characters that you are currently playing in tabletop, roll characters you’ve always wanted to play or that you had already played before, but you didn't get a chance to really watch them grow because of untimely character death or because your gaming group had fallen apart. For this, we want to give you as many options as possible.

For example, if you had always wanted to play an Arcane Trickster*, a character who only shows her true power after her levels reach the double digits, you may have turned down this idea because most characters in tabletop (and, frankly, most campaigns) do not live that long. In Pathfinder: Kingmaker we give you a way to play this character. The Arcane Trickster is already in development, with more prestige classes already on the way. Or maybe you wanted to play a Cleric of Erastil that supports his companions from afar by summoning monsters and using his longbow (favored weapon of his deity). But when you played him in the adventure path, he died because of unlucky rolls and carelessness? We know exactly how that feels, but now your Cleric can live once more inside the CRPG!

Character classes must not chain you to a certain concept, but provide you with new ideas, and that can only be made possible by large amounts of options for each of them. Our Barbarians will have a large allotment of Rage Powers, and will also have a choice between unchained and standard Rage. Rogues will have rogue talents - and will also be unchained! Wizards need to have as many spells as we can make, from both the core rulebook and other books, and there are already more than 15 spells to choose from for each of the three first spell levels, including Gravity Bow, Snowball and Enlarge Person on the first. And fighters will need all the combat feats there are, and, given enough time, advanced weapon and armor training. The list is constantly growing! We want these features to be as true to the Pathfinder RPG as possible.

Of course, some combat mechanics work differently in real time. Area of effect spells can seem unwieldy because you can miss your enemies, but it could be pointed out that they are still used far more often in CRPGs. One reason for that is the amount of preparation on the table for encounters with large amounts of monsters - too much time is required to place them all on the mat. Just working out the initiative and turns for dozens of monsters can take ages! Computer games don't have such problems - annihilate these monsters to your heart's content!

There will be around 10 variants of animal companions, and the same goes for familiars. There will be more than 300 feats, including large feat chains. Some of you asked about deities - there will be at least the Big Twenty. There will be combat maneuvers. There will be blood… lines. Domains. Specialist arcane school powers. Alchemical discoveries and bardic masterpieces. Metamagic and combat styles. Lots and lots of spells. And, of course, prestige classes will also be there.

You set the challenge

Now, if reading about all of these features is making your head spin, because you may be hoping for a more casual experience, don't fret! If you just want to enjoy the game without worrying too much about mechanics, character planning and micro-management, you may always choose a lower difficulty setting. Our AI can help you control the characters in battle. There are pregenerated builds and recommendations for all the choices and options. You can choose exactly which elements you want help with and which of them you want to handle on your own.

Difficulty settings will include a story mode, for those who are less interested in combat and want to focus more on the plot and dialogue. In story mode only thematic abilities of enemies will be noticeable, trolls will still regenerate and spiders will still be venomous, but overall combat will be far easier, and enemy abilities will be easier to deal with. Damage and enemy defenses will be greatly reduced in story mode, and some complex mechanical systems, such as attacks of opportunity, will be switched off for enemies. There will also be a core rules difficulty, which will adhere to tabletop Pathfinder as closely as possible - with attacks of opportunity on your archer that shoots in melee, friendly fire from area of effect spells and occasional deadly critical hits on your party. There will be adapted rules – a simplified version of core rules, fit for fans of CRPGs more than core, where drinking a potion will not provoke an attack of opportunity from an opponent and critical hits of your enemies are not as deadly, reducing the randomness of fights. There will also be several different harder difficulties, where enemies will have their stats (and, consequently DCs for saves, AC, attacks and such) and health increased by different amounts, for those of you who seek a greater challenge. Other difficulty settings include an easy mode, set between story and adapted rules. On top of that, many combat-related settings will be customizable. Don't like attacks of opportunity? No problem, just switch them off in the options. Most difficulty settings can also be changed in the middle of a fight.

You will also be able to choose from several AI behaviours for your party members, allowing them to use spells and abilities or spend resources on their own, should you so desire. As your characters level up, you will be able to select which among them will be following their pregenerated path and whose development you want to control by hand. For instance, you could level up your main character completely manually, but leave all your companions, or some of them, to develop according to their predestined builds. There will also be recommendations for many builds and play styles. Want a character to become a skilled archer? You can ask the game to point out recommended feats for archers in the level up interface. The game can even give you recommendations based on your previous choices! It's a little bit like shopping on the internet. "We see that you have taken Point-Blank Shot, you may also like: Precise Shot."
That customization stuff sounds...ambitious. The mention of attacks of opportunity makes me wonder if these guys spent some time reading Pillars of Eternity discussions.

There are 6 comments on Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #2: Gameplay Mechanics - Character Building and Difficulty

Thu 8 June 2017
RPG Codex Review: The Long Journey Home

Review - posted by Infinitron on Thu 8 June 2017, 23:33:45

Tags: Daedalic Entertainment; The Long Journey Home

Daedalic Entertainment's The Long Journey Home was released just nine days ago, but with E3 coming up it already feels like a thing of the past. During its five or so days of fame, the game continued to be divisive, with a parade of harsh reviews criticizing it for overly difficult and repetitive gameplay. But it also found an audience of players who appreciated what it was trying to do. Among these was the Codex's own oasis789, whose enthusiasm for the game in the weeks leading up to its release made him an obvious choice to write our review. Here's his take on The Long Journey Home's mainstream reception - and how Daedalic chose to handle it:

At this point it seems appropriate to mention complaints that the game is too hard and too much of a repetitive grind, so that the moments of fun are too few and far between. I will suggest here that 1) it is very easy to confuse playing a game badly with playing a bad game, and 2) it is precisely the degree and variety of challenges that make the game fun.

Most of this criticism about difficulty and repetitiveness is directed at the space combat and lander minigames. In combat, you control the Daedalus from the top-down on a two-dimensional field, boosting away from enemy missiles, turning if your shields are down on one side, charging up the laser battery, and lining the ship up for a broadside shot. On planets, you control the lander on a side-scrolling landscape, firing top and bottom thrusters to land safely on points of interest, where you may drill for resources, scavenge shipwrecks, or capture wildlife. It is true that the combat in TLJH is not as elegant as more action-oriented titles like Starsector, and its focus on broadside maneuvering is awkward and takes a great deal of finesse to succeed in. But the Daedalus is not a warship, and TLJH is not about combat, which is almost always a bad idea and best to be avoided. Even if the shooting starts, a wise player beats a hasty retreat and does not stick around to shoot back unless absolutely necessary. It is also true that the lander is hard to control, especially when one has to struggle with gravity and strong winds, or under the pressure of limited fuel, scorching temperatures, bad weather or violent turbulence. But there are various ways of making the lander easier to handle and more resilient to hazardous conditions, and the wise player does not attempt to land on every planet either. So I can only interpret much of this criticism as being more revealing about the critic than that which is being critiqued.

To give a concrete example, consider that players may, against the express advice given in the tutorial that refining is generally not as efficient as trade, opt to be a subsistence miner, landing on every planet and drilling and siphoning as much as possible, and refining the resources for repairs and fuel. Upon discovering that such an approach will cost more in damage to the lander and injuries to the pilot, the sane response is not to keep doing the same thing and expect different results, but to think carefully about which planets are safe to land on, and what resources are worth risking damage for. Then plan a course to systems where you are most likely to find such planets and resources. Then experiment to discover which aliens prefer which resources, that some types of resources are more valuable than others, and that the best trades do not involve anything that requires drilling or siphoning. Then adapt to change those plans when one only finds planets poor in riches or dangerous to approach or land on, or poor trading partners who do not take well to price negotiation. The game does not explicitly tell you how to do any of these things, but it does not seem unreasonable for players with common sense to figure it out for themselves.

Consider combat. Players are very likely to be attacked by all sorts of enemies for all kinds of reasons, but fighting them all will only end up damaging the ship if not destroying it completely, and one generally does not gain much from victory either. Various approaches to this problem include staying far away and hoping they do not notice your presence in the system, and if they set a course to intercept you, you can boost away. If they do intercept you, you can do as they ask, maybe pay them off, and go about your business. Or you could run off without saying a word. Though the game is certainly much easier if you are good at combat, players who aren't or don't enjoy it have many options to avoid combat altogether.

Since receiving this barrage of criticism, DSW has hastily patched in a new 'Story Mode' difficulty setting. This brings to mind the old saying 'be careful what you wish for, it might come true.' Veterans of Star Control II will recall that the combat and lander minigames there were certainly annoying, but both got trivialized once one got all the upgrades, making a large chunk of its gameplay just going through the motions. Analogously, 'Story Mode' may allow players to experience more of the Cobbett-written content more quickly than they would have otherwise, but it will also likely diminish much of their own player-driven emergent stories. Consider some of the toughest lander scenarios: Scans might have found rare gases on a gas giant, and you have to search through its layers for the gas pockets while fighting strong winds, using gravity to get through harsh turbulence swiftly, but not letting the lander fall too far and get crushed by pressure. Or you might have identified ruins on a fiery inferno, and rush to reach the temple entrance before the pilot is cooked in his own space suit. Or you might risk landing on an infested world, carefully avoiding getting too close to the ground while hovering over a volcanic vent. All of the above examples are generally Bad Ideas and Last Resorts, which is what makes them the highlights of a comeback story. If `Story Mode' prevents players from ever encountering such challenges, or removes the need to ever take them on, their long journey home will likely be a very short and uneventful one. DSW will probably then discover that complaints about difficulty swiftly transform into complaints about boredom.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: The Long Journey Home

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Tue 6 June 2017
Pathfinder: Kingmaker now on Kickstarter

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 6 June 2017, 19:39:27

Tags: Alexander Mishulin; Chris Avellone; Oleg Shpilchevsky; Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

Without prior warning, the Kickstarter campaign for Owlcat Games' Pathfinder: Kingmaker has launched today, a day before its Thunderclap goes off. As stated in last week's VentureBeat interview, Owlcat are looking to raise $500k, an initial goal that will be used to expand the game's kingdom management system. They've put together a nice pitch video, in which narrative designer-for-hire Chris Avellone, Erik Mona the excitable CCO of Paizo, and various members of the team describe its setting, story and design aspects. They also talk a bit about their professional backgrounds. On YouTube, the video has been split into two parts. Here's that and a list of the game's main features:

The Game World

Pathfinder: Kingmaker is the first single-player computer RPG based on the acclaimed Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. The game invites players to Golarion, a world rich with history, mystery, and conflict, and gives players the chance to claim part of this world as their own.

Pathfinder has considerable depth, not only in its lore, but also in its game mechanics, and in the freedom it offers you to develop your own unique character. You can customize your character with a wide range of classes and powers including specialized archetypes, powerful arcane and divine spells, choosing from a multitude of class abilities, skills and feats. Pathfinder allows players to create heroes (or villains) that fit both their individual gameplay styles and their personalities.

The Story

In the north lies the Stolen Lands, a region that has been contested territory for centuries. Hundreds of kingdoms have risen and fallen in these lands, and now it is time for you to make your mark—by building your own kingdom! To do so, you’ll need to survive the harsh wilderness and the threat of rival nations… as well as threats within your own court.

Pathfinder: Kingmaker is based on Paizo’s award-winning Pathfinder Adventure Path of the same name. You certainly don’t need to be familiar with the story, but if you are, you will encounter characters you know and love. Either way, you will experience a host of brand-new events, companions, allies, and threats that expand and enhance the original Adventure Path. With help from Paizo and their authors, the story and quests have been expanded by RPG writer Chris Avellone and the Owlcat team, allowing for even more adventure in the already rich narrative of the Stolen Lands.

While Pathfinder: Kingmaker is a single-player game, you won’t be adventuring alone. Pathfinder: Kingmaker features a diverse cast of companions and NPCs, including iconic characters from the Pathfinder setting itself. You’ll need to decide who to trust and who to watch carefully, as each companion has an agenda, alignment, and goals that may differ from yours. Your journey will become their journey, and you’ll help shape their lives both in the moment and well into the future.

Your Kingdom

We chose to adapt the Kingmaker adventure path because it features a host of open-world mechanics, allowing players to experience the story at their own pace as they explore the Stolen Lands, which will challenge you as both an adventurer and a ruler.

Most importantly, the game allows you to claim these lands as your own, letting you carve your own kingdom from the wilderness. While classic dungeon crawling and exploration lie at the heart of this adventure, diplomacy, politics, and the ability to lead troops in the field are also part of the challenge. Choose your allies well, and keep them close while exploring ancient tombs and ruins—and while dealing with politics in your own court.

As you’ll discover, building a kingdom goes beyond simply building a stronghold: Your kingdom is a reflection of your character and your choices throughout the game. It is a living thing shaped by your alignment, your allies, and your ability to lead your people. Not only can your kingdom expand, opening up new territories and allowing you to build new towns and communities, but your capital city will physically change based on your decisions, your policies, and even whom you choose to ally with. As your kingdom grows, a number of factions and neighboring countries will come to you to seek favor—and to test your strength.

If you fail, your kingdom will be destroyed, but if you succeed, you’ll have made a nation where countless others have failed.

Your kingdom awaits! Do you have the strength to rule it?
The Kickstarter initially had a $20 Early Bird tier, but that ran out within an hour or so. Owlcat have opened a second, not-as-Early Bird tier at $22, but even that is running out as I type, so if you like what you see, you'd better hurry. The cheapest non-Early Bird tier is $28, with beta access available at $95 and above. I wonder how this will do. Despite the rapid depletion of the Early Bird tiers, the campaign doesn't seem to be exactly booming, but maybe that'll change after the mainstream press has noticed. According to the Kickstarter page, the game is scheduled to come out in August 2018.

There are 180 comments on Pathfinder: Kingmaker now on Kickstarter

Sat 3 June 2017
Chris Avellone on Pathfinder: Kingmaker, Kickstarter details at VentureBeat

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Sat 3 June 2017, 16:24:23

Tags: Alexander Mishulin; Chris Avellone; Oleg Shpilchevsky; Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

Pathfinder: Kingmaker newsbits continue to trickle in. Owlcat Games have posted an "interview" with Chris Avellone on the game's Facebook page, which is made up of questions solicited from the community. It starts out with a few general Pathfinder questions, but quickly gets down to the brass tacks of CRPG design. Here's an excerpt:

Why did you choose Kingmaker as the setting for the CRPG? Why the River Kingdoms?

It was the decision made before I came on the project (work had already begun using Kingmaker, and the companions were fleshed out as well – usually biographies and arcs). That said, I don’t have any issues with the setting or the adventure path at all, I think it was a good choice (further confirmed by fan feedback).

I like the Kingmaker adventure path, it makes for an interesting computer role-playing game, the Stolen Lands are a perfect place for building a kingdom from scratch, and even better, the adventure path format gives Owlcat and I “breathing room” to add more narrative and quests without disrupting the classic adventure path itself (for players that know it and love the adventure path, they’ll find plenty of the same characters, areas, and situations, but often with an added element we’ve been able to bring to it on the developer side).

The Kingmaker Adventure Path has its own story. How faithful will the plot of the CRPG be to the AP? Should we prepare for any surprise twists?

Players familiar with the adventure path will be pleased at seeing many of the characters and setting from the pen-and-paper version of Kingmaker, and while there are some changes, I think players will be pleasantly surprised by how these changes complement the existing material – especially the companion interactions and the ways companions interact with some of the elements of the Kingmaker plot.

Outside of the main plotline, will there be plenty of side quests?

Yes – it’s one of the pillars of Pathfinder to reward exploration, and side quests are a large part of that.

Are we going to encounter iconic characters? Maybe even as companions for our party?

Yes, one of the Pathfinder iconic characters, Amiri, can join your party in Pathfinder. She has some of the best lines in the game so far, and it’s no surprise – she’s fun to write for.

Everybody needs a little love, right? Can we have relationships with our companions?

Yes, but not just romance (just romance is limiting). The companions are with you for a reason, and that reason may change based on your actions – for good or for ill, and they’ll pay attention to your behavior and act accordingly.

Being the hero may be fun, but we all know the dark side has cookies. Will there be possibilities to be really, despicably evil?

Yes. And cruel. And cunning. I generally find “smart” evil (ex: talking two enemies into killing each other) to be more fun than demanding more money as a quest reward or being a mass-murderer.

Will our decisions and actions have an impact on the world? Does the story offer replay value, offer different outcomes and endings depending on how we play?

Yes, it’s one of the hallmarks of an RPG, and Kingmaker is no different. We’d like players to play it more than once and get a different experience each time. The companion arcs alone have several options that are shaped throughout the game, and that means the story can change considerably depending on your party composition.

How much creative freedom will we get with quests? Will most of our problems be solved with the sword or will there be alternate, more unorthodox solutions like in tabletop?

Speech and diplomacy (especially in your role in ruling your kingdom) are part of your arsenal, both in the court and on the battlefield. Of course, swordplay is still an option, but you may find other ways to achieve your goals with much different results.

Will companions react to our choices? Let’s say one of our companions is really good, but we keep making evil decisions. Would that companion eventually leave or even betray us?

Yes, alignment clashes (and acting against the principles a companion upholds) would cause them to lose faith in you, leave, or even turn on you. They aren’t simply walking backpacks and stats, they have their own personalities and things they hold dear.
There's also an interview with a couple of Kingmaker's developers over at VentureBeat, which has some details about the upcoming Kickstarter. It'll have a base funding goal of $500,000, with stretch goals for adding classes, companions, quests, areas and also developing the module's "Kingdom system". Interestingly, the interview took place before PaizoCon, and at that point the Kickstarter was planned to start this weekend. LESS T_T has spotted a Thunderclap page for the game, which is set to go off on June 7th. I guess that's the new launch date?

There are 44 comments on Chris Avellone on Pathfinder: Kingmaker, Kickstarter details at VentureBeat
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