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Wed 18 April 2018

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

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 18 April 2018, 17:07:59

Tags: Fallen Gods; Mark Yohalem; Wormwood Studios

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The fourth development update for Mark Yohalem's Fallen Gods is out, a bit earlier than expected. We were promised details about the game's fallen god protagonist, and the update doesn't disappoint, providing a wealth of information about the god's abilities and other mechanics.

The titular hero (or anti-hero) of our game may be fallen, but he is still a god. And even when cut off from Orm’s great soul-hoard in Skyhold, a son of the Cloudlands has many gifts that set him apart from mortal men.

The first is that he is very hard to kill for good. Only a few things are strong enough to make his soul abandon his flesh and bones. Most deaths merely mangle his body, and a few days and a bit of soul-strength are enough to heal even the ghastliest wounds. (Of course, every day is precious to a fallen god who must make it home within three months.)

Indeed, Ormfolk are very hard to kill at all, for even the most bumbling of them has a strength and skill with the sword that outstrips most hardened earthly fighters. And a god can grow even greater in might and wits by drawing on his soul-strength—“leveling up” in RPG parlance, though here at the cost of the same hard-won “mana” (i.e., soul) pool that feeds his greatest skills.

For a god, even a fallen god, has skills beyond swordplay. The player’s god has two out of the following five such skills: Soulfire (by which he can kindle souls into a holy blaze that can burn away curses or burn up foes); Healing Hands (by which he can heal wounds and cure sickness in himself and others); Death Lore (by which he can speak to the dead, calling on their wisdom or driving off restless undead draugar); Wild Heart (by which he can bend beasts to his will or cause the woods themselves to hasten him on his way); and Foresight (by which he can see what lies in distant lands or times to come). These too draw on soul-strength.

And a god has his “fetch,” the fylgja of Norse mythology (or “familiar” in folklore and modern fantasy). As the lore holds, a god’s fetch is female (a bitch wolf, a vixen, a hen raven, or a she eagle); a goddess’s would be male. Each fetch has its own advantages. For instance, the wolf fights beside you in battle, while the eagle can strike foes unaware beforebattle. Fetches also unlock new paths, such as letting your vixen lead starving miners astray to get them out of your way in the “Lost Ones” event.

Finally, the fallen god starts with a mighty item from the Cloudlands, such as the Lur, a horn that can stir the slumbering heart or clear the muddled head of any mortal man. And he will find more as he goes. Our items (as will be discussed in a later update) are like Lone Wolf’s: each is significant, providing not just a noticeable statistical bonus but also new abilities (like crossing streams with the Fording Stone) and new opportunities in events (such as covering an escape by opening the Fog Pot).

All of this power depends on soul-strength. When the god stirs the faith of men and women with mighty deeds (a faith born of fear and a faith born of love are equal sources of this strength), they freely yield some or all of their souls to him. He can also take soul-strength in harsher ways, such as killing lingering beings of old that are still swollen with souls from when they were gods themselves. And there are darker tricks still, like the Soultrap, which snares a soul as it leaves a dying body. One way or the other, perhaps one way and all the others, the fallen god must gather enough soul-strength to win his way home.
In an exegesis of sorts, Mark reflects on the emergent properties of these mechanics. The gameplay in Fallen Gods reinforces a theme of self-interest, unlike most RPGs that are fundamentally oriented around resolving the interests of other characters, often altruistically.

So what character traits arise from the gameplay constraints in Fallen Gods? Well, the game doesn’t really have “quests” in the way a typical contemporary RPG does (i.e., meet NPC; learn about NPC’s problem; visit other NPCs to learn yet more context; discover various solutions; choose a solution; implement it over multiple steps; return to receive a reward). Our encounters usually resolve quickly, with a single paragraph of text describing the dilemma, a single multiple-choice decision resolving the dilemma, and another single paragraph describing that resolution. In order for those thin dilemmas to have meaning, they need to be about the god’s interests, since there is no pathos-laden dialogue tree to make the NPC’s interests compelling.

Thus, they typically take the form of, “Someone is between you and something you want: how can you get it most cheaply?” Whether a foe’s barring your path, a friend’s sharing a gift, or a stranger’s offering a reward, the god’s instinct is to give up as little as he can and get as much as he can. The game’s overall narrative needs to establish and reinforce this self-interest, and so the god—who is, after all, trying to escape the world’s sorrows and not lift them—must be a self-interested figure.

This self-interest is further compelled by constraints on interactions with followers. A mainstay of RPGs since Baldur’s Gate (arguably, since Ultima IV) has been intra-party interactions in which the player character talks to, and usually panders to, his companions. The more the player panders, the more his companion opens up, either as a romantic partner or a troubled friend in need of therapy, or both (as in Bioware games). This entails multi-stage, elaborate dialogue trees (e.g., the Circle of Zerthimon) delving deeply into the rich history and unique psyche of the NPC.

Fallen Gods has no dialogue trees. And the followers in the warband are not unique characters. Each berserk is like other berserks, each churl like other churls, and so forth. Mostly, they are ciphers like “hirelings” in Neverwinter Nights or Diablo II or soldiers in X-COM. Even when they interject thoughts and participate in events, they do so as fairly generic types, rather than as rich individuals, like a thinner version of the Clan Circle in King of Dragon Pass.

Thus, the god simply cannot be a thoughtful leader of men like Shepard in Mass Effect or The Nameless One in Planescape: Torment, one who takes the time to learn in excruciating detail the lives of his followers. He, like the player, must view his followers as chess pieces: means to an end rather than Kantian “ends in themselves.” He is again motivated by self-interest: what can they do for me and what must I do for them? That is true whether he’s giving them orders or giving them gifts. The latter is an important, thematic part of a saga-inspired setting: to be a leader is to be a ring-giver. But unlike gifts used in Dragon Age: Origins to foster romance and delve deeper into psychoanalysis, these gifts are given only to strengthen the followers and reinforce the bonds of loyalty tying them to the god. If a churl began to share sob stories from his rough childhood, the god would almost certainly stare him into shamed silence.

This overriding self-interest will likely create a gap between what the player wishes his avatar would do and the game lets his avatar do. Generally speaking, people want to do good, and that desire is particularly strong in single-player games, where doing good carries no meaningful cost (maybe a little less fictitious money paid to your avatar as a reward for his quest). People call this a “power fantasy.” Fine. But it is emblematic of the noblest aspect of fantasy: its ability to train us to view doing good as the proper exercise of power.

Fallen Gods has a crueler edge to its fantasy. Although the gods’ foes are mostly wickeder than he is, and although he is certainly capable of doing some good in the world, his motivations are ultimately selfish. He can be bold and open-handed, fearless before fearful odds, clever in outwitting evil minds… but at bottom, he is not on earth to accrue Paragon points, but simply to achieve escape velocity, no matter what gets scorched in his wake or battered down along his runway. Rather than a fantasy in which the player can practice goodness, it is a fantasy that hopefully will leave the player convinced he can do better in this world than the fallen god does in the game’s world, even if the player doesn’t have the same panoply of powers.
As before, a sample from the soundtrack is included in the update, but there was no room to embed it this time. Coming up next, an update entitled "Witches and Dwergs", which I assume will describe some of the creatures we might come across in the game's encounters.

There are 9 comments on Fallen Gods Update #4: The Fallen God

Company News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 18 April 2018, 00:04:45

Tags: Alex Gygax; Fig; Gary Gygax; Gygax Games; Justin Bailey

The unusual trend of esoteric tabletop roleplaying game licenses being adapted to computer continues. This time, the license owner is none other than the estate of the late Gary Gygax, co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons. Headed up by his youngest son Alex Gygax, the recently reformed Gygax Games have partnered with crowdfunding site Fig to produce a video game based on Gary's unpublished material. The material in question is described as Gygax's "personal dungeon" or "personal campaign", which he worked on privately for many years. The one catch - there's no developer yet. It sounds like they made this announcement in order to try to attract one, actually. Here are the details, from GamesIndustry's interview with Alex Gygax and Fig CEO Justin Bailey:

While Gary Gygax never did much more than dabble in video game development, the late Dungeons & Dragon creator had an unquestionable impact on the medium. That impact may not be entirely in the past tense, as the Gygax Trust has partnered with crowdfunding and investment site Fig to see some of the designer's original and unpublished intellectual property brought to video games.

Speaking with GamesIndustry.biz recently, Gary's son Alex Gygax said the first order of business is to find a single developer that shares his father's goals and has a demonstrated skill for narrative. They hope to work with that studio to create something based on an original campaigns of Gary's, one which Alex referred to as "kind of the original dungeon for Dungeons & Dragons."

"As my dad was creating Dungeons & Dragons, like a lot of games you need playtesters to work out the kinks and make a better game," Alex said. "So he started his own local group at home with some friends and family members. As he was creating the game, he had his personal story and it started growing and growing. It went from a tower in a town to a 10-level dungeon to a multi-level one that went all the way down to the depths of hell."

And as should probably be expected of a Gary Gygax story, that's just the beginning.

"We're hoping to do a multi-plane aspect of this game where you're not pigeon-holed into being in one scenario or storyline," Alex said. "[The 1999 D&D follow-up] Lejendary Adventures had a campaign, The Hall of Many Panes, where you go to different realms, each one having a different mission, storyline, or theme to it. Creating something with his original works that could be expanded upon is what we're shooting for."

The campaign was a regular part of Gary's Thursday game nights, a tradition Alex joined as soon as he could. It was where Gary would try out new ideas and test various systems.

"Even 20 or 30 years later after he started this dungeon, he was still modifying and creating stuff based on what we did," Alex said. "It was his tool to make the game better."

That means whatever developer comes on board will be working not only with Gygax's narrative ideas, but his mechanical ones as well. And while many were devised for pen-and-paper play, a number of the mechanics were created with an eye toward eventual adaptation into gaming as well.

"There are multiple systems we could use," Alex said. "There are a few that would transfer over to a computer quite nicely, which I think would be good to use. Some stat-based and percentile-based ideas, but we're still pretty open. Once we pick a certain developer and start working with them, I think things will fall in line as we go."

Of course, the developer isn't the only partner trying to make this game a reality. And even though Fig is best known as a crowdfunding site for developers with projects that are already in the works, company founder and CEO Justin Bailey doesn't see this particular project as being too far outside its wheelhouse.

"It's a natural fit for us because we like to think of ourselves as being a publisher that's centered around the community," Bailey said. "So getting the community involved, not just in the funding of it but giving feedback to things, being investors of it and helping get the word out... All those aspects of what people think of as publishing is where we step in.

"And I couldn't think of a better piece of work than what Gary's put together. This work and the campaign he was running actually formed his inspiration to create D&D. In discussions already with the developers we've been talking about who've been inspired by Gary's work, they've seen this unpublished work and they're just blown away."

Part of the reason the Gygax Trust is working with Fig is because the platform could serve some of the roles of a publishing partner while allowing the Gary's family to retain creative control. While some creators may ordinarily balk at those sorts of conditions, Bailey said that hasn't been the case in his early discussions with prospective developers.

"All the developers we've been talking to want the Gygax estate involved in this process," Bailey said. "That's what's appealing to them, being true to Gary's memory and the work he created. It's almost a no-brainer."

Alex also stressed that the family is seeking a collaborative process and will want everybody involved to contribute their ideas. That said, there are some things the Gygax Trust is planning to insist upon.

"I just think it's important you keep some of the key elements in, and not stray away from what my dad brought to the table," Alex said. "Being creative, being able to create your own dungeon, create your own monsters, and run your own story, but at the same time create your own friendships and bonds through the guise of the game. I don't think we want to lose sight of that. And if you let go of the reins somewhere else, sometimes things get done maybe not how you'd like them to be done. So being able to be a part of the design process and creation of everything, I think it's going to make sure we don't lose sight of that."
Two more interviews with some extra details can be found at Polygon and VentureBeat. But is this a serious thing, a shovelware cash-in, or just vaporware? I guess we'll see.

There are 46 comments on Gygax Games partner with Fig to publish a game based on Gary Gygax's unpublished "personal campaign"

Tue 17 April 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 17 April 2018, 18:00:37

Tags: Copper Dreams; Whalenought Studios

One of the features demonstrated in the Copper Dreams Kickstarter update earlier this month was the various environmental effects that can be applied to tiles in the game world. Today Joe and Hannah have published a new update that goes into further detail on those. Area of effect mechanics in RPGs are nothing new of course, but in this game they're more simulationist than you've ever seen. I quote:

All the tiles on a map can have quite a few variables that change during gameplay:
  • Occupied/Unoccupied
  • Lit / unlit / shadow
  • Sound emission
  • Light color
  • Line-of-sight hidden or visible
  • Projectile or Damage range traveling through
And now featuring state effects like:
  • fire
  • blood
  • water
  • smoke
  • electricity
Trackable and Ailment Tiles

Should you (or an NPC) walk over water or blood tiles, the character will get a 'wet' or 'bloody' ailment, and track that liquid for ~10 tiles. If these footsteps are seen by an NPC faction who is hostile against another NPC (Guards at a compound see thug patrolling), they'll initiate an AI path similar to last-known-position, and track those footprints until the last one, and then do a wary-state check of the area. They obviously also do this to you, so watch where you step! You can also use this to your advantage, toy with NPCs by luring them away from an area, out of sight and hearing of others.

Running over smoke causes your character to take on a coughing ailment, which interrupts them for a ~tick (more if you have other chest ailments) and causes them to cough, making noise. Not great for being sneaky or on-the-run. This ailment re-rolls every 10 ticks.

Electrical tiles on the ground stun your character for 3 ticks, and re-rolls that every 6. There are low and high-voltage electrical tiles, the former just stuns you, and higher ones can drain batteries on equipment, short-out cybernetics temporarily, or on higher rolls cause burn damage. That kind of electrical damage is caused by weapons, while environmental ones are less lethal.

Fire damage takes its ailments from the FIRE damage spreadsheet, and that's not a table you want associated with your character's health. For fire-grenades you'll take an initial blast-damage ailment, and that could cause a burning wound which procs every 4 ticks for a duration.

This was also the first ailment to cause more ailments we've readied for the alpha, and it's a pretty slick system. Another one for alpha is impact weapon damage causing bones to break and getting bone-splinters which proc a bleeding damage.

Causality

Tile effects are automatically caused by some weapons. Like displayed in the previous update, shooting a gun causes tiles around you to light up for a light mod, as well as cause the sound of the gun, and lastly firing some bullet. Adding to those systems, weapons like flamethrowers can pour fire down hallways and leave fire tiles on the ground, and smoke grenades fill a room with smoke tiles.

Since the Burning Candle ruleset leans simulationist, there's no balance needed for things like this, but there are some odd ways we can allow to deter it. For the alpha we'll have fire extinguishers for clearing fire tiles or dousing yourself. For tactical drying action, keep a one-time-use hanky or towel on hand to pat your butt dry.

If you've caught on fire, you can use your roll action (if you have the Grace for it) or our very own implementation of stop-drop-and-roll to extinguish flames by crawling/crouch and standing in sequence. Each of those stance changes take a tick, and burning damage procs frequently, so you'll want to exclusively and quickly do a dance like that or extinguish yourself other ways if you want to keep yourself from getting too well-done.
If that's not impressive enough, after the alpha is released, Joe and Hannah plan to take things even further by implementing Divinity: Original Sin-style environmental combos. There's still no release date on the alpha, but hopefully more updates will be coming soon.

There are 5 comments on Copper Dreams Kickstarter Update #19: Tile Effects


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Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 17 April 2018, 14:48:48

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

After six months with no update, some people began to worry that Wasteland 3 was in some sort of trouble. There's no sign of any problems in the latest Fig update though, which announces that the game is on schedule for alpha, with the critical path expected to be complete by the end of next month. The update consists of a series of progress reports from various members of the Wasteland 3 development team, including lead designer George Ziets and ex-Codexer Eric Schwarz, who has apparently been promoted to systems designer. Here's an excerpt:

As we roll on into 2018, Wasteland 3 has been in full production for a while and I’m happy to say we’re hitting all our major milestones on design, art, and engineering. Long-time fans of inXile may know our production philosophy puts a heavy emphasis on iteration. Practically speaking, that means we want to have levels and systems in so we can test and improve on our ideas. This allows us to find out sooner rather than later what works and doesn’t work.

At this point, over 90% of the scenes in the game have first pass scripting as well as first pass art. We have Rangers killing stuff, vehicles driving around (and also killing stuff), multiplayer working on consoles and PC, the works! This allows our level and systems designers to experience and polish up their scenes, and for our Design Lead George Ziets to do playthroughs and take (very meticulous) notes. The value of getting this kind of revision time early on can’t be overstated.

We have a few new team members to mention. On the Environment Art side is Yong-Ha Hwang, recently on the Blizzard cinematics team, and Josh Deeb, who is joining us from Daybreak. In our NOLA studio, we've also picked up Germ Revoso as a concept artist, and Greg Roberts is doing some great animation work for us. On the writing team, author Cassandra Khaw has been doing some amazingly twisted dialog work for us, and Nathan Long, the principal writer on Wasteland 2, is cranking out volumes of great material too.

Checking In On: Gameplay Systems with Eric Schwarz, Systems Designer

Hi everyone! The last several months of development have seen huge strides as far as our gameplay goes. As we barrel forward on development, we're continuing to refine the feature set and details of our character system, skills, abilities, weapon types, gameplay styles, and more. Being system designer on the game means ensuring that the game is fun to play, that the user interface and experience is as smooth as possible, and that I advocate for (and design) as many features as we can possibly get in. Most of my efforts lately have been focused both on ensuring our core combat and exploration systems are at a level where we feel there are no major unknowns left to solve, and are in a good state for iteration, balancing, and, later, polishing up.

In addition to making the core gameplay as good as it can be, I've also been working heavily with George so that our area design is in sync with our gameplay mechanics and makes the best possible use of them. This also means working on content design for all of our enemies, whether those are our different factions of NPCs, robots, animals, and even bigger, meaner things, so that each of them has a distinct gameplay identity, weapon types, and in some cases, abilities they use in combat. We're spending considerable effort to ensure that our combat encounters and enemy types have plenty of variety, and fitting personality for our post-apocalyptic version of Colorado.

Of course, all that high-level stuff is important, but what matters is getting those features directly in the game to play and experience first-hand. As such, a bunch of my time also involves coordinating with the level design team to implement all our features in all the locations you'll explore. Jeremy, Zack, Ben, Alex, Leland, Jeffrey, and others have been working hard to not only build the gameplay scenes and missions, but also do passes on combat implementation, loot, skill interactions, and more. It's a huge undertaking for the team, but with each and every revision, our scenes and gameplay get better and more fleshed out.

While we're still building on the foundation of Wasteland 2, there are also dozens of little tweaks, changes, improvements, and quality-of-life updates, many of which came directly out of feedback from our previous games. In future updates, we hope to be able to go into more detail about these. Until next time!

Checking In On: Content Design with George Ziets, Lead Designer

Hello all, Ziets here. The writers and level designers are working hard to get the whole game to a first draft state - especially the critical path. By the end of next month, we should be able to start the game at the tutorial and follow the critical path all the way to the end. It won’t be bug-free, of course, but getting to a solid first draft (as early as possible) is a critical step.

Some of our zones are already at an alpha state, which means that first-pass dialogue and level scripting are done, and combat, missions, and exploration all exist in some form. I’ve been playing through our zones and sending long lists of feedback to the design team. Our current focus is the city of Colorado Springs and Ranger HQ, our main hubs that contain the most reactivity to events that occur elsewhere. We’re also developing the endgame sequence and writing some of the most important characters in the game, like the Patriarch (the ruler of Colorado) and a returning Ranger from Wasteland 2 (who will, for the moment, remain nameless).

Once we're satisfied that all our zones have reached alpha, we’ll shift our emphasis toward playtesting, bug-fixing, and iterating. The iteration phase is the moment when a game really begins to shine, so the more time we can spend in iteration, the better the final product will be.

Final note: When we reach the final installment of our "Building the Everest" series of updates, we'll give you an early look at how our mission system will actually work in game.
See the full update for information about Wasteland 3's art design, audio design and more. The next two updates will conclude the Building the Everest series about the development of the vertical slice, after which inXile will begin to reveal more about the game's world and systems.

There are 8 comments on Wasteland 3 Fig Update #24: On The Road To Alpha


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Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 17 April 2018, 00:13:15

Tags: Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

The Pathfinder: Kingmaker beta has been running for the past week and a half. There's no NDA this time and gameplay videos are plentiful. Here's a Let's Play series by the Codex's own sstacks:


Impressions of the beta have been positive, and it looks like it's attracted enough attention to the game that Owlcat have finally unlocked their next stretch goal, having reached $1M of funding via preorders. Yes, they're still doing those! In case you've forgotten, the new race stretch goal was originally announced at the end of the Kickstarter campaign last July. And like they said back then, it's up to backers to decide what race will be added. The Kickstarter update explains:

When our Kickstarter campaign ended, we promised that all funds generated by pre-orders and pledge upgrades on https://owlcatgames.com/preorder would go towards unlocking new stretchgoals. And we are happy to announce that the next milestone, a crowdfunding sum of over $1 million, has been reached thanks to your generous help and support! Thank you so much for believing in us!

Our exact crowdfunding sum is now at $1.026.681

This means that we now have the resources to add one more playable race to Pathfinder: Kingmaker. And you get to help us decide which race it's going to be! We have opened a poll on our forums, where all backers get to vote for one of three possible new races. The three options are as follows:

1. Aasimar
2. Dhampir
3. Elemental*

*Humans, whose family trees include elemental beings. If elementals win the vote, we will add playable Sylphs, Undines, Ifrits and Oreads.

You can vote right now by visiting this thread on our dev forums:

https://owlcatgames.com/forums/showthread.php?4221-The-Extra-Race-Poll

Please note - you can only see this thread if you have transferred your Kickstarter pledge to our backer portal or if you are a preorder backer. If you need help transferring your pledge, send a message to team@owlcatgames.com

Thank you once again for making this possible! And who knows - perhaps we can even reach the next milestone of $1.1 million and unlock a new playable class - Hellknights.
If you like what you see and want to help Owlcat reach that last goal, Pathfinder: Kingmaker is available for preorder here.

There are 30 comments on Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #50: New Race Unlocked

Sat 14 April 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 14 April 2018, 02:10:47

Tags: Aarik Dorobiala; Justin Bell; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

We've been told that Pillars of Eternity II will have a lot more voice acting than the first game. Today, by way of tweet, we've learned that "a lot" actually means all of the dialogue in the game. Which is...wow. It looks like Divinity: Original Sin 2 has set the standard that all top-tier isometric RPGs will have to meet from now on. I wonder when they decided to do this, and what impact it'll have on the game's writing - now and in the future. Here's the announcement, from the mouth of audio director Justin Bell.


I'm guessing that this was meant to be announced in the audio team Fig updatethat Obsidian promised back in February, but apparently that update is in "development hell". Note that according to Josh Sawyer, the full voice acting doesn't include narration of prose, except in the intro, endgame and a small number of important scripted interactions.

There are 179 comments on Pillars of Eternity II gets full voice acting

Fri 13 April 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 13 April 2018, 23:18:49

Tags: Stygian Software; Underrail; Underrail: Expedition

I'm beginning to understand why the Underrail: Expedition expansion is taking so long to finish. The new Black Sea areas the expansion takes place in aren't going to be located on some separate map. Styg is actually expanding the main game world to accommodate them in a geographically consistent manner. It's like getting double the Underrail! The new development update tells us a bit about the inhabitants of these new regions:

[​IMG]

Hi guys, here's a quick update on what we've been up to in the past few months.

In order to wrap up the geographical consistency of the base game, we had to create a number of water maps that connect SGS, Junkyard, Core City, Camp Hathor, and the Black Sea. In the expansion the player will be able to traverse and explore these maps with his jet ski, but he won't be the only one as a number of factions also utilize these waters, such as Protectorate, Black Eels, and Black Sea pirates. Also encounters with random sea bandits are not uncommon.

The most powerful naval faction in the South Underrail is, of course, the Black Eels. Their naval platform The Rig is perfectly positioned to facilitate the trade between different stations as well as their own scrap exporting business. The Rig is also used to control the central body of water of the Lower Caves in order to fend off pirates. This place will be vital for pirate missions that the player will be able to take part in if he chooses to ally with the them in the expansion.

The Rig missions are not 100% complete yet, but will be soon. After that we'll be returning to the Black Sea to wrap up and polish off the maps we made so far and integrate them into the global map. And then we still have two more areas to develop - the villages of the savage natives and the final dungeon.
See the full update for a few super-cool animated GIFs showcasing the expansion's new areas.

There are 68 comments on Underrail Dev Log #57: The Rig

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 13 April 2018, 18:17:18

Tags: Joe Fielder; OtherSide Entertainment; Paul Neurath; Tim Stellmach; Underworld Ascendant; Will Teixeira

OtherSide Entertainment have published the next episode in their series of Underworld Ascendant dev diary videos. If the first video was about the game's basic design principles then this one goes into detail about the specifics of their implementation. The video features all the emergent gameplay tricks we've heard about, but it's cool to see them in action in what appears to be OtherSide's latest internal build, which is starting to look decent. They've also released an updated teaser trailer featuring some of the same new snippets of gameplay footage.


Simultaneously with this release, a number of websites have published their previews of Ascendant from PAX East. Among these are Game Informer, GameSpace, and Gamereactor who did an interview with Paul Neurath. But the highlight here is the release of a ten minute preview of the game's tutorial level - the homage to Ultima Underworld's first level mentioned in last month's development update.


Still a bit janky, but it's hard to go wrong with that Thief-inspired gameplay and ambience. Hopefully it won't be long before we get our hands on this build too.

There are 23 comments on Underworld Ascendant Dev Diary #2, Teaser Trailer and Previews

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 13 April 2018, 01:29:49

Tags: Stoic Studio; The Banner Saga 3

Last year, Stoic Studio, developers of The Banner Saga, revealed that they were in trouble after the game's sequel failed commercially. Not long afterwards they abruptly ran to Kickstarter for help to complete the third game in the trilogy...and ended up raising over $400k, not a bad result considering the first game got $700k back in 2012. I doubt anybody believes Banner Saga 3 will be very successful, but at least the full story will be told. We've known since January that the game is releasing this summer, but now there's an exact release date - July 24th. If you pre-order, you get an exclusive playable Dredge character, described in the following trailer:


The Banner Saga 3 was at PAX East last week and has been previewed at a few places including PCGamesN and Eurogamer, where there's a half hour of gameplay footage. Pre-orders are available at Steam and GOG.

There are 6 comments on The Banner Saga 3 releasing on July 24th, available for preorder

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 13 April 2018, 00:40:40

Tags: Josh Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Last night, we got to see another non-beta area of Pillars of Eternity II in a livestream featuring Josh Sawyer and hosted by elaborately dressed streaming personality MaximusRaeke. The area in question is a monster-called dungeon called the Oathbinder's Sanctum, which the party appears to have arrived at in pursuit of a debtor kidnapped by the Woedican cult who operate there. Like last week's Q&A stream it's pretty combat-heavy, although there are a couple of significant dialogue sequences including a Watcher conversation with a soul. Watch it here:

In other news, Obsidian have finally revealed the nature of those secret codes that they've been hiding in various images and other places since January. As many people have guessed by now, the codes are not part of some cipher but a means to unlock rewards in the game. Here's the announcement:

Video games publisher Versus Evil in partnership with Obsidian Entertainment today unveiled a digital scavenger hunt for all Pillars of Eternity fans that lets them unlock special in-game items for Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire when it releases on May 8th, 2018.

The Explorer’s Society Scavenger Hunt encourages gamers to search for secret codes ‘hidden’ in a variety of online and printed promotional assets for Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire. To take part, they simply have to sign up at the official website www.deadfirescavenger.com by using their existing Obsidian account, or by creating a new one. After connecting their Steam profiles, they can start hunting down codes wherever they can find them and then enter them on Obsidian.net. Doing so unlocks up to 10 digital in-game items. Each item requires a different number of codes to unlock and progress is tracked via the official site.

Codes have been hidden in all manner of game-related assets, from concept art, to screenshots, to GIFs and trailers.

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire will release on May 8th for PC, MAC and Linux.

For more information visit www.deadfirescavenger.com
Over at the Obsidian forums, the excellent Ethics Gradient has been keeping track of these codes since they started appearing. As of this writing, 32 out of 55 codes have been discovered, which is enough to unlock 7 of 10 items. Note that right now you can only get them for the Steam version of the game.

There are 5 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Oathbinder's Sanctum Stream + Secret Code Scavenger Hunt

Thu 12 April 2018

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Thu 12 April 2018, 00:18:13

Tags: BattleTech; Harebrained Schemes; Jordan Weisman; Kiva Maginn; Mike McCain; Mitch Gitelman; Paradox Interactive

The third and final episode in Harebrained Schemes' series of BattleTech introductory videos is about the game's story. Which is kind of weird, because we just had a story trailer. At least it has some additional voice acting and animatic scenes that weren't in the previous one.


To make things more interesting, here's a one hour overview of BattleTech's campaign that Paradox and Harebrained streamed two weeks ago. They also did another stream last week that was solely about mech customization. A number of streamers have been allowed to stream a portion of the campaign since last week as well.


Now that it's finally been revealed less than a month before the game's release, the mechanics of the campaign have been the subject of much debate. It is pretty complex, but it also seems like Harebrained might have filed off a bit too many of its rough edges in the name of accessibility. The BattleTech fanbase is very vocal, so we'll see how things turn out.

There are 86 comments on BattleTech Basics Video #3: Story + Mercenary Campaign Streams

Mon 9 April 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 9 April 2018, 21:41:56

Tags: Bandai Namco Entertainment; Divinity: Original Sin 2; Larian Studios; Swen Vincke

Last week, Larian made the not-so-surprising announcement that Divinity: Original Sin 2 was being ported to consoles. The console version will be published by Bandai Namco and is scheduled for release this August. We don't care much about console releases here, but today's Kickstarter update introducing some of its new features is interesting enough to post about. Swen Vincke can tell you more about them in the video he shot at PAX East this weekend, or you can just read the summary:



We’ve been hard at work and are delighted we can finally announce our big news:

Divinity: Original Sin 2 will be coming to PS4 and Xbox One in August this year!

We’re partnering with Bandai Namco Entertainment, the same folks who brought us legendary titles like Pacman, Soul Calibur, and Dark Souls. We’re excited to be working with them, and they'll be working tirelessly to get copies of Divinity: Original Sin 2 to all four corners of Rivel-... um, Earth!

Journal

Your feedback has always been invaluable to us, and we’re still listening! Its safe to say that your number one request in Divinity: Original Sin 2 was for a better journal, so we’ve been hard at work on just that. Our new and improved journal still won't hold you by the hand, but it will be a more direct and useful tool.
  • We’ve shortened the text to make it clear what you are supposed to do.
  • We’ve split multiple paths within the same quest into subdivisions.
  • When the journal gives you map markers, you can now jump straight from that journal entry to the specific marker on the map screen.
Inventory

The second biggest request we’ve received is for better inventory management. While we began by looking for ways to tweak the system, we ultimately decided the best idea was to redo it from the ground up.

You’ll soon be able to see your whole party's inventory at-a-glance, and we’ve also added multi-selecting. This will make it easier to bulk-select items to add to your wares or hand over to your teammates.
I assume these new user interfaces will be added to the PC version as well, at least for gamepad input. It sounds like will be more changes to announce soon, with Swen already teasing new content in an interview at Gamereactor. Maybe we're getting a slightly enhanced edition after all.

There are 14 comments on Divinity: Original Sin 2 Kickstarter Update #46: Console Release, New Features

Sun 8 April 2018

Company News - posted by Infinitron on Sun 8 April 2018, 16:14:31

Tags: Beamdog

Over the past couple of weeks, two Beamdog artists have been publishing some interesting pieces on their ArtStation profiles. It started with an image posted by lead environment artist Boyd McKenzie, which unusually had the clear appearance of being a live screenshot from some isometric RPG.

[​IMG]
He described it thus:

The Autumn Ruins is a level I was prototyping for a product pitch in Unreal. The game is meant to be modern take on the oldschool isometric RPG genre. I was the only 3D artist on the project, along with a few 2D artists, and a technical artist.

These specific areas are showing some of the vistas that I was trying to create. Isometric games are generally fairly flat when it comes to the terrain. Due to the nature of the camera, it's also hard to get any sort of standard vista. I wanted to play with the idea of vertical depth as a theme throughout the level. The idea with this area is that some sort of paranormal event caused the land to fracture, revealing chasms to the 'Unseen' world.

While it not something that can be seen in a screenshot, another artistic pillar for me is making sure that nature is never still. Wind would move trees, blow leaves, and have a visual impact on the world. Anything paranormal was always flowing and undulating to give it life.
Note the distinctive wide-brimmed hats. On the same day that image was published, Beamdog concept artist Amy Cornelson posted some art featuring similarly-dressed characters, but it was the image she posted the day afterwards that left no room for doubt.

[​IMG]
Yes, I do believe that's a Weird West game we're looking at, most likely cancelled. I imagine Beamdog will say that it was another one of their "exploration projects", like Planescape: Unraveled. That prototype screenshot certainly is tantalizing, however. Is this what David Gaider was working on?

There are 45 comments on Beamdog appear to have been working on an isometric Weird West RPG

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Sun 8 April 2018, 01:06:59

Tags: Aarik Dorobiala; Carrie Patel; Josh Sawyer; Matt Rhoades; Mikey Dowling; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire; Stoic Studio; Versus Evil; Zeb West

Obsidian are at PAX East this weekend to promote Pillars of Eternity II. Their publisher Versus Evil has been running a daily stream for the duration of the event, and today they put together a panel featuring Josh Sawyer and Carrie Patel along with The Banner Saga's Zeb West and Matt Rhoades, entitled "Role Playing - Our Lives Depend on It". It was just a generic RPG Q&A, only interesting for learning a bit about Carrie's background while watching Josh keep it real. Oh, and it ends with the announcement that the cast of Critical Role, voice actor Matthew Mercer's roleplaying web series, will all be doing voice acting in Pillars of Eternity II. Which is a big deal for somebody, apparently. You can also watch Mikey Dowling announce that here (but you really shouldn't).


As for Versus Evil's daily stream, Josh was on it yesterday along with loyal sidekick Aarik Dorobiala to show off the new version of the Pillars of Eternity II beta and talk about the game's combat mechanics, including ship-to-ship combat as well as regular battles. Despite the familiarity of the content at this point, it was a pretty entertaining watch, especially when Aarik got his ass whooped several times by the new upgraded Engwithan Titan.


There was also a Pillars II stream the day before that with Mikey Dowling and Aarik, but it's not the same without the Sawyer.

There are 8 comments on Obsidian & Stoic RPG Panel + Pillars of Eternity II Streams at PAX East 2018

Sat 7 April 2018

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Sat 7 April 2018, 17:11:51

Tags: Beyond Divinity; Divine Divinity; Divinity II; Divinity: Dragon Commander; Divinity: Original Sin; Divinity: Original Sin 2; KetnetKick; Larian Studios; LED Wars; Swen Vincke; The Lady, the Mage and the Knight

There were two extensive feature articles about Larian Studios in last month's issue of PC Gamer, one about the making of Divinity: Original Sin 2 and the other about the general history of the studio. Those two articles are now available online, so it's time for a newspost. The history article is the more interesting one in my opinion, so I'll post an excerpt from that:

Larian Studios is, for now, the Divinity: Original Sin studio. Its last two games, both Kickstarted and publisher-free, are the biggest successes the studio has ever seen. The Belgian developer didn’t go from obscurity to success, however, and it has been designing notable RPGs and strategy games, within and without the Divinity universe, for over two decades.

Founder Swen Vincke picks 1997 as the year when Larian started, and an RTS called LED Wars as the studio’s first game, though there had been some experiments and projects before that. Indeed, one of them, The Lady, the Mage and the Knight, had many of the hallmarks of today’s Original Sin series, 20 years before it made its debut.

“It was an RPG where you controlled three characters and could play in multiplayer,” Vincke explains. “It had all of the values of Ultima VII, which you can recognise today in Original Sin. But we were having a hard time signing it with a publisher, so we decided to make an RTS because everyone was making them and everyone was looking for them. It seemed to be an easy way to make some money.”

The RPG did get some interest from Atari, though, but soon after expressing that interest, it stepped away from PC games, leaving Larian without a publisher or any money. “It’s a running theme in our history,” jokes Vincke.

During the day, Vincke and some of his friends worked on The Lady, the Mage and the Knight, and during the evening they worked on LED Wars. It paid off, and in March of 1997 Larian convinced an American publisher, Ionos, to sign LED Wars. In that same week, they also signed their RPG to Attic Entertainment, publisher of the Realms of Arkania games. Unlike LED Wars, however, The Lady, the Mage and the Knight never launched.

While Larian was working on The Lady, the Mage and the Knight, Attic Entertainment took notice of Blizzard’s Diablo II, which had been doing the rounds at trade shows. The publisher was panicking because Diablo II was a 16-bit game, while Larian’s RPG was 8-bit. That needed to change, Vincke was told.

“We had to throw out everything we had because it was all 8-bit,” Vincke remembers. “They said it wouldn’t be a problem and lent us their artists. Then they came back and told us that we were going to need to make it bigger because it was going to be part of the Realms of Arkania series. They said we’d get a licence and we’d have to convert our story into one that worked for The Dark Eye. So I said, ‘Sure.’”

It turned out that Attic didn’t have the money to fund the increasingly ambitious game they’d requested. In 1999, Larian was left in dire straits, penniless again.

Vincke found himself responsible for a team of 30 people, including some of the publisher’s employees who had been sent over but who were no longer being paid or being sent back. He ended the contract. That year Larian must have made 20 work-for-hire games, Vincke guesses. These were small things like casino games, and he was just trying to keep the lights on. “It was that or bankruptcy,” he says.

Larian got through it, though, and from the ashes of The Lady, the Mage and the Knight came the first Divinity. At the end of 1999, it was sold to CDV Software, a publisher that had just released the World War 2 RTS Sudden Strike.

“Because Sudden Strike was such a success, the CEO of CDV Software decided that every other game needed to be an alliteration,” Vincke recalls. “That was how it ended up becoming Divine Divinity instead of Divinity. Originally it was going to be called Divinity: The Sword of Lies, which, granted, isn’t the best title in the world either, but it was better than Divine Divinity. It won awards for having such a bad title. We talk about Divinity ‘one’; we never call it Divine Divinity.”

Over the next couple of years, Larian laboured on Divinity. The multiplayer component that had been so important to The Lady, the Mage and the Knight was dropped because it was seen as too big a risk by the publisher. It was the largest project Larian had ever undertaken, so there was a lot of on-the-job learning. It launched in August, 2002.

“It was a classic Larian problem: the game wasn’t ready when it was released,” Vincke admits. “We didn’t even know that the publisher was releasing it. I discovered that Divinity was being released when I was doing a press tour for it in the US. We were horribly late with it, at least by a year, but we still needed some time to polish it. So it shipped with 7,000 known bugs, and the initial reviews obviously focused on them. But as we started tweaking it, people started seeing that it was a good game.”

Divinity reviewed well, and it sold well, and Larian got nothing. “We were so excited about signing back in 1999 that we didn’t really pay attention to the fact that we should earn money when a game is sold, so we didn’t earn anything from Divinity. It was a standard contract back in the day, but if you didn’t sell millions of your game under the royalties model it was very hard to earn any money out of it.” Larian had just released a critically and commercially successful game and they were broke. Again. The studio went from 30 people to three by 2003, five months after Divinity launched. It was a dark time, Vincke confesses, and one that pushed him to take a fortnight break in South Africa, where his father lived.

“I sat on the ranch and just stared for two weeks, trying to figure out what to do. When I came back, I convinced the bank to give me a little bit of money, and I convinced a Belgian broadcaster to give me some more. It was to make what they thought was going to be a website, but it turned into a big 3D game in which children were able to make creations. It was like an American Idol for kids, and it was called KetnetKick. Kids could make animations, movies and cartoons in this 3D world and send it to the broadcaster. The broadcaster would then use it in a TV show and would say which kid made it, and the kid would become famous in the 3D world.”

The additional funding allowed Larian to make a follow-up to Divinity, called Beyond Divinity, and release KetnetKick in 2004. The team grew to about 25 people, and Larian’s head was above water again, albeit only for as long as it could keep doing work-for-hire projects. By 2007, however, it finally had enough money in the bank to make a proper Divinity sequel, eventually called Divinity II: Ego Draconis.
Divinity II would have its own share of publisher drama, but the Dragon Knight Saga rerelease would eventually do well enough to allow Larian to make Dragon Commander and Divinity: Original Sin, and the rest is history. You can read about that in the full article.

There are 8 comments on The History of Larian and Making of Divinity: Original Sin 2 at PC Gamer

Thu 5 April 2018

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Thu 5 April 2018, 01:23:09

Tags: Copper Dreams; Whalenought Studios

Last we heard, the Copper Dreams alpha was supposed to have come out in February. Turns out it's delayed because Joe and Hannah have been busy flipping real estate outside Seattle to raise more money for development. So they reveal in today's Kickstarter update, which unlike previous updates is primarily in video format. The video gives us what is probably our longest look at Copper Dreams' gameplay yet. By playing through a couple of basic combat scenarios, Joe and Hannah demonstrate some of the recent changes that have been made to the game, such as switching from square to hex-based tiles, a streamlined user interface and improved visual indicators. The gameplay part of the video starts at around 7:20, but if you'd rather not watch, the update does include a brief summary:



Just a few micro-issues remaining. No, we're just finishing on some last AI functionality before sending it off to you to make sure the different challenge modes are adequate to test. Since the last update we had a slew of life and Copper Dreams upgrades, so we'll get into that in this update. First, for all of the alpha backers who received keys, that depot on Steam will update with the alpha so stay tuned for when that's live, we'll post another update when it is though. I think we talked to everyone who had problems with that, but if you are an alpha backer and didn't get the email let us know and we will sort that out for you! That will roll out on OSX, Windows and Linux.

If you hate videos here's a recap:
  • Hannah and Joe sold a house and moved to get cash money for development and get back to Seattle, so there was a small delay.
  • Alpha is a solid vertical slice of systems in game, featuring a mid-level operative infiltrating a warehouse of insurgents as various enemy types. Also includes a custom enemy agent. Various challenge and game modes included to unlock with your feedback. Incentives!
  • Changed from square tiles to hexagons.
  • Our volumetric line-of sight system, which has unseen tiles that are painted black in-world, now includes sensory visuals like the sound you emit and enemy vision cones.
  • Line of sight system also now has custom lighting integrated into it — easier visual for what lights are influencing tiles and gives us complete control with what to do with it to influence tiles. Spotlights, flares, tiles on fire, or even the muzzle flash from firing a gun now have clear indication of what tiles they are lighting up.
  • Character direction ruleset info implemented for hexes, player can rotate without tick cost for turn. For example shields (or carrying dead bodies in front of you) block attacks from one direction.
  • Game feed replaced with more cryptic DM-descriptive health readouts for combatants. Detailed roll information replaced with on-hover details while targeting tiles/characters. Game feed was too heavy before with too much happening, as rolls for aiming were not immediately followed up with a resolution, so things would be out of order. It's also visually and descriptively obvious how a combatant is doing. Also their faces make increasingly ouchy expressions depending on how poorly they are doing.
  • Movable and stackable boxes for cover, climbing and puzzles. It's the best thing since sliced bread.
As for the alpha, there's no new release date yet, but it sounds like it shouldn't be far off. Now that they're set up at their new location and the game is finally taking shape, Joe and Hannah are promising more updates soon.

There are 57 comments on Copper Dreams Kickstarter Update #18: An Early Look At The Alpha

Tue 3 April 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 3 April 2018, 20:30:51

Tags: Aarik Dorobiala; Josh Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

The Pillars of Eternity II beta finally received its third update this week, after almost two months of increasingly unnerving silence on that front. It's almost certainly the final update before release, and so it was crucial for many backers to see that it resolves their issues. And indeed it appears that the game is in much better shape now. Changes include the addition of many passive abilities to increase build flexibility, allowing single-classed characters to take two abilities at every power level to make them feel less inflexible compared to multi-classed characters, reduced spell cast durations, increased penetration values, and also much-improved performance. Furthermore, the attribute overhaul from the first beta update has been rolled back, replaced with a relatively minor additional benefit for the Resolve attribute - reduced duration of hostile effects.

Yesterday we got to see some of those changes in action in a Q&A stream with Josh Sawyer. At this point in the game's development, I can't say that there was anything incredibly new in his responses, but the stream did give us our first actual look at non-beta content, including companions. It's set in the Old City, a dungeon located under the slums of Neketaka, and is pretty combat-heavy and spoiler-free.


A transcript of the stream is available here courtesy of Fereed from Reddit. There will be another Q&A stream before release, and there's also a proper Fig update coming soon.

There are 13 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Backer Beta Update 3 Released, Q&A Stream #11

Sat 31 March 2018

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Sat 31 March 2018, 23:56:50

Tags: Interplay; Jeff Vogel; Josh Sawyer; Michael Cranford; Obsidian Entertainment; Spiderweb Software; The Bard's Tale; The Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight

There were several Codex-relevant talks given at GDC last week. Bard's Tale creator Michael Cranford gave a presentation about the development of the first two games in the series, Obsidian's Josh Sawyer spoke about designing choice & consequence as part of a group session that also included the likes of Soren Johnson and Raph Koster, and Jeff Vogel gave a talk about being Jeff Vogel. Unlike previous years, this year GDC have been pretty quick about making the videos of these talks public. Here are the links:

Classic Game Postmortem: 'The Bard's Tale I and II'

This session will explore the conception and development of Interplay's 'The Bard's Tale I & II', led by Michael Cranford. He will share the vision that led him to the game's conception, design, and development from his years as a dungeon master. The games are an expression of Cranford's personal love for the genre and desire to surpass the experience of tabletop gaming. The session will explore the vision behind the game and help illuminate a trajectory in gaming which has remained strong to the current day.

Rules of the Game: Five Further Techniques from Rather Clever Designers (starts at 42:30)

How do you make your games work? There's no sure-fire way to design great games, but over numerous successful projects the best designers develop techniques that help them craft compelling experiences. Returning for GDC 2018, the Rules of the Game session takes five renowned designers and asks them to go into detail about a rule they've used in their work. Each speaker has ten minutes to dive into their technique and provide detailed examples about how they have used the rule in past projects, honestly sharing the pluses and minuses including where their rule works well and where it may be less applicable. These are personal rules that you may not always agree with, but they're guaranteed to provide interesting fodder for your own game design thoughts and help you build your own design rulebook.

Failing to Fail: The Spiderweb Software Way

In 1994, Jeff Vogel founded Spiderweb Software, one of the oldest continuously operating indie game companies. This is the story of the company, the tricks it used to endure and make money for decades in this brutal business, the history of indie gaming from a bunch of random shareware weirdoes to an industry powerhouse, and a pile of helpful business advice from someone who has stayed around for a long time. Features funny anecdotes, crunchy sales information, and the delightful rantings of a cranky old coot.​

I watched the first two of these, and Michael Cranford's presentation is definitely a highlight, taking an unusual turn in its second half to discuss Christian philosophy and settle some old scores. A live summary is available on Twitter courtesy of the illustrious Andrew Plotkin. There's no written summary for the session Josh Sawyer participated in, but its slides are available here. For Jeff Vogel's talk, there's an article summarizing it at GamesIndustry.

There are 50 comments on GDC 2018 Talks: Michael Cranford, Josh Sawyer, Jeff Vogel

Fri 30 March 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 30 March 2018, 16:31:38

Tags: Fallen Gods; Mark Yohalem; Wormwood Studios

If there's one thing we can expect from Fallen Gods, the upcoming roguelite from Primordia creator Mark Yohalem, it's excellent lore. This month's development update tells the history of the titular fallen gods - the overthrow of the primordial old gods by the new gods led by Orm the Trickster, and the stagnation of the Ormfolk's rule that eventually leads to the player's own fallen god being cast down to earth. As before, it also includes a sample of music from the game's soundtrack:



At once the night’s gloom blooms with unearthly hues and the sky becomes a shimmering sheet of fire. You have stood among those lights, basking in the warmth of Orm’s soul-hoard as it glowed upon the guests in Skyhold’s hall. Now, far off and half-frozen, you watch the Trickster’s overflowing wealth spill earthward like froth from a drunkard’s horn. One fading ember falls nearby, singeing the sky as it streaks past.

Fallen Gods takes place in the aftermath of a world-changing struggle called the Overthrow, in which the old, animistic Firstborn gods were driven from power by the united might of men. The leader of those men, Orm the Trickster, took up the mantle of godhood and bestowed the same on his closest followers. These new gods, called the Ormfolk, then ascended to the Cloudlands, where Orm built the golden Skyhold from the plundered flesh of Karringar, one of the defeated Firstborn.

This kind of struggle, in which new gods drive out old ones, is almost universal in mythology—the best known examples probably being the Titanomachy (in which Zeus and his family overthrew the Titans) and Paradise Lost’s struggle in heaven (when Jesus, on behalf of soon-to-be-made mankind, defeats Satan and his overweening angels). In the Norse mythology that helped inspire Fallen Gods, the comparable event is the Æsir-Vanir War (in which Odin and his Æsir clan fought the Vanir). As overthrows go, it’s one of the gentler ones, and indeed the war ended in a peaceful accord. But it still fits within a pattern in which a preexisting pantheon oriented toward nature, fertility, and magic is supplanted or subsumed by one oriented toward war, craft, and cunning.

While I was conceiving and detailing the world of Fallen Gods, I was reading a series of apocalyptic books about our natural world, the best of which (in no particular order) wereThe Sixth Extinction, The World Without Us, Wild Ones, The Moth Snowstorm, and The Peregrine. These suggested that we are ourselves living in the aftermath of a war in which mankind, with its craft and cunning, has defeated nature, assuming its place as the gods of the earth. (Consider the arc of history that runs from the rat-borne, man-killing Black Death’s arrival in Europe to the human-introduced, rabbit-killing myxamatosis’s arrival in Australia.) For most of humanity’s existence, the world’s wildness was oppressive, terrorizing us with ferocious animals, confining us with impassable boundaries, decimating our numbers with drought and disease, and obliterating us with immense disasters. From a posture of weakness and ignorance, early humans worshiped that wildness. From a posture of strength, later humans broke that wildness—what seemed at first the kind of “breaking” that happens when a rider tames a wild mustang, and what increasingly seems to be the kind of “breaking” that happens when you strike a work of art with a sledgehammer.

A second series of nonfiction books also influenced my take on the Overthrow: books about revolutions and their aftermaths. Among the ones that I found particularly striking wereMoscow 1937, The Days of the French Revolution, Marie Arana’s Bolívar, and the memoirWhen a Crocodile Eats the Sun. These suggested the pessimistic conclusion that whether a revolution’s goals are righteous or ignoble, and no matter how wicked its enemies, there is a high likelihood that the aftermath of a successful revolution will be catastrophe. After all, a process that selects for warriors capable of overthrowing their entrenched, mighty rulers is not selecting for (and, indeed, may even be selecting against) men and women capable of building and administering a just and competent civil government in the revolution’s wake. Meanwhile, the bloody, irregular war so often necessary to change rulers, along with the society-wide upending that follows, inevitably inflicts immense collateral damage on the land’s natural, economic, and cultural capital.

The Overthrow in Fallen Gods is a righteous one waged against wicked foes. The old gods were mostly bad gods—at least for mankind. Amarok, the Great Wolf, ravened among the flock of humanity and fed wolfishness to those that survived. The winged wurm Fraener destroyed any man, and any work of man, that might raise humanity up from drudging in the dirt. He was one of those oppressors (we all know them) who degrades his victims and then declares, “I am rightly above them, for look at how poor, and miserable, and squalid they are.” The ever-hungry creature known as Grath wandered the world as a force of famine, devouring whole fields and herds, destroying any hope of stability for a people perpetually on the knife-edge of starvation. Even the less awful beings worked woe: Berkanan who lured children to his woods and made them into wild things; the threefold goddess Karringar who kindled a gold-lust and an iron-madness in men that has never stopped burning; Trund who licked to life the lumbering trolls that were the terror of the hills and dales.

One can hardly fault Orm for honing his cunning and cruelty until he could cut down such gods. Orm was a trickster with a crooked mind and a warlord with a ruthless heart, and to become greater he became worse, a man who bent whatever men could become his tools and broke whatever men could not. He won his crown; he won his wars; he won his godhead. Perhaps not tired of winning, but certainly tired of struggling, he was content to bask in his hard-earned heaven. But a war-torn world needs a healer and a steward, not an absentee landlord. And even when Orm paid attention it was the attention of a man who had become more than a man by the craft of killing, and killing can only get the world so far.

Eventually, the soul-strength that the men and women of the world had given to Orm—the soul-strength he had stolen from the Firstborn—began to seep away. The people themselves weakened and shrank, and their faith weakened and shrank, and then their new gods weakened and shrank, until the very heavens weakened and shrank. Soon, there wasn’t room enough, or soul-strength enough, to share among fearful Ormfolk, who had, for long, long years, always been given more than enough of whatever they might want. These were gods who had forgotten, or had never learned, how to go hungry.

And so they began throwing out their own brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters—because even a smaller pie can yield bigger slices when fewer need to be cut. Fallen Gods begins in that time of dearth and death, when the player’s eponymous fallen god has just been cast down from the Cloudlands. He is desperate, not to save the world or free the world, but to flee the world and save himself, for he is no better than the others, only weaker. All the same, however, he must boldly face the bleak consequences of years of neglect and decline, the dangers of a world in which the gods won Ragnarök ... and thus robbed the earth of the rebirth that should have followed.
Judging by its title, I'd say the next update will have more details about the player's god.

There are 12 comments on Fallen Gods Update #3: Winning Was Easy, Governing’s Harder

Game News - posted by Zed on Fri 30 March 2018, 10:01:39

Tags: Kingdom Come: Deliverance; Warhorse Studios

A big new patch for Warhorse Studios' medieval RPG Kingdom Come: Deliverance has been released. Besides a large amount of bug fixes, the patch adds some new features such as PC customization, easter eggs (literal -- and maybe some not so literal), a Czech-themed weapon, and for PC a free DLC in the shape of a HD texture and sound pack.

If you found the game a bit too buggy at launch, perhaps now is a good time to give it another go.


The patch will automatically download over steam. You can grab the DLC downloads from the games' DLC shop.

There are 14 comments on Kingdom Come: Deliverance Patch 1.4 Released

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