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?
Tim Cain at Reboot Develop 2017 - Building a Better RPG: Seven Mistakes to Avoid
Development Info - posted by Infinitron
on Sat 22 April 2017, 14:11:32
Chris Avellone and Tim Cain are in Croatia this weekend for the annual Reboot Develop conference, which has apparently become a popular game developer getaway. Unlike last year's conference, this year some of the events are being streamed live on Twitch. The two panels that Chris and Tim participated on Thursday and yesterday, which were about Fallout and worldbuilding respectively, were not livestreamed. But Tim's talk today, which was titled "Building a Better RPG: Seven Mistakes to Avoid", was.
Tim begins the talk with a short overview of his career, leading up to his current mystery project at Obsidian, which he says is a new IP which Fallout fans will enjoy, and which has a lot of "Fallout and Arcanum style and humor". And that sets the tone for the rest of the talk, which in my opinion isn't so much about particular RPG development mistakes as it is a treatise about various aspects of RPG design. It's likely that many of these design philosophies will find their way into Tim's game, so I'll go over them in detail:
Mistake #1 - Steep Learning Curves: Tim thinks character creation in Fallout, Arcanum and other RPGs was too complex. He's experimenting with creating a completely numberless character system that uses geometric shapes to visualize attributes.
Mistake #2 - Letting Math Trump Psychology: Revealing the influence of the years he spent developing Wildstar, Tim wants to develop mechanics that are psychologically satisfying and addictive, even at the expense of mathematical elegance. For example, he says the player's first attack against an enemy should always hit even if his overall hit percentage is the same regardless, and that rather than allow players to increase their critical hit chance, they should only be allowed to increase their critical hit damage.
Mistake #3 - Conflating Player Skill With Character Skill: This one will be familiar if you've watched some of Josh Sawyer's talks. Aiming and hitting in an action-RPG should not be determined by character stats. On the other hand, things like the impact of recoil can be affected by stats, as well as the aforementioned critical hit damage.
Mistake #4 - Misunderstanding Randomness: Here Tim lays out his frustration with the sorts of people who can't believe they could miss a 95% chance-to-hit attack three times in a row. His conclusion is that when people talk about "randomness", they often mean selecting a token rather than rolling a dice (ie, events can't repeat themselves).
Mistake #5 - Forcing Linearity: This one is pretty self-explanatory. Tim says games are not movies, using Fallout's Tandi rescue scenario with its multiple solutions as an example of the sort of non-linearity he prizes.
Mistake #6 - Being Non-Reactive: Tim seems particularly interested in the sort of reactivity where characters in the world have different dispositions based on your character's background, clothing and attributes, as seen in Arcanum. He also loves having different end slides based on the player's choices in the game, using Temple of Elemental Evil's evil ending as an example.
Mistake #7 - Telling Horrible Stories: Tim uses this to emphasize again that games are not movies. Not every character in a game has to be important or advance the plot. Tropes likes the Chosen One protagonist and amnesiac protagonist are tiresome and should be discarded.
The talk concludes with a Q&A session, where Tim reveals a bit about how publisher meddling caused a large portion of Temple of Elemental Evil (and in particular its second town, Nulb) to be cut. He also expresses his approval of not granting experience points for combat to make alternate playstyles more attractive, as seen in Pillars of Eternity. In summary, I think it's clear that Tim and Leonard's game will very much be a streamlined, "newschool" sort of RPG. Those who want a more classical experience from Obsidian will have to look towards Pillars of Eternity II.
ATOM RPG is a Fallout-inspired RPG from Eastern Europe, the latest in the genre often derisively termed "Russian shovelware Fallout clones". This one seems more high quality than most, though. The developers, who call themselves the ATOM Team, are apparently all experienced game development professionals, and their friendly representative on our forum, Atomboy, has made a good impression. The game was actually greenlit on Steam last year and it already has a Steam page. It's even got an exact release date - February 16, 2018 - and there's a free demo, too. So this is a game that's probably coming out no matter what. Nevertheless, the Atom Team have decided to seek out additional funding on Kickstarter. Here's their pitch video and overview:
The deterioration in relations between Eastern and Western blocs in the 1979 has led to a full-blown Armageddon between nuclear powers in the year 1986. The War was swift, devastating and brutal… The fact that humanity persevered was miraculous.
Nineteen years have passed and it’s 2005. Both once great Empires and their allies now lie in ruins, but on top of those ruins new civilizations are slowly emerging...
This story takes place on a small patch of land in the south part of the USSR where you take the role of an undercover operative from a secret bunker society called ATOM... Your mission is to find any traces of an expedition that recently stopped contacting the main base...
Nonlinearity: ATOM is an open world role-playing game! You are not going through a corridor, you are investigating a mystery. And this could be achieved in numerous ways. There are no artificial boundaries in the world of ATOM. Oh, and there are no "essential characters" in the game. So everybody is a "fair game"
Characters: There will be more than 300 characters in the game. ALL of them with their unique personalities, portraits and dialogues!
Encounters and Quests: There are numerous side missions, hidden adventure-like puzzles and secrets scattered around the Wastes. Even the smallest tasks can lead to a big and intricate side story, open some details about the world or somehow interconnect with the main quest! And of course, like in every self-respecting RPG there's always more than one way of dealing with them.
Combat: A turn-based combat system isn't just a nod to the legendary generation of CRPGs. For us, it's also an aesthetic choice. What's the point of combat, when you can't enjoy your every thought-through move, your every step, shot or punch? What's the point of victory, when it wasn't precisely planned in a cunning strategic move?
Weapons and Items: There will be more than 30 available weapons in the full version of the game. Soviet weaponry, makeshift shivs and guns as well as some secret weapons from the Western bloc the existence of which in the game world will be neatly tied to the lore!
Soundtrack: The soundtrack is heavily inspired by Eduard Artemyev and other Soviet era electronic composers, ranging from ambient to synth-wave!
Looks a lot like Wasteland 2, doesn't it? If you'd like to chip in, a copy of ATOM RPG will cost you just $15. It's got 42 more days to reach its humble funding goal of $15,000. That seems doable.
Hey, what do you know. Time has flown by, and suddenly Expeditions: Viking is coming out next week. The Logic Artists have published a press release announcing that the game has gone gold (whatever that means these days) and that its price on release will be $30, with a $35 Deluxe Edition. The announcement also includes a (very) short teaser trailer. Since I love all trailers, I'll post the entire thing here:
COPENHAGEN, Denmark (April 20, 2017) — Logic Artists is pleased to confirm that its much-anticipated release of Expeditions: Viking is on schedule for April 27, 2017. The studio announced this morning that the Gold Version milestone has been reached.
To celebrate, Logic Artists is running a Free Weekend on Steam for its first title in the Expeditions Series – Expeditions: Conquistador. April 21st, 10am PDT.
With the game now out in the hands of the media for review access, the path is set and Expeditions: Viking will be available for purchase in stores and online next week.
Logic Artists Producer Ali Emek says, “After two years of development, we are on track toward our studio’s best release so far. Expeditions: Viking is now feature complete and we’ll be spending the last month of development tightening the screws and polishing the release build, improving on our performance capabilities, and (with the assistance of a large community of closed beta testers) squashing the remaining bugs.”
Creative Director Jonas Waever adds, “It’s been a real journey, and with the positive feedback from our recent trip to PAX East and from our closed beta, we’re excited to get Expeditions: Viking into our players’ hands. And to celebrate the coming release of our second game in the Expeditions Series we’re giving players a free weekend with Expeditions: Conquistador to get ready for Viking.”
Expeditions: Viking releases April 27, 2017 and will cost 29.99 USD/29.99 EUR/24.99 GBP/499 RUB
The Deluxe Edition includes a digital artbook, the original soundtrack by award-winning composer Knut Avenstroup Haugen (Age of Conan, Lords of the Fallen), and the Blood-Ice DLC. The Deluxe Edition will cost 34.99 USD/34.99 EUR/28.99 GBP/650 RUB
This week's Pillars of Eternity II: DeadfireFig update offers a behind-the-scenes look at Obsidian's environment creation pipeline, using the map of the Vailian Trading Company headquarters as an example. It's the kind of update we've seen many times before in previous crowdfunding campaigns, but it has been a slow news day and there's a part of it that's kind of amusing. Carpets are the new cobblestones (click to zoom in):
The first pass render of scenes is sent to our Art Director and Lead Designer for review. They look over the master beauty render and make notes for both VFX and the environment artist to address in the second art pass.
When notes are finished, the environment artist begins work on a second pass of the scene.
Deadfire is now in the final week of its extended crowdfunding period, with $4.66M of funding. Still nearly $90,000 from the next stretch goal. Maybe they could add it anyway?
It's been two and a half years since the release of the excellent Legend of Grimrock 2 by Finnish indie studio Almost Human. It's widely assumed that Grimrock 2 sold poorly compared to its predecessor, but we've known for a while now that it was at least successful enough to allow Almost Human to spend some time creating a new engine for their next project. Of course, that suggested that said project would not be Legend of Grimrock 3, and indeed it turns out that their new game is as far from Grimrock as you can get. In fact, it's not even being developed by the same studio. For unknown reasons, key developers from Almost Human have reformed under the banner of Ctrl Alt Ninja to develop Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forest, a top-down, turn-based, single-character, story-driven and procedurally generated fantasy RPG. I'll quote the introduction post from the game's official website:
Welcome to the Druidstone dev blog! This blog is about the development of a fantasy roleplaying game called “Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forest” which we have been working on since fall 2016.
In the world of Druidstone, the druids of the Menhir Forest possess a great power: the power of reincarnation. When a druid passes on, through some mysterious process his spirit is able to return from the great void back into the world of living and to his former self.
But with every reincarnation the world itself seems to change: where there was only a thicket of bushes in the forest before, there may be a trail or a shrine of stones now. The ancient ruins in the forest change place and the tunnels and their inhabitants beneath the ground are all different. Even stranger, the denizens of the forest do not seem to notice this at all.
Druidstone is set in a vast procedurally generated forest filled with exciting locations to explore and of course encounters, the meat of every RPG. You will meet interesting non-player characters such as the insane Red Priests who worship a being called Oghmu and the mysterious Traveller. You fight deadly bosses and explore ruins and dungeons in an open-world single-player game. Some of the encounters are friendly but many can lead into conflicts which are resolved using a tactical, turn-based battle system on a two-dimensional grid. The game features roguelike elements, so that when you die the game begins anew with different levels and encounters. Some of the encounters even react to you being reincarnated, so even by dying you can gain deeper understanding to the mysteries of the Menhir Forest.
Even though there are random elements in the game, at the heart of Druidstone is an overarching storyline and key encounters which give structure to the game and avoid it being just a gauntlet with random monsters to kill. In fact, we can’t wait to tell you the epic story we have in our mind! In addition, there are the stories you create as you explore the almost infinite space of procedurally generated content.
In the beginning there is an idea
Who were the druids? Did they build the Stonehenge, and why? These were the questions we asked ourselves when we started the design process for this game. After researching the subject we realized that even today relatively little is known about the druids. Apparently they were (are?) a group of mysterious men and women who had a special relationship with the nature and performed rituals at the sites of standing stones. Who knows, maybe they even possessed some magical powers?
This idea really stuck in our minds and began to evolve. We started seeing glimpses of the imaginary world of Druidstone, a world of ancient forests, massive standing stones, mist-clad shrines, and of a darkness that was coming. And of course of the druids, caretakers of the ancient stone spirits of the forest. The world began feeling more than imaginary to us… And thus the world of Druidstone and also the idea for this game was born.
In Druidstone you are one of the druids and you have just been reincarnated in front of the stone pillar with its pulsating runes. Who are you? How did you die? Your mind is foggy. The rustling of the leaves and the wind carries ominous whispers. The darkness is coming…
The game will be released on Windows but the release date has not been set yet. But that is getting ahead of ourselves. The road is long and there is so much to do and so many ideas to explore. Better get hammering that keyboard!
P.S. You can also follow the development of the game on Facebook and Twitter.
I imagine many people will be disappointed by this, but let's see how it turns out. Although there's no release date, the game is at an advanced enough stage of development that there are already several screenshots.
It's been a month and a half since the release of Torment: Tides of Numenera, and it's quite clear by now that the game has not been a success. It may not be a coincidence that shortly after its release, we received an entreaty from inXile PR representative Jim Redner. In what seemed like a direct response to my rueful Torment release newspost, Jim told us he was seeking to make peace with the Codex, and that he was willing to hear our demands. Our initial proposal was a humble one - a reveal-all AMA with George Ziets, probably the only person at inXile who still has our community's trust. To that Jim responded with a counter-proposal - an in-person visit to inXile, to be followed by an AMA with several of Torment's developers. That was an opportunity we couldn't pass up, and so a couple of weeks ago we dispatched our secret agent in Southern California to inXile's headquarters in Newport Beach. Today, I'm happy to present the report of his visit to Brian Fargo's court. Here are a few tidbits from his hard-hitting interview:
Kevin Saunders left before the end of production. Can you talk about why he left and how his departure affected production?
Brian: I can’t talk about an employee’s specific performance, but what I can do is to provide you with a factual history of things. Kevin left the project in late 2015, right? At that point, we were roughly two years into production. At that point, we’ve gotten the first pass of combat. The story was not yet at first pass. No abilities or weapons were in outside of the alpha systems. And so, at that time, if we had gone along that route, the game would not be done until the year 2018. I could not afford to stay on that path. I had to change what we were doing.
And, to talk about scope, the product was wildly over scoped. Even today, after we made the “cuts,” the original specification for the game was 600,000 words. You know how many we are at now? It’s 1.6 million words, probably a world record for a single player game. I think the only games that have more word count is MMOs done over a long period of time.
George: When recording, the guys who were doing the recording were saying, this is like one of those big MMOs, and they were shocked that it was a single player game.
Brian: After cuts, it ends up being several times what we wanted it to be. Planescape: Torment, the number that was thrown around a lot was 750,000 words. But when you talk to Avellone, he would say we actually double counted some sentences, so it might not even be that high. I think the Bible is like 700,000 words so that seems plenty of words to do a narrative piece, something that is as big as the Bible.
So basically, after two years in, I had to change plans. So those are the facts. I’m not trying to disparage Kevin, I don’t want to talk negatively about him in any way, but I can at least speak to the facts behind what was going on at that point.
We should talk about the writing, since this is a big focus for the game. Why was the game so wordy to begin with? This seems to have become a trend with Kickstarter CRPGs. Is it really necessary to force the player to read a novel? For example, why were the Meres designed as choose your own adventure stories, as opposed to isometric scenarios?
Colin: As I recall, I was sitting in a meeting with Adam and a couple of other people, and we thought, wouldn't it be cool to quickly throw out a choose your own adventure story as one particular Mere? I mentioned that to Kevin, and Kevin said "what if we did that for all of them?" That would free up our artists for other stuff as well, so we thought it was a cool idea.
Brian: I wouldn't say we decided to be so wordy but that it became so wordy because they were trying to express all the subtlety and so on.
George: Part of it was due to the excitement of reproducing the Planescape: Torment experience, where there is a lot of wordiness. I remember early on, even on the Codex, I remember there being a lot of excitement: "walls of text! walls of text! we want walls of text!"
Turns out the Codex didn't want walls of text.
Brian: There appears to be a lesson here.
George: We felt there was excitement about that, and we did want to pay off on a strong, dialogue writing and text based experience, and making really imaginative characters, and having characters with a lot of different things to say that you could explore. But also making sure that all this was optional, and for the most part it is.
We should talk about sales. Everyone can look them up for Steam. It's currently sitting around 120,000. Can you tell us how many copies were sold from other distribution sources?
For this week's Pillars of Eternity II: DeadfireFig update, Obsidian have published the second part of their primer on the game's four factions. This part introduces Rauatai's Royal Deadfire Company and the mercantile Vailian Trading Company, the two colonial forces vying for power and influence in the Deadfire Archipelago. As one of our users pointed out, it's a setup that seems broadly analogous to real life Chinese and Dutch expansion in Southeast Asia.
Royal Deadfire Company
(Abbreviated as RDC in some text locations)
The Royal Deadfire Company is based in the aumaua nation of Rauatai but have expanded their empire's reach to their ancestral homeland in the Deadfire Archipelago. While they are interested in the harvest of precious resources from the region, the RDC have a long-term goal of conquering the archipelago and making it an extension of their empire. The Rauataians believe that the native Huana culture is inferior to their own and treat the Huana people accordingly. In contrast to the Vailian Trading Company, the RDC is organized like a naval force. Their titles and behavior reflect that view of the world.
Philosophy and Goals - Rauataians as a cultural group have a long history of trade and conquest. The more hawkish personalities in their government have made steady progress towards a more aggressive "best defense is a good offense" stance in the world, and the leadership of the RDC comes from that mindset. They have flourished through a mixture of intrepid exploration, aggressive conquest, and relentless engineering of their hardscrabble homeland. They believe that through organization and engineering, they can bring civilization to Deadfire.
Relationship with Other Factions -
Vailians/VTC - They are deceitful, flamboyant, and frivolous, emphasizing form over function. Their pretty words cannot be trusted. Their preference for polymaths over specialists suggests impatience, which can never lead to true mastery.
Huana - They are super disorganized and (seemingly) passive - it's why they haven't flourished like the Rauataians. They were fractured by the disaster that drove the Rauataians away, and rather than establish a strong nation, most of them drift from island to island chasing seasonal resources. They don't solve problems, so they're beholden to them. What they need is some good ol' Rauataian civilization to set them straight.
What looks like adaptability to the Príncipi looks like haphazardness to the Rauataians. Like the Rauataians, the Príncipi had to leave their homeland. But rather than establishing a stable country (like their cousins in the Republics), they remained shiftless and aimless, living on ships and in driftwood towns that are one squall away from destruction. They are like children who refuse to grow up.
Resources - Rauatai is known worldwide for its cannons. Gunpowder likely originated there, and they still trade in it as well as raw saltpeter. Those latter two items are the primary staples of their trade economy.
Vailian Trading Company
(Abbreviated as VTC in some text locations)
The Vailian Trading Company is the largest with a ducal charter and the only trading company with a canc suolias (five suns) charter, meaning it has the full backing of all five Grand Ducs of the Vailian Republics. The VTC was first featured in Pillars of Eternity during the quest 'At All Costs' in Ondra's Gift.
Philosophy and Goals - The Vailian Trading Company exists, according to its charter, for the sole purpose of enriching its investors, and, by proxy, the Vailian Republics themselves. Beneath that, however, runs a strong undercurrent of cultural pride. The directors of the company are motivated by the belief that the Vailians are the best traders in the world, and must always continue to be. While the Vailian Trading Company is generally considered reputable among the major foreign powers it trades with, on the frontier, far from the prying eyes of overseers, those standards quickly degrade.
Relationship with Other Factions -
The VTC is at peace with the Huana, but see the Huana as little more than a means to get what they want from Deadfire. They do not think anything of the Huana's claims to the land there, and believe it is only a matter of time before they are able to wrest it away with their charms and wiles.
Hostilities with the Royal Deadfire Company are ongoing. A bargain struck with the Kahanga prohibits conflict between the two in Deadfire, and within the borders of Neketaka, there exists an uneasy truce. (Though the two make every effort at espionage, sabotage, spite, and one-upmanship.) Elsewhere in Deadfire, the agreement is all but impossible to regulate, and fighting occurs readily when the two companies have the opportunity.
The Príncipi are a perpetual thorn in the side of the Vailians. They have a personal grudge of sorts against the Republics, and relish targeting VTC ships, seeking not only personal enrichment, but to do great damage to VTC operations.
Resources - The Vailian Trading Company is known for its versatility, having made a name for itself by securing deals on a broad range of goods. The Vailians feel that if there is money to be made on anything, large or small, they want to be the ones to be making it. The Republics themselves are sources of iron, copper, silver, glassworks, ships, spices, clocks, and astronomical equipment.
As for the weekly funding update, Deadfire currently has $4.65M with two weeks left until the extended crowdfunding period ends. That's only $10,000 more than last week. They're probably not going to make it.
Joe and Hannah of Whalenought have at long last published a new Copper Dreams Kickstarter update, the first in almost six months. Like the previous update, it's a massive development report summarizing those months of work, and it reveals a game that has changed a great deal from the fairly conventional pixel art RPG we Kickstarted last year. With features such as a background point pool with advantages and disadvantages, realistic line of sight and hearing range calculation, and a variety of wounds that inflict specific status effects, Copper Dreams has embraced a GURPS-inspired simulationist vision the likes of which I don't think we've ever seen in a game of this type. This change of approach is most clearly visualized in the game's combat system, which now allows you to aim and attack anywhere.
We finished off combat iterations the past few months by enhancing the way players target and roll-to-hit with it, which ultimately led to an overhaul of the ruleset. You can now aim anywhere and roll under your skill with the item to determine how successful you were to getting to your target. All item or skill usages use that model now. Allowing you to aim for things in the environment that we don't outright tell you can make for more interesting puzzles or interactivity. Lights for example can all be shot out now.
With a 3d world, thrown objects that bounce around, it seemed fitting to give the player some agency on where they are actually shooting. You no longer only attack targets, but can also attack anywhere you want, including where you expect targets to be as they are moving. If you do attack targets you can select which body part you’d like to try to shoot, and you’d track that body part until you fire or it’s no longer visible. Aiming for anything allows you to lead targets on the move or temporarily unseen (and thus unable to be targeted), or precise location to lay down cover fire for more than one target that might end up down the middle of a hallway or something.
Distance modifiers are no longer just static distance markers as with the original Challenge Target, but influenced by reference points around the projected line starting with nearest to the character attacking. This is all in-code in the game, but that sight-line checks for any nearby objects starting at the character and moves down to the actual target. So the idea for this is if you you have a reference for a target really far away, you can get visual bearings by aligning your shot with any nearby objects. For example aiming a burst fire into a clearing near the side of a building you hear an enemy running into would have that building act as the distance check, not the potentially infinite space behind it.
The crosshair for melee path for slash/thrust or your projectile line is your ideal hit location, and you roll to attempt to hit that location, regardless of or if you have a target in mind. Success means you hit that target precisely (in 3d space), and failure means you deviate it from a variable amount, so it’s considered a potential failure in most cases.
Whalenought now describe Copper Dreams as a "Cyberpunk Horror Roleplaying Campaign", but what exactly that means isn't clear from this update. It may be clarified soon however, as they've promised to publish weekly updates from now until the game's alpha is released, which is planned for next month. The next update will focus on dialogue and storytelling, and will also include another look at combat.
With little fanfare since its announcement other than a couple ofTwitch streams, Beamdog's Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition has been released. For the Codex, what began as an outrage soon turned into boredom as it became clear that the game was pretty much a straight rerelease. With no new content and all new features toggleable, there's nothing truly offensive about it, except perhaps its $20 price tag. It's up to every person to decide what they're willing to pay for a game they already have. For me, that'll be when it's 75% off. I don't have much else to add, so here's Beamdog's release announcement:
The day is finally here! The Beamdog team is proud to release Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition.
The journey from PS:T to PST:EE has been an interesting one. From acquiring the license, to deciphering the source code, and working through the unique solutions put in place by the original team, the journey has been filled with valuable lessons, some of which we may bring to our other Infinity Engine Enhanced Edition titles.
We’d like to thank the original Black Isle team for bringing Planescape: Torment into this world. We’re all fans of the original and having the chance to bring games like this to both a new generation of players and back to fans who were there at the beginning is why many of us are here at Beamdog. A special thanks goes out to original Black Isle team members Eric Campanella, Kenneth Lee, and Tim Donley for taking the time to answer questions and point us in the right direction.
Everyone at Wizards of the Coast have been amazing throughout the development and release of Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition. They're as excited as we are to see more Dungeons & Dragons fans experience Sigil and the phenomenal Planescape setting for the first time or revisit to the planes to relive one of the greatest stories ever told.
Chris Avellone, as always, has been a joy to work with. Chris, you’re a master of your craft and we cannot thank you enough for the opportunity to bring one of your best works from 1999 to 2017. We loved your work as Lead Designer on PS:T and to have you reprise that role on Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition has helped us stay true to the spirit of the original game.
To Qwinn for giving us permission to incorporate your work into Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition, you are a pathfinder. We’re excited to see what you and other modders do with PST:EE and all of our other Infinity Engine titles.
To the Beamdog community, we hope you love Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition as much as we do. Have fun! Oh, and if you see someone with a PST:EE Beta Tester badge on the forums, give them a high five! They’ve put an incredible amount of work in and their names in the credits are well-deserved.
We would also like to thank our family and friends, all of whom have supported us through this incredible experience. You help us stay grounded and push us to be better. Our success is yours.
Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition is available now on Windows, macOS, Linux, iOS, and Android. Head over to www.planescape.com today to purchase your copy from Beamdog, Steam, GoG, Mac App Store, iOS App Store, and Google Play.
See you on the planes, cutters.
What next for Beamdog, I wonder? The original Planescape: Torment is no longer available for purchase on GOG (although it is included with the Enhanced Edition as an extra). That leaves Icewind Dale 2 as the last survivor of the original Infinity Engine releases. But enhancing IWD2 seems like it would be a lot of work for little payoff, so I suspect it may remain the odd man out for years to come.
The Digital Antiquarian continues his foray into the RPGs of the early 1990s. The topic of this week's article is Origin's Ultima VI: The False Prophet. Ultima VI was a revolutionary game in many ways, abandoning the venerable Apple II in favor of the IBM PC as primary development platform and switching from the classic dual-scaled tile-based style of the earlier Ultimas to the seamless world that would go on to inspire titles such as the Elder Scrolls series. It was also the game that introduced Warren Spector to the computer gaming world. He would play an important role in shaping the game's story and go on to lead the development on several Ultima spinoff titles before becoming firmly associated with the first person immersive sim genre later in the decade. Ultima VI was an important game then, but like many revolutionary games, rough around the edges. The Antiquarian concludes that it was a "transitional work", a conclusion that I fully agree with:
Ultima VI shipped on time in March of 1990, two years almost to the day after Ultima V, and Richard Garriott’s fears (and stomach cramps) were soon put to rest; it became yet another 200,000-plus-selling hit. Reviews were uniformly favorable if not always ecstatic; it would take Ultima fans, traditionalists that so many of them were, a while to come to terms with the radically overhauled interface that made this Ultima look so different from the Ultimas of yore. Not helping things were the welter of bugs, some of them of the potentially showstopping variety, that the game shipped with (in years to come Origin would become almost as famous for their bugs as for their ambitious virtual world-building). In time, most if not all old-school Ultima fans were comforted as they settled in and realized that at bottom you tackled this one pretty much like all the others, trekking around Britannia talking to people and writing down the clues they revealed until you put together all the pieces of the puzzle. Meanwhile Origin gradually fixed the worst of the bugs through a series of patch disks which they shipped to retailers to pass on to their customers, or to said customers directly if they asked for them. Still, both processes did take some time, and the reaction to this latest Ultima was undeniably a bit muted — a bit conflicted, one might even say — in comparison to the last few games. It perhaps wasn’t quite clear yet where or if the Ultima series fit on these newer computers in this new decade.
Both the muted critical reaction and that sense of uncertainty surrounding the game have to some extent persisted to this day. Firmly ensconced though it apparently is in the middle of the classic run of Ultimas, from Ultima IV through Ultima VII, that form the bedrock of the series’s legacy, Ultima VI is the least cherished of that cherished group today, the least likely to be named as the favorite of any random fan. It lacks the pithy justification for its existence that all of the others can boast. Ultima IV was the great leap forward, the game that dared to posit that a CRPG could be about more than leveling up and collecting loot. Ultima V was the necessary response to its predecessor’s unfettered idealism; the two games together can be seen to form a dialog on ethics in the public and private spheres. And, later, Ultima VII would be the pinnacle of the series in terms not only of technology but also, and even more importantly, in terms of narrative and thematic sophistication. But where does Ultima VI stand in this group? Its plea for understanding rather than extermination is as important and well-taken today as it’s ever been, yet its theme doesn’t follow as naturally from Ultima V as that game’s had from Ultima IV, nor is it executed with the same sophistication we would see in Ultima VII. Where Ultima VI stands, then, would seem to be on a somewhat uncertain no man’s land.
Indeed, it’s hard not to see Ultima VI first and foremost as a transitional work. On the surface, that’s a distinction without a difference; everyUltima, being part of a series that was perhaps more than any other in the history of gaming always in the process of becoming, is a bridge between what had come before and what would come next. Yet in the case of Ultima VI the tautology feels somehow uniquely true. The graphical interface, huge leap though it is over the old alphabet soup, isn’t quite there yet in terms of usability. It still lacks a drag-and-drop capability, for instance, to make inventory management and many other tasks truly intuitive, while the cluttered onscreen display combines vestiges of the old, such as a scrolling textual “command console,” with this still imperfect implementation of the new. The prettier, more detailed window on the world is welcome, but winds up giving such a zoomed-in view in the half of a screen allocated to it that it’s hard to orient yourself. The highlighted keywords in the conversation engine are also welcome, but are constantly scrolling off the screen, forcing you to either lawnmower through the same conversations again and again to be sure not to miss any of them or to jot them down on paper as they appear. There’s vastly more text in Ultima VI than in any of its predecessors, but perhaps the kindest thing to be said about Dr. Cat as a writer is that he’s a pretty good programmer. All of these things would be fixed in Ultima VII, a game — or rather games; there were actually two of them, for reasons we’ll get to when the time comes — that succeeded in becoming everything Ultima VI had wanted to be. To use the old playground insult, everything Ultima VI can do Ultima VII can do better. One thing I can say, however, is that the place the series was going would prove so extraordinary that it feels more than acceptable to me to have used Ultima VI as a way station en route.
An interesting claim made by the article is that Ultima VI's user interface and inventory system were directly inspired by the classic dungeon crawler Dungeon Master. That's something I'd never considered before, but it makes sense in retrospect.
A new Expeditions: Viking "Devs Play" gameplay video was uploaded to the Logic Artists YouTube channel today. Like the previous Devs Play episode back in October, the video has creative director Jonas Waever and community manager Teemo Ashton demonstrating one of the game's combat scenarios. In this case, a daring raid on the Scottish village of Dumfries (then known as Dun Phris). This is apparently a late game battle, so plenty of high level abilities see use, including several spectacular area of affect attacks. You won't believe it's not fantasy!
This game looks so cool. Watch for the flaming berserker decapitation attack at 13:40.
The procedurally generated cyberpunkish sci-fi blobber StarCrawlers from indie studio Juggernaut Games has been in Early Access for over two years now. Its fans on our forum tell of an addictive game that has only gotten better, especially with the addition of a challenging non-procedurally generated story campaign. Now the end of development is finally in sight. Yesterday StarCrawlers received its final Early Access update, and with it a release date - May 16th. Juggernaut put together a cool little trailer for the occasion:
StarCrawlers has also been available on GOG's "In Development" Early Access program since last year, so it'll be there too when it launches. It's unclear whether the game's price will increase.
Now that he's done with Age of Decadence, Vault Dweller has returned to his monthly schedule of Colony Ship RPG development updates. The latest one is a hefty variety pack of an update introducing the Pit, the game's starter town which is designed to be more familiar to RPG players than some of the game's later areas. The update includes a bunch of snippets of text from the game's script with details about the Pit's characters and locations. It's also got some images of guns (because why not?) and more concept art. But I think the most welcome part will be the first look it offers at Colony Ship RPG's portraits, which are very much in the same style as Age of Decadence's. I can't possibly quote the entire thing here, so here's a very limited excerpt:
Introducing something new and different isn’t an easy task. A fantasy game like AoD offers many familiar concepts: a local lord in charge of a town, different guilds, rival Houses, traveling preachers, etc. None of it raises any questions or requires any lengthy explanations.
The Colony Ship Game is very different and there are a lot of questions that need to be answered and a lot of concepts that need to be explained without overwhelming the player with the new info. That’s one of the reasons you start the game in the Pit, the container town, instead of the much stranger Habitats. It offers some familiarity and gives you plenty of second-hand information from other people.
The Pit will give you two locations: the relatively safe "main street" and the not so safe “bad part of town”. Overall, it will give you more places of interest and things to do than Teron, including an arena that will allow you to test your character fairly early and figure out your limits.
Other notable locations include the Regulators, a local church, a whorehouse, a prison, a gambling den, various stores, and entire town "blocks" occupied by different crews of scavengers and other men of ill repute. They will provide you with some bits of common knowledge as well as quests properly introducing other locations.
So far we have 12 quests written and mapped out, including a 6-quest local conflict between the Regulators and the self-proclaimed mayor, aka Order that’s not all that great vs Chaos that’s not all that bad. The conflict fits perfectly well into the belief system I mentioned earlier and comes with long-term consequences you’ll be able to experience in-game (i.e. not in the slides).
So in one corner we have the challenger:
Rumor has it that Captain Braxton once served a higher power, that in the days before his crisis of faith and the subsequent falling out with the Church of the Elect he was known as Faithful Gunner Jeremiah Braxton. Speculation about why he left is abundant, but as is often the case no story is more compelling than the others.
Backed up by a few like-minded men and picking up more willing recruits along the way, Braxton left the Church behind and ended up in the Pit, a place where reliable fighting men are always in demand. Around the time of his arrival, the Brotherhood had started showing a keen interest in the Pit, eager to establish a foothold there. Braxton and his newly christened Regulators offered the good people of the Pit their services and after much debate they were hired to drive the Brotherhood’s men out, which was accomplished with brutal efficiency.
In the other corner we have the incumbent "mayor":
Wasteland is the affectionate name used to describe the now uncharted miles of scorched corridors and decks that bore the brunt of the fighting during the Mutiny. It is even rumored that the hull has been breached in certain sections, leaving them open to the void of space. This unstable no-man's-land is the principal hunting ground for folks willing to gamble their lives against the chance of finding old and outlawed tech.
For a scavenger, Jonas was more successful and more ambitious than most. One of the key difficulties for a professional scav is to extract your finds as quickly as possible, since anyone else stumbling across your good fortune will quickly try to make it their own. In order to facilitate more efficient runs into the Wasteland, Jonas set up a base camp in Cargo Hold #3, right next to the action. Such a good idea couldn't remain secret for long, and his fellow scavengers soon began pitching their tents nearby. With its increasing popularity, the camp attracted a growing crowd of traders, whores, and other hangers-on, and people began to see it as a rugged alternative to the Habitats, which promised safety, but insisted on submission in exchange.
At some point Jonas realized that more money was waiting to be made right there in the Pit, as it had come to be called, than out in the Wasteland. Thus he opened The Promised Land, the finest and only whorehouse in town. The success of this venture, and his own popularity, led to his role today as the de facto mayor of this frontier town.
In case you're wondering the goggles and other gear will be available to your character as well and the inventory will have special slots for goggles and breathing masks. In the next update we'll introduce gadgets and explains how they work.
Be sure to check out the full update. It's good enough to post three times.
After spending a week on administrative matters relating to the recently opened backer portal, Obsidian are back with a substantial new Pillars of Eternity II: DeadfireFig update. It's the first in a two-part series introducing the game's four major factions. This part is about the Old Vailian pirates known as the Príncipi sen Patrena and the Huana, Aumaua natives of the Deadfire.
The Príncipi are largely descended from a group of refugees who fled the decline of Old Vailia (shortly before the Republics declared independence). They sailed around the Eastern Reach until they reached Deadfire, where instead of settling the islands, they continued their shipboard life. Seizing opportunities where they could, they gradually became pirates, smugglers, mercenaries, and merchants of ill repute. Over time, their ranks have swelled to include Deadfire's indigenous peoples (Huana) as well as enterprising or desperate individuals from other countries and cultures not aligned with the Republics or Rauatai (Dyrwood, Aedyr, Readceras, Ixamtl, etc.)
Religion - Religion among the Príncipi is as varied as membership. As sailors, many of them worship Ondra (as goddess of the oceans) and Hylea (for her influence over wind and weather) but others worship gods and goddesses that were more prominent in their homelands. Worship of Ondra, Woedica, and Hylea is especially common among descendants of Vailians.
Relationship with Other Factions
The Príncipi have fluid relationships with most other factions, as they are in a position to plunder (or sell to) just about anybody.
The Príncipi frequently target Vailian Trading Company ships. Remembering that the first families could not find shelter in the Republics during their voyage, the Príncipi subject even surrendering crews to (painless) humiliations, such as leaving them all stranded in their smallclothes.
Additionally, the Príncipi have been raiding Huana villages almost as long as they've been in the Deadfire. Pirates may have a better relationship with larger towns, however, particularly when they're frequented by merchants who will buy stolen goods.
Geography and Location - The first families initially landed toward the warm, northern portion of the archipelago, but the Príncipi have expanded their reach since then, and their ships can be found anywhere in Deadfire. They tend to lurk near trade routes and settled areas, though their havens are necessarily more remote. While the Príncipi do not found formal cities, they have semi-permanent colonies all around the archipelago where members may safely land for repairs, R&R, or to purchase new supplies. The locations of these havens are typically known only members (or extremely close associates) of the Príncipi.
The Huana are the primary indigenous people of the Deadfire Archipelago. The term "Huana" is a loose association that describes a decentralized population of aumaua, and Huana culture has evolved into a pastiche of local variations with a common root. Yet this is not to say that the Huana are entirely without structure or leadership. In time, they were able to establish a central government, although its influence tends to diminish the farther one sails from the seat of power.
Religion - Favored deities of the Huana include Ondra (who controls the seas) and Hylea (who controls the winds), as well as Woedica (who ensures peace by way of justice). Galawain also has a scattered following among the more conquest-oriented Huana tribes such as the Wahaki and Kahanga, who tend to use the god's endorsement of survival of the fittest as an argument for their positions of power. Huana in search of revenge against their enemies readily pray to Skaen, though he is not widely worshipped in other circumstances.
Relationship with Other Factions
The Huana are difficult to generalize because different tribes have different stances on the various influential groups in the region.
The most visible of the tribes, the Kahanga, has made deals with trading companies from both Rauatai and the Vailian Republics, who both have outposts in their largest city, hoping that they will keep each other in check and that their mutual competition will both enrich the Kahanga and ensure their safety.
The Príncipi have historically raided the Huana, and many Huana consider them sworn enemies. However, the increased presence of the trading companies in recent years has diverted much of the pirates' attention, and it is not unheard of nowadays for the Huana to strike up alliances with the Príncipi in hopes of staving off the companies' advances.
Geography and Location - The Huana are spread across most all populated islands in the archipelago. Deadfire spans the length of the entire southern hemisphere, thus climate ranges from tropical in the north to temperate and polar in the south. Its largest population centers are in the subtropical band of islands.
In other news, as of today Deadfire has made $4.64M with three weeks of extended crowdfunding left. The backer portal gave it a bit of a boost, but with the current average of around $20k a week it doesn't look like the game is going to be able to make $4.75M on time. I guess we'll see, though. Speaking of the backer portal, now would be a good time to use your complimentary Tyranny coupon if you've got one. The game is currently on sale at the Paradox store, and I can confirm that the discounts do stack.
The Digital Antiquarian's slow-running chronicle of the gaming industry finally entered the 1990s last November. For today's article, he's decided to continue his four post series from last year about the history of SSI's Gold Box series, which extends into that decade. If those articles were all about SSI's unlikely rise to the top with the 1988 classic Pool of Radiance, then this one is all about their stagnation and decline as they milked the Gold Box engine with an additional ten games over the following four years. The Antiquarian does consider Pool of Radiance's immediate sequel, Curse of the Azure Bonds, to have been a great game. He attributes the beginning of the decline to the third game in the series, Secret of the Silver Blades. I quote:
But by no means can all of the problems with Secret of the Silver Blades be blamed on high-level characters. The game’s other issues provide an interesting example of the unanticipated effects which technical affordances can have on game design, as well as a snapshot of changing cultures within both SSI and TSR.
A Gold Box map is built on a grid of exactly 16 by 16 squares, some of which can be “special” squares. When the player’s party enters one of the latter, a script runs to make something unusual happen — from something as simple as some flavor text appearing on the screen to something as complicated as an encounter with a major non-player character. The amount of special content allowed on any given map is restricted, however, by a limitation, stemming from the tiny memories of 8-bit machines like the Commodore 64 and Apple II, on the total size of all of the scripts associated with any given map.
The need for each map to be no larger than 16 by 16 squares couldn’t help but have a major effect on the designs that were implemented with the Gold Box engine. In Pool of Radiance, for example, the division of the city of Phlan into a set of neat sections, to be cleared out and reclaimed one by one, had its origins as much in these technical restrictions as it did in design methodology. In that case it had worked out fantastically well, but by the time development began on Secret of the Silver Blades all those predictably uniform square maps had begun to grate on Dave Shelley, that game’s lead designer. Shelley and his programmers thus came up with a clever way to escape the system of 16 by 16 dungeons.
One of the things a script could do was to silently teleport the player’s party to another square on the map. Shelley and company realized that by making clever use of this capability they could create dungeon levels that gave the illusion of sprawling out wildly and asymmetrically, like real underground caverns would. Players who came into Secret of the Silver Blades expecting the same old 16 by 16 grids would be surprised and challenged. They would have to assume that the Gold Box engine had gotten a major upgrade. From the point of view of SSI, this was the best kind of technology refresh: one that cost them nothing at all. Shelley sketched out a couple of enormous underground complexes for the player to explore, each larger almost by an order of magnitude than anything that had been seen in a Gold Box game before.
But as soon as the team began to implement the scheme, the unintended consequences began to ripple outward. Because the huge maps were now represented internally as a labyrinth of teleports, the hugely useful auto-map had to be disabled for these sections. And never had the auto-map been needed more, for the player who dutifully mapped the dungeons on graph paper could no longer count on them being a certain size; they were constantly spilling off the page, forcing her to either start over or go to work on a fresh page stuck onto the old with a piece of tape. Worst of all, placing all of those teleports everywhere used just about all of the scripting space that would normally be devoted to providing other sorts of special squares. So, what players ended up with was an enormous but mind-numbingly boring set of homogeneous caverns filled with the same handful of dull random-monster encounters, coming up over and over and over. This was not, needless to say, an improvement on what had come before. In fact, it was downright excruciating.
At the same time that this clever technical trick was pushing the game toward a terminal dullness, other factors were trending in the same direction. Shelley himself has noted that certain voices within SSI were questioning whether all of those little extras found in Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds, like the paragraph books and the many scripted special encounters, were really necessary at all — or, at the least, perhaps it wasn’t necessary to do them with quite so much loving care. SSI was onto a good thing with these Gold Box games, said these voices — found mainly in the marketing department — and they ought to strike while the iron was hot, cranking them out as quickly as possible. While neither side would entirely have their way on the issue, the pressure to just make the games good enough rather than great in order to get them out there faster can be sensed in every Gold Box game after the first two. More and more graphics were recycled; fewer and fewer of those extra, special touches showed up. SSI never fully matched Pool of Radiance, much less improved on it, over the course of the ten Gold Box games that followed it. That SSI’s founder and president Joel Billings, as hardcore a gamer as any gaming executive ever, allowed this stagnation to take root is unfortunate, but isn’t difficult to explain. His passion was for the war games he’d originally founded SSI to make; all this Dungeons & Dragons stuff, while a cash cow to die for, was largely just product to him.
[...] All of these competing interests do much to explain why TSR, after involving themselves so closely in the development of Pools of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds, withdrew from the process almost entirely after those games and just left SSI to it. And that fact in turn is yet one more important reason why the Gold Box games not only failed to evolve but actually devolved in many ways. TSR’s design staff might not have had a great understanding of computer technology, but they did understand their settings and rules, and had pushed SSI to try to inject at least a little bit of what made for a great tabletop-role-playing experience into the computer games. Absent that pressure, SSI was free to fall back on what they did best — which meant, true to their war-game roots, lots and lots of combat. In both Pool and Curse, random encounters cease on most maps after you’ve had a certain number of them — ideally, just before they get boring. Tellingly, in Secret of the Silver Blades and most of the other later Gold Box games that scheme is absent. The monsters just keep on coming, ad infinitum.
Despite lukewarm reviews that were now starting to voice some real irritation with the Gold Box line’s failure to advance, Secret of the Silver Blades was another huge hit, selling 167,214 copies. But, in an indication that some of those who purchased it were perhaps disappointed enough by the experience not to continue buying Gold Box games, it would be the last of the line to break the 100,000-copy barrier. The final game in the Pool of Radiance series, Pools of Darkness, sold just 52,793 copies upon its release in 1991.
In addition to telling the story of the Gold Box games, the article also contains two interesting asides. One about notorious TSR manager Lorraine Williams, whose ownership of the Buck Rogers intellectual property led to the two unusual non-D&D Gold Box titles featuring it, and another about Westwood's Eye of the Beholder games, whose success helped keep SSI afloat as the Gold Box slowly died. SSI would finally be forced to break out of their rut with the Dark Sun games, but that's a story for another day.
The final beta for Expeditions: Viking concluded recently. It was only two weeks long, but apparently that was enough time for the Logic Artists to gather plenty of crucial data. In what might be the final monthly newsletter before the game's release next month, they announced the beta's success.
The closed beta was a fantastic success. There were hundreds of thoroughly reported bugs, many of which have already been resolved making this our most productive beta session to date! This was such an incredible help and as a thank you, we will be sending each of you the Expeditions: Viking Steam Deluxe Edition bonus DLCs for free!
That way, when you purchase a copy of Expeditions: Viking on release, you'll be upgraded to the deluxe editions as a thank you from us! Stay tuned to next month's newsletter for your DLC Codes and thanks again.
Now that the beta is closed, remember to get back on Steam and Wishlist Expeditions: Viking, that way Steam will let you know as soon as we're available on the store!
As in the last two newsletters, there's also a description of some of Viking's combat abilities. In this case, abilities that make use of the shield, which has its own skill progression ladder in this game.
Whether swinging a sword or an axe, the Vikings were renowned, not just for their ferocity with edged weapons, but their defensive tactics as well. The cornerstone of that defense was their ability to protect themselves with shields.
To reflect this in the tactical turn-based combat environment of Expeditions: Viking, shields have their own skill progression. Leveling a character's shield skill will increase a character's shield block chance against enemy attacks (when holding a shield) and unlocks three unique abilities a player can use during combat.
Brace - at Rank 1, Brace uses an attack action to quick repair a shield to mint condition. While this does forego an attack for the bracing character this round, A fully repaired shield can go a long way toward keeping your front line fighters alive.
Defend - is an Attack Action that applies the Defending status effect to the user making the shield impervious to all damage until the start of the player's next turn. Highly valuable for characters who are being focused by the enemy forces.
Shield Bash - Pushes the target 1 hex away and applies the Knocked Down status effect. Characters that are knocked down are unable to act or block and have a base Damage Reduction of 0% and recovering from this costs 2 moves. Because not everything one does with a shield is defensive.
Expeditions: Viking was at PAX East earlier this month, but nothing much seems to have come out of that. Nothing left to do now but wait for April 27th.
Larian's Swen Vincke was once again at EGX Rezzed in London this year to talk about Divinity: Original Sin 2. What was advertised as a presentation about the challenges of designing the game's narrative turned out to be more of a live preview. For 24 minutes, Swen played through the game's opening, while pointing out how Larian had handled the complexities of writing for a game where your protagonist may or may not have an origin story that unlocks unique dialogue, your companions also have origin stories, and any character can talk to anybody. Not to mention multiplayer.
There's nothing really new here as such, but it's a great introduction to Divinity: Original Sin 2 and the concepts behind it.
It's been years since we last posted about Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar, Cleve Blakemore's mythical vaporware magnum opus. The last time was in 2014, during the GrimoireGate Saga which found Cleve embroiled in a trademark dispute with the developers of an impostor Grimoire. That saga ended up going pretty much nowhere. The impostor Grimoire was eventually released and quickly swank in Steam's shovelware swamp, never to be heard from again. Development on the real Grimoire went on, and on and on. Issues turned into fractions of issues turned into micro-issues turned into fractions of micro-issues. When it became clear that there was no end in sight, even Cleve's most loyal supporters began to abandon him. His thread was banished to the depths of Prosperland and he became an object of scorn and mockery.
That was the state of affairs until recently. In the last few weeks, however, things have started to change. Rumors of an impending Grimoire release have once again been swirling. None of us believed, but then Cleve came out with this trailer. And then another one. And then, just like that, Grimoire showed up on Steam Greenlight today with an eye towards an "early 2017" release:
The plan is to release it on Steam and let it percolate for a while. Tweak it in response to feedback and add improvements not present in it initially, like new graphics and gui widgets here and there.
Once it has seasoned like a fine wine and brought much happiness, a new release on GOG with all new map areas, enhanced gameplay and features as the "El Maximo Food Of Champions" Grimoire.
No matter what happens, only the IndieGoGo backers will get those particular limited editions sets physical media. No further printing of those materials will ever happen again once they are shipped out to backers.
So there you have it. This Greenlight campaign is now standing between us and the release of Grimoire. Whether or not you believe the game will ever actually come out, please vote so that Cleve doesn't have any more excuses to delay it. Tell all of your friends and your enemies to vote for it too. Because I don't see him shelling out $5000 if Valve shut down Greenlight before the game makes it through...
Harebrained Schemes still aren't ready to announce a new date for the recently delayedBattleTech backer beta. To tide us over in the meantime, they've published a new Kickstarter update with a fresh batch of screenshots from their current build. Since the Codex loves eye candy (and arguing about eye candy), I figured I'd post them here to cap off what's been a very busy day:
On behalf of the whole team, thank you for the overwhelming show of support and positive energy we received after our last update. We deeply appreciate it. When you’re flying full-throttle down the Death Star trench with turbo-lasers blazing past your cockpit and the exhaust port coming up fast, it’s nice to know that “The Backers are with you.”
No update on our Backer Beta timing yet - we’re stepping back to make sure our plan is solid, our team is working at a healthy pace, and we have the right level of internal testing before releasing it into the wilds of Backerdom. As many of you have speculated, it’s unlikely we’ll announce a new date until we’re very confident we will hit it.
In the interim, we thought we'd show some new screenshots of the game in action to help tide everyone over. These are unedited shots - though we did turn off the interface and use a debug camera in-game to get the pretty we wanted. You can click on the images to get a hi-res version for each. Hope you enjoy!
You may also be interested in this BattleTech "MIDI mood piece" by Harebrained composer John Everist, spotted earlier by Codex BattleTech watcher Taka-Haradin puolipeikko. Apparently it's to be the first in a series of videos offering a behind-the-scenes look at the production of the game's soundtrack.
The countdown at "PlanEscape.com" has expired and Beamdog have officially unveiled Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition. Not exactly a surprise, especially after the geniuses at VentureBeat accidentally leaked the news including launch trailer 12 hours early. As I expected, it's a straight-up enhancement with no new content, not even restored cut content. According to project lead Alex "aVENGER" Tomovic, who is doing a hell of a job promoting the game on our forums, the only changes are bugfixes and some touched up writing by Chris Avellone, who has apparently spent the last year overseeing the project. Sounds...not bad? Here's that launch trailer and the description from the official website:
"What can change the nature of a man?"
You are the Nameless One, a hulking figure covered in scars and tattoos collected over the course of countless lives—none of which you can remember, but are now coming back to haunt you. You are prodded awake by Morte, a floating skull and keeper of secrets, to embark on an adventure taking the Nameless One from the dirty streets of Sigil into the mysterious Outer Planes and even into the depths of Hell itself.
Discover an incredibly rich story and a unique setting unlike anything else in fantasy. Defeat strange and alien creatures, engage in rich dialogue, and explore the dark and dangerous Planescape setting in this 50+ hour RPG classic.
Millions of Planescape: Torment fans have enjoyed the strange and dangerous city of Sigil and surrounding planes through the Nameless One's eyes. Now it’s your turn. This is Planescape: Torment like you’ve never seen before.
Enhanced Edition - Key Features:
Enhanced Planescape: Chris Avellone, Lead Designer on Planescape Torment, has partnered with Beamdog to curate gameplay updates, bug fixes, and enhancements to best capture his original vision for the game.
Remastered Music: The full Planescape: Torment soundtrack has been remastered in-game to add more depth to Sigil and the multiverse.
4K Interface: Sigil has never looked this good! The interface of Planescape: Torment has been rebuilt in high definition with tons of new convenience features.
A Planescape For Today: The Enhanced Edition includes modern features such as tab highlighting, area zooming, combat log, quickloot, and more!
PST:EE is basically done and is coming out in two weeks, on April 11th. It's already available for preorder on Steam, GOG or directly from Beamdog, with a price tag of $20. Note that the game's original version will be taken down from GOG after the EE is released, so if you're a purist and you somehow don't own it already, I suggest you hop to it.