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?
Buy your very own 16 GB Codex Troll USB 3.0
Community - posted by DarkUnderlord
on Sun 14 September 2014, 07:35:55
Every once in a while, we ask for money from people because we can! This time, we thought we'd offer something more in return than just potato for ad-free time. This time...
Behold the 16 GB Codex Troll USB 3.0!
[Image is a rough representation, final Troll will have a few mm of white space around the entire design.]
Product Colour: Fully Customised Moulded Designs
Features: Moulded soft PVC in multiple colours and shapes, USB 3.0 flash drive.
Write and Read Speed is up to 10 times faster than USB 2.0 Flash Drives.
OS support: Windows XP, VISTA, 7, MAC OSX.
Grade A memory, 10 Year warranty on data retention, 1 year replacement warranty on faulty manufacture.
Certification: CE, FCC, USB3.0, RoHS
Delivery: 2-4 weeks (indent) from art approval
We've started a campaign here. Simply donate $30 USD and you will receive in the mail your very own 16 GB Codex Troll USB 3.0 flash drive. Please note price includes postage to anywhere in the world.
All donations will also receive 2 potato per dollar. So $30 = 60 potato, which means you can add another +3 months ad-free time to your account, as well as gaining a USB drive. The minimum order is 100 units, so we need to raise $1,500 (which includes PayPal fees) to make it worthwhile - which I've given us a month to do.
If we do fail to raise the full amount and have to cancel the campaign, everyone who donated will receive additional potato as compensation. However, there seems to be enough interest already.
If this is successful however, than you can expect to get your USB drive before Christmas (depending on how long the fund-raiser takes). We'll also consider doing future stuff like this as well. Perhaps other designs as well as different types of items.
You will receive 1x USB drive for each multiple of $30 donated (So $60 gets you 2x and so on). If you donate anything less than $30, u r dum.
Several months ago, Codex legend Cleveland Mark Blakemorelaunched a new and exciting phase in the long-running development of his magnum opus, Grimoire. Having finally brought down the number of bugs in the game to a manageable level, he began a countdown, crossing them off one by one. When the last bug was eliminated, the game would enter a final testing phase pending its final release. Unfortunately, it appears that events have conspired to put a hitch in Cleve's plans.
Back in April, the Codex first took notice of a certain game that was in development. Described as a "fast-paced multiplayer FPS combat meets tactical MOBA inspired magic... with wizards!", it appears to have begun development sometime before 2014, but no earlier than late 2012. The developers are an indie modder outfit named Omniconnecton with a somewhat peculiar history. The game's title? Grimoire. Uh oh.
Cleve himself, as well as a number of his fans and followers, immediately informed the folks at Omniconnection of their infringement on his title. Cleve was also advised to file an official trademark for Grimoire. But he did not take the threat of the false Grimoire seriously. It was incredibly obscure, and a Google Search for "Grimoire" made it clear that Cleve's Grimoire was the only Grimoire in town. Surely the folks at Omniconnection would change the name when they realized that. After all, what kind of name is "Grimoire" for an FPS, anyway?
Well, that's not what happened.
Fast forward to September 12th. Omniconnection's impostor Grimoire comes back into the limelight in a big way, with a Kickstarter campaign and Steam Greenlight page. And not only that, it turns out that back in April, they'd filed a trademark of their own for the name "Grimoire". It is unclear whether the trademark was filed before or after they'd been informed of the existence of the original Grimoire, but regardless, they must have been aware of it during the long months it took for the trademark to be finalized.
Although advised that the wisest course might be to ignore these events and let the Kickstarter languish in obscurity, this was a threat the great Neanderthal felt he could not ignore. Submitting his customary $1 pledge to gain access to the Kickstarter's comments section, Cleve declared war on the false Grimoire. Opposing him was one Ryan Morrison, superhero-themed "Video Game Attorney" and Omniconnection's legal representative.
Each side brought in reinforcements. On Cleve's side, the Kodex Kleve Kult lept into action, launching a pro-Blakemore Twitter account (since taken down), a legal defense fund (also taken down), and even a White House petition, not to mention dozens of comments in Cleve's support. Mr. Morrison, meanwhile, no doubt hoping to capitalize on the controversy to assist his clients' fundraising efforts, used his connections to bring in the heavy guns - mainstream media coverage. Namely, an article by Andy Chalk over at PC Gamer. Meanwhile, gaming has-beens luminaries such as Derek Smart, Guido Henkel and Rebecca Heineman stood by the sidelines and laughed.
And that's more or less where we stand today. Realizing that his threats are falling on deaf ears, Cleve has finally committed to seeking legal assistance to block the false Grimoire. What happens now is anyone's guess.
To be honest, I can't endorse Cleve's unsympathetic response to Andy Chalk's attempts to get more information on the controversy. And he had plenty of opportunities to avoid this mess altogether. He could have tried harder to reach a behind-the-scenes settlement. He could have filed that trademark himself. He could have filed an opposition to Omniconnection's trademark. Heck, he could have even just submitted Grimoire to Steam Greenlight all the way back in 2012, and that might well have been enough to prevent Omniconnection's Grimoire from ever existing under that name.
Nevertheless, the situation is clearly unjust. As a member of the RPG Codex, I cannot help but side with the oldschool RPG over the "multiplayer FPS with MOBA elements". And besides, Cleve may be an asshole, but he's our asshole. That being said, for now all we can do is watch as a hilarious new chapter in the interminable Grimoire saga unfolds. Grab your popcorn, gentlemen, for GrimoireGate is upon us.
Yesterday saw the release of Wasteland 2, the long-awaited sequel to the 1988 Interplay classic. What many people don't know, however, is that the original Wasteland's publisher, Electronic Arts, tried to release their own Wasteland sequel back in 1990. I say "tried", because what we got instead was Fountain of Dreams, a suspiciously similar-looking non-sequel set in post-apocalyptic Florida. Today, Richard Cobbett, mainstream gaming journalism's official authority on oldschool games, has published a retrospective review of this best-forgotten title over at PC Gamer, as part of his amusing Saturday Crapshoot weekly feature. The article's introduction should make it clear what sort of game Fountain of Dreams was:
So, this week saw the long-awaited release of Wasteland 2, where 'long awaited' is measured more in decades than the couple of years that it's been in development. Luckily, it's good. It's very good. Depending on who you ask though, there already was a sequel to Wasteland, only a year or so after the first one came out. Now, to be clear, the list of people who will tell you that is very small indeed. Not the original Wasteland team, which didn't work on it, not Wasteland fans, who generally try to forget it, and not even publisher EA, which originally did tried to hold it up as a proper sequel, but was apparently convinced of its folly after three ghosts showed up to slap some goddamn sense into it.
Despite that though, the lineage is obvious, and you'd think the thirst for a new Wasteland game would make anything even inspired by it worth a little hardcore fan fondness. How bad could it be that it was politely carved out of history almost as soon as it landed? Well, let's find out!
Though I think we can assume the answer is "Very, very bad."
Fountain Of Dreams takes place in post-apocalyptic Florida, so that's at least a bit different, some fifty years after nuclear strikes carved it off from the mainland. Nobody knows if any life still exists on the mainland or beyond, but all attempts to find out lead to quick death from the contaminated sea all around or the vicious monsters that pick off what radiation can't immediately destroy. Over the last 50 years, that's meant the major cities withdrawing into themselves and becoming city states, people increasingly mutating due to exposure to all the nasty stuff in the air and underfoot, and vicious gangs rising up in the wilderness to threaten adventurers and give everyone a damn good reason to stay home.
Or, to put it another way, "This world is crazy. Too bad you're sane."
As a starting point then, that all seems pretty solid. It's a world like Wasteland, but with its own distinct area and theme, tapping into much the same ideas but with more of a focus on human threats than wandering monsters given a radiation-powered kick up the food chain. I don't see what could possibly go-
Huh. I was expecting a goofy screenshot to appear there. A kind of ironic cut-in of sorts, taking that obvious feed line and presenting a big picture summing up the stupidity of the game in one easily digested collection of pixels, as if-
Killer Clowns. Yes, there's about a 90% shot that having created a party and set out on your quest, the first thing that you'll see is a gang of murderous clowns popping up and pretty much killing you dead with no more effort than throwing a custard pie. It's not like Wasteland played things straight, but there's a difference between having a tongue-in-cheek apocalypse where occasionally you face off against giant rabbits or murder children for their BB guns and outright making an army of killer clowns your equivalent of the NCR or Caesar's Legion - not on occasional gag monster, but a major power base whose ground troops are no laughing matter, and which controls much of the known world.
It's not just the wackiness of the setting, though. You'll have to read the full review to understand the full depths of Fountain of Dreams' lunacy. If you're interested in additional not-Wasteland historical curiosities, you might also want to check out Richard's retrospective of Escape From Hell, another obscure EA RPG that used the Wasteland engine (or at least looked like it). Have I mentioned that it links to our beloved editor's Let's Play?
The Pillars of Eternity team is very busy these days, so they've sent Darren Monahan to do a short administrative Kickstarter update for this month. Here's what it says:
With the backer beta out now, and the *con season (Gamescom, PAX, Gen Con, et al.) coming to a close for the year, we wanted to give you an update on what we've been up to. We’re busy working on three big things: 1) getting everything on the fulfillment side ready to go, 2) working through many changes and improvements based on feedback from folks playing the backer beta, and 3) wrapping up the game proper.
As of this week, we’re busy finishing and/or approving all of the final designs for nearly all of the physical rewards so production can begin. It’s very exciting to see this all coming together and often isn't part of the process we get to be involved in at such a deep level on our other projects. It’s one thing to have a playable game here in the studio that we continually maintain – it’s another to be able to really help design the look, feel, and content of every little bit of what comprises a game that ultimately will ship out to you.
We’ve been working really closely with the great folks at Dark Horse who are putting together the finishing touches on the amazing Collector’s Book for the game, and the equally great folks at Prima are busy working on the strategy guide. We’re working with the same author from the Fallout: New Vegas strategy guide, which we’re very excited about!
Backer Beta Feedback
A very big THANK YOU to all of those playing the backer beta and providing feedback on our forums! We’re focusing on a lot of changes right now based on your feedback – big improvements to pathfinding and combat, some significant changes to scouting and stealth and how they work, and we’re doing a lot of reviews on the game’s UI and overall presentation to improve the experience. Expect to see a lot of changes coming in on the beta over the coming weeks. Again, thank you to all of you providing feedback – we really appreciate it. We have folks internally who are scouring every single post and thread daily to move bugs and other feedback into our bug tracking system internally.
Wrapping the Game Up
Over the next several weeks, the team is focusing on a couple key things: area and quest finalization and plowing through the many final tasks and bugs. To keep things “old school”, we’re even employing the Quest Whiteboard of Baldur’s Gate 2 and Icewind Dale fame, where all of the quests in the game are posted on a very visible whiteboard in the office, and designers and QA fight (to the death?!) to certify that quests are 100% done and clean, by removing the evil X’s in their respective department columns. In this case, two X’s enter, ZERO X’s leave. That’s the goal anyway. Here it is as it was finished being set up - note, each item on this board can have many steps and states that all have to be checked before the X can come off for the entire thing.
We’ll be back in a couple weeks with some more pics of other physical rewards and an update on how we’re doing. Have a great weekend!
Check out the full update for a photo of PoE's impressive Collector's Edition box. There's also an obligatory shout-out to Wasteland 2. And yes, Volourn, your GOG keys are on the way.
There's another new interview with TSI's David Shelley today over at Kotaku UK. While it's only been a day since the publication of his previous interview, this one must be a bit newer than that, because it reveals that the folks at TSI already have a release date in mind for Seven Dragon Saga, and that they've decided not to pursue crowdfunding. I quote:
TSI’s President David Klein reached out to Shelley when he was founding the company, hoping to bring on board established RPG talent to make something new. “I was really encouraged by the success of some of the great games that are getting made...the times have changed a little bit, right?” he says. “There are opportunities for digital distribution, there’s some terrific middleware that allows you to take an engine off the shelf–things that weren’t present even five years ago.”
It’s these changes that have enabled the return of the CRPG: digital distribution, crowd-funding, tools, the diminishing importance of publishers when it comes to getting a game in people’s hands. Seven Dragon Saga isn’t going the crowdfunding route, but it will doubtless benefit from the revitalising effect that games like Wasteland 2 and Divinity: Original Sin are having on the old-school role-playing game. But given that both those games were crowd-funded, I wonder whether the audience for the CRPG is almost entirely people who played things like Baldur’s Gate or the old Dungeons and Dragons games 20 or even 30 years ago, and who miss them. Are modern CRPGs bringing in a new, younger audience, too?
“I think it’s a combination of both,” Shelley reckons. “If people’s first experiences were with the classic games they’re certainly going think of a lot of the aspects of them in a positive light. At the same time, with the advent of the new technologies and new distributions, it’s easier to put something in the same style out again and bring it forward to a new generation. Obviously, art cost has somewhat gone up from the little pixel-pushing days, but it gives us a chance to create much better experiences. We don’t have the memory limitations that we had back in the day, so you can approach the same classic style in a different way that makes it interesting, I think, to even a much younger audience who didn’t have the chance to experience those early games.”
Seven Dragon Saga itself might be old-school in its sensibilities, but it’s intended to be decidedly un-cliched in its execution: we’re not talking about playing as powerless a farm-boy starting out with a rusty sword and amnesia. The protagonists already hold a lot of power, right from the beginning of the game.
“We’re placing the player at the start as representatives of the empire – which is the power in this world – going to a remote kingdom that’s been recently subdued,” Shelley explains. “So the player is the potentially the bull in the china shop. They have the power of the empire behind them. They can through the storyline and the social side of the gameplay and go, ‘I want this, you’re going to do that,’ and not care about the results, and that’s going to alter the way that the player is going to end up interacting with the world. The main balance of the storyline is going to be that ability to choose whether or not you want to become part of the society that’s there, or stomp on it from above, or try to upend it.”
In its turn-based combat, like Divinity: Original Sin, Seven Dragon Saga will embrace choice, chaos and possibilities, Shelley says. “There will be a range of magic each with its own flavor to it. You can use stealth - there’s certain classes which can effectively become invisible to a majority of enemies and that can either be used to bypass some combat or set up your battle so that you have tactical advantage at the start, or simply cause a lot of mayhem as they suddenly appear in the ranks of the enemy. With melee you have the standard combinations of two weapons combat, weapon and shield, two-handed weapons, and then a variety of ranged combat.
“Certain classes will have a leap ability or they can jump up into higher positions to get bonuses to accuracy or to avoid being caught up in melee. There’ll be certain terrain that’s destructible, allowing the player to clear away enemy cover and use debris to create areas of difficult terrain. There will be regions where you can alter the terrain buildably by destroying the right object, and so it changes the tactical complexity of the game.”
Seven Dragon Saga won’t be out until 2016. There will be a lot of other CRPGs out between now and then - we’ve gone from having almost none for years to having turning up at once like idiomatic buses. Will the resurgence have petered out by then? Is TSI worried about all the competition in the meantime?
“I actually consider that encouraging because it feeds the interest in that genre, “ says Shelley. “Obviously if five games were to come out the same day, I’d have significant concerns simply because we’d get lost in the noise, but I see it as a steady growth of one game coming out after the other and, I don’t know who will be there [with us] in Q1 2016 but I think that a successful game like a Wasteland 2 or Pillars of Eternity, or any of the others will simply grow our potential audience through exposure.”
Sounds like these guys have their shit together. It appears that the success of crowdfunded oldschool titles like Divinity and Wasteland has loosened the purse-strings of the publishers, to the benefit of all.
It's been almost two and a half years since it was Kickstarted. Two and a half years since it kicked off the RPG revolution. After several delays, not to mention an immense amount of Codexian drama, inXile's Wasteland 2 is finally here. Here are the words of Brian Fargo, in an appropriately celebratory Kickstarter update:
I can hardly believe that it has been two and half years since I stood out in the Mojave Desert and started the filming of my Kickstarter campaign. All the while knowing it was the last and only hope for a Wasteland 2.
I’m very proud that we have delivered on our promise of the deep and nuanced CRPG that you had all been hoping for. I’m also quite proud of the team at inXile for their hard work and passion to deliver something special. It was the highlight of my career when you stepped up to support the development of this game. Having your trust meant everything and there was no way we were going to let you down.
I am really looking forward to seeing all of your comments and the unique experiences you’ll have. So much of the detail is not obvious at first as you will carve a natural path through the world, there are so many numerous ways to handle situations. If you ever think you are stuck, there are probably 2-4 more ways to handle it. In fact, we’ve re-visited the concept of where and how a game can end so some of you will find vastly different endings that don’t all take place at the same point in the story.
The power of a great RPG to me is that the memory of the time I spent playing stays with me long after I finished the game. I hope this has the same lasting effect like the classics have done prior.
If you are loving the game, feel free to shout it to the rooftops. We just want to keep making RPGs for decades to come and your support in every way helps make that a reality for us.
If you reading this that means the game has gone live! Jump in and experience the world of Wasteland!
Several reviews have already been published, over at Eurogamer, Rock Paper Shotgun, PC Gamer, and elsewhere. Though not without their niggles, their impressions are overall uniformly positive, and the scores are suitably high. Wasteland 2 is now available on Steam and GOG, for the price of $40. Go grab it and tell us what you think.
Well, after four dev diaries and a bit of hype, the Shadowrun: Dragonfall Director's Cut is officially released. Those of you who already owned the original Dragonfall DLC have actually already had access to it since this morning. For everybody else, it's now available for sale on Steam and GOG, for the price of $15. Here's the Kickstarter update announcing the release:
Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director’s Cut (our bigger, better and STAND ALONE release of Dragonfall) is now available!
For all of you existing Dragonfall DLC owners and Shadowrun Returns Backers, the Director’s Cut should now automagically* be present in your Steam, GoG or Humble library. You’ve been great supporters to our small studio and you’ve already bought the game once - we didn’t think you should have to buy it a second time. So here’s the latest and greatest version of the game for free. You guys rock!
Only one small request in return: If you like the game, please tell all your RPG-playing friends about it! And share the trailer! This is our biggest Shadowrun game yet, and we think that makes it the definitive Shadowrun RPG experience on PCs. It’s the perfect opportunity for existing fans and newcomers alike to get in on the action. The Director’s Cut (Windows/Mac/Linux) is available on Steam, GoG, and Humble for $14.99.
Lastly, since I have a public platform for it right now: A HUGE, huge thank you to the rest of the Shadowrun dev team here, both past and present. I know each one of you has put a ton of passion, time, and talent into this game and it’s really paid off. I’ve never been more proud of our work, and of our contribution to the world of Shadowrun. And... we’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: Thank YOU, backers and fans, for your continued and constructive feedback, for always helping us get the word out, and for making the last two years of Shadowrun development possible. It's been an amazing experience and a wild ride.
From everyone here at Harebrained Schemes, we hope you enjoy Shadowrun: Dragonfall - Director’s Cut!
-- Mike “The Director” McCain
I've tried the game out, and it's pretty much what you'd expect. The new combat UI is very nice. I hope this does well enough for them - releasing a day ahead of Wasteland 2 probably wasn't the best of ideas.
If you've been craving a new Wizardry-like game on PC, of which there is always a shortage, you might be happy to hear that the Japanese dungeon crawler Elminage Gothic, formerly a PSP exclusive, has been released on Steam today.
From the makers of the world renowned “Wizardry Empire” titles, Starfish SD brings you the latest entry in their popular series of dungeon crawlers. Elminage Gothic, previously only available in Japanese on PlayStation® Portable, now comes to PC offering a classic old school dungeon crawling experience with a dark, gothic twist!
In ancient times, the Great and Dark Gods clashed in a ferocious war over Man's control of the world, bringing despair and ruin to the lives of all humans.
As the conflict raged, the Great Gods sought to vanquish the power of the Dark Gods through the faith of humans. In return for their faith, the Gods promised humans a world of peace and prosperity and thereby a contract between humans and the Great Gods was formed.
By the contract, the Dark Gods could not interfere with the world of humans and were forever sealed inside their world of darkness. The people worshiped the Great Gods in thanks for their prosperity, and the world entered an era of peace.
The humans grew complacent and allowed their faith to fade.
Now, in the far-off realm of Ishmag, King Jardin ushers in an age of peace. Unknown to him, the dark powers have already begun reaching out in secret, planting the seeds to bring about the revival of the Dark Gods into the hearts of men. Foul and hideous creatures are emerging from the deep, treacherous caves of Tsun-Kurn and rumours of a rising evil are creeping across the peaceful lands.
It is up to you to arm yourself and descend into the depths of Tsun-Kurn in an attempt to put an end to the ever growing darkness and save your kingdom.
Featuring well over 80 hours of classic dungeon crawling gameplay!
Choose from 16 different character classes including Hunter, Thief, Summoner and Valkyrie
Battle and defeat over 400 stunning monsters, creatures and demons!
Employ over 70 spell types as you descend through multiple dungeons
Collect and arm yourself with over 600 different items
Featuring the classic and traditional “THAC0” battle system
Now fully translated into English for the first time!
I haven't played any of the Elminage games so I can't really make any comments as to this one's quality. A couple of people on our forums have been praising it, though, and the price is very affordable anyway.
The trickle of publicity for Tactical Simulation Interactive's new Seven Dragon Saga project continues, with a new interview with David Shelley over at Digitally Downloaded. Here's an excerpt:
Digitally Downloaded (DD): One of the things that immediately caught my attention with your press release was with your background at SSI. As one of the most hardcore of SSI fans as a kid, the formation of TSI has immediately caught my attention for that nostalgia value. How heavily are you looking to tap into SSI nostalgia for your own games?
David Shelley (DS): We are looking at pulling in many of the elements we liked from the old SSI games: turn-based combat, player created party, strategic map for long distance travel and exploration. Our games will retain the more open world of most of those games, where exploration provides a lot of fun, as opposed to a linear story on rails.
DD: Can you describe for me the kind of game you're looking to build with Seven Dragon Saga?
DS: Tactical control, exploration, and strategic impact are our three main goals.
We had a lot of discussion about which classic elements work well and are underrepresented in today's games. Creating the whole party, and using it turn-based tactical combat was an obvious element, and one we all have enjoyed.
The storyline needs to be open, so players feel free to head off to explore the world and still find a worthwhile and somewhat guided experience. 'What do I do next?' is not a question we want players to be asking. While we enjoy worlds like Skyrim, we chose to use a strategic map for long distance travel. Players can find new map locations through exploration and story. Special encounters may pull the player down into a new area and enemy encounter.
Seven Dragon Saga is designed for starting the game with a reasonable amount of power, precluding the reluctant hero with rusty sword story. The players are already effective fighters and have the backing of the Empire. Using a faction system, in a land verging on civil war, how will players choose to use their powers? I expect many will default to “bull in a china shop”, some will take responsibility, and others reject the great power and support one independent group or another. Making player choices matter, and causing a strong impact on the world are key.
DD: How important is open storytelling to your game design? Are you looking to emulate the Bioware approach to game design in which player decisions really do impact on how the story plays out?
DS: Open storytelling is an important element of Seven Dragon Saga. The players need to be able to alter the outcomes in a meaningful manner. Since the player creates a group of heroes, we will not be emulating Bioware's robust romance and NPC conflict elements.
DD: We've seen in recent years the idea that even genres such as the RPG and strategy game need to be more visceral in order to be commercially successful, with action combat systems replacing more traditional turn based pacing. How do you see your game fitting in to the market from a commercial perspective?
DS: We discussed the choices between a real-time paused system (Bioware) and full turn-based in 3D (X-Com). With the success of crowd funded games like Wasteland 2, Torment, Divinity: Original Sin, and so on, we see there is a viable market for turn-based combat. Since turn-based provides the player the more complex and cerebral experience, we chose that option. Using a 3D based world, we will also have the option to use the camera to add visual excitement, setting the scene and so on.
DD: Do you have plans for Seven Dragon Saga to become a franchise, or what will you be looking to do after this game has been released?
DS: We are looking at Seven Dragon Saga being a franchise. Although, we have a lot of ideas and have had some early discussions with various RPG and strategy IP holders to see if we might leverage our expertise. We'd like to strike a balance between the two and continue to make great tactical experiences for our target audience.
Our goal with the first Seven Dragon Saga product is to make a firm commitment to publish on PC/Linux/Mac platforms. I want to see a polished product on one system, then consider how to expand its reach. We are interested in mobile and console, but we feel any port would require a full revision of the UI. Player inputs into each system are significantly different and to saddle the players of one with the interface of another is a disservice we don't wish to commit.
David also has a bit to say about his career and what he's been up to since the glory days of SSI, so be sure to check out the full interview if you're interested in that. Did you know that the classic 4X Master of Orion could have been published by SSI, and that a lot of their suggestions made it into the final game?
About the Game
FINAL FANTASY IV makes its debut on PC!
As the first game in the series to feature the innovative Active Time Battle system, FINAL FANTASY IV stands as an iconic milestone in FINAL FANTASY history. Lose yourself in this timeless tale of heroes, betrayal, love and redemption—now optimized for PC!
Fully voiced, dramatic cut-scenes
Deep, emotionally charged character development
All-new system for charting dungeons and uncovering the secrets within
Inspiring score accessible at anytime from the built-in Jukebox
Somewhat disappointingly, this port is based on the Nintendo DS version, with its blocky 3D sprites instead of the original 2D ones. You can get the game here. Personally, I already played it on my DS, but it's good to see more classic JRPGs coming to Steam - I just wish these ports looked less lazy.
In other news, the "worst main series Final Fantasy," namely the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, has been announced for PC, too. In fact, you can preorder it on Steam for a very affordable price already. Release date is October 9th.
Final Fantasy XIII is a fantasy RPG in which a band of brave humans struggle against fate in the utopian sky city of Cocoon and the primeval world of Pulse. Follow stylish heroine Lightning's fast paced battles and high adventure in a mysterious new world.
DO YOU HAVE THE COURAGE TO FACE YOUR DESTINY?
As a deepening crisis threatens to plunge the floating world of Cocoon into chaos, a band of unsuspecting strangers find themselves branded enemies of the state. With the panicking population baying for their blood, and the military all too happy to oblige, they have no choice but to run for their lives. Join them on a desperate quest to challenge the forces controlling their fate, and prevent untold destruction.
Featuring an unforgettable storyline, a battle system blending action and strategy, cutting-edge visuals and awe-inspiring cinematic sequences, FINAL FANTASY® XIII delivers the next step in the evolution of gaming.
The fact that the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy may be coming to PC circulated as a rumor earlier based on the Steam logo found on the official website.
Apparently the rest of the trilogy is soon to follow as well -- here's the press release:
FINAL FANTASY XIII SERIES ANNOUNCED FOR WINDOWS PC
LONDON (18th September, 2014) – Square Enix Ltd., publishers of SQUARE ENIX® interactive entertainment products in Europe and PAL territories, today announces the FINAL FANTASY® XIII trilogy of games is headed to Windows PC, with the first in the series, FINAL FANTASY XIII, due for release on 9th October 2014.
The game will be available to download via the Square Enix online store and the Steam PC digital service (amongst others), priced at £10.99/€12.99. The game is available to pre-order now via the Square Enix Store and Steam, with those pre-ordering receiving 10% off. It is also confirmed that the FINAL FANTASY XIII trilogy will offer a set of Steam Trading Cards for players to collect and exchange.
On its original console release in 2010, FINAL FANTASY XIII marked the dawning of a new era for the celebrated series, bringing the game to multiple hi-definition consoles simultaneously for the first time in its history. The original game and subsequent adventures in the FINAL FANTASY XIII trilogy will soon be available for PC gamers to play for the very first time, with all games in the series due for release by Spring 2015.
FINAL FANTASY XIII expands on the rich traditions of the series, with producer Yoshinori Kitase, director Motomu Toriyama, character designer Tetsuya Nomura and art director Isamu Kamikokuryo combining their creativity to deliver a beautifully epic FINAL FANTASY universe. Additionally, Masashi Hamauzu presents a sweeping soundtrack while movie director Takeshi Nozue and his team of artists adorn the game with seamless cinematic sequences.
The FINAL FANTASY XIII trilogy began in March 2010 with the release of the original FINAL FANTASY XIII and continued with its sequel, FINAL FANTASY XIII-2, released in February 2012. The most recent release in the FINAL FANTASY XIII series, LIGHTNING RETURNS™: FINAL FANTASY XIII, launched on 14th February 2014 to critical acclaim. The series has been widely successful, shipping over 11 million units worldwide.
In a shocking twist, inXile have released anotherTorment: Tides of NumeneraKickstarter update less than 12 hours after the previous one. In a further twist, rather than being a screenshot update as we were led to believe, they decided to upload a full-blown gameplay video! Watch as the Last Castoff and his companion the Cold Calculating Jack, whose name is revealed for the first time to be Matkina, explore the mysterious Bloom:
The game looks great, and is very obviously based on Obsidian's Pillars of Eternity tech, although the character movement has a less abstract, more contemporary simulated style. The dialogue in particular looks fantastic and very Tormenty. I can definitely see inXile raising that stretch goal money now!
It's been over three months since we last heard from Torment: Tides of Numenera. Today, with the release of Wasteland 2 imminent, there are finally some new signs of life. This morning inXile announced the launch of a fancy new Torment backer portal, and a few hours ago, a new Kickstarter update came in with the details. Apparently, one of their goals with this new site is raising some additional money for a new stretch goal. I quote:
The Gullet Stretch Goal
With the relaunching of the site we're also looking at introducing some limited stretch goals. These will be for things for which we have not yet made the final call – content or features that will not happen in our current schedule, but that we hope to be able to add.
So we're pitching you – our funders – the Gullet, one of the areas from the Bloom. George Ziets did an amazing job on the Bloom design. We originally planned to cut a number of areas from that location but have been able to bring some back in, but in the current scope the Gullet is not a part of the Bloom's design. Here's George's description of the area:
Deep in the guts of the Bloom is a jumble of fleshy veins and cavities, known to natives as the Gullet. It surrounds a foul organic stew, containing the minds and memories of those devoured by the Bloom. The pulsing of a titanic heart reverberates from somewhere below… if you find yourself trapped here, the sound will drive you mad.
Few reach this place by intention. Most are eaten by a Maw and emerge in the Gullet, half-digested, to spend the final days of their lives in screaming agony. Transdimensional echoes of the Bloom's victims wander through the tunnels, lost and insane. Bizarre creatures, bred by the Bloom in its guts, burst from their wombs to hunt. Forgotten machines and artifacts lie half-submerged in Bloom-flesh, plucked from distant worlds of the past or future.
The only way out of the Gullet is down… to follow the sounds of the Bloom's beating heart and descend to a place where the Bloom's consciousness is at its most malignant and aware.
This area would add a ton to the Bloom, particularly as it provides more adventure-type gameplay and will better balance out its pacing. But currently we think we’re already stretching our team with the areas we’ve already committed to. With our limited stretch goals, we'll be looking to raise enough money to commit to adding the Gullet to the Bloom, by bolstering our environment art team to both make the Gullet and to benefit all other locations as well – remember that all pledges support the game development and reaching the Stretch Goal in reality gives far more than just the Gullet.
Of course, we have to make the call so that we can plan ahead, so our time is limited too: we're looking to raise our total amount raised to $4.75M by October 16th! If you’d like us to restore George Ziets’ Bloom design and fully implement it according to his original vision, consider spreading word of our continuing crowdfunding (or increasing your pledge) to help us reach this goal. All of your friends who missed the Kickstarter can still contribute to making the best Torment ever. (And while the new pledge options aren’t as favorable as those we gave you during the Kickstarter, they are better than after we’ve stopped crowdfunding and are onto preorders.)
The update also contains a massive new lore dump from Colin McComb. This one seems more directly related to the plot of the game, with information about the history of The Changing God, the creator of your character in Torment. It looks like this guy has had a lot more bodies than I thought.
Centuries ago, the Changing God met one of his children for the first time. This castoff, who claimed the status of the First Castoff, the eldest sibling of all his heirs, had been badly hurt in a struggle with the Sorrow, her skin utterly burned away. She wore a mask to conceal the damage, but her castoff regeneration was unequal to the task of restoring her. She sought answers from her sire, tracking him across the Ninth World to find him. She wanted to know why the Sorrow attacked her and the other castoffs, how they could stop it, and how she might earn a new body for herself.
The two of them were inseparable for a time as she awaited his aid in growing her a new body to replace the scarred wreckage of hers – they traveled together, seeking truths and long-buried secrets. But their alliance was shattered when at last she demanded that the Changing God stop deferring her; her body was beginning to decompose. Yet the Changing God refused to transfer her consciousness – he gave her a bottle of embalming fluid and told her to make do with the body she had. They fought, the confrontation teased out greater truths from her sire, and she realized that he had been hiding too much. Rather than share his secrets, he turned his back on her. She demanded his knowledge, and suddenly their personal struggle turned into a larger battle, each pulling their friends and allies into an ever-expanding conflagration.
Their feud created a schism in the castoff community. Dozens of castoffs flocked to both sides, coming to stand for the side they thought right. Some sided with the Changing God, believing that he had a plan to stop the Sorrow’s genocide, or from a loyalty to the man responsible for their creation. Some sided with the First, believing that she had their best interests at heart against a man who had proven himself time and again to be focused solely on himself.
[...] His purpose achieved and his opponent eliminated, the Changing God remained on his moon, above the fray, and returned to his researches. Yet despite the removal of the principals, the battle rages on, its contestants battling for ideologies of transparency, equality, and the common good on the First's side, and for duty, devotion, honor, and the hope of winning the Changing God’s trust on the other – the castoffs on the side of the Changing God do not want the First’s ideology dictating their lives. It is no longer merely a castoffs’ struggle. True, castoffs who are not directly involved in the Endless Battle provide funding to either side, or to both, in order to advance their own agendas – with centuries of knowledge behind them, with organizations of their own to tap, they have no shortage of funds. It is a place where warriors test their mettle, where mercenaries earn coin or renown, and where suppliers of food, flesh, and material can find a buyer of last resort. Though the commanders hold occasional parleys, there are too many here who are invested in seeing the war continue.
That's right, there's an entire civilization of these castoff bodies. Also, note that the name of the malevolent entity formerly known as "The Angel of Entropy" has apparently been changed to "The Sorrow". That's good - sounds less like the name of a JRPG end boss.
The official Legend of Grimrock website launched a mysterious 24 hour countdown yesterday. The countdown expired a few hours ago, revealing a fancy site redesign, and more importantly, a release date for Legend of Grimrock 2 - October 15th. Here's the new trailer they produced for the occasion. It's better than the last one!
Legend of Grimrock 2 is a dungeon crawling role playing game with a modern execution but an oldschool heart. A group of four prisoners have shipwrecked on the secluded Isle of Nex. The island is filled with ancient crumbled ruins, mysterious shrines and a vast underground network of dungeons and mines. If the prisoners wish to make it out alive, they have to overcome the challenges devised by the ominous mastermind of the island.
Powers of perception and logic are more important than sheer force is, since Legend of Grimrock 2 puts a heavy emphasis on exploration, survival and challenging puzzles. Discover powerful ancient artifacts from hidden secret chambers and buried treasures. Arm your champions, cast spells and craft enchanted potions and bombs to aid you in fighting the dreadful monsters in highly tactical real-time combat.
Design, share and play custom scenarios with the included Dungeon Editor! Create your own adventures and fill them with puzzles, traps, or even totally new items, monsters and environments with custom graphics and audio!
Get ready to venture forth and uncover the secrets of Nex!
Explore the wilderness and the dungeons of Isle of Nex: walk in ancient forests riddled with mysterious magical statues, fight the denizens of poison fuming swamps, dive in the Forgotten River in search of treasure, uncover secrets hidden deep below…
More than 20 hours of pure blooded dungeon crawling gameplay with grid-based movement and thousands of squares filled with hidden switches, pressure plates, secret doors, riddles, deadly traps and more.
Cast spells with runes, craft potions and bombs, fight murderous monsters with a large variety of melee-, ranged and thrown weapons, as well as firearms.
Create a party of four characters and customize them with 7 character classes, 5 races, and numerous skills and traits. Collect experience to hone their skills and discover improved equipment and magical artefacts.
42 different kind of monsters including 30 new foes unique to Isle of Nex.
Play custom adventures created by others or make your own with Dungeon Editor.
More depth, variety and open ended exploration than in Legend of Grimrock 1. Enhanced AI, spell casting, puzzle mechanics and skill systems.
As you might have guessed from the trailer's name, the game is now available for pre-order directly from Almost Human. The final price will be $24, but for the next 28 days at least the game will be available at a 15% discount. Steam keys included!
The fourth and final part of Matt Barton's interview with Feargus Urquhart is about Obsidian. After retelling the story of the infamous Knights of the Old Republic II development time fiasco, Feargus shares some information about the cancelled Seven Dwarves, and explains why he once rejected the offer to develop a Star Trek RPG. The interesting part begins when he moves on to discussing Neverwinter Nights 2, where he seems a bit eager to express his disappointments despite not really being prompted to do so by Matt. And when Matt asks about Fallout: New Vegas, Feargus chooses instead to deliver what appears to be an apologia for Bethesda's Fallout 3 and the Gamebryo engine.
This part of the interview wasn't as content-packed as the previous one, but it sure had some weird turns. It feels like Feargus knew exactly what sort of people were likely to watch this and he wanted to make a few things clear. He's definitely one of the best guests Matt has had, in terms of sheer amount of information provided.
Today's Divinity: Original SinKickstarter update, the first since the game's release back in June, announces the release of the long-expected companion update.
We may have been a bit quiet over the past two months, but you'll be happy to hear we've spent the time not only recovering from launch, but also preparing improvements and new content for Divinity: Original Sin. We figured: how better to break the silence than with an exciting update chock full of much-asked-after features?
Today, we're launching a content-heavy update to D:OS players, featuring two totally new companions, each ready (if you play your cards right) to help save Rivellon. Also included in the newest update is a big quality-of-life improvement and another coat of polish.
Below, Swen discusses more about the added content, as well as future updates and what the team's been up to since our last update (hint: Divinity: Original Sin isn't the only game we're working on!).
Read the update's full change list here.
Download this free additional content!
As promised, we're ready to launch two more companions into Rivellon, both of which you can meet in Cyseal. Bairdotr, a curious and loyal ranger, has gotten herself into some trouble at the Legion barracks, while the silent rogue Wolgraff has found himself a nice hustle stealing coins from the wishing well in the Cyseal hinterlands (accessible through the graveyard tunnel).
If you convince one or both to join your party, you'll learn more about their histories and missions for the future.
Download "The Bear and the Burgler" DLC via Steam, or simply update your game on GOG to receive the new content. Note: The new companions will appear in Cyseal once you start a new game after downloading the update.
Follow the Dialogue: A significant improvement for co-op players
It's no secret that the old system for following other players' dialogues in co-op needed a makeover; fortunately, the latest update will do just that.
Now, instead of reading lengthy dialogues displayed over your teammate's head or in the journal, you'll be able to see the conversation in its own dialogue box with the toggle of a button.
This certainly will not be our last update on Divinity: Original Sin. We're still working on a slew of new skills and a variety of difficulty modes to ramp up the challenge-- keep an eye out for those in the coming weeks!
Check out the full update for concept art and descriptions of the new companions, plus a nice shout-out to the soon-to-be-released Wasteland 2.
It is something of a Codex tradition to have the esteemed community member Darth Roxor review Piranha Bytes' Risen titles. In this article, he shares his (mostly negative) thoughts on Risen 3: Titan Lords, concluding with the following rumination on the state of the Piranha Bytes of today:
To sum up my final impression of both Risen 3 and Piranha Bytes as a whole, I’d like to quote my very good friend Boethius:
But we will still speak concerning the nature of men, and concerning their pursuits. Though, then, their mind and their nature be now dimmed, and they are by that fall sunk down to evil, and thither inclined, yet they are desirous, so far as they can and may, of the highest good. As a drunken man knows that he should go to his house, and to his rest, and yet is not able to find the way thither, so is it also with the mind, when it is weighed down by the anxieties of this world.
That is the state of Piranha Bytes today, in a nutshell. They know that they must return to the old Gothic formula, and hell, they probably even want to do it, but they simply have no idea how. They grasp at the ideas and elements that were present in their most successful games, they announce that they are "going back to the roots", and they even attempt to fix the flaws that they've introduced, but they are not able to put those changes and fixes into proper context, nor design the same systems that once made them great. Thus, the final product is but a warped shadow of its original counterpart, a haphazardly glued-together Frankenstein’s monster that might be made of similar flesh, but can never be even one tenth as functional or “alive”.
Unfortunately, I doubt they will ever reach their past greatness again. This is made apparent both by the quality of their last two games, and by comparing the credits of Gothic 2 and Risen 3. Hell, even comparing Risen 1 to Risen 3 should be enough to draw the necessary conclusions.
There's a new interview with Tactical Simulations Interactive president David Klein over at Swiss gaming site Combobreaker.ch. The interview was conducted by none other than the Codex's own SophosTheWise, who helpfully provided a link to the original English version. Here's an excerpt:
What does «updating for the modern audience» mean in terms of gameplay? Are you going for a Grimrock-style game?
Since turn-based provides the player the more complex and cerebral experience, we chose that option. Legend of Grimrock is a terrific game- but for Seven Dragon Saga we're using a 3D based world, so we will also have the option to move the camera angle and add to the visual excitement, setting the scene, and player preference. Although we like the retro pixel art style, so that might be something we'd consider for future titles.
Gold Box RPGs were not only old-school but also quite hardcore – is it at all possible to bring a new generation to that kind of games?
Hardcore can also imply a barrier to entry for people not familiar with the rules, or having a lot of die rolls. If the rules are getting in the way of fun, that's a bit tedious. So, spending a lot of time re-rolling characters to get the stats you want for a party of six characters is too grueling an experience. Seven Dragon Saga uses a skill based system (i.e. Divinity: Original Sin, Skyrim, etc...) but the gameplay will be accessible to players that enjoy games like Baldur's Gate or Wasteland 2.
The Gold Box series was highly popular back in the day, now it’s widely regarded as dusty niche-titles. Are you aiming for a broad audience and do you think you can build upon the success of old times?
The Lord of the Rings used to be fairly niche until the effects were good enough to produce some terrific movies for a broad audience. TSI is building a RPG where you create your whole party. NPC's are great to interact with, but we want to give the player more freedom in terms of making strategic choices and tailor the experience to their own play style. You'll never have to drag that one rogue with you simply because there wasn't a better option. That means TSI is aiming for gamers that want control over multiple characters and tactical combat.
With today's systems and tools, we are able to streamline many of the more awkward elements of the Gold Box games. Play should flow easily and the game should present the player appropriate choices for the situation. Our primary goals for Seven Dragon Saga are tactical choice; an open, explorable world; and strategic impact. If the player does not feel he is leaving a mark on the world, beyond swatting monsters and killing end-game bosses, then we believe he is not being well served.
Pillars of Eternity, Legend of Grimrock, Tides of Numenera, Divinity: Original Sin, Might & Magic X, Wasteland 2 – That’s big competition. How can you set yourselves apart?
So far, there seems to be a place for each of those games (and speaking as a consumer, I'm looking forward to playing the titles you've mentioned). Each game puts an emphasis on different aspects of the experience and brings something different to the table- be that a setting, a type of unfolding narrative with companions, or a good old dungeon crawl. TSI is making an effort to give the player meaningful choices from start to finish. Position, maneuver, weapon and spell choice all factor into tactical combat, allowing players a wide choice in approach. The party represents the greatest power in the world, and the player must decide how to wield this in social and political situations, and there is a wide world to explore and leave a mark.
The community, as well as, other developers have been extremely supportive. The only thing we would want to avoid is a releasing right at the same time so that each has an opportunity to shine.
A crowdfunding campaign is certainly something that's been proven successful in the past so we're definitely looking at that type of opportunity very closely. We've also had some contact with publishers so that's a possibility as well. We're working very hard to establish Tactical Simulations Interactive as a company you can depend upon to consistently deliver a certain type of game experience. How to do we best position ourselves to create a series of games in the Gold Box tradition? That's what we're still trying to determine. Seven Dragon Saga is our first foray into creating an original, tactical RPG.
Since you’re not going for the D&D license, how would you describe your own ruleset and world design?
Working with an established license has it's pros and cons. Ultimately, we decided we wanted to work without those type of constraints on our first project and have the freedom to explore mature themes. Seven Dragon Saga begins the players with mid-level capabilities, rather than as reluctant proto-heroes. They are already effective in combat (no running from rats), and represent the Empire of the Seven Dragons, the preeminent power in the world. How the player uses this power is a major theme of the game. Will he be dismissive and cruel, obedient and fair, or a rabble rouser? The races are international, with concepts drawn from Europe, Asia and Africa, representing the great reach of the Empire.
Although, working with a license is something we'd certainly like to revisit further down the road.
Well, it definitely sounds like they mean to live up to the "Tactical" in Tactical Simulations Interactive. I think David might be confused about Grimrock, though.
Yesterday, the developers of Legends of Eisenwald published a new developer diary blog post on their site. The main topic of the post was their attempt to apply to this year's IndieCade. In case you didn't know, IndieCade is an annual indie games festival, described on Wikipedia as "the video game industry's Sundance", which is "focused on innovation and artistry in interactive media, helping to create a public perception of games as rich, diverse, artistic, and culturally significant". Here's how it went down:
In the beginning of the summer we applied with our game to IndieCade. We didn’t have many hopes to start with. Looking at the screenshots that are published on Facebook page of this festival one could think that indie games for them are almost exclusively pixel art, simple mechanics and other attributes of modern pop-culture. So, the response we were not selected for the final part did not surprise us. To the standard response there were attached a few sentences of a juror or a few of them:
"I kind of don’t get it… When the game is defined as a “classic old school RPG with tactical turn-based battles, simple economic model” why would you enter it in indiecade?"
"It seems weird to me, with no hook, no novelty and no tutorial, the game feels… Well, like a 90s game. It’s a “classic, yes, but “old school” doesn’t have to mean “old”."
"This game is an impressive technical achievement! Indiecade however looks for games that innovate in design or other categories, and Legends of Eisenwald is largely a worthy but loyal recreation of a well-trodden category."
Clearly, there's indies and then there's indies. Not to mention that Legends of Eisenwald does in fact have a tutorial. So, what sort of games are prized at IndieCade? As it happens, there was another blog post about IndieCade yesterday, by Craig Stern, developer of Telepath Tactics. Its title is "Against the cult of simplicity", and it details Craig's thoughts about what he experienced at IndieCade last year. I quote:
While at Indiecade in 2013, I had the pleasure of listening to Brenda Romero give an inspirational talk (one which she has evidently delivered elsewhere since) themed after the movie Hiro Dreams of Sushi. It was a talk about seeking perfection in game design. She described a triangle with one corner labeled on time, another labeled on budget, and a third labeled great. She exhorted the audience to disregard the “on time” and “on budget” sides of the game development triangle, and instead aim for a game that is truly great at all costs.
Brenda is a funny and dynamic speaker, and it made for a very entertaining talk. I would have enjoyed it without reservation but for one moment where she exhorted the audience to design games centered around a single core mechanic. Romero indicated that that was the only way to design something truly perfect. I considered asking her to defend that position in the Q&A that followed, but I hesitated. “I already have a bit of a reputation as a gadfly in the indie community,” I thought to myself. “And I like Brenda. Is this really a battle worth fighting?” I chose to let it go–but the memory of that moment continued to nag at me.
Later on in the weekend, I dropped by a tent where Jeremy Gibson was giving a talk on game design. I don’t recall the name of the talk, but it struck me as an intro-level lecture for folks who had not been making games for very long. He, too, apparently felt obliged to spend some time telling the audience to make games with only a single core mechanic. He did not give a reason; he did not limit his statement to new designers who are just finding their feet. He simply said that game designers should do it. Full stop.
Now, here’s the thing: I genuinely enjoy games that employ only a single core mechanic. But I also enjoy highly complex games that leverage many different systems, and I admit that I am deeply uncomfortable with the thought that leaders in the indie community are running around telling everybody that one of these is somehow better than the other.
Craig proceeds to thoroughly debunk the notion that all games should have a "single core mechanic", rightly noting that it de facto disqualifies entire genres from consideration, including RPGs. It's an excellent article and I highly recommend that you read the entire thing. It concludes with this impassioned plea:
The nature of curated events is that some games will be chosen and others excluded. When that exclusion consistently keeps certain portions of the spectrum of gaming experiences from receiving proper consideration, however, something has gone awry. When celebrated developers tell other developers that using only a single core mechanic is good design, they provide a pseudo-intellectual veneer in which to justify their favoring more simplistic games. If anything, we should be giving festival judges the opposite message: slow down and take some time to appreciate the depth that more mechanically complex games have to offer.
I write all of this not to criticize Indiecade (which is a worthwhile event), nor to embarrass Brenda Romero or Jeremy Gibson (both of whom I have nothing but respect for). I write this piece because I love diversity in the indie community. I love the enormous spectrum of entirely different experiences that games can give us. And yet, I see these events consistently failing a significant chunk of our community year after year.
Bit by bit, I have seen our community growing, broadening, opening. For years, narrative titles fought a long and bitter battle to be included in the indie scene, and now we honor games like Gone Home and Depression Quest. We fought about whether games needed to have challenges and goals in order to be games, and now we honor titles like Panoramical, Dear Esther, and The Stanley Parable.
We’ve made strides–but there is more to be done. We have gotten to the point where we now honor architectural installations and games with literally no interaction at all–and yet, I cannot think of even a single video gaming event anywhere in the world that can be bothered to validate the type of complex, long-form works that I’ve spent my life playing, loving, and creating. It pains me to visit indie festivals and see hardly any strategy games selected for inclusion. It pains me to hear people considered thought leaders in our community publicly elevate minimalist games above all others. And I am very, very tired of supporting events that have rendered themselves structurally incapable of supporting us back.
I want to see games from all parts of the spectrum honored, not just the titles that are easy to grasp, fast to play, or which reflect a prescribed approach to design. Complex games with numerous mechanics are wildly popular with the gaming public, and they have been for decades. When will our legions of would-be indie taste makers catch up?
In short, the IndieCade jury's reaction to Legends of Eisenwald should come as no surprise.
Let's face it - most of us have known for years that this was what the mainstream face of "indie" was becoming. There was a time when indie gaming was thought of as a brave opposition to big budget AAA decadence. But it's becoming increasingly apparent that the cure might be worse than the disease. Today, much of the indie games industry can best be described as existing in a kind of symbiosis with the AAAs. Both try to appeal to a certain lowest common denominator. Both stand in the way of the evolution of the gaming industry towards a sustainable model based on satisfying the needs of various submarkets and niches.
We here on the RPG Codex will continue to fight the two-front war against both types of decadence. As one of our more notorious posters once said: Fuck indies. Fuck AAAs. Support good developers.
Larian CEO Swen Vincke updated his blog today, for the first time since the release of Divinity: Original Sin back in June. His new post is a long and dense rumination on various aspects of the game's development and reception. Swen talks about the game's success, about the lengths he had to go in order to achieve that success, and also reveals a little bit of what Larian has planned for the future. And, yes, there are sales figures. I'll quote the most interesting bits:
Divinity: Original Sin did pretty well. At the time of this writing its Metacritic critic rating is at 87%, it’s user rating at 89% and it’s been at the top of the Steam charts for most of the summer, occupying the nr. 1 spot for around a month.
It has sold well over half a million units by now– mostly from Steam, with 10% from retail. ”Break even” has been reached, our debts have been paid and we are now in the profitable zone. While not all of the money is for us as we had private investors on board, the game did sufficiently well for us to envision funding our next endeavors with it, meaning we’re pretty happy about its performance.
So much for turn-based fantasy RPGs not selling, crowdfunding not working and a developer like us not being capable of bringing a game to market without the help of seasoned publishers!
[...] The release of D: OS was one big crunch period with all the good and bad that come with it. If the game ultimately did well, it’s because of the outstanding performance of the team when “the going got tough and the tough got going”.
A lot of the crunch was caused by our decision to listen to the feedback we received through our Kickstarter and Steam Early Access communities. While it often was tough to read through all of the criticism, it was clear that integrating the best parts of the feedback would be well worth the effort and improve the game massively. We didn’t hesitate for a minute.
This meant extra delays however, which in turn meant a need for extra budget. Steam Early Access was getting us some money but unfortunately that wasn’t sufficient. We needed to pay back our creditors who were all under the conviction that the game would be out sooner. When, to my surprise, it turned out that they didn’t share our belief that everything was going to be ok and even better if we listened to the feedback, I had to engage in a lot of fun conversations. Between “it’s ready when it’s done” and actually following up on that mantra, there unfortunately lies a big gap that can only be bridged with financial stamina.
I think we would’ve continued development even longer, but when I had to dash to a far away place where lived the one last bank director who still wanted to give us sufficient credit to pay a part of what we owed to another bank, it was clear that we needed to finish. I wasn’t joking when I said it was all in.
[...] We worked on D:OS until the very last day before release, and while that in itself isn’t for the meek of heart, it did have some interesting consequences. For one, we didn’t have any review code to share with reviewers prior to release. This meant that it would take several weeks before we’d actually know what the review scores were going to be. It also meant that anybody interested in the game would have to either wait or check what other players were thinking.
I don’t know if there was any correlation between our ultimate review scores and the user reviews, but the latter were really good and when you went to the Steam page on the day of release, it was loaded with over 1500 user reviews, 93% being thumbs up. I think that fuelled a lot of the initial success of the game and I also think it made some reviewers pay a bit more attention to the game.
[...] Our plan is to continue supporting D: OS for quite some time as this is the RPG framework on which we’ll build our next games. We’re fooling around with controller support to see if a big screen version with cooperative play would work well, something I’m silently hoping for as I think it’ll be a lot of fun, more so perhaps than playing coop in LAN with a friend sitting next to you. We’re also improving the engine itself as well as adding a bunch of extra features that not only make D: OS more fun and more friendly to players, but that will also improve whatever our next offering will be. We’re also adding extra content, like for instance the big companion patch, voiced et al, and I imagine that won’t be the last of what we’ll add.
The foreseeable future for Larian (i.e. the next couple of years) is going to see us making further progress in improving our RPG craft and creating dense game worlds with hopefully new and innovative gameplay systems based on old school values. These last months I’ve been very busy expanding our development force so that we can continue to compete in tomorrow’s market.
As I mentioned in this interview, the current thinking is that we shouldn’t go back to Kickstarter. That’s not because we’re ungrateful of the support we received through our Kickstarter community or because all those rewards caused a bit of extra work, but because I think the crowdfunding pool is limited and it should be fished in by those who really need it. Since we now can, I think we should first invest ourselves and then see if we need extra funds to fuel our ambitions. Only then it makes sense to look at crowd funding. I know several of our backers will be displeased by this, so it could be that we still change our minds, but if that is the case, I do think the the format we’ll use or the way we’ll do it will be different than how we did it for Divinity: Original Sin.
Swen ends the post with a recap of the lessons he's learned over the course of Original Sin's development, with regard to content creation and the solicitation of community feedback. His maxim about content is something I can definitely get behind.
In their latest Kickstarter update, Harebrained Schemes have published the fourth and final Shadowrun: Dragonfall Director's Cut dev diary. This one's all about the graphics and user interface, and as such it has plenty of screenshots. Here's an excerpt:
New Visual Effects & Animations
Steven and Hollie (our Effects/Tech Artist and Animator, respectively) dedicated several weeks during Director’s Cut development towards further honing our many combat effects and animation. Our main goals here were to 1. make combat feedback more viscerally satisfying (death, damage, spells, etc.), 2. tighten up timing/polish in some places, and 3. create new effects and animations to support the new abilities that the design team added in the Director’s Cut. I think their efforts have made a big difference! Steven and our engineer Sheridan implemented completely new systems for blood splatter effects, directional deaths (characters used to only be able to fall in one direction when dying), dismemberment, and possibly-slightly-over-the-top-gibs upon critical-hit deaths. We’ve found that these really help make your actions in combat feel powerful and satisfying - check it out:
On the animation front, not only have we been able to tighten up some combat timing (for example, the time it takes to cast certain spells) but we’ve added totally new animations for several new abilities.
Last week, Trevor talked about all of the new combat mechanics we’ve implemented. To emphasize the new systems and new data, our combat UI has also seen a similar upgrade to more clearly show you each potential target’s status. You’ll see a different targeting disc beneath enemies depending on whether you have a “clear shot”, i.e. if you are flanking the enemy’s cover position or if they are standing out in the open, vs. if they are in cover. On mouse-over you’ll also be able to see exactly what type of cover the enemy is in, and we’ve made the shield icons representing cover state more obvious above enemy heads.
We’ve also updated our health bar display to show how much Armor each character in combat has, represented by white “pips” above the bar itself. Each attack that hits now includes quick animated feedback on how much armor was applied against the damage being dealt, how much armor (if any) was stripped by special attacks, and how much damage was done. This is complemented by some improvements to our above-head text “floaties” that appear when you attack. Lastly, this is a small thing, but world interaction icons now have a short text description attached to them, similar to characters, that appears when you mouse-over them (or when you hold down the ALT key to reveal them.) This is nice when you’ve got a lot of inspects or pickups in one place and you’d like to know what you’re dealing with before clicking.
Oh and we also mentioned the new Crew Advancement system a couple weeks ago - here is what that looks like in action:
Check out the full update for screenshots of the game's new areas, images of some of its new portraits and models, and more. There are even achievements now, for all you Steam whores.
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