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?
It's finally here! Today's Wasteland 2Kickstarter update announces the release of the game's beta, and describes in detail which of its areas still lack polish. I'll quote the more important bits:
Because this beta doesn't include all the Arizona maps, this portion of the game will feel a bit more linear than the full experience will, particularly with the first maps being narrower locations rather than proper hubs. The final game will have a more open feel where you can poke around and check the defenses of higher level areas and perhaps snatch an item or two. So fear not, as there will be more strange areas to discover in the final, and we will be dropping more in throughout this beta phase. In addition, we’ll be adding more quests to each map as well.
A number of skills are not implemented in the backer beta, namely, Silent Move, Salvaging, Animal Whisperer, the backer informational skill and, quite ironically, Combat Shooting (ironic if you are familiar with Wasteland 1). You’ll run into a few situations where you could use those skills and we’ll work to balance and roll them out later, but the vast majority of skills are in so you'll be able to try most possible solutions. The character system is complete but not necessarily fully balanced, many XP rewards and upgrade values will still be tweaked.
The beta is launching only for Windows PC initially. We’ll look into launching Mac and Linux versions soon, but they will need more testing before we feel secure in doing so.
As you may remember, we spent quite a bit of time iterating (based on your feedback) the main gameplay HUD, and that process made it better. We have not had that same luxury yet with the inventory UI and character creation, so we expect a lot of comments and you can expect many changes. There’s inconsistency with fonts and colors etc. and the bottom line is that we are not happy with it yet. So please give us your feedback on it, we’ll be looking to polish it up as we did the main game HUD.
The game is also still pretty rife with typographical errors. Report them as you see them!
We all know that the heart and soul of a good RPG is having the player’s actions have consequence, and this is a major focus for us. We have a team of programmers that handle all the scripting for the maps, and most of their efforts at this point involve making pass after pass, adding in more depth to what we already have. This is a combination of adding more places to use skills, more ways to work around situations, and a greater degree of meaningful effect based on what the player has chosen to do. We also need add a greater connectivity between the maps, so your decisions have ripple effects in other areas of the Wasteland.
This will be the greatest area of focus as we analyze your play and listen to your ideas. So PLEASE share your clever ideas so we can turn up the charm and depth.
Along these lines, it probably isn't a good idea to use the shovel on Ace’s grave.
Combat and World Economy
This area is fairly robust, but there has been little work in regards to balancing the difficulty, so expect some areas to be quite hard while others may be too easy. In these types of games the balancing can swing wildly from day to day with just a few variable changes. Just tweaking the amount of ammo that can be found can greatly change the experience. The enemies you’ll meet in the beta are pretty early-game, which makes fights a little more straight-forward, as their AI is simpler than some of the later-game enemies. There are not very many merchants right now, and their inventory is not particularly balanced. Basically the world economy has not been balanced yet. The currency and item drops and their trade value will likely seem off to you, as it’s far from final.
We are also missing quite a few SFX in combat and we need to better message how much the player can actually do. Again we will be keen to get feedback on this area of the game. In general we like that the game is a bit hard, but only so long as the player can learn from the battles and conquer them armed with that knowledge.
The code for handling the camera is also not final, and again your feedback will help us to dial it in and give enough user options to make it work for everyone. We still intend to integrate destructible objects to add greater realism and visual payoff into the scenes.
Those of you who backed Wasteland 2 at the $55 tier or higher can grab their beta Steam key over at Ranger Center. If you haven't, well, there are all sorts of livestreams taking place as we speak. Feel free to discuss the beta in this thread, but we recommend you take any spoilers to our dedicated beta release thread.
While Rock Paper Shotgun published the bulk of their Pillars of Eternity material yesterday, they apparently still had enough left off for a few more posts. Today, they've posted an interview with Josh Sawyer, Adam Brennecke and Brandon Adler that focuses on the game's 15-level megadungeon, and the issue of the game's size and scope in general.
RPS: How long do you think a run-through of the mega-dungeon will take?
Brennecke: I don’t want to say, but it’s probably going to be hours and hours?
Adler: It’ll be pretty beefy.
Sawyer: My direction for designing it has been that the ramp in difficulty goes up faster than you can level while in it. [laughs] So I kind of want the player to hit… You go through, you go down a couple levels, then you go to the next level and you’re like, “WHOA! Okay!” Either it forces them to get really serious about tactics, or they’re like, “You know what? I’m gonna go out to do some more quests, come back, and go deeper down.”
RPS: So it’s something you work through gradually.
Sawyer: Yeah. And we’ve come up with some ideas for mechanics that encourage continuing to return to the dungeon, so that it becomes kind of like a cyclical thing. You go down for a while, you back off, you deal with some things, and then you find a reason to go back down.
RPS: Is there a story surrounding the dungeon? Something huge and labyrinthine like the dungeon itself?
Sawyer: Yeah, yeah. You’ll start to learn [that there's a lot more to it than you first suspect]. Initially it just seems like a cursed, abandoned place. The Glanfathans warn people away from it. But they kind of say, “If you wanna go buck wild in here, it’s your funeral. Go down in there if you want.” As you go deeper you start learning more about what it was and what it is now and what’s going on in it. There’s a mystery. It’ll be a fun mystery to solve and get to the bottom of it.
RPS: And I’m guessing the rewards are pretty incredible? Like, some of the best in the game?
Brennecke: Of course.
Sawyer: I mean, we want our dungeons to feel like dungeons, but this should be the dungeoniest dungeon that we have [laughs]. Lots of monsters, lots of loot, lots of cool exploration and stuff.
RPS: Would you say that it’s the dungeoniest dungeon you’ve ever designed, period?
Sawyer: Uh… Yeah. I’d say a close second would be Dragon’s Eye, which is pretty dungeony.
Brennecke: The direction is like, it’s a dungeon crawl. That’s what it is.
Sawyer: There can be quests in it, but they’re not like, “Let’s talk to a lot of people.” [laughter]
Adler: It’s more like, let’s murder them.
Sawyer: Let’s murder a bunch of people, maybe talk to a few people along the way.
RPS: That does, in fact, sound quite dungeony. What about the rest of the game, though? What kind of scope are you aiming for there?
Saywer: It’s going to be big. I’m not going to give any hour range. It’s going to feel like a worth Infinity engine game. It’s going to be in that ballpark.
I’ve never had a good experience estimating hours before a game’s release. When we made Icewind Dale II, we were afraid it would not even be a 30-hour game. That is a fucking 85-plus-hour game. Easily.
Adler: When you look at Neverwinter II, originally… [laughs]. That was supposed to be a 25-hour game. We couldn’t speedrun it in 40 hours.
Sawyer: It’s going to be big. Scope is quality in this game. In this game, we believe that scope is a part of the perceived quality of the game that we are making. The trend has been generally, for many, many games… It’s like, tighter, more focused, more unique. We still want places to feel unique and have cool unique content in them, but we must have a big game. Just by virtue of the fact that we have two big cities and a megadungeon, that’s a lot of levels. We can’t do that without being.
It’s like Brandon said. We know we have to do this stuff. Let’s go. Let’s make these guys and make them look really cool, but make them clean and make them in intelligent ways. It’s going to be big. That’s the best way I can say it. It’s going to be a big game.
The interview also has some new information about the companion Edér (formerly known as "Edair"), who is apparently a rogue and not a fighter as was widely assumed. RPS have another interview coming up tomorrow, this time with Feargus Urquhart, which will be about Obsidian's next Kickstarter(!), so stay tuned.
VG247's Dave Cook had a chat with Brian Fargo about Wasteland 2's upcoming beta. While a large portion of the interview is dedicated to questions about the logistics of releasing the beta and gathering player feedback, there is some fun information about the game itself. I quote:
VG247: I’d agree with that definitely. So I’m aware we’re straying a bit from the actual beta itself so can I clarify one thing? I understand this beta is 95% complete in terms of mechanics. Is that correct?
Fargo: “Not exactly. What it is, is about 90% of the game’s underpinning, so all the systems are in place and in some ways it will feel like a finished product. You’ve got combat, UI, inventory, the majority of the skills working, sound effects and you will get a sense of the game. However, we’re only giving away a portion of Arizona to play, and that was always the plan because we didn’t want to have spoilers and ruin the whole thing.
“We can get enough out of this first group to help us dictate the second half of it. That said, we’ll have a smaller group look at it, but we never intended to go live with the whole thing. You’re really kind of getting a snap-shot of the Arizona levels, and there’s four main areas and a bunch of smaller areas that we’re putting out, then through the beta process over the next couple of months, we’ll continue to release a couple more areas for Arizona. But we will hold Los Angeles back.”
VG247: That overworld map sounds brutal. It really does with dehydration, being jumped by raiders and without any sign-posting to let you know where the harder encounters are. It’s sort of your own fault if you die when wandering around and that to me sounds pretty hardcore. It’s a bit like Demon’s Souls where if you’e dying a lot you’re probably not ready for an area yet. Does that difficulty scale at all?
Fargo: “There’s two parts to dying in the game which really strikes to the difficulty level. First of all, you can die in the first five seconds of gameplay. You start off at a funeral scene, and if you want to pick the shovel up and start digging up the grave of the guy who just got buried in front of the other Desert Rangers, you’re dead.”
VG247: [laughs] Jesus.
Fargo: “But you get a warning, and you pretty much blame yourself for that. There are lot of things where the signs were there, you acted inappropriately, and it’s not like it just says ‘game over.’ You’re in a combat that you could theoretically win if you had higher-level characters, but it’s not going to happen, so there are areas like that. I like that. Have you ever read a book where you’re 50 or 100 pages in and they kill a major character, and you’re like ‘wow,’ and then the rest of the book is a little more tense?”
VG247: Because suddenly everyone’s fair game?
Fargo: “Yeah, there’s this feeling that anyone could die at any time, like Game of Thrones does a brilliant job of that. I like the fact that if you do stupid things it will result in death, and that it keeps the tension high for other areas. So that’s part number one. Number two is, we do make it clear where you’re supposed to go, in that we want to make objectives clear because for me, that just makes good sense for players.
“However, if you want to go wandering off the beaten path and find other things, fantastic. But again, you have to blame yourself if you want to go off into the desert. You might find another area, you might find a map full of robots. If you can fight them, win it and get some upgraded weapons it’s going to make some of those early maps easier, but it comes back again to the users making the choices themselves. I always try to focus on, ‘it’s okay if people die as long as they’re blaming themselves,’ for the most part.”
VG247: Letting people do what they want and then suffer the consequences or reap great reward is – to me – the essence of any good role-playing game.
Fargo: “Yes, you’re acting how you would act and you’d like to see the people in the game react the way people are supposed to react. That’s when it get’s tricky because people always want to take it ten levels deep. Like, ‘well I offended him so now his wife should be mad at me, and his kids,’ They want to go and go and go.
“It’s always tricky to find that spot but in this first beta it won’t get the total sense of what we’re talking about because not all the maps are in Arizona. There are many areas you can go off to early on and have those experiences happen. Those aren’t all in this beta yet, but they will certainly be in the final build. So, it’s not that there’s not much of that, but there’s not as much as there’s going to be.”
VG247: So LA and Arizona each have their own overworld map?
Fargo: LA is a whole other map.
The Wasteland 2 beta should be arriving very soon.
Larian's latest Divinity: Original SinKickstarter update announces the alpha release date and also includes a video of Swen Vincke testing the current build:
When is the Alpha coming?
The date is Tuesday December 17th 2013. The date range is next week. If something goes wrong, it might be December 18th or 19th or who knows, it might even be December 16th, but rest assured that it will be next week, unless of course calamity strikes. The exact hour, well that is still to be decided.
What can I expect?
You can check for yourself in this let’s play video from last Friday in which Swen reviews the state of the alpha. Contains minor spoilers, so consider yourselves warned.
We’ll be releasing a first chunk of the world, good for approximately 10 hours of play, known to the team as The Left Side Of Cyseal. (Which is pronounced by some as "Sigh Seal" while others say "See Zay-All"...)
It’s alpha – that means place holders, rude balancing, some missing features, plenty of bugs etc… But, it’s playable, and you can play quite a lot. But you might also get stuck.
Who can play the alpha?
For the moment, Kickstarter backers only. We might be opening up beta access at a later date for people who preorder, but with 20K backers, we’re sure we’ll know what to do on the short term
The update also asks backers eligible for additional rewards (designing an NPC, writing a message in the woods, etc.) to log in to The Larian Vault and fill in the necessary info. Finally, there's going to be a live stream of Swen and David playing the game on Larian's Twitch.tv channel on Friday December 13th, starting at 17:00 CET, 16:00 GMT, 8:00 PST, 11:00 EST. As the update puts it, "David & Swen will be playing the alpha, approve, or disapprove things, and then decide if it's ready or not."
Today's long-awaited Kickstarter update for Obsidian's Project Eternity informs us that the game is now officially called Pillars of Eternity, and introduces its new official site and pledge management portal, where you can finally register for all those add-ons you paid money for last year. Besides general information about the game, the new site also comes with a bunch of new screenshots and artwork, as well as a short gameplay teaser video. Without further ado:
After months of hard work we are happy to present to you with Project Eternity's BIG update. We have lots of stuff to go over, so let's get into it.
Through the hard work of the Project Eternity team we are proud to present our first in-game teaser trailer.
Stretch Goal Poll
We've always taken your pledges seriously and we remain committed to giving our backers every stretch goal you reached during the Kickstarter campaign. Budgeting a game of this size can be daunting, but we always remember the cornerstones of our pitch and the features you funded. Even so, there are two things we know a lot of you have asked for: more wilderness areas and more companions. Both of these are very time-consuming, but we understand why so many people want them. Because we've seen these requests more than a few times, we would like to ask the community if you would be interested in new stretch goals to fund additional development. If not, no worries: we're still going to deliver on everything you've backed. Please let us know your thoughts in this thread on our forums.
Interviews and Articles
That’s not all. We also have a plethora of new interviews with members of the Pillars of Eternity team. Check them out below.
That’s it for the update. The Pillars of Eternity team and the whole Obsidian crew would like to thank you for all of your support and help in creating the game over this past year. You can’t imagine how rewarding it is to get to work on this game with all of our Backers. Here’s to another great year!
Read the full update for detailed instructions on how to use the site's pledge management functionality. The site also allows non-backers to pledge for the game - as you can see from all those interviews and that stretch goal poll, Obsidian is trying to pull a bit of a Chris Roberts here. Finally, it's worth mentioning that according to that non-backer pledge page, the game's release date is now "Winter 2014".
Having finally gotten rid of the DRM requirements in their licensing agreement, Harebrained Schemes have fulfilled their promise and releasedShadowrun Returns on GOG, DRM-free. It's available at a 40% discount until Thursday, though to be honest, even at that price, it might be worth waiting for the Dragonfall expansion to be released next month so you can get them together for $25. The game's latest Kickstarter update has further information:
HBS is happy to announce that as of today, Shadowrun Returns is now available for Windows and Mac on GOG.com!
The DRM-free version of the game will continue to be fully supported and you'll be able to download all game patches, use the Shadowrun Returns editor and experience user-generated content downloaded from third-party sites such as Nexus. If you are a Kickstarter Backer or pre-ordered the game, we are happy to send you a GOG key if you contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are also pleased to let our Linux-loving fans know that they’ll soon be able to access the game through the Humble Store. We’ll let you know about it as soon as possible.
Shadowrun: Dragonfall, the expansion for Shadowrun Returns, will also be available on GOG and the Humble Store when it’s released in January.
Speaking of Dragonfall, Game Informer interviewed HBS producer Mitch Gitelman about it last week. Here's an excerpt:
Shadowrun Returns has been out for a few months now, and you’ve probably had the chance to get some feedback on how the game was received. What criticisms and praise have you taken to heart, and how will that be reflected in the new Berlin project?
We’re pretty passionate about our jobs and tend to take everything to heart: the good and the bad. Shadowrun: Dragonfall reflects quite a bit of feedback we received since the launch of Shadowrun Returns.
First and most important, Dragonfall has a more flexible story structure than the original Dead Man’s Switch campaign. Players will have the ability to choose which runs to complete first and a larger assortment of side missions to select from. In addition, you can complete optional objectives for factions in the story with their own agendas.
We felt that the Seamstresses Union location in the Seattle campaign provided an effective base-of-operations for the player, but it also wound up feeling restrained and a bit claustrophobic. In Dragonfall, we're providing the player a full Berlin kiez, or neighborhood, to operate out of. You'll be able to explore and interact with a variety of residents and merchants in the area, head to the street doc's office for some new chrome, or retreat to your hidden safehouse to plan your next move.
To support the new structure of the Berlin campaign, and in reaction to audience feedback, we’ve expanded the save game functionality to allow you to save your game at any time.
One of the things we really enjoy in RPGs is interacting with a team of interesting, nuanced characters throughout the campaign. This was something we didn't get to do as much as we wanted to in Dead Man Switch, though we were happy with where we were able to take a couple of characters, such as the bartender & aspiring shadowrunner, Coyote. In Dragonfall, we're introducing a full team of runners with their own backstories and motivations that players can get to know and choose for specific runs, rather than hiring random mercenaries who feel disposable. Each of the characters has a unique set of skills, abilities, and equipment and is designed to play a role on the team.
Overall, we received the highest praise for the look, the writing, and the tone of Seattle, which many players told us was what they’d always seen in their heads. With Dragonfall, our goal is to make Berlin feel like a new and distinctly European location with its own vibe, yet clearly set in the world of Shadowrun and consistent with the themes of the Berlin tabletop RPG sourcebook. To that end, Dragonfall features new environment art, a large new cast of characters, and a new soundtrack.
And, of course, we can’t ship an expansion for a tactical RPG without some new weapons like a sniper rifle, a grenade launcher, or a stun-inducing taser.
Beyond what we talked about above, what gameplay and technical features are changing in the new game?
In addition to the new story campaign and enhanced saved games functionality, Shadowrun: Dragonfall features enhancements and improvements to several character archetypes, new outfits, new character portraits, and new enemies - including new magical creatures. Plus, Dragonfall expands on and extends our game editor feature set, based upon feedback from the user-generated-content community, which allows for a host of new options for designers. These features appear in the Berlin campaign, and while they sound like relatively humble improvements, in a clever designer’s hands, they can have a powerful impact on the play experience - things like being able to keep track of objectives in the main game UI, exploding barrels, and the ability to enter keycodes and custom text strings in conversation.
What can you tell us about the storyline of the Berlin scenario? Who do you play? Who are some of the characters you meet? What sets it apart from the Dead Man’s Switch campaign?
Storywise, the Berlin campaign should provide a very different experience from the Seattle campaign. Where Dead Man’s Switch embroiled you in a noir-like mystery - a lone runner with a job to do - Dragonfall places you at the head a team of runners caught in a dangerous plot, and struggling to stay alive in a European city rife with conspiracy and intrigue. You’ll take jobs running against ruthless megacorporations, furthering the goals of shadowy factions with their own agendas, and coming face-to-face with some of the deadliest opponents the Shadowrun setting has to offer.
Forty-two years ago, the Great Dragon Feuerschwinge was shot down over the SOX, an irradiated wasteland between Germany and France. This event - the Dragonfall - has been all but forgotten by the world at large. But now, the people of Berlin are about to receive a grim reminder of the past, and with it, one of the greatest threats of the Awakened world.
Nothing new here, really, but let's hope it turns out as good as it sounds.
RPS' Adam Smith has written a nice detailed preview of Larian's upcoming turn-based RPG Divinity: Original Sin after playing it for 16 hours "over two days in Belgium last week." Lots of things that sound great about the game in the preview; here's a snippet:
For example, to find a way into one suspect’s house, me and my partner found that we could pick the lock, teleport inside using arcane magicks, talk somebody into giving us the key, or murder the person carrying the key. Everyone in the game can be killed and Larian have ensured that every quest can be completed using alternate means if an essential NPC dies. Many of these backup solutions are intentionally obscure and/or challenging, but that they exist at all shows Larian’s strength of commitment to this particular brand of sandbox/open world.
It’s a simulated place, with basic but functional behaviours for all of its inhabitants. Even the creatures out in the wilds have been hand-placed rather than spawning randomly and it was during a test of the ways in which monsters interact with NPCs that I created a catastrophe. I just wanted to know if orcs would attack guards if a group were lured close enough to the town walls. I ended up with blood on my hands. And on my clothes and coagulating on the soles of my shoes where I’d stepped through the rivers of the stuff that had spilled from all of the dead people. The dead people that the orcs had killed.
I instigated a massacre.
Yes, it turns out, orcs absolutely will attack guards. They’ll attack citizens as well, and let’s not forget cows and, most heinous of all, other ITALICS orcs. Of all the deaths that I caused during my silly experiment, the first stung the most. [...] Turns out the guards aren’t quite ready to face a mob of orcs and we had to lead them through the town, massacring as they went, to the barracks, where the final surviving guard managed to kill the last of them. It was a bloody disaster and a member of Larian’s team, watching over our shoulders, whistled through his teeth: “Nobody has ever done that before.”
That’s the brilliance of the game though. It was a daft thing to do and it took ages, but it was memorable in a way that only that sort of deviance from the ‘correct’ path can be. Original Sin is a heavily scripted game, with thousands of lines of dialogue, hundreds of quests and characters, and carefully constructed tactical encounters – but everything is built on flexible systems, starting with those flowerpots, and that means almost anything is possible within the very broad rules of the world.
The last episode of Matt Barton's interview with Guido Henkel is titled "Guido Henkel on Planescape: Torment", but it's actually about a lot more than that. Over the course of 35 minutes, Guido describes the circumstances behind his departure from Attic Entertainment and Germany, his employment at Interplay and the atmosphere at Black Isle Studios during the development of PS:T, his minor involvement in the development of Fallout 2 and Neverwinter Nights, his work on a cancelled superhero-themed MMORPG for SquareSoft after leaving Interplay, and his involvement with formal game design education.
Guido also spends a surprising amount of time talking about his music career and musical education, and also about the story of how he ended up posing as The Nameless One for PS:T's box cover.
Yesterday was VGX 2013, formerly known as VGA, the annual video game award show organized by Spike TV. Hosted by the Dorito Pope himself and a dude named Joel McHale who spent the entire evening trolling, this year's show promised to "abandon the traditional Hollywood style award show to feature more world premiere game trailers than ever before, plus extended deep dives into the next generation of games, new looks at gaming culture, one-on-one interviews with the industry's most visionary creatives and expert panels digging into what's coming to consoles in 2014 and beyond". Well, there was some of that, but as far as RPGs go, all we got were two trailers.
First, a new trailer for South Park: The Stick of Truth, the game about farting.
Second, one of the Codex's favorite conversation topics, a new The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt trailer, featuring the King of the titular Hunt doing his best Sauron impression.
In a press release posted on their forums, Basilisk Games (AKA "that other indie RPG developer that isn't Spiderweb Software") have announced a release date for Eschalon: Book III, which was successfully greenlit for Steam release back in October.
Basilisk Games Announces the release date for "Eschalon: Book III"
Indianapolis, IN - December 3, 2013 - Basilisk Games, Inc. is proud to announce that Eschalon: Book III is expected to launch on Windows, Macintosh and Linux platforms on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2014.
On February 14 the game will be immediately available, worldwide and DRM-free, through our website at http://basiliskgames.com. Eschalon: Book III was recently approved through Steam's Greenlight service and will be available on most major distribution portals on or shortly after its worldwide Valentine's Day release.
“The last game of the Eschalon trilogy is in the final stages of development now and is expected to wrap up in time for next Valentine's Day” said Thomas Riegsecker, CEO of Basilisk Games. “It is really an exciting time for us to see this project finished, and for everyone waiting to see how the trilogy comes to a close.”
Basilisk Games is expected to begin semi-public Beta Testing of Eschalon: Book III in early January 2014 for fans who want to help balance the game before its release. More information on the beta test program will be posted on the website at http://basiliskgames.com in the coming weeks.
About Eschalon: Book III
Eschalon: Book III is the final game in the award-winning Eschalon RPG series, following Book I's release in 2007 and Book II's release in 2010. The Eschalon RPG series features sprawling, open-ended game worlds and almost unlimited character development options. Book III brings the series to a climatic end as you seek to uncover the mystery of four powerful gemstones and your clouded past. No experience with either of the first two games is needed to enjoy this final chapter in the Eschalon saga. More information on the game can be found online at: http://basiliskgames.com/eschalon-book-iii
Insert joke about RPG players and Valentine's Day here.
We do not want to deviate from the formula of the game. The reason why so many of you have fallen in love with “Deathfire” is because of its many cool and unique features. If we were to reduce the scope or depth of the game, we would essentially destroy everything that fans cared for in the first place. Therefore, the decision was made to find a solution that allows us to keep the game’s features intact.
The plan is this: Instead of creating a large-scale game all at once, we decided to take an episodic approach to the game. As opposed to forcing ourselves to a development schedule that spans a year or more, and which needs to be funded up front entirely, we have decided to develop the game in installments, each an individual chapter in the story—as you would have in a book—which, when taken together make up the entire story of the original game.
There are a number of great examples out there, for games that have done very well using an episodic approach. Especially “The Walking Dead” by Telltale Games jumps to mind instantly as an example of episodic-delivery-done-right.
Each of “Deathfire’s” six chapters we will build, will expand the game as a whole when they are released, not only continuing the story, but also introducing new features as they enter the picture. The advantage of this approach is, I think, self-evident.
There is, of course, the question of where they're going to take the money for the first episode. In an unusual move, Guido has decided to start a direct crowdfunding campaign on the game's official website:
The result is that we will need a much smaller financial upfront commitment, and as the individual chapters are being rolled out, they can begin to generate incremental revenue that will then help us along as we continue with the project.
There is still the problem of getting the ball rolling, of course. Fortunately we have already done a lot of the ground work in the past months, creating a workflow and toolchain that will allows us to work efficiently right out of the gates, but we will still need money to pay everyone who’s working so hard on this project, along with some necessary software and hardware purchases.
Therefore we have decided to accept pledges from fans directly.As of right now, you can select reward tiers and back our project on our official website, just the way you would do on Kickstarter. In fact, we have tried to keep much of the reward structure in place that we offered in Kickstarter, though due to the nature of the beast, some amends had to be made. At the same time, there are some really cool changes, because things such as the Beastiary will now be continually updated and will grow over time as each new chapter is released.
There is a certain amount of base capital that is required for us to safely enter development of this chapter-based approach, and over the course of the next two weeks we want to see if we can reach this $50,000 base goal. Reaching it will make it possible for us to pay out small salaries and keep everyone’s families fed properly, while developing the first chapter. Upon reaching that milestone, we hope that the chapter release itself will generate enough buzz and interest to bring in additional funds through new backers or sales, which, in turn, will allow us to continue the development.
Don't know if that's feasible -- Guido Henkel is no Chris Roberts -- but I guess we'll see.
Today's Torment: Tides of NumeneraKickstarter update announces the expected result of the combat system vote - a resounding victory for turn-based combat. As the vote was very close, Kevin Saunders took the time to write a comprehensive apologia for the decision, in an attempt to mollify the RTwP hordes. Here's an excerpt from that:
As we explained in Update 24, we were leaning toward turn-based combat because we believe it’s better suited for the kind of tactical complexity we're looking for through our Crisis system. We believe it’s a stronger fit for bringing narrative elements, including dialogue with NPCs, into hand-crafted combat situations. We have considered the vote, but more important than the vote are the comments (not just in our forums, but on many of the community forums and articles on this topic). Your comments have helped us greatly in understanding why people have the preferences and concerns that they do.
We have decided to go with turn-based combat. Ultimately, there are no losers here. This is all part of the process of making an RPG we are all passionate about and we think you’ll like Torment’s combat even if you voted for RTwP. While we have not been looking forward to disappointing half of our backers, we were happy to find that many of the reasons people gave for disliking TB and preferring RTwP can be addressed through the details of our combat system and encounter design. I’d like to go over some of the more common comments we saw either for RTwP or against TB and explain how we will address them.
Comment #1: Turn-Based combat can be tedious
If one were to take Planescape: Torment and, changing nothing else, switch to TB combat, the result would be miserable for many. You'd be stopped midstride in every Hive back alley to perform the same boring actions on meaningless thugs and zombies.
This isn’t what we’re going to do.
Turn-based combat certainly can be tedious, but that comes down to encounter design. As we stated during the Kickstarter, Torment will have no trash mobs—those hordes of filler battles that require little thought from the player. That type of gameplay is at odds with our emphasis on the story and character development, so each Crisis in Torment will be hand-crafted. It will have narrative relevance and consequences. We'll iterate on them until each one is a quality encounter and provides the experience we seek for that moment in the game.
If any combat situation in Torment were tedious, it wouldn’t be because it's turn-based. It would be because we failed in our goal. And our Crises aren’t just combat. They contain exploration, dialogue, and time-relevant actions and events that can exist outside of combat, like pursuits, environmental puzzles, and application of special skills. You’re going to have to work throughout the game toward your goals, and the Crisis concept is a primary way that we put your intentions to the test.
We understand the importance to you of combat not being tedious. Emphasis on encounter design is important for any CRPG, but for Torment, the bar will be even higher – we believe that through well designed encounters, and extensive gameplay iteration on them, we’ll be able to address the majority of the concerns expressed by those who favored RTwP.
And there's even a choice quote from Chris Avellone himself:
"The Planescape: Torment experience was never defined by its combat. In Torment: Tides of Numenera, the combat is intended to complement both the narrative systems and the basic gameplay mechanics. It is a challenging decision for the team to make, and I respect and support their decision to choose turn-based."
-- Chris Avellone, Lead Designer of Planescape: Torment; Creative Director at Obsidian Entertainment
We’ve been hard at work on the backer beta, working through some last niggling blocker bugs to get it ready for you, and kept you updated on @wasteland2beta and the Wasteland 2 tumblr. To catch you up: it’s almost ready: We’re fully on track to put it in your hands next week!
As we’ve said before, the initial beta rollout is the first four major areas, the associated COPS maps (smaller maps), the world map and its random encounters, and character creation. As the beta progresses, we’ll roll out more areas, though we do plan to hold LA back for spoiler reasons. We’ll have more details on the beta such as remaining known issues next week, when we launch it.
With all late backer donations, we manually import pledge data roughly every 2-3 weeks, but we will ensure the database is up to date when the beta launches. The digital-only pre-order options will remain available though we may pull them too in the not too distant future, somewhere in time and space. Existing backers will still be able to upgrade, so as a backer you’ll still be able to move into a higher tier and get access to the beta later, it just won’t be available as an add-on.
We’re also progressing in other procedural matters as we get closer to beta. We’ve been testing both Steam distribution and the use of our CenterCode bug reporting site with a limited group of external testers, and both are looking good. CenterCode in particular will be instrumental to a successful backer beta run, it allows for bug reports to go directly into our system, so we can quickly and efficiently handle duplicates and assign bugs to the responsible developer. For our backers, it offers an easy-to-use, simple website that gives you direct access to providing us with not just bug reports, but also general feedback and suggestions. Depending on how things go we may launch the CenterCode site before the beta is out, to give you time to register, provide your PC info and get familiar with the site.
Keep an eye on our twitter or tumblr for more news, and expect more updates soon.
Oh, and besides that, there's also this portrait of an "old friend" from the original Wasteland:
Jaesun's favorite RPG, Final Fantasy VIII, is now available on Steam. Naturally, it also includes built-in cheats, just like the recent FF7 release, as well as the Codex's favorite feature -- Steam achievements!
It is a time of war. Galbadia, a Global Superpower, has declared war on Dollet, a country whose training academy is home to two personalities: the hot-headed Seifer and the 'lone wolf', Squall Leonhart. Both are equally at conflict with each other as their country is with Galbadia; to others, Squall appears lacking in team spirit, while Seifer lacks the discipline of his rival. However, a chance encounter with the free-spirited Rinoa Heartilly turns Squall's universe upside down; having thrived on discipline, Squall find the carefree Rinoa fascinating. He also begins to dream that he is Laguna Loire, a Galbadian army soldier…
Meanwhile, a sorceress manipulates the most powerful men in Galbadia.
Will Squall and his party succeed in defeating this maniacal sorceress and saving their world?
What part does the mysterious Laguna play? Only you can decide what happens next, as the greatest Role Playing Adventure of all time returns...
When Magic Booster is used, the player’s inventory of the following spells is increased by 100: Cure, Cura, Curaga, Fire, Fira, Blizzard, Blizzara, Thunder, Thundara, Sleep, Blind, Silence, Berserk, Bio, Esuna, Aero, Confuse, Break, Zombie. This feature can be used from the launcher.
This version of FFVIII includes the full game “Chocobo World” that was released as a separate application for previous versions. It is possible to play “Chocobo World” directly from the launcher after booting up FFVIII and by fulfilling certain specific conditions in the main game you will also be able to synchronise data between the two games.
Grab the game here if you feel like paying $11.99/12,99€ for it.
In the latest Dead StateKickstarter update, Brian Mitsoda offers a short preview of the game's upcoming playable demo, which will be called Dead State: The First Seven Days. I must say, it's starting to look pretty good.
Improved combat, improved dialogues, simultaneous zombie movement, new music and DOGS! Oh boy. Dead State: The First Seven Days is set to be released next month on Steam Early Access.
It's been a slow news week so while we're all waiting for Obsidian to launch the Project Eternity backer portal, here's a little something for you to bitch about discuss. Mansion Lord is an amusing concept currently on Kickstarter that aims to merge turn- and grid-based RPG (with character classes, stats, etc.), murder mystery, and a business management sim. It also includes class switching mechanics (!) which is the real reason why I'm posting about it at all :wizardry:.
Unfortunately it comes with "retro" pixel graphics that every other indie game seems to use these days. But oh well. I'll let the project speak for itself:
Mansion Lord combines a murder mystery business sim with tile-based world building and turn-based RPG combat. Build your mansion tile-by-tile, invite unscrupulous aristocrats to dinner, and, with the aid of your hired detectives, capture them for bounties after they slay the other guests. You can level up your detectives, equip them with hundreds of different weapons and accessories, and teach them a variety of skills. All in the name of profit!
BUILDING SYSTEM: Create your mansion one piece at a time using a grid-based tile system. Place each individual object to gain vital room bonuses to attract more guests - and for your personal sense of interior decoration, of course!
TACTICAL TURN-BASED COMBAT: Claim bounty money by defeating the killers using a grid-based combat system. Use a variety of a special skills, joint combo attacks and maneuvering (side attacks and back attacks do matter!) to take them down.
SUSPECT DATABASE SYSTEM: Each killer has a unique set of likes and dislikes - tailor your rooms to suit their preferences to lure them to your mansion! Try to draw in the most elusive suspects to complete your "collection."
RPG CHARACTER UPGRADING: Improve your stable of hired detectives by earning XP, updating their equipment, teaching them new skills, increasing their happiness with gifts, and even building them their own bedroom!
ENDLESS ROGUELIKE ENCOUNTERS: If you want to take a break from management for some old-fashioned dungeon diving, try sending your detectives into the depths of the abandoned basement levels to clear out the ghouls below. The deeper you go, the bigger the dangers (and the rewards, of course)!
SOCIAL BOND SYSTEM: Detectives with strong relationships have special abilities in combat. Strengthen their social bonds by sending them out on "dates" every now and then. Who knows what might happen when their relationship maxes out?
100% CHIPTUNE SOUNDTRACK: If it doesn't chirp, bleep, or bloop, you won't hear it in our music.
The latest KS update describes the game's character classes in more detail. Here's a snippet:
Every person in your employ belongs to a particular class. A character's class determines their distribution of stats and access to specific passive abilities. In the screenshot below, you can see that Dr. Olive is currently a level 15 Surgeon, which affords him access to the Bedside Manner and Precision Cuts abilities.
Once a character reaches level 20 in their current class, they may opt to switch to a new class while keeping any abilities they learned. A character can only remember up to 4 abilities at any given time.
Also, some classes are gender-locked. For example, a male character could never switch to the female-only Siren class shown below.
Finally, one last thing to keep in mind is that well-trained people tend to demand high salaries - so be prepared for that when they come knocking for a raise!
In the latest episode of his show, Matt Barton continues his interview with Guido Henkel. This time, the conversation revolves around the topic of Attic Entertainment's Realms of Arkania series, that Guido helped produce in the 1990s. However, there's plenty of time spent discussing topics such as Attic's early history, the lost art of game manual writing and Guido's writing career (the lack of success of which he is remarkably frank about).
The actual Realms of Arkania discussion starts at about 16:48, and focuses on the first two games in the series, describing their inspirations and origins in the German The Dark Eye pen-and-paper roleplaying game. The most interesting part is when Guido describes how the publisher, Sir-Tech Software, convinced Attic to dumb down streamline the sequel for American audiences, a move with which he seems to generally approve of.
The Kickstarter campaign for old-school turn-based RPG Lords of Xulima ended at $35,657 about a day ago, hitting three of its stretch goals - including the new world region, Enchanted Isles.
Talk about going out with a bang! Who would’ve thought all your activity and energy could spread so wildly? That your support and cheers in the comments (and everywhere else) could accomplish so much? But it did, and now we’re looking at an amazing conclusion for this exhausting, but exciting month of November.
It has been so much work, but it’s all worth it when we get to see how so many others believe in Lords of Xulima. As you might know, we only asked for contributions towards the end of the game’s development cycle, so we could get LoX into your hands as soon as possible. We promise to you that we will!
Also, there has been talk of Paypal donations post-campaign. You humble us, really, but there’s no way we can accept a donation without at least offering something in return!
The Pre-order page is up: There are 6 different editions and new 4 add-on packages to choose from, so plenty of fun shopping to do if you’re thrilled about the game or missed out on some cool perks!
We’re really working hard on our website at the moment, so I hope you’ll consider visiting from time to time. The pre-order banner is also stickied on our Kickstarter front page. Now I think the Numantian Horse is getting quite restless, and needs some sleep very soon. He’s the team Mascot, so we have to take good care of him.
We’ll be right back after the weekend, with the 35k mini-goal update! Stay tuned…
Yay! I wonder what the 35,000 "mini-goal" will be.
In a repeat performance of what happened to Wasteland 2, Larian Studios' Divinity: Original Sin, after having been delayed to 2014, has now seen its alpha release delayed as well. While there's no updated release date for the alpha (smart move, Larian), there is some good news - both the alpha and the beta will now be open to all Kickstarter backers. The update explains, in a video featuring Random Internet Celebrity #134 and Dodger, better known in these parts as That Chick From DarkUnderlord's Stupid Emoticon™:
It’s the end of November, and we said the Divinity:Original Sin alpha was going to be out in November, so where is it?
Ah, I wish I could write that it’s out now, but sadly it’s not. We still need to sort out a couple of things, so a bit more patience will be needed. How much patience? Not that much, but still a bit. We’re working really hard to get everything done and we do expect the alpha to be out before our X-mas break, but ... well maybe you want to watch the big surprise first.
The big surprise!
It’s a surprise so we won’t spoil it with text, but watch the video as it contains some good news. We hope it makes you happy! Errmmm... if you are weak of heart, don't let the title fool you
We decided on doing this a few weeks ago because we realized it would be much more beneficial to the game, but since we only decided on it, it’s going take us a bit more time to put everything in place. We are committed to getting this all sorted out before the X-mas break though and we solemnly swear to do everything we can to get it to you asap.
Backers who explicitly pledged extra for alpha/beta access can expect refunds/extra credit to be in place before X-mas too via their Larian Vault account. We hope you understand that we want to maximize the amount of people playing the game because that’s how we’ll be able to strike the best balance between all the different items, spells, skills and creatures.
We will also be reaching out to backers who need to get their items, npcs, dialogs, object combinations or looks in the game in the coming weeks as we’re finally ready to implement those so expect some mail if any of these were included in your pledge.
Nice. A prelude to putting the game on Steam Early Access, perhaps? I just hope the game itself isn't delayed too. At least not for too long.