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Fri 16 November 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 16 November 2018, 02:51:48

Tags: Ceres Games; Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen

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The Realms Beyond Kickstarter successfully concluded today, having raised €120,709 from 2,653 backers. The community really came together in the final hours, busting through the second & third stretch goals and securing the participation of writers Casey Hollingshead & Scott Hamm and composer Kai Rosenkranz. Here's the victory update from Ceres:


Phew, what a month! Those last thirty campaign days have been a proper rollercoaster ride and felt more like half a year. But losing sleep, going a bit more grey and not seeing much of the world outside has all been worth it. The show of your support just knocked our socks off!
We’re lost for words to thank everyone. We’ve said it so many times, but can’t really repeat it often enough: THANKS!

Without all the 2648 backers from the US, Germany, UK, Canada, France, Australia, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Belgium, China and many, many more countries, nothing would have happened. But with all of you, this campaign has been a resounding success! We still can’t believe that the campaign has been funded 120%. It was fully funded three days ago and we smashed three stretch goals! We’re more than excited to get stuck in to carry on working with our team, including Edwin Pickett and the people at OnlySound, and of course with Francesca on the map, Casey and Scott on the writing and Kai on additional sound tracks.

All your comments, questions and feedback have been invaluable.
Now begins the long wait for the combat beta, early access and final release. I'm told that there are more updates planned that Ceres didn't have time to get to during the campaign, but in the immediate term, they intend to set up a Backerkit site so that people can continue pledging. Maybe we can still get that Monk stretch goal at some point.

There are 10 comments on Realms Beyond Kickstarter campaign concludes, three stretch goals achieved

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 16 November 2018, 02:07:54

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

Ctrl Alt Ninja have finally released a trailer for Druidstone, and we didn't even have to wait until Christmas! As its shiny new Steam page reveals, the game is due out in Spring 2019. There are also details about its story, gameplay and inspirations. I quote:

The druids of the Menhir Forest are troubled. Not only has the Archdruid disappeared, a darkness in the form of purple cysts has fallen upon the forest. It is up to Aava, the daughter of the Archdruid and her new-found companions Leonhard, a mysterious man with no past, and Oiko the mage, a dropout from the guild of Red Priests, to rescue the Archdruid and find out the truth behind the sinister events. As if this wasn't enough, a murderous maniac impersonating Leonhard is at loose in the forest....

Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forest is a labor of love from the makers of the critically acclaimed Legend of Grimrock series. Druidstone is a tactical, single-player, turn-based roleplaying game, which combines the best qualities of modern RPGs with the elegance of tactical boardgames. Every action, every turn counts as you control your party of heroes through handcrafted, challenging missions with varying objectives.

Druidstone is set in a unique fantasy world, Elo Sphaera, filled with ancient, lush forests, standing stones, snow-topped mountains, deadly creatures and puzzle-ridden ruins. The epic story about love and death is centered around the main characters Leonhard, Aava and Oiko, who will along the way meet up with unexpected companions and villains, each with their unique personalities and abilities.

Get ready to venture forth and uncover the secrets of the Menhir Forest!

Key Features
  • A tactical turn- and tile-based battle system where every action, every turn counts.
  • Upgrade the abilities of your heroes as you see fit using power gems obtained by completing missions and discovering hidden treasures.
  • Challenging, hand-crafted missions with playtimes ranging from 15 minutes to 45 minutes.
  • Solve devious non-combat puzzle levels to obtain rare equipment.
  • A gripping, fantastic story of love and death centered around the main characters Leonhard, Aava and Oiko.
  • A unique fantasy setting combining elements from western RPGs, JRPGs and tactical boardgames in unexpected ways.
  • Play custom missions created by others or make your own campaigns with the upcoming Druidstone Level Editor available as a post release update.
Looks pretty slick. Sort of like Divinity: Original Sin meets JRPGs. I know lots of people will appreciate those fast animations.

There are 28 comments on Druidstone gets its first trailer, coming Spring 2019

Company News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 16 November 2018, 01:32:51

Tags: Expeditions: Conquistador; Expeditions: Viking; Logic Artists; THQ Nordic

The consolidation of the RPG industry continues! IP-gobbling publisher THQ Nordic announced today that they'd acquired Logic Artist's Expeditions franchise. They'll be publishing the next game in the series, to be revealed "in due time". Here's their brief press release:

Karlstad/SWEDEN, Vienna/AUSTRIA, Copenhagen/DENMARK, November 15, 2018: THQ Nordic today announced that the acquisition of the intellectual property “Expeditions:...” has been finalized with Logic Artists, based in Copenhagen, Denmark. The deal comprises of “Expeditions: Conquistador” and “Expeditions: Viking” and its respective DLCs. Furthermore, Logic Artists and THQ Nordic have agreed to start development of a third game within the “Expeditions:”-Universe. More information will be announced in due time.

The acquisition itself is being handled by THQ Nordic AB, based in Karlstad, Sweden, and daily operations (sales and distribution, evaluation of sequels & new content etc.) will be done via THQ Nordic GmbH in Vienna, Austria.​

Expeditions: Viking was criminally underrated, so I'm happy Logic Artists will have another shot at making their mark. The studio itself appears to be remaining independent.

There are 28 comments on THQ Nordic has acquired the Expeditions franchise, third game confirmed

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Thu 15 November 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 15 November 2018, 23:47:14

Tags: OtherSide Entertainment; Underworld Ascendant

Nearly four and a half years after it was first announced, Underworld Ascendant was finally released today, with more of a whimper than a bang. This game's development is truly one of the most shameful events of the Kickstarter era. It's one thing when a group of respected developers from the old days (and there are few who were more respected than this bunch) fail to recreate the magic and come out with a disappointing game. God knows we've seen plenty of that. It's quite another thing when they reveal themselves to have had no idea how to even make a game.

To be sure, Ascendant is janky, buggy and incomplete, but its real problem is quantity rather than quality. It's been cut down to the absolute minimum. With enough patching, its gameplay could perhaps become acceptable, but we didn't need to bring Paul Neurath and Tim Stellmach out of retirement to create what is basically an Early Access indie dungeon survival game of the sort that three-man teams from Eastern Europe release on Steam every week. Frankly, it's kind of hard to believe that the game even exists. It's the sort of project that's supposed to get cancelled and rebooted before ever seeing the light of day. The really sad thing, though, is that there aren't enough people who care to have even made much of a fuss about it.

Naturally, there are no reviews of the game, only a flurry of interviews with Warren Spector and a few "sponsored" previews on YouTube. It won't be long before the fun begins, though. If for some reason you'd like to experience it first-hand, Ascendant is available on Steam for $30 with a 15% launch discount until next week. Apparently GOG have refused to stock the game, which really tells you all you need to know.

There are 126 comments on Underworld Ascendant Released

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Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 15 November 2018, 00:19:51

Tags: Ceres Games; Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen

The Realms Beyond Kickstarter campaign is in its final 24 hours. Yesterday it reached the world map stretch goal and the writing team stretch goal looks like a sure thing. It doesn't look like Ceres are building up towards a big conclusion, though. Today's Kickstarter update brings us more lore. This time it's about Kvenland, the totally-not-Scandinavia of the Realms Beyond world. Kvenland is inhabited by four tribes - the mercantile Vadians, the rustic Vestani, the warlike Gauds and the piratical Vresians. I'll let you figure out which real-life ethnic groups they correspond to.


At the southern shore of lake Kallvatn, right in the heart of Kvenland, at a point where several rivers convene, a trading post named Vadaheim was built. After the Great Cataclysm, the sky had darkened for several years and the cold north missed out on a couple of summers. This led to large masses of ice forming in the mountains, and once the climate normalized the ice melted and raised the water level of the lake, flooding parts of Vadaheim. An enterprising people, not willing to give up their city and stop their profitable trading operations, the Vadians converted their ships into rudimentary homes. Still today many of them live in house-boats and use these mobile homes on their mercantile journeys, traveling down the rivers with their entire families. Most Vadians are in the service of one of the two powerful families ruling the city of Vadaheim. Those who live in the town are better off joining one of the two families than staying neutral – which risks attracting the wrath of both the Ingvarsons and the Grimharsons. For independence is only an option for those who can assert it. But since the long-running feud between the two houses had adverse effects on commerce, they agreed to an armistice and divided the city amongst themselves. But if there is an opportunity to siphon the other family’s profits into their own pockets, they always take it – there may be an armistice between them, but in business, everything is allowed.

A common saying among the Vadians is, "By Valon’s golden apples!" which is an expression of surprise over an unexpectedly profitable business transaction that pulled more gold out of their customer’s pocket than they anticipated.


The Veštani are a peaceful people who value a honest heart over a sharp sword – for which they have little use, anyway, as they prefer to use spear and shield in combat.

Around the village Kvilu, which is located at the eastern end of the Lurking Forest, they herd their flocks of sheep and till the earth of their fields in peace. Their evenings they spend in community, listening to the music of the flute and stories of strange creatures and ominous events, which might stem from their tendency for superstition which their priests can only shake their heads over, try as they might, they cannot drive it out of them. It might be encouraged by their elders, whom they highly respect, as they warn the younger generations of all the dangers lurking in the depths of the forest, amongst the shadows of the trees.

But Kvilu is not as peaceful as it may seem, as the Veštani regularly fall victim to raids of the Gauds, a tribe they share a bitter enmity with.

But voices of reason no longer manage to calm those who lost their loved ones and their homes to the Gaudian raids. Especially the younger generations either support an escalation of the conflict to strike back at the hated enemy in force, or think of leaving their homes for greener pastures. From Vadian merchants they heard stories of prosperous towns and lives without hardship beyond the forests of Kvenland, and now grow weary of the simple and uncertain life in Kvilu.


The Gauds are known as the most feared and remorseless warriors of Kvenland, settled in the rough lands to the north of the great lake. Ever since he had slain a dragon on the mountain of Dauganrög, they worship their king almost as a god. After his heroic deed the Gauds hailed King Odulf’s under his new name – Sigimer the Dragonslayer. Together with his retinue he founded the town of Güldinheim, which today has become the most important city of the Gauds.

The king’s treasury is filled to the brim with all kinds of riches, but also with plenty of curiosities – a collection he constantly seeks to expand. He is especially fond of artifacts from a long extinct tribe, whose king Hodar, for whose exploits there are no sources but the songs of bards, is said to have ruled the entirety of Kvenland and even projected the power of his kingdom deep into the lands of Cormac. This legendary king is, to Sigimer, an example to follow. He wants to forge a kingdom to rival Hodar‘s, and he is ready to ally with the Vresians and mercenaries of Vadaheim to take the rich lands of Cormac’s north under his control. But he will never make peace with the Veštani, as his son Sigurt lost his life on a cattle raid against them. Had he the resources for it, he would long ago have marched against Kvilu to raze it to the ground. But the day will come when his wrath will triumph over the worldly concerns of logistics, and for this day he is already prepared.

Even his daughter Siglind he kept from a woman’s comfortable life of home and marriage, so her sword would always be ready for war and not dulled by the need to care for offspring. So he declared her to be a sword maiden, and any men who dare touch her will be condemned to death by stoning.


On a northern bay of the Galtan Sea, Vindeborg sits as the largest town of Kvenland as well as the most important settlement of the Vresians, who are known to be excellent shipwrights and seafarers as well as fearless explorers. The fishermen not only set out to drag their nets through the deep waters, but add to their catch by raiding and looting other ships. Their reputation of engaging in piracy is widespread and almost sealed their fate 200 years ago. Too long they provoked Cormac on the waters, which culminated in a crushing blow against their tribe. Once, they had reveled in their independence, their leaders chosen by election and ready to step down whenever the people grew unhappy with their rule; following this horrible defeat, they put their fate into the hands of the most charismatic among them. Unnar Usbek became the first king of the Vresians and swore on the ruins of old Vindeborg to take revenge on the Cormacian attackers, even if it took generations to pay them back for what they did.

Ever since, the Vresians have worked at erecting an impregnable fortress and training a formidable fighting force to bring the fire of vengeance against Cormac’s shores. They suffered a major setback thanks to the Great Cataclysm, but Bjar Rabek, the most influential advisor of king Hjör, claims that the time has come to make true the promise of the forefathers. He feels obligated to fulfill the old oath of vengeance, whereas the people are fearful of a war they consider to be hopeless, while a longing for the old freedom spreads through their hearts, symbolized by a white albatross – the animal that adorned the Vresian banners before they had a king, and which has now become a call for open resistance, scrawled on the walls in white chalk.
Check out the full update for three new screenhots and a fun little parable about Valon, the Vadian god of merchants, which I didn't have room to include here.

There are 3 comments on Realms Beyond Kickstarter Update #15: Lore Update #4 - Kvenland

Mon 12 November 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 12 November 2018, 22:53:52

Tags: Ceres Games; Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen

As expected, the Realms Beyond Kickstarter campaign reached its funding goal today, with three days left to go. With nothing to lose, Ceres have revealed two additional stretch goals. The first goal should be particularly exciting for the Euro-connoisseurs among us. If the campaign manages to raise €120,000, famed Piranha Bytes composer Kai Rosenkranz will contribute three tracks to Realms Beyond's soundtrack. The second one is more traditional. At €140,000, Ceres will add the Monk class to the game.

[​IMG] [​IMG]
How many stretch goals will they will be able to make in three days? The world map goal is a sure thing. If they make it to the writing team goal, it's just an additional €5,000 for Kai Rosenkranz. Seems doable.

There are 39 comments on Realms Beyond Kickstarter Update #14: Funded! Kai Rosenkranz and Monk Class Stretch Goals

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 12 November 2018, 01:01:38

Tags: Ceres Games; Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen

Another weekend has passed and Realms Beyond is now on the verge of reaching its funding goal. Before that happens, Ceres have one last fun little Kickstarter update for us. What's an RPG without a few minigames? In the taverns of Realms Beyond, players will be able to play cards and dice as well as compete in underground pit fights. The update explains:


Pub Games

At sunset, you and your companions finally arrive in Bridgewater, a famous hub of trade and other, less honest forms of business. Milling amongst the crowds of merchants and citizens, beggars and cut-throats, you slowly wander through the town's narrow alleyways towards the Merry Hangman Inn, in a district of town known for its pleasures – many of them illicit. You enter the tavern in search for a hearty meal, a warm hearth, and some merry entertainment to lift up your spirits.

As anticipated, you find the place is bursting with laughter, singing and cheer as you enter. The smell of good food and beer, and the sound of merry fiddles and happy folk songs out of tune, quickly overwhelm your senses. As some of your companions proceed directly to their rooms in the second floor, longing for a good bed after the strenuous journey, you manage to spot a small empty table in the far corner. When you finally make your way through the crowd of drunken patrons, the tavern maid brings you a battered pewter mug, and asks you with a smile: “Care for a Game?”

Games to spend your hard-earned coin on

Every adventurer needs some time to relax after a long day, and Realms Beyond offers you plenty of games to pass the time with when you return to town after an exhausting adventure. Cards, dice, pit-fighting and axe-throwing are just some of the many activities your adventurers can take part in, trying their luck or skill against NPCs and even wagering some money on their success.

If you’re on good terms with some tavernkeepers or have some coin to spare, who knows… they might even let you prove what you're made of in their underground fighting clubs (no arms, no armor, no spells – only fists and the cheering roars of the crowd).

But be careful with your money – many an adventurer has lost the riches he gained during the day in the games of dice he chose to play at night. If you are clever, though, success at gambling is not only a matter of luck. A character with a high skill at bluffing will be an excellent card player, while a dexterous rogue with sleight of hand can attempt to cheat at dice. But beware! If caught cheating, you might be dragged into a fistfight, and once the guards arrive the cheater is the one who has to pay the fine.

You may even catch goblins playing a game of dice in the dungeon, and if you don’t attack them right away, you may even join in! They are, after all, not the smartest creatures nor the most vigilant guards.
The update also features a brief description of Realms Beyond's voice set functionality, which is pretty standard. It includes a sample audio recording of several barks, voiced by professional voice actor Stephen Chatfield. Just covering all the bases, I guess.

There are 9 comments on Realms Beyond Kickstarter Update #13: Pub Games and Voice Sets

Sun 11 November 2018

Company News - posted by Infinitron on Sun 11 November 2018, 01:40:38

Tags: Brian Fargo; Carrie Patel; Chris Parker; Feargus Urquhart; InXile Entertainment; Josh Sawyer; Leonard Boyarsky; Megan Starks; Microsoft; Mikey Dowling; Obsidian Entertainment; Tim Cain

Sometimes rumors turn out to be true, and sometimes the truth turns out to be stranger than any rumor. Today at the X018 event in Mexico City, Microsoft announced their acquisition of both Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment. Both studios have released videos to explain the news to their fans, promising bigger budgets and creative freedom. I'll post them along with Microsoft's official newspost:

As part of our commitment to bringing a steady stream of new, exclusive games to our fans, I’m excited to announce Microsoft’s intent to acquire two new game development studios – Obsidian Entertainment and inXile Entertainment.

Obsidian Entertainment was founded in 2003 in Irvine, Calif. by industry veterans from Black Isle Studios, led by Feargus Urquhart. The studio quickly made a name for itself with the Xbox exclusive Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords. Over the last fifteen years, they have delivered genre-defining RPGs to players on both console and PC through titles including Fallout: New Vegas, South Park: The Stick of Truth, and Pillars of Eternity.

inXile Entertainment is a team of industry veterans with decades of PC and RPG expertise. Led by Interplay founder Brian Fargo, inXile’s two development teams in Newport Beach, Calif. and New Orleans excel at creating vast worlds for players to explore with titles such as Wasteland 2, Torment: Tides of Numenera, Bard’s Tale IV and the upcoming Wasteland 3.

It was important for us to find studio partners who have strong creative visions, a mastery of their medium and are expert world-builders. Obsidian and inXile embody all of these qualities while also bringing expertise on the PC platform and a unique RPG focus to the table.

While they do share a common heritage, the two creative teams at Obsidian and inXile are very different. They will continue to operate autonomously with their unique talents, IP and expertise. As part of Microsoft Studios, Obsidian and inXile will have the support and freedom to fully realize their creative ambitions on both existing franchises and new RPG projects.

Together, the two new studios bolster Microsoft Studios to now include 13 distinct and diverse game development teams. We’re focused on implementing new Microsoft technologies, delivering content for new platforms and services like Xbox Game Pass, and creating exclusive games that turn players into loyal Xbox fans. We are committed to expanding the Microsoft Studios franchises players already love, and investing in new, exclusive content for every type of gamer.

It is a genuine pleasure to welcome Obsidian and inXile to the growing Microsoft Studios team and work with them to deliver bigger and more ambitious games for their fans. I’m excited to see the teams maximize their potential at Microsoft and can’t wait for what the future has in store.
I guess this is particularly good news for Wasteland 3, which will now have the budget to become a viable post-apocalyptic competitor to the Divinity: Original Sin series. What it means for Obsidian's still-unannounced game with Take-Two Interactive is still unclear. Perhaps that will be the division of labor going forward, with inXile continuing to develop niche titles while Obsidian returns to their big budget roots. Whatever happens, it's safe to say that the six and a half year era of crowdfunded "AA" RPGs is officially over. Who would have believed that Interplay would be reforged under the Microsoft umbrella? Maybe they should grab the Black Isle trademark from Herve Caen while they're at it.

There are 249 comments on RPGPOCALYPSE: Obsidian and inXile have been acquired by Microsoft

Sat 10 November 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 10 November 2018, 01:44:11

Tags: Colony Ship; Iron Tower Studio; Vince D. Weller

It's been so long since Vault Dweller talked about Colony Ship's skills that I'd almost forgotten that he'd decided to employ a learn-by-use system. It was a somewhat controversial decision not to stick with a more classic level-up system, but we knew that he had plans to ensure that it wasn't exploitable. This month's development update explains in detail how he achieved that goal, skill by skill. First of all though, we've got some new images of the Pit. They're animated GIFs, so I guess that's one step closer to actual gameplay footage. The game's art direction seems to be coming together nicely.

[​IMG] [​IMG]

Combat skills

Weapon skills – increase your to-hit chance by 10% per rank.
Evasion – reduces the enemy’s to-hit chance with guns by 5% per rank, with melee by 10% per rank.
Armor – reduces armor penalties by 10% per rank.
Critical Strike – increases your chance to score a critical hit by 5% per rank

Our goal here is to raise skills you’re using the most, ideally reinforcing your gameplay style, while eliminating all possible exploits to raise skill fast. Here is the design overview:

XP – experience points that go toward increasing your character level and gaining feats
LP - learning points that go toward increasing your skill level
  • Each attack that does X points of damage gives you X learning points multiplied by the enemy-specific modifier; the points go to the skill matching the weapon used. So if you hit an enemy for 8 points of damage and the modifier reflecting the enemy’s type is 1.5, you get 12 learning points.
  • Each critical strike gives the character who scored it 10+[critical damage] lp, so if you critically hits enemy for 17 points of damage, he gains 27lp. Certain weapon and attack types increase your CS chance and/or CS damage multiplier, so to put things in perspective, if you play a Riddick like character your CS skill will be much higher than if you play a Conan like character.
  • Evasion & Armor. This is where it gets a bit tricky as we have to limit exploits (the obvious one would be rotating your characters while letting the last remaining enemy to attack them to milk every last drop of LP). Each enemy will have a pool of learning points (i.e. what you can learn about defensive skills while fighting this enemy). Once the pool is depleted, the lesson is over. The points can go to one character or split evenly, based on how you fight. The frontliners will get the highest share while your sniper will learn very little or nothing at all.
  • Evasion: When the enemy targets your character and misses, that character gains 5 lp x the modifier until the above mentioned LP pool is depleted.
  • Armor: When the enemy hits your party member, that character gains learning points equal to damage resisted by the armor until the pool is depleted, so the heavier the armor the faster you’d develop the skill. Keep in mind that the pool is the same for both Evasion and Armor, so which skills gain learning points depends on which characters will be targeted first and whether the enemies hit or miss.
  • Each fight gives your party Y xp that's divided between the party members, so if you have 4 guys and you got 100 xp after a fight, each gets 25xp; if you have 2 guys, each gets 50xp. You’d gain most XP from solving quests though.
Read the rest of the update to learn how the game will handle science skills (Medical, Mechanics, Electronics), stealth skills (Lockpicking, Hacking, Sneaking) and speech skills (Persuasion, Streetwise, Impersonate). It's well thought out, and should give you an idea of the sorts of things you'll be doing onboard the colony ship.

There are 12 comments on Colony Ship Update #32: Skills & Learning By Use

Fri 9 November 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 9 November 2018, 23:45:36

Tags: Ceres Games; Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen

The latest Realms Beyond Kickstarter update gives us a look at the game's toolset - namely its map editor and dialogue editor. The update was originally labelled as a micro-update, but changing it was the right thing to do because there's nothing "micro" about this. The toolset appears to be quite powerful and easy to use, and will be released to the public alongside the game, allowing players to create their own campaigns. Watch the video:

In today's update we will show you a little preview video of our editing tools, which will be shipped along with the game as mod tools, so you can create your own scenarios and campaigns.

Our map editor allows you to texture and modify the landscape, place objects and effects, set the lighting and place creatures and NPCs on the map. It's a powerful editor which gives you a lot of options, but the map building process is quick and easy to learn.

The dialogue editor is just as easy to use and just as powerful. Easily write different conversation nodes and connect them with a click of your mouse. Add conditions to the different dialogue options, making them only available to certain classes or races. Or make them dependent on the player character's gender, or a certain skill or stat. With the dialog editor's script calls, you can implement a large variety of condition checks, and you can have NPCs react in different ways to the player's dialogue choices.

We use AngelScript as a scripting language, which is an object-oriented language based on the syntax of C++. This allows you to create all kinds of interesting scripts to spice up your campaign with the custom scenes you want it to have.

Realms Beyond provides you with powerful modding tools that are easy to learn and allow for quick and efficient mapping and dialogue scripting once you are familiar with them.
In other news, Ceres have collected four virtual beer mugs and reached their first social media stretch goal, which means everybody gets the game's digital art book. Doesn't seem like they'll have time to reach the second one though.

There are 8 comments on Realms Beyond Kickstarter Update #12: Modding Tools Preview

Thu 8 November 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 8 November 2018, 01:57:40

Tags: Ceres Games; Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen

Today's Realms Beyond Kickstarter update introduces the region of the game world known as The Wildlands. It's an orc-infested no man's land, fallen to savagery after the Great Cataclysm and contested by three squabbling pretender kingdoms. Plus there are the tribes of refugees from nearby Pshent, a land overrun by the undead. The player will get to choose which of these factions he wants to side with - one of the three kingdoms, the refugees or even the orcs. Here's an excerpt from the update:

[​IMG] [​IMG]

The Wildlands are one of the most turbulent and unstable areas in Argea. It is a region of numerous different cultures, as humans from all corners of the world came to settle there after the local kingdoms had collapsed and fallen. A land of opportunity, with the riches of the past and abundant natural resources rife for the taking. After centuries of conflict, collaboration, and consolidation, the Wildlands had become a relatively stable region attracting merchants, adventurers and researchers from all across Argea.

But the Great Cataclysm changed everything. Even though the region was spared from volcanic activity, massive earthquakes leveled the major cities and left the survivors with half-collapsed piles of rubble to live in. A large part of the population returned to the lands their ancestors had come from, leaving their ruined homes behind. But those who stayed were not left to rebuild in peace: from the south, orcish hordes pushed into the Wildlands, forcing the humans to take up arms and defend themselves.

This common threat could have united the people of the Wildlands, but instead the vacuum of power left by the collapse caused by the Great Cataclysm led to the rise of three pretender kings fighting over who gets to rule what’s left of this once-prosperous region. Amidst this chaos, the chieftains of the tribes of Pshent, who fled from the destruction of their homeland, have sworn to stay neutral. A difficult stance in a region consumed by a war with so many different sides.

To the southwest, at the border between the Wildlands and what used to be Pshent, only the city of Khuft remains as the last remnant of a once great kingdom. Threatened by the hordes of undead that overran their homeland, more and more Pshentians leave Khuft to seek a better fortune in the Wildlands. Yet all they do is trade one threat against another.

Needless to say, adventurers and mercenaries will find many opportunities for employment in this region. Will you support one of the three pretender kings, help the tribes of Pshent protect their independence, or even join the orcish raiding parties as they push deeper into human lands?

Kalgerth is the strongest of the three pretenders, or at least that’s what he likes to claim. He is seated in the city of Antir, the only city in the Wildlands whose walls are still mostly intact. Holding it gives him more legitimacy than his rivals, but his claims to be the de-facto ruler of the Wildlands are just that – claims. He doesn’t even unite half the population under his rule, and he is too indecisive a ruler to bring more villages under his control. He may have the most solid base for kingship among all three pretenders, but unless he adopts a more bold strategy, his opponents may soon outmaneuver him.

What Marek lacks in territory, he makes up for with a fierce army and ruthless command. He may not control as many villages as Kalgerth or Naraya, nor does he have a city as strong as Antir as the seat of his power, but he has plenty of swords and knows how to use them. He wages a ruthless guerrilla war against Kalgerth, ambushing patrols of his soldiers, and occupies villages so their population has no choice but to accept him as their rightful king. His methods may be effective, but they do not win him much support among the common populace.

Naraya is known for being an eccentric ruler who cares little about warfare and stays mostly out of the conflict between Kalgerth and Marek. Once, she had invited a cobbler from far Pyrrhenia to fashion sandals like Mirvala’s for her, but sent him away again when he didn’t bring her flowers as a gift. She considered it disrespectful of him to not arrive with a gift, and what better gift for a queen of her beauty than a beautiful bouquet of blooming flowers? Despite her eccentricity, her territory is prosperous, as neither Kalgerth nor Marek consider her a serious contender to their kingship. And yet she is far from weak, with well-equipped troops guarding her borders.

The tribes of Pshent have declared their neutrality in the conflict, but chieftess Duniba knows it cannot last. She wants to unite the different tribes under one banner to defend their independence against the pretender kings, who want to win them over to their cause and involve them in pointless fighting. But the tribes are too reluctant, too adamant in their neutrality. She fears it may need a catastrophe to convince the other tribes of joining her cause, but she still hopes the people of Pshent will realize the need for a strong leadership before it is too late. Of course, she only wishes to lead for the good of her people, not for personal ambitions…
To make things even more interesting, the Wildlands are also the site of the ancient fallen empire of Virduris. The region is dotted with Virdurian ruins, some of which were excavated by researchers from neighboring kingdoms before the Great Cataclysm. It certainly sounds like the game's most ambitious area. Perhaps that's why they saved it for last.

There are 15 comments on Realms Beyond Kickstarter Update #11: Lore Update #3 - The Wildlands and Virduris

Tue 6 November 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 6 November 2018, 01:49:06

Tags: Ceres Games; Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen

As the Kickstarter campaign closes in on 80%, it's time for another Realms Beyond gameplay update. The topic is the game's world map travel layer and camping system. It's something Ceres have discussed before in one of their early blog updates, but the addition of an in-game screenshot makes it much more concrete.


The world of Argea is vast and full of wonders. While exploring the world map, your group of companions will travel through lush forests, climb magnificent mountain ranges, trek through arid deserts and treacherous swamps, and even sail to long forgotten isles. Your adventures will carry you far and wide, either on the soles of your feet or on horse’s back.

But travel is not an easy task: your adventurers will get tired, hungry, thirsty, and fed up with the monotony of the road during a long journey. Your wizard will have to rest to restore his magical power, your cleric will have to meditate upon his faith; and most of all, after a long day of traveling your entire party wants to take off their sweaty clothes and heavy armor, sit down around the campfire, enjoy a hearty meal and end the day with a game of dice or cards while listening to their musically skilled companion play his lute.

When you’re exhausted after days of travel but still far away from the nearest inn, when you’re lost in the freezing north and need to warm your cold limbs, when the heat of the desert makes you want to wait until nightfall to continue – you set up camp and allow your party to have some well-deserved rest. A campsite can be put up anywhere in the wilderness, but not every location offers the same comforts.

Aside from the elementary feature of resting to recover spells and heal wounds, in Realms Beyond your party members will be able to use the camping time to cook and eat, chat and play games to relax, go hunting and fishing, forage for berries, mushrooms and herbs, treat their wounds, craft potions or identify items, scribe scrolls, and even make music around the campfire. The chances of a successful hunt or finding ingredients in the wilderness depend on the environment, however – you won’t find many plants in the desert, and wildlife is more abundant in woodlands than on the plains.

Camping isn’t without its dangers, either. Hostile groups or natural predators might assault your camp while you sleep, and if you are ill-prepared for the weather, your characters might catch a cold or worse. But camping in the hostile wilderness is a necessary risk to take, because the longer you travel the more it tires out your characters and the more it consumes your adventuring supplies. Eventually, your party will become exhausted, your supplies will run out and you’ll risk starvation and dehydration. Camping lets you rest and take some time to gather food and water from your surroundings.

In order to make your camp a little safer and more comfortable, you can stock up on camping equipment in town before you set out into the wilderness. A kettle for cooking, blankets to keep you warm while you sleep, a boardgame and a musical instrument to serve as entertainment. Camping in Realms Beyond is a game of resource management: you have to weigh the dangers of resting in an unknown area (and risking an ambush, or worse) against the downsides of forcing your party to press on. It adds just one more issue to the list of things you will need to consider before leaving town and setting off to unknown territory.

The equipment and supplies you need to bring with you largely depend on the area you want to journey through. Proper footwear, warm cloaks and a couple of blankets are almost a necessity in the frozen wilderness of the north, and taking additional firewood along isn’t a bad idea, either. In the desert, you should take a few additional waterskins along, as water is scarce and the heat is parching. When and where to rest is always an important decision, too: in the desert, it might make more sense to rest during the day and travel during the night, when it is cooler. If your party is already tired but you know there’s a river a few miles ahead that would be perfect for fishing, it might make sense to press on to get a reliable opportunity to stock up your supplies.

Sometimes, however, you might also wish to rest while you’re exploring a dungeon. Your casters have spent all their magical energy and have no spell slots left, your fighters are wounded and you doubt you could make it through another fight. But resting in a hallway patrolled by monsters isn’t the best idea. Within dungeons, you can only rest at pre-determined resting spots placed in sensible locations by our level designers. These work in a similar way to Dark Sun: Shattered Lands and Knights of the Chalice. Some dungeons might not offer you a resting spot at all, forcing you to carefully manage your limited resources until you get through them. Others might offer you a resting spot close to the entrance, so you can rest before every encounter. This system of resting in dungeons allows us to craft varied and diverse dungeon experiences that all play differently.
Good stuff as always, and kudos to Ceres for acting quickly on our advice.

There are 16 comments on Realms Beyond Kickstarter Update #10: Camping and Survival

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Tue 6 November 2018, 00:40:56

Tags: OtherSide Entertainment; Underworld Ascendant

The beleaguered Underworld Ascendant comes out in ten days and OtherSide are doing their best to give it a good sendoff. The launch trailer released today looks fairly polished, although it can't hide how limited an experience the game ultimately is.

Alongside the trailer, several websites have published previews of Ascendant with a good amount of detail about its mechanics. They're much more positive in nature than the E3 build previews from earlier this year, though the previewers all seem to be unaware that the factions of the Abyss won't actually physically exist in the game. Here are the links:

OtherSide would also like you to know about their launch week bonus items, which you can read about on Ascendant's updated Steam page. We don't care much about that stuff, but apparently Kickstarter backers will receive better versions of those.

There are 28 comments on Underworld Ascendant Launch Trailer and Previews

Sun 4 November 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sun 4 November 2018, 19:18:41

Tags: Copper Dreams; Whalenought Studios

After numerous delays, today Whalenought Studios finally released the Copper Dreams alpha build to eligible backers. The accompanying Kickstarter update has some details about what players can expect. It sounds like the alpha is still a bit rough, but the plan is to continue updating it over the next couple of weeks. I'll post the text of the update here, but first the release trailer:

We wanted to let you know that your builds in Steam have been updated with the first alpha version for testing!

Do expect bugginess. This is a work in progress. Consider this access to feature additions and our bi-nightly builds of squashing all the bugs you'll see.

After designing the tick/tile system with the microtiles, we threw everything we could into it that was part of the original design of the game. Now that it's all in, or at least the fundamentals, it's time to start cleaning it all up on our end and get feedback from yours. The gameplay bugs need a lot more passes while we prep it for the beta (the actual start of the game) release, but if you'd like to follow along with the remainder of fixing things up and provide any feedback now's the time!

Update 1.01

We had pushed this out earlier yesterday, but have done a small patch since which fixed an ongoing issue with the gameplay around picking up and arranging items.

[1.01 Update notes here]

The alpha map is a small example map just to test some mechanics. You’ll start over on death to make that simple, or can retry upon success. Some of these early test maps like this we had done were a little more wild in terms of structure placement and navigation, so expect a little clunkiness getting around. The next map and mission for the alpha we put up will be a variation of newer ones, which are more blocky and fit more rigidly to the microtiles for easier horizontal and vertical navigation. Expect that 1.02 update Monday.

These have been the primary goals we've been working toward making play nicely together since we launched the Kickstarter. We created a micro-turn based global world simulation with the ticks&tiles system, resulting in a much more concise, less abstract way to utilize a turn based roleplaying model. It's pretty groovy and we're very proud of what it is and what it can become — this alpha should hopefully show the fundamentals at work, if anything.

Working on Movement

Right now we're still smoothening out how things move on the tiles, and you'll notice some characters sort of popping around. Originally everything acted like pawns and just snapped tile-to-tile while they moved, which was easy to make sure everything was working properly, but now they have animations to blend between those tile locations. Sometimes that visually works great, others times they can look like they are possessed. This is something that could use some work to make things clear, as weird movement and animations can really dampen the mood. We're working on that, as well as other numerous bugs for 1.1.

There is one game mode and map available, and the rest will unlock the following two weeks, starting Monday. Other alpha maps will focus on other gameplay or ruleset elements that we will be finishing the last things on and putting in for them.

We’ll be posting our short-term timeline there so you can know when to expect new modes and features to be included for testing. You'll also get to choose what feature we'll work on for a big milestone: companions or character generation. We're almost done with both of them, so once we get what we need for 2.0 we'll finish one of those up!

Things should be moving a lot quicker now, and we’re looking forward to your feedback. Thank you again for your patience and support to make something new and awesome, we always appreciate it.
It looks like not many people have alpha access, but some Codex impressions are available here. Hopefully some gameplay footage will show up on YouTube soon.

There are 18 comments on Copper Dreams Kickstarter Update #23: Alpha Released

Sat 3 November 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 3 November 2018, 02:02:13

Tags: Ceres Games; Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen

After taking a few days off, the Realms Beyond Kickstarter campaign is back in action with a new lore update. This time we're getting a glimpse at the Celtic-inspired Kingdom of Cormac. The twist is that it's viewed entirely from the perspective of an antagonistic, Durance-like cult preacher. Judging by the number of locations described in detail, it would seem that Cormac is a more central location in the game compared to Pyrrhenia. You can see them all on the regional map included in the update. Note the presence of the city-state of Villenia in the southwest corner.

The gods are dead. Peace upon their virtues.

I was present when Rethgard burned and ash suffocated all cries for help. I witnessed the fall of Caer Pedryvan, long before it fell to the besiegers’ assaults. I listened to prayers lost in the wind, until hunger forced the godsforsaken to feast on their dead. I called to freedom all those doomed souls incarcerated by fear in Eastgate’s walls, hoping the fortress’s stone would keep the disease at bay that crawled out of the Dustmoor as Midlandshire’s righteous scourge. Do you hear the wailing? And the curses of those who had faith in your virtues? The day will come on which "The Black Hand" shall tear down the decrepit fortress and tear out the throats of those who put spoiled corn and rotten meat in the bowls of their brothers and sisters. Hear the wailings arise from Eastgate, while they joyfully watch martial games in Medcaut! They feast above the corpses of those slain for the audience’s enjoyment. Hear the jubilations of those who call the swords of the faithful to swing without rest! They who forge to lively song the chains that force once-proud Tharsians into Kvenland’s bondage. Men and women they wish to break like the trunks of the proud trees they cut down in the north and then ferry down to their stark lands, so they may be fashioned into lances to be shattered against comrades’ breasts. To their grave carry the virtues!

But what weighs such trivial bloodthirst compared to the blistering boil of Waystead, rampantly growing on a mountain of bones! I saw it fester like an ulcer and surround itself with walls upon walls, which cannot manage to keep out the worm that feeds from its putrid flesh. Greed erects its own citadel on Waystead’s hill and stares down upon a city that drowns in it. Do you see the poor lost souls? They are driven through taverns into the voracious arms of the many whorehouses, and declare their love towards ever new piles of useless junk, peddled by crooks and swindlers. At night the great horn resounds to announce the closing of the gates whose hinges creak like the rusted doors within forgotten dungeons. In truth, these districts are the prisons of the destitute! Do you still believe the tale that these walls keep out the foes? They are for you! You are their prisoners! You lie and betray. You defile all who enter your abodes without restraint. And how skilled you are at murdering each other... your ingenuity finds many paths. And the bastard child of your cruelty is torture that causes pain without death, so sweet release may not come to your suffering victims. And you call yourselves the keepers of the virtues? Carry to the grave their legacy!

Originating in this rotten heart, the flood of falsehood flows northward the Greyadder to Cairn Thuath. Is it not blood that surges against the shores of the Galtan Sea, and is the fortress not a butcher whose ramparts reach into the skies as witnesses of incomparable arrogance? To how many who freeze in the cold could the mighty hall offer shelter? O Cirramón, highly vaunted ancestor who on his mighty throne sees, hewn in stone, the ages pass: what do your marble eyes see, o king of emptiness? Sunwardens did you see come and go. And next to them thousands of those damned by their hands. Do you listen with approval to the screams of those who suffocate in the smoke of the fire-wheels they are bound to, burning and choking in the name of the gods? Does no one have pity on the innocent? Is it dissonant to your ears to hear songs of feigned piety at solstice, while elsewhere they scream and scream as the flames consume their living flesh? Fortress of screams! Fortress of bones! Terrible songs of pain resound within your walls. But no pleas soften the hearts of your bloodthirsty knights, who set out on Tuachall’s order to ravage the lands while pennants of virtue stream from the tips of their bloodstained lances. Earl of Glenthearn, I call thee forth to the battlefield of your hypocrisy to submit yourself to the judgment of the slain! Come forth, so your victims may summon a sea of blood poured forth from their wounds to drown Cairn Thuath and your noble line in the consequences of your sins. Carry to the grave the burden that weighs on you!

And also to the west Waystead carries its rotten seed. Towards Bridgewater, which is lovelier in its bloom than silverystar yet just as poisonous, where corrupt collectors take your coin even for crossing the bridges and hang from trees the poor souls who cannot pay, just for the sake of entertainment. Seek they in “The Merry Hangman“ absolvence for their sins at the bottom of a tankard? Or is reflected in the swill that fills their mugs the desperate thrashing of their victims’ limbs? But no, those whose tongues once tasted power over life and death crave to taste again the rush of taking lives, and so they giddily anticipate the next poor fool who cannot pay their extortionate fees! But I ask, when will the fat mayor Henry Fitz dangle from the rope he deserves!? Henry Fitz, who trades women like cattle and commits robbery under the guise of taxes, as long as gold flows into his hands. Who would be surprised to know that these waters, flowing from the west, have their source in Ethuvien, home of the degenerate elven vermin? Just as nightmares are caused by bad food that lies heavy in the stomach, so the land is haunted by the bad waters that flow into it. That is why bad dreams lurk in Fiarach’s dark forests, while restless shadows wander through the ruined castle of Dún Ifrenn.

Even the wilderness is not spared from the depravity. The Drywon of Ynys Dryw isle who call themselves tree-knowers, growing in the forests like wicked weeds. They cavort with vile fey and wild elves, perversions of nature they worship as her protectors. And yet the people are too blind to see their degeneracy for what it is: they harbor love and respect for the Druids and believe in their ungodly lies, worse even than the lies of Cormac’s priests. Their very being violates the rightful order of the world, and yet the elven lies that are Druidic tenets find approval in the ears of men. Like the rivers that run to Bridgewater, originating from elven lands, so the Druids’ enticing words have been told to them by elf and fey. Their little cult flourishes among men, for those who do not participate in the violence and betrayal of the cities instead participate in perverted rituals of faeries. Oh, how great is the humanity of Cormac! Carry to the grave the rotten bark of trees.

Why do you still bow your heads before false prophets and jeweled crowns of gold that have been forged with your sweat and your tears? Recognize your true nature! May the chains break that snake-tongued priests have laid around your limbs and thoughts. Rise, you children of the Inner Flame, so that your Lord may be pleased with you! For he is coming to redeem you. Oh, how he is coming! As a storm, as bolt of thunder, as a dark star. As a falling heaven and beginning of eternity. He shall arrive with fire and with night. His is Hylia’s body, whose wasting rays fashioned your shroud. From burning firmament and thundering clouds will rain down her blood and drench the lands with lust! Then become intoxicated by the setting sun, so you may feel the power of stars in your blood! Celebrate his arrival, you children of the Flame! Celebrate it with relentless destruction! Stride through the wreckage of broken oaths! Reject the bondage of regret! Shatter the idols that enslave you! Give in to your wants and desires! Whatever you crave, seize it! Satisfy all your long-proscribed cravings!

I see a new world rising from the fires of his flesh and with it the armies of the ostracized, who once lived in want like you, but now rejoice in the joyful flames of his kingdom of salvation. Rupture, Argea, for your savior is near! The virtues are dead. Peace be with the gods.

- Pamphlet of the "Cult of the Inner Flame"
In other news, Ceres ran a contest for Halloween to name one of Cormac's fearsome demons. As of today they've narrowed it down to six options, which you can vote on here.

There are 7 comments on Realms Beyond Kickstarter Update #9: Lore Update #2 - Cormac and the Cult

Tue 30 October 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 30 October 2018, 02:11:50

Tags: Casey Hollingshead; Ceres Games; Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen; Scott Hamm

Realms Beyond will be inching its way towards its funding goal for some time yet, but that hasn't stopped Ceres from announcing another stretch goal. This time it's a pretty great one. If the Kickstarter campaign raises €115,000, Ceres will hire the Codex's own Casey Hollingshead and Age of Decadence writer Scott Hamm to write for the game. Casey and Scott most recently distinguished themselves with their work on Battle Brothers.

In other news, Ceres have also added a new Digital Deluxe Edition reward tier. For €70, you can get everything from the €55 combat beta tier plus a bunch of digital goodies and an in-game portrait based on your photo. Remember though that two of those digital goodies will be free for everybody if Ceres reach their social media goals.

There are 11 comments on Realms Beyond Kickstarter Update #7: Writing Team Stretch Goal

Mon 29 October 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 29 October 2018, 01:24:29

Tags: Ceres Games; Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen

One thing that any contender for the title of ultimate oldschool RPG must have is excellent itemization. That's the topic of the latest Realms Beyond Kickstarter update, which gives us a taste of the game's itemization by introducing four different high-powered magical artifacts. Some artifacts will have to be assembled, while others will be cursed or provide both advantages and disadvantages. And of course, all items in the game will be hand-placed. I'll quote the text of the update here, but be sure to check out the full thing for images of each artifact's in-game description.

In the grand library of Galkarru, you’ve read a story about an ancient city in the middle of the desert, situated near a fertile oasis. It was once a prosperous city of tall minarets and flowering gardens, ruled by a proud sultan who decreed that everything within his city’s walls belonged to him and him alone. When he saw a priestess of Aliltu who visited the city, he was struck by her beauty and wanted to have her, so he instructed his men to take her to his palace. But when she was brought before him and realized he wanted to make her a part of his harem, she cursed the sultan and his city: she doomed all who lived in the palace to live eternal lives, their bodies preserved at this moment in time, no longer aging – and unable to leave the palace grounds. The rest of the city she cursed to turn into scorpions, as they were as deceitful as scorpions, first showing her hospitality then allowing the sultan to take her as if she were his property. And so, the legend says, the dreaded scorpion people came into the world.

The story also describes the sultan’s scepter: a precious thing, made of gold and silver and a dozen jewels, and enchanted with powerful spells that enhance the wielder’s beauty and grant him a presence inspiring to all who are near him. The story is widely believed to be a legend, the city a mere symbol and warning of what happens to those of great arrogance. And yet, you set out to search for it. And there, deep within the territory of the scorpion people, you find the ruins of an ancient city partially buried by the sand. When you enter the palace, you are attacked by armed guards, nimble harem dancers, and the sultan himself – their souls driven mad by centuries of being cursed to stay within the palace. You fight them off, your blades granting them the sweet release of death, and when you examine the body of the sultan – there, in his hand, is the legendary scepter, just as it had been described in the story.

The magic items you can find in Realms Beyond are all unique, hand-crafted, and rooted in the world’s history. You won’t find randomized loot in your dungeon crawling adventures – everything is placed by our level designers. When you read about legendary ancient artifacts in the history books of Argea, it’s quite likely that they can be found somewhere in the world. But finding them is not always easy.

Time hasn’t been kind to some artifacts of the past. They were damaged in battle or by greedy looters and are now broken into several parts, and a player who wishes to make use of their power must first repair them. Two such examples are the Sandals of Queen Mirvala and the Singing Spear.

The Singing Spear was wielded by the legendary Pyrrhenian hero Lachides, who used it to slay the treacherous dragon-snake Lathraios. All who had attempted to slay it before him fell into its traps, for it was a cunning and stealthy creature, but the Singing Spear warned Lachides with its voice when Lathraios came upon him from behind, and he turned around and thrust his spear deep into the creature’s heart. In a later episode of Lachides’ adventures, he got into a fight with the hero Antikles, who hew the blade of the Singing Spear from its shaft with a quick strike of his sword.

Not much is known about what happened to the broken spear afterwards, but several contradictory tales are told by Pyrrhenian storytellers. Only one thing is common to these tales: the shaft and the blade went on different ways, going through many hands over the course of the centuries, and were never reunited. And indeed, the player will find blade and shaft at two different locations, far away from each other. Once both parts are found, the spear can be repaired by a skilled craftsman, but if the player has only one of the parts in his possession, he can use the shaft as a staff or the blade as a dagger.

Queen Mirvala’s Sandals are a pair of enchanted sandals once worn by the legendary sorceress-queen of the lost civilization of Virduris. Six gleaming jewels were set into them, each one imbued with a different enchantment – turning them into one of the most powerful pieces of equipment in the entire game. But while the sandals themselves are quite easy to find, still worn by the ancient queen’s magically preserved corpse, they are missing the enchanted jewels that turn them into such a powerful item. Mirvala’s tomb had been looted by graverobbers long ago, who pried out the gleaming jewels and left the leather sandals on her corpse. Tracking them all down won’t be easy, but it will be a worthwhile and rewarding quest. With each jewel you set back into the sandals, they gain an additional enchantment.

But not all enchantments are beneficial. Some magic items are cursed with negative effects and can only be taken off with a remove curse spell. Others might have two natures, with both positive and negative effects in their enchantment. One such artifact is The Burden of Knowledge, a crown once crafted by a sorceress to remind herself of the weight and responsibility her knowledge carried with it.

With unique items like these, varied in their effects and rooted in Argea’s history, the exploration in Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen feels exciting and rewarding. Some of the more powerful artifacts even require the player to hunt down multiple pieces and have them reassembled – epic quests that might last from the beginning to the end of the game.

Of course, not only the items are hand-crafted with an attention to detail. The dungeons are all designed by hand, too, as are the enemy encounters. No random encounters, no procedural generation, no level scaling. Everything is built by the hands and minds of our writers and level designers, as human creativity is able to create more interesting content than computer algorithms ever could.
Great stuff. This update was so cool that it appears to have inspired Josh Sawyer to bump his pledge up to €1,000. The campaign is 65% of the way to its funding goal now. Another week or so and we'll be there.

There are 37 comments on Realms Beyond Kickstarter Update #6: Itemization

Fri 26 October 2018

Editorial - posted by Infinitron on Fri 26 October 2018, 23:18:51

Tags: Corey Cole; Lori Cole; Quest for Glory III: Wages of War; Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness; Sierra Entertainment; The Digital Antiquarian

More than two years ago, the Digital Antiquarian wrote about the development of the first two Quest for Glory games. Recently his chronicle entered the glorious 1992-1993 era of gaming and now it's time to cover the next two games in the series, Quest for Glory III: Wages of War and Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness. In the Antiquarian's opinion, these games were of lesser quality than their predecessors. He agrees with the commonly held opinion that Quest for Glory 3 is the weakest entry in the series due to a lack of interesting content for different classes, as well as other flaws.

Quest for Glory III also disappoints in other ways. The first two games had been loaded with alternative solutions and approaches of all stripes, full of countless secrets and Easter eggs. Quest for Glory III is far less generous on all of these fronts. There just isn’t as much to do and discover outside the bounds of those things that are absolutely necessary to advance the plot. And one of the three possible character classes you can play, the Thief, has markedly fewer interesting things to do than the others even in the course of doing that much. The whole game feels less accommodating and rewarding — less amendable to your personal choices, one might say — than what came before. It plays, in other words, more like just another Sierra adventure game and less like the uniquely rich and flexible experience the first two games are.

This lack of design ambition can to some degree be laid at the feet of the absence of Corey Cole for most of the design process. Corey was generally the “puzzle guy” in the partnership, dealing with all the questions of smaller-scale interactivity, while Lori was the “story gal,” responsible for the wide-angle plotting. And indeed, when I asked Corey about his own impressions of the game in relation to its predecessors, he acknowledged that “certainly Quest for Glory III is lighter on puzzles, while having just as much story as Quest for Glory II.”

Yet Corey’s absence isn’t the only reason that the personality of the series began to morph with this third installment. The most obvious change between the second and third game — blindingly obvious to anyone who plays them back to back — is the move from a parser-based to a pure point-and-click interface. I trust that I don’t need to belabor how this could remove some of the scope for player creativity, and especially what it might mean for the many little secrets for which the first two games are so known. I’m no absolute parser purist — my opinion has always been that the best interface for any given game is entirely contextual, based upon the type of experience the designer is trying to create — but I can’t help but feel that Quest for Glory lost something when it dumped the parser.

One issue with Quest for Glory III that may actually be a subtle, inadvertent byproduct of the switch to point-and-click is a certain aimlessness that seems baked into the design. Too much of the story is predicated on unmotivated wandering over a map that’s not at all suited to more methodical exploration.

When I played Quest for Glory III, I eventually wound up in that dreaded place known to every adventure player: where you’ve exhausted all your leads and are left with no idea what the game expects from you next. This was, however, a feeling new to me in the course of playing this particular series. When I turned with great reluctance to a walkthrough — I’d solved the first two games entirely on my own — I learned that I was expected to train my skills up to a certain level in order shake the plot back into gear.

But how, you ask, can such problems be traced back to the loss of the parser? Well, Corey has mentioned how Lori — later, he and Lori — attempted to restore some of the sense of spontaneity and surprise that had perhaps been lost alongside the parser through the use of “events”: “Instead of each game scene having one specific thing that happens in it, our scenes change throughout the game. Sometimes the passage of time triggers a new event, and sometimes it’s the result of the ripple effect of player actions. It was supposed to feel organic.” When this approach works well, it works wonderfully well in providing a dynamic environment that seems to unfold spontaneously from the player’s perspective, just the way a good interactive story should. That’s the best-case scenario. The worst case is when you haven’t done whatever arbitrary action is needed to get a vital event to fire, and you’re left to wander around wondering what’s next. Finally, when you peek at a walkthrough, the mechanisms behind it all are revealed in the ugliest, most mimesis-annihilating way imaginable. I understand what Quest for Glory III wants to do, and I wholeheartedly approve. But there needed to be more work done to avoid dead spots — whether in the form of more possible triggers or just of more nudges to tell the player what the game expects from her — or, ideally, both.​

However, the Antiquarian departs from the fan consensus by also finding Quest for Glory 4 to be of substandard quality, citing a lack of thematic focus and in particular an overabundance of bugs. This led to the game receiving poor reviews, something that he reflects upon in the context of the wider Sierra legacy.

Some months after the bug-ridden floppy-based release, Sierra published Quest for Glory IV on CD-ROM, in a version that tried to clean up the bugs and that added voice acting. It accomplished the former task imperfectly; as already noted, plenty of glitches still remain even in the version available for digital download today, not least among them the mystery of the never-appearing letter. The latter task, however, it accomplished superlatively. In a welcome departure from the atrocious voice acting found in their earliest CD-ROM products, Sierra put together a team of top-flight acting professionals, headed by the dulcet Shakespearian tones of John Rhys-Davies — a veteran character actor of many decades’ standing who’s best known today as Gimli the dwarf in Peter Jackson’s Lords of the Rings films — as the narrator and master of ceremonies. Rhys-Davies, who had apparently signed the contract in anticipation of a quick-and-easy payday, was shocked at the sheer volume of text he was expected to voice, and took to calling the game “the CD-ROM from hell” after spending days on end in the studio. But he persevered. Indeed, he and the other actors quite clearly had more than a little fun with it. The bickering inhabitants of the Mordavia Inn are a particular delight. These voice actors obviously take their roles with no seriousness whatsoever, preferring to wander off-script into broad semi-improvised impersonations of Jack Nicholson, Clint Eastwood, and Rodney Dangerfield. Would you think less of me if I admitted that they’re my favorite part of the game?

Of course, one could argue that Sierra’s decision to devote so many resources to this multimedia window dressing, while still leaving so many fundamental problems to fester in the core game, is a sad illustration of their misplaced priorities in this new age of CD-ROM-based gaming. The full story of just what the hell was going on inside Sierra at this point, leading to this imperfect and premature Quest for Glory IV as well as even worse disasters like their infamously half-finished 1994 release Outpost, is an important one that needs to be told, but one best reserved for a later article of its own.

For now, suffice to say that Quest for Glory IV was made to suffer for its failings, with a number of outright bad reviews in a gaming press that generally tended to publish very little of that sort of thing, and with far worse word of mouth among ordinary gamers. For a long time, its poor reception seemed to have stopped the series in its tracks, one game short of Lori Ann Cole’s long-planned climax. When a transformed Sierra, under new owners with new priorities, finally allowed that fifth and final game to be made years later, it would strike the series’s remaining fans as a minor miracle, even as the technology it employed was miles away from the trusty old SCI engine that had powered the series’s first four entries.

The critical consensuses on Quest for Glory III and IV have neatly changed places in the years since that last entry in the series was published. The third game was widely lauded back in the day, the fourth about as widely panned as the timid gaming press ever dared. But today, it’s the third game that is widely considered to be the series’s weakest link, while the fourth is frequently called the very best of them all. As someone who finds them both to be more or less flawed creations in comparison to what came before, I don’t really have a dog in this fight. Nevertheless, I do find this case of switched places intriguing. I think it says something about the way that so many play games — especially adventure games — today: with FAQ and walkthrough at the ready for the first sign of trouble. There’s of course nothing wrong with choosing to play this way; I’ve gone on record many times saying there is no universally right or wrong way to play any game, only those ways which are more or less fun for you. And certainly the fact that you can now buy the entire Quest for Glory series for less than $10 — much less when it goes on sale! — impacts the way players approach the games. No one worries too much about rushing through a game they’ve bought for pocket change, but might be much more inclined to play a game they’ve spent $50 on “honestly.” All of which is as it may be. I will only say that, as someone who does still hate turning to a walkthrough, the more typical modern way of playing sometimes dismays me because of the way it can — especially when combined with the ever-distorting fog of nostalgia — lead us to excuse or entirely overlook serious issues of design in vintage games.
Personally, I don't remember having that much of a problem getting the plot to progress in these games back in the day, but I know the Antiquarian isn't alone in these criticisms. It could be that the way we approach these games has changed over the years. The mainstream media, on the other hand, sounds like it hasn't changed a bit.

There are 8 comments on The Digital Antiquarian on Quest for Glory 3 and 4

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 26 October 2018, 02:19:48

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

The next Pillars of Eternity II expansion doesn't come out until December, but the game's content roadmap promised various additional updates before then. Those updates were released today in the form of the surprisingly extensive Patch 3.1. As specified in the roadmap, there are two new god challenge modes and a Colossal Ooze mega-boss (don't try to grapple it). The patch also includes a variety of elaborate new features, such as premade characters and a Tyranny-esque Spell Shaping ability for casters. I'll post the executive summary from the accompanying Fig update, but you can read the full patch notes here.

Update 3.1

The patch is live! Some of the highlights of Update 3.1 include:
  • UI Simplifications
    • Ship UI will now be hidden until you can access your ship
    • More options for auto-hiding elements of the HUD
  • Spell Shaping
    • Available for Wizard, Druid, Priest, and Chanter classes; this passive ability allows spell casters to adjust the radius of certain AoE spells to increase the power level or area that the spell can reach
  • Magran's Fire Difficulty Additions
    • All Challenges can now be done on any difficulty in the game! Play through with new challenges for a new, interesting game experience
  • New Berath's Blessings
    • ...Can I Pet Him Anyway?
      • The time has come, friends... Edér can now equip a pet
    • Infamous Past
      • Gain the Infamous Captain passive ability and live the life of someone who has survived a mutiny
  • Premade Characters
    • Characters can now be imported to use on various playthroughs through Deadfire. Characters can be chosen in character creation, or by visiting taverns and recruiting them as Adventurers
New Challenges

Berath's Blessings weren't the only thing to get some additions in this patch. Two new challenges have been added with the 3.1 update.
  • Hylea - Vela is rather attached to the Watcher and won't leave your side, the poor thing, so it's up to you to protect her. If you don't, the game ends!
  • Rymrgand - Food will start to expire! Foods like hard tack will expire more slowly, but you should still stay vigilant and ensure a supply of fresh food!
A New Mega Boss

A new Mega Boss can now be challenged! This colossal Ooze is prepared to face some of the strongest teams that dare brave it! Can you discover it's location and take on this fierce enemy?​

As for what comes next, it appears that Obsidian have altered their plans. There was originally supposed to another mega-boss this month and an additional two in November. One of those mega-bosses appears to have been axed and the other two have been postponed to December and beyond. The upside is that there now appears to be an additional planned god challenge mode for Woedica, apparently scheduled for release after the final expansion. That'll be Patch 4.1, presumably. I have to say that Obsidian don't seem to be treating Pillars II like a game that commercially disappointed. Perhaps it's what you can expect from a company that knows it's about to receive a huge payday anyway...

There are 11 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #57: Patch 3.1

Thu 25 October 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 25 October 2018, 00:24:18

Tags: Ceres Games; Realms Beyond: Ashes of the Fallen

Today's Realms Beyond Kickstarter update is the first in a series of updates that will introduce the various nations of the game world. Ceres are anxious to show that their game just isn't generic medieval fantasy, so they've chosen to start with the Ancient Greece-inspired realm of Pyrrhennia. It's a former empire that has recently risen again in the wake of the setting's Great Cataclysm. The player will get to visit the Pyrrhennian city-state of Villenia, which is the cultural (but not political) capital of the revived nation.

[​IMG] [​IMG]

Many centuries ago, the city states of Pyrrhenia ruled over a massive empire. Their settlers had colonized new shores all along the coast, and their ships had even crossed the ocean to find a strange new world in the west, of which now only memories remain. In the years before the Great Cataclysm, however, Pyrrhenia had been a subject of the Kingdom of Cormac, the zenith of its power long past and now a mere shadow of its former glory.

But in the chaos of the Great Cataclysm, the Pyrrhenian cities declared independence and became free once more. Pyrrhenian lands were largely spared by the catastrophe, and the newly autonomous city states became the centers of a Pyrrhenian renaissance, foremost of all the city of Villenia.

Even though on paper the Pyrrhenian Empire has been restored, with an emperor and a senate made up of representatives of each city state seated in the ancient capital of Tregara, in truth the city states act as independent entities and are in fierce competition with each other.

In Realms Beyond, the player will visit the city state of Villenia, heart of the Pyrrhenian rebirth, where – as High Oracle Andraste told us above – everything conforms to the divine order of the cosmos.

The society of Villenia is divided into three distinct social classes: the craftsmen, the seafarers, and the soldiers. This division is reflected in Villenia’s government, as it is not ruled by a single entity, but by three so-called Tutharchs who each rule over their respective social class. The Tutharch of craftsmen inherits his position from his predecessor; the Tutharch of soldiers is elected by his subjects; and the Tutharch of the seafarers is determined by a contest of wits, skill, and physical fitness.

In the eyes of every proud Villenian, this system embodies the divine order of the cosmos, where every man and woman is at the place the gods have decreed for them. But some voices of criticism can also be heard, claiming the lack of social mobility between the three classes is unfair… but such voices speak folly, as what could be more just than the order decreed by the gods?

In Pyrrhenia, you will find many ruined temples and palaces in the wilderness, the remains of settlements abandoned centuries ago. During the Cormacian occupation, many old monuments fell into disrepair. Now they serve as hideouts for bandits and sinister cults operating in secret, far from the prying eyes of the populated cities. Artifacts of Pyrrhenia’s glory days can still be found in some of the ruins and fetch a high price in the newly independent city states, where the people adore their ancient culture.

In the cities, you will find many well-maintained temples where priests and priestesses hold regular service to the gods. Marble floors, pillars, and plenty of statues decorate these sacred places. Similar to the temples is the architecture of the palaces of nobles and rich merchants: roofs supported by pillars, statues of the resident’s ancestors, beautiful murals on the walls.

When you visit the great city of Villenia, you will be able to experience Pyrrhenian culture at its greatest. You can go to the theater and watch skilled actors play out ancient dramas written by Pyrrhenia’s greatest poets. You can visit one of the many taverns and watch girls dressed in gowns of flowing silk dance to the tune of the lute as you drink a cup of mulled wine. Or you can relax in one of the city’s public bathhouses, where the water is kept warm by an elaborate system of pipes beneath the floor.

As an adventurer, many opportunities await you in the realm of Pyrrhenia. Explore ancient ruins from a legendary past in the hopes of finding artifacts that once belonged to mythic heroes. Assist intrepid explorers and merchants in their dangerous journeys across sea and land. And finally, spend your hard-earned coin on the luxuries offered by glorious Villenia, heart of the Pyrrhenian rebirth!
The update seems to imply that the other Pyrrhenian cities will not be accessible to the player. I wonder how that'll work. I guess this is where the post-release expansions that were mentioned in the RPGWatch preview might come in.

There are 28 comments on Realms Beyond Kickstarter Update #5: Lore Update #1 - Pyrrhenia

Blackthorne needs a kidney

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