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Codex Review - posted by DarkUnderlord on Mon 24 January 2022, 00:42:00

Tags: prosper; Redaxium

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Do you have a good imagination? Are you able to close your eyes and see the beauty of the world? Then Redaxium, the creation of resident insane Codexer prosper, may be just the game for you!

Moonrise subjected herself to the full experience so she could write a review for the Codex:

Regardless of how the developer perceives himself, people will undoubtedly and at first glance recognize Redaxium as the work of an outsider artist. For those unfamiliar with the term, it describes artists who for one reason or another exist outside of the mainstream. They're typically self-taught. Popular examples include musician Daniel Johnston, and programmer Terry Davis. Sure, there are games that appear superficially similar, but a cursory investigation will reveal that they're tongue-in-cheek meme games. Redaxium is not one of them. Too often in these cases people are interested in the artist rather than the art, especially here on the RPG Codex where Prosper is something of a local legend. But this is a review is about a game, not the man who made it. In his own words, "We only have a story to tell because there is a game." I tasked myself to engage with, complete, and review Redaxium with a sense of seriousness. That means respecting that some things ought to remain redacted.​

Close your eyes, take a deep breathe, and find out about the feature-rich world of Redaxium.

Read the full article: Redaxium - a feature-rich RPG unlike anything else, made by a truly visionary artist

There are 61 comments on Redaxium - a feature-rich RPG unlike anything else, made by a truly visionary artist


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Fri 28 January 2022

Game News - posted by Darth Roxor on Fri 28 January 2022, 20:21:09

Tags: System Shock

Great news for all System Shock fans!

If the hundred or something reboots, remakes and sequels of System Shock that are currently being planned or made haven't yet satisfied your appetite for more, here comes the announcement of a life-action TV series. You know it's going to be good, because its screenwriter has already successfully tackled the transition of video game material into the cinematic medium, and the project will be overseen by the original creators of System Shock - Nightdive Studios!

The small-screen adaptation of PC masterpiece System Shock has been handed to Greg Russo, the screenwriter of 2021’s Mortal Kombat for New Line Cinema. Not only will he write the exclusive show, but he’ll also be making his directorial debut by showcasing the story of Citadel Station’s descent into chaos.

Alongside Mortal Kombat–which proved to be a success with HBO Max, with a reported 3.6 million viewers on its opening weekend–Russo has adapted other games for film and television, including Space Invaders for New Line, and Saints Row for F. Gary Gray.

As with all other Binge-produced shows, Russo will be joined by the company’s Allan Ungar as producer, while Nightdive Studios’ Stephen Kick and Larry Kuperman serve as executive producers.​

I hope that the series will incorporate all the iconic parts of the franchise - the audio logs, the respawning monsters and the hunts for hidden black alien eggs. Nevertheless, it appears no further details are known at the time, so we'll need to remain patient and keep our fingers crossed.

There are 14 comments on System Shock to become a TV series


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Thu 27 January 2022

Development Info - posted by Darth Roxor on Thu 27 January 2022, 16:55:17

Tags: Gamatron AB; Songs of Syx

Songs of Syx is an ambitious city-builder/grand strategy that has been in development for a longer while, and it even had a successful Kickstarter campaign to help push it forward.

It's being worked upon exclusively by one hobo Swede in his basement, and everything points to its being somewhat ambitious, from the various inspirations it professes to the goals it pursues. If you want to hear more about all that, then you are in luck, for the developer has given a long interview with a fellow known as Blind on Youtube. The title, "A Developer Suffering from Hubris Trying to make a Game," should probably say it all.


Hope you still want to enslave entire races (not sure if necromancy is required), and you're ok with being a horrible person, because this game promises all those things and then some.

Thanks Utfärd for the news.

There are 7 comments on Comprehensive interview with Songs of Syx developer


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Fri 21 January 2022

People News - posted by Darth Roxor on Fri 21 January 2022, 16:54:40

Tags: Jagged Alliance; Madlab Software; Mohanned Mansour; Sir-Tech

Community member MrBuzzKill managed to grab a hold of Mohanned Mansour, the man responsible for the art in Jagged Alliance 1, and asked him a few questions that Mr Mansour was apparently happy to answer.

Since this was hardly a planned "interview" (and also not organised by the Codex as a website), MrBuzzKill failed to prepare for it properly (shameful!), so the end result is relatively short and simple, but it's definitely not uninteresting. Here's a snippet from the opening:

Me: I've picked up [Jagged Alliance] for the first time recently and played it for over 10 hours already. It's very fun! Then decided to look up the people who originally made it, where they are now and what they are doing. Thanks for making a great game!

NM: Wow, thanks for sharing your experience with the game. That was my first experience creating art in games. I started on the project with two other guys, Ian Curry (programmer and director) and Shaun Lyng (writer). I took care of everything from 3d modeling to animation and user interface design. It was the most fun project I ever worked on and funny enough, it was all done remotely. We used dial-up modems to transfer data and we all worked from our own homes. We were a little ahead of the times I guess.​

Fully remote work on dial-up must have been one hell of a ride.

You can read the rest of the interview here. Kudos to MrBuzzKill for the idea, and to Ned Mansour for being a cool guy and replying to random people from the Internet in such detail.

There are 0 comments on Impromptu interview with Jagged Alliance's Ned Mansour


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Thu 20 January 2022

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 20 January 2022, 23:58:36

Tags: Expeditions: Rome; Logic Artists; THQ Nordic

Expeditions: Rome was released today. Despite the usual grumbling about the usual topics, it is by most accounts a pretty decent game. Unfortunately, this news has been somewhat overshadowed by our belated discovery that developer Logic Artists would be "winding down" following the game's release, with most of the staff joining a new NFT-based gaming venture under former CEO Ali Emek. Thus ends the story of the talented Danish studio whose activities we've followed since the dawn of the crowdfunding era almost a decade ago. Rome will be their swan song. Here is its release trailer and the accompanying press release:



Vindobona, Noricum / Hafnia, Daniae, Januarii XX, MMXXII: The hero or heroine of Expeditions: Rome is not off to a good start: father murdered, sister married to an enemy and on their way to Asia Minor, to serve in the legion, far away from Rome. Meanwhile, on board your ship, there is another vessel getting closer - of course, pirates!

In Expeditions: Rome you will play a young male or female roman soldier, making your way through history. Take command of a small group of praetorians and eventually become the Legatus a Roman legion. You'll gather a group of loyal companions, engage in tactical turn-based combat, learn new skills, loot and craft new equipment for your soldiers, and shape the fate of Rome. Expeditions: Rome offers over 50 hours of cRPG-gameplay and multiple ways to end the story.

Try before you buy? Download the Expeditions: Rome demo now on Steam, you can even continue playing from your savegame if you get the full game: https://thqn.net/rome-steam
Expeditions: Rome is available on Steam and GOG for $45. While Logic Artists will soon be gone, the Expeditions IP now belongs to THQ Nordic and creative director Jonas Waever has notably not joined his colleagues in the blockchain mines. So if the game does well enough, I suppose the series might just still have a future. I wouldn't bet on it, though.

There are 82 comments on Expeditions: Rome Released


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Tue 18 January 2022

Review - posted by Infinitron on Tue 18 January 2022, 23:52:24

Tags: Expeditions: Rome; Logic Artists; THQ Nordic

Following up on yesterday's dev diary, today THQ Nordic released a new trailer for Expeditions: Rome offering a look at one of its siege scenarios. It appears to be an alternate history version of the Battle of Chalcedon (74 BC) in which the Roman forces were more successful. The trailer demonstrates all of the features described in the dev diary.


Reviews of Expeditions: Rome also began appearing today. There aren't many of them, but most found it to be an ambitious and feature-rich game, albeit with some niggle or another that prevented them from giving it a perfect score. Here's the list:

Hopefully more sites will published reviews of Rome before it launches on Thursday. As the first significant RPG release of the year that's also had a free demo since last month, it should be getting attention.

There are 24 comments on Expeditions: Rome Siege Trailer and Reviews


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Mon 17 January 2022

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Mon 17 January 2022, 21:48:50

Tags: Expeditions: Rome; Logic Artists; THQ Nordic

The topic of Expeditions: Rome's sixteenth and final dev diary before it launches later this week is siege battles. Coming in between the game's regular encounters and its abstract legion battles, Rome's sieges are large scale multiple stage set-pieces where you'll have to command several parties using your entire praetorian guard. They're clearly meant to be one of the game's major highlights in terms of elaborate scripting and production values. You'll even get to call in artillery strikes using the legion's catapults, with several types of ammunition available.

Today’s subject is one we’ve been deliberately saving for last, since it concerns our most impressive set-pieces. One of the main challenges we’ve always had in the Expeditions series has been how to represent the full scale of the war that you usually end up causing or escalating throughout the story. The squad-scale turn-based combat system that we’re so proud of is all about micromanaging individual people and isn’t designed for full-scale warfare.

In Rome, our main solution to this was the addition of the legion battle system, which uses the resource management mechanics of the game’s meta systems to give a taste of the grand strategy you’d expect to have to deal with as the leader of a Roman legion. It’s a complex little minigame that ties into a lot of other systems, but once in a while you want something more. When the story culminates in a big battle, you don’t want to watch it play out in an abstract way: you want to feel like you and your praetorian guard have been thrown into the fray. You want to see the chaos of a major assault up close.

To address this need, we’ve introduced a new way to use our tactical combat on a larger scale, which we call Sieges. Sieges are big set-piece battles that play out in the same small-unit turn-based mode as our more typical encounters, but with several layers of extra production value on top, and with new systems introduced to help sell the scale of the fighting.

First off, what makes the sieges really stand out is the level design. Every siege consists of multiple encounters played sequentially or even occasionally in parallel, but every encounter of a siege takes place in the same enormous level. Even if you’re only fighting with one group in one corner of a city, you can rotate your camera and see exactly where you are in relation to the other encounters. Our world builders really went above and beyond on these levels, crafting jaw-dropping sets that dwarf our typical encounter areas. As the battle progresses, the lighting will change to show the passage of time. You may begin an assault at dusk, fight throughout the night, emerge to seal the victory at dawn’s first light, and regroup for your celebrations at noon.

Because sieges consist of multiple encounters, you should make use of your entire praetorian guard. Ahead of each siege, you are given a thorough briefing followed by a hand-drawn map of the layout of the battle. Here you must choose which praetorian is assigned to which group, with each group responsible for completing a certain set of encounters, each with their own objectives and their own purpose in the overall strategy. Complicating matters, wounds incurred and health lost carries over between encounters, so if you burn through all your skill charges and tactical items in an early fight, you may be faced with a grave challenge later in the siege.

Every siege has its own unique encounter structure. We won’t give any of them away here, but suffice to say we have a lot of fun with the idea that your praetorian guard is split into multiple teams to carry out different tasks within the same battle. Your performance in one encounter may affect your options in the next one, or in some cases you may even have to switch back and forth between two different encounter groups to play their separate fights at the same time.

The stand-out feature of the sieges is something we’ve been hinting at in previous trailers: catapults. The closest we’ve ever come to featuring siege equipment in an Expeditions game was the small cannon you could build in Conquistador and deploy as a tactical item. In Rome, you finally get to call in real artillery support, but it’s not quite the win-button it might at first seem to be. Catapults get their own place in the team turn order. Each catapult has 3 different types of ammunition: a big ol’ stone to smash your foes; a fire ball to set the battlefield aflame; and a scattering projectile that pelts a wide area and attempts to knock all characters within it on their butts.

However, catapults take a while to aim and loose – when you call in a catapult strike, the actual impact won’t happen until the next turn, giving enemies time to flee the impact area. Finding ways to predict their movements, box them in, or keep them in place until the catapults hit is key to successful use of your artillery. A truly effective commander will learn to think of artillery support as an area denial method: if you call in a fireball behind the enemies, you cut off their avenue of escape. Likewise, calling in a catapult stone on an elevated platform used by enemy archers will force them to vacate that location or die before their next turn. It’s a tremendously fun and destructive mechanic which adds an exciting layer of chaos to every siege.

The icing on top of the cake is how narrative the sieges are. One of the best new features in Expeditions: Rome is our flexible encounter scripting system that has allowed us to trigger dialogue and scripted sequences during fights, which means combat is much more of a storytelling tool for us than it’s ever been before. Sieges make the most of this. Every siege encounter has dialogue to establish the situation, characters react to new developments and comment on the progress towards completing the goal of each fight, and they even comment on the performance of their friends that were assigned to other tasks. Above all else this adds personality and drama to the mix, but it also helps to tie the encounters together and make it clear what’s going on and how well you’re doing.

Sieges are the climactic battles that your conquest builds towards. They usually (though not always) mark the transition from one act of the game’s story to another, and winning a siege is a monumental achievement that further cements your character as one of history’s great figures.​

The usual devstream about this topic is scheduled for January 19th, the day before release. I wonder what else THQ Nordic might have up their sleeve for launch day.

There are 5 comments on Expeditions: Rome Dev Diary #16 - Sieges


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Tue 11 January 2022

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 11 January 2022, 20:09:45

Tags: ELEX II; Piranha Bytes; THQ Nordic

THQ Nordic's latest trailer for ELEX II is a showcase of the game's lovably janky combat. Jax has of course lost all of his levels from the first game for reasons, so he'll have to start with the basics as he faces Magalan's hordes of beasts, bandits and alien invaders. But if you can help him survive long enough, you too may get to smack a dragon in the face from your jetpack.


Along with this trailer comes the news that ELEX II is now available for preorder. You can grab the game on Steam or GOG for $50 with a 10% preorder discount.

There are 193 comments on ELEX II gets a combat trailer, now available for preorder

Mon 10 January 2022

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Mon 10 January 2022, 21:18:49

Tags: Expeditions: Rome; Logic Artists; THQ Nordic

This week, THQ Nordic and Logic Artists will be formally introducing the companions of Expeditions: Rome. The developers originally intended to have only a large pool of relatively bare-bones hirelings as in Conquistador, but soon reached the decision to promote five of them to fully fledged companion status. You've got the usual assortment of ancient Roman archetypes - the centurion, the spy/assassin, the African gladiator, the educated Greek slave, and the Scythian amazon. A video will be released about each one every day starting from today, or you can just read about them all in the game's fifteenth dev diary. Here's the first video and an excerpt:


We have a lot to get through today, so let’s get started. Companions are a staple of the roleplaying genre. Originally an attempt to emulate the dynamics of a tabletop RPG group, they have become one of the most beloved and distinct aspects of the genre, and we daresay its greatest storytelling asset. With a sufficiently compelling set of main characters, a story can really tug on the player’s heartstrings – and one of the keys to making a group of characters appealing is to give them enough screen time for the player to get to know them. RPG-style companion characters are perfectly suited for this, as they typically follow the protagonist everywhere, participating in every scene and every crisis.

We’d love to say that we wanted to place our companions front and center in Expeditions: Rome right from the start, but that would be untrue. In fact, we originally envisioned something much more like Conquistador: a large pool of bare-bones praetorians who were mostly just a collection of names, portraits, and stats. The player would be able to assemble their team from these praetorians, and as they were all able to die permanently or be kicked out of the group at any time, none would be integral to the plot. Four of these praetorians did have a slightly special status as the starting party that we would use to tutorialize the four character classes, but once the tutorial was finished, they would be treated the same as any expendable praetorian.

But soon we ran into a problem: if we couldn’t count on the player to have at least 4 people on their team at any time, certain content in the game simply didn’t work. We decided to promote our four starting characters to “companion” status, making them functionally immortal in that their deaths would result in a game over, and then we added a fifth character to the group to ensure that you could fill a whole 6-person team with companions only. Once we had made this decision, we found ourselves investing more and more personality and agency in these four – after all, if we know these characters are always around, we can use them in dialogue and make them important parts of quests.

But let’s take a step back. Having decided that 5 is the number of companions the game will have, how do you decide who they should be? Well, a game – even a heavily story-based RPG – is first and foremost a mechanical thing, and since Expeditions: Rome offers 4 base character classes in combat, of course all classes must be represented among the companions. This spread of combat roles was the seed upon which we built the player’s tight knit second family. A good short-hand that we like to use to steer our creativity when designing characters is to assign a single title or nickname to each of them that hints at an archetype. Then each companion is fleshed out with details that either support that archetype or counter it, until you have a well-rounded character. Let’s go over them now:

The Centurion: Caeso Quinctius Aquilinus

Every Expeditions game is set in a particular culture at a particular time, and in our view that culture must be properly represented within the companion group. In Viking, we invented Asleifr as the stereotypical ruthless macho viking warrior. In Expeditions: Rome, Caeso represents the archetypical Roman centurion – a dutiful and disciplined veteran soldier who loves the Republic and will happily die to defend it.

But Caeso isn’t a stiff professional, he’s a bon vivant who likes wine, women, and for that matter men when the mood takes him. When you meet Caeso, he is well set in his ways, but eventually the consequences of his easy living will catch up to him, and his sense of duty and loyalty will be tested in equal measure.

In combat, Caeso is a Princeps (heavy infantryman). He wades into battle wielding the gladius and scutum of the Roman legionarius, his polished breastplate and his pristine helmet plume providing a fixed point in the chaotic skirmish for his friends to rally around.
As usual, the devstream for this topic is scheduled for Wednesday on January 12th.

There are 76 comments on Expeditions: Rome Dev Diary #15 - Companions

Tue 4 January 2022

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Tue 4 January 2022, 23:56:42

Tags: Expeditions: Rome; Logic Artists; THQ Nordic

THQ Nordic continued to promote Expeditions: Rome over the holidays with a new location trailer showcasing Gaul & Africa and a dev diary video about the making of the game's soundtrack. These however had little to do with the topic of Rome's fourteenth dev diary, which is all about the game's combat AI. Logic Artists are making a concerted effort to address the weaknesses of Expedition: Viking's enemy AI, particularly with regards to pathfinding decisions and tactical coordination. Apparently the AI is so effective now that they've had to introduce some optional "artificial stupidity" measures to prevent every encounter from becoming a drawn-out battle of attrition.

Today’s dev diary follows up on our diary from just before Christmas, which laid out how we go about designing a good combat encounter. This week we’re going to talk about how the AI has been designed.

Every game is a unique challenge when it comes to AI, and turn-based tactics offer a particularly exciting type of challenge. On the plus side, enemies don’t have to make split-second decisions because of the nature of a turn-based combat system, which means the AI can make more involved or complex calculations. On the other hand, the player has unlimited time to consider their actions and attempt to predict what the AI will do on its turn, so the AI must be quite clever and somewhat predictable without being fully deterministic.

The most important rule when designing AI for games is that the enemies shouldn’t play optimally all the time, but rather they should behave in a way that creates fun gameplay. It’s very easy for us to make the AI never make any mistakes – never step on your caltrops, never walk into your fire, never shoot your shield with their archers, never provoke attack of opportunity, never let themselves be flanked, etc. That won’t make for a fun game though: if you surround an archer with melee enemies, the smart play for the enemy might be to simply skip that archer’s turn, but that will just seem like a glitch. Having that enemy archer try to shoot you, only to get spectacularly skewered from three different sides is much more satisfying.

To this end we have a “mistake probability” value baked into our AI, which is tied to our “AI Difficulty” slider in the options. On higher difficulties, AI will be much less likely to make mistakes, which can feel unsatisfying as certain tactics or skills become more about denying options to the AI rather than provoking and exploiting its mistakes, but does make the game significantly more challenging.

The AI Difficulty setting also has more subtle effects, such as determining how good the AI is at maneuvering past your front line to reach your healer or your archer, or how often they’ll choose to focus their attacks on one specific unit on your team rather than spread out their damage. On the maximum setting, all bets are off as the AI does its level best to kill you, and we even give it a few extra advantages on this level such as extra movement for its melee units so they can maneuver more freely, or a small bump to enemy resistance stats to make flanking more important.

Movement in general is the foundation of good AI in a turn-based game – especially one that takes place on a grid. If the AI can’t reach you, they won’t be able to use their clever tactics. To this end, we have fixed a few of the big problems with the AI in Expeditions: Viking. First off, if you create a bottleneck by blocking off a choke point on the map, the AI would naturally attempt to find a different path which could potentially send it all the way around the level to get you. Now, this only happens if the AI can tell that it’ll be able to reach its target within a few turns. Otherwise it’ll find cover near the chokepoint and wait its turn, or even withdraw its own unit blocking the way, so another unit with higher damage potential can reach its target.

Once the AI is where it wants to be, the question is what it should do. Our combat designer has carefully designed which skills each enemy unit has, in order to create maximum tactical variation over the course of the game as you encounter different cultures and the complexity of the game ramps up. Some enemies have skills that are not even available to the player, which makes them much more interesting to fight. Every single ability that the AI has access to is associated with its own AI tactic that defines when, where, and how that ability should be unleashed. On top of this, there are general tactics available to the AI that help it coordinate between its multiple units, to ensure that the units move in the right sequence and get out of each other’s way.

To help you understand what the AI is up to, we’ve added a lot of combat one-liners. Most are related to specific events, such as morale failure, group movement, or flanking maneuvers. Some communicate the state of the AI, such as “defensive strategy” one-liners where enemy leaders order their subordinates to seek cover and stay put, forcing you to advance upon their position if that’s what the mission calls for. Some one-liners are even specific to a particular skill, such as when enemy heavy infantry uses Hunker Down to make themselves impervious to attacks from the front, or when enemy archers use Interrupt to nock an arrow and shoot the first of your units that enters their field of view. Not only does this help you understand the AI’s behavior, but it also adds a lot of personality and intensity to combat.

We’re very proud of how much the AI in Expeditions: Rome has improved compared to Viking. Our AI programmer has been hard at working over the holiday, polishing and improving the AI based on your demo feedback, but since the demo is limited to the prologue of the game, where the AI has access to very few tools in order to ease you into the gameplay, you’ve only seen a small fraction of what the AI can do once the training wheels are off. We can barely wait for you to get your hands on the full game and see for yourselves.
The usual devstream for this topic is scheduled for January 5th. I guess there'll be one or maybe two more of these before the game launches on January 20th.

There are 6 comments on Expeditions: Rome Dev Diary #14 - Combat AI

Fri 24 December 2021

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 24 December 2021, 01:04:42

Tags: Call of Saregnar; In The Keep

Earlier this year, Rhauntavan announced his intention to release a public demo of Call of Saregnar, his highly anticipated homage to Betrayal at Krondor. The demo was released on Steam today, just in time for Christmas. According to the brief announcement on publisher In The Keep's website, it's basically a fleshed out version of last year's private backer demo, although there is some new content as well. There's no launch trailer, so I'll just quote the announcement here:

Dina has finally made up her mind! You can now snag the first official public demo for Call of Saregnar on Steam! Everyone on the dev team has been busting their butts to get this demo to you by Christmas so Ho-Ho-Hold any negative comments til after they've had time to spend the holiday with their families!

The public demo expands upon many of the areas and ideas behind the previous closed demo. While there is a fair amount of additional content, the majority of the work that went into this demo was getting the game into the smoothest version of itself that we could, and finishing the content that had previously been absent from the already created gameplay areas.

Thank you for checking out our demo! Please let us know how you feel about it through the proper channels.
What a lovely way to end the year. You can grab the demo of Call of Saregnar on Steam. According to the FAQ in the game's Steam discussion forum, an Early Access release is planned for 2022.

There are 28 comments on Call of Saregnar public demo now available

Wed 22 December 2021

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 22 December 2021, 23:17:15

Tags: Devolver Digital; Raphael Colantonio; Weird West; WolfEye Studios

Back in October, we were told that Weird West would be launching next month. Now the game is in private beta and it turns out that WolfEye are going to need some more time to get all that immersive sim stuff working without glitches. In an apologetic video, Raf Colantonio announced today that the release date has been postponed to March 31st. I'll post it here along with last week's deep dive video, which was all about ~simulation~.


Oh well, at least this gives us almost three more months to argue about whether an isometric game can be considered an immersive sim.

There are 5 comments on Weird West delayed to March 31st

Tue 21 December 2021

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Tue 21 December 2021, 22:52:48

Tags: Expeditions: Rome; Logic Artists; THQ Nordic

The esteemed members of our community tried out the Expeditions: Rome demo this weekend and shared their impressions. The game has clearly been casualized and the included tutorial scenario is rather linear, but it seems decent enough in most other respects. With the launch date approaching, THQ Nordic aren't slowing down their promotional efforts. On Sunday they released a new combat trailer that introduces the basics of Rome's combat system and offers a glimpse at a few advanced tactics as well. They've followed that up with the game's thirteenth dev diary, which is all about encounter design. Logic Artists aim to make every encounter in the game a set-piece battle with multiple paths, verticality and interactive environments. Here's that new trailer and an excerpt from the dev diary:



In Expeditions, every new level begins with a narrative context. Even a random encounter level or a purely combat-focused so-called “pacification quest” level will have some snippet of story associated with it that helps guide the creativity of the world builder. This isn’t just about placing the level geographically so the environment artists will know what kind of nature or architecture to sculpt. At the earliest stage it’s just as much about creating a feeling in the player. A bustling overpopulated metropolis on the banks of the Nile will need a very different layout than a small quiet fishing village on the coast of the Sea of Marmara.

This nebulous yet crucial idea of “feel” will also inform the combat design in important ways. Overwhelming the player with the size and freedom of choice of a wide-open battlefield, or making them feel claustrophobic and limited in a smaller room, are important ways to sell the fantasy of a particular scene. A mix of open spaces with narrow corridors and chokepoints creates variation between encounters and gives the player a choice of fighting somewhere that fits their tactical play style.

No design choice is purely about gameplay in a game as story-driven as Rome, but the gameplay is generally the most important aspect of level design. Pathing choices is one of the driving factors when setting up an encounter area: by placing small islands of obstacles in an open space, we create smaller paths that lead to the same area. When faced with multiple paths, the player begins to think about why they should go left or right. That choice can be based on enemy positioning, what cover is provided along either path, or if one path is slightly longer than the other. Conversely, an open space gives the player more freedom to manoeuvre around enemies, but also makes it more difficult to control enemy movement and positioning.

Height differences have also been a huge focus for us this time around. Encounters in Expeditions: Viking usually took place on flat planes, and several mechanics in the game were designed around that relatively 2-dimensional landscape. In Rome, we wanted to use elevation better, which involved redesigning ranged attacks to use a real line-of-sight check and giving archers a bonus to their range from high ground. The most important piece of that puzzle was to make sure the levels themselves offered high ground and permitted vertical movement.

Designing levels with plenty of vertical elements such as cliffs or scaffolds creates a height difference that separates hexes from each other by their edges instead of needing to place an empty hex between them. This is another, different form of pathing choice. A landscape with a lot of verticality will block the player’s vision and occasionally force the player to rotate the camera to see the encounter area from a different angle, which gives the player new ideas for how they could approach a problem they’re trying to solve.

We also added new ways to traverse those new obstacles, in the form of ladders and jump points. Using a ladder as a shortcut while another character flanks around makes you feel smart, as does spotting a jump point to get quickly from an elevated platform to a lower position. Not only does jumping off a cliff look and feel cool, it connects the different paths of an encounter area in interesting ways since you can typically only jump in one direction (thanks gravity).

Traversal isn’t the only way to interact with the environment, however. We’ve also implemented a host of new combat objects to use during an encounter. Many combat objects allow you to pick up tactical items just until the end of combat, such as torches from a bonfire, water from a well, or bandages from a medicine box. Other objects can change the battlefield if damaged, such as oil jars which can make someone’s day a lot worse if targeted with a fire arrow.
The dev diary also includes descriptions of two actual encounters from the game that demonstrate these qualities. Good stuff. As usual, a dev stream about this topic is scheduled for Wednesday, on December 22nd.

There are 6 comments on Expeditions: Rome Dev Diary #13 - Building a Great Combat Encounter

Fri 17 December 2021

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 17 December 2021, 19:13:25

Tags: Expeditions: Rome; Logic Artists; THQ Nordic

So it turns out that THQ Nordic's exciting announcement for Expeditions: Rome was the release of a free playable demo today. Nice! Now why couldn't they have led with that news instead of the silly Twitch extension? The demo consists of the game's first four hours, where the player character will take part in the Roman conquest of the Greek island of Lesbos. THQ Nordic put together a new trailer showcasing some of those locations. A bunch of streamers will also get to play with the game's Twitch integration this weekend, and there's a trailer for that as well.


The Expeditions: Rome demo is available on Steam now and will apparently remain available indefinitely. Check it out and post your impressions. Savegames will be compatible with the final release, so that's cool.

There are 22 comments on Expeditions: Rome demo now available

Wed 15 December 2021

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 15 December 2021, 23:29:19

Tags: Colony Ship: A Post-Earth Role Playing Game; Iron Tower Studio; Vince D. Weller

Vault Dweller and his team took a break from content creation this month to put together a systems update for the Colony Ship Early Access build. The centerpiece of the update appears to be the addition of an Easy difficulty mode and a tutorial. While this may anger purists, it has allowed Iron Tower to make the game's standard difficulty even harder. The update also overhauls the PSI system. Psi attacks will now always hit, but can be resisted by a new Neural Resistance stat which is determined by Charisma. Plus there are new weapons and armor, new feats, and plenty of balance tweaks. Here's the summary:

Difficulty & Tutorial

Despite our best efforts to keep the difficulty manageable and engage players who struggle, some players find the game frustrating and unplayable rather than challenging. Needless to say, frustrating people was never our goal, so we added Easy difficulty mode and a tutorial explaining key concepts.

Coincidentally, now that we don't have to worry about first-time players, we can make the Hard difficulty a bit more challenging.

Feats & Derived Stats

Charisma now adds Neural Resistance (see Psi Overhaul below). We added 3 new feats (Master Trader, Frog Hunter, Slow Metabolism) and 3 new mutually exclusive mutation feats as quest rewards. Plus balance changes to the existing feats as suggested by the players.

Weapons & Armor
  • Extensive balance changes, added new armguards and leg armor.
  • We added Old (-1DR) and Damaged (-3DR) armor sets to boost variety on the visual side. Most enemies will be wearing old and damaged armor. New armor will be sold in stores. Unique (custom-made) – looted from notable enemies.
  • New weapons: long requested laser cutter, two energy 'shotguns' (a close range energy gun, Earth-made and Ship-made) and 'SMG' (a rapid-fire energy gun), a Ship-made energy club, a clawhammer for the bashers, and a bunch of firearms: a revolver, shotguns, rifles, etc.
Combat & Stealth AI

Improved enemies behavior in combat and stealth: target and attack selection, grenade and stim use, reaction to sound and dead bodies, alert levels, etc.

PSI Overhaul
  • PSI attacks always hit (as they don't rely on sight), but the effect can be resisted and damage reduced by Neural Resistance (NR).
  • You can't be faster than a thought so PSI enemies have a much higher initiative
  • Charisma boosts your NR, which can be increased further with implants, helmets, feats, and stims.
  • Zen stim increases NR by 40 for 2 turns
  • Improved Mindworms' attacks
Fight Balance

Some fights were way too easy and we apologize to everyone affected.

Misc
  • Implants: you can extract them from dead bodies and repair them if they get damaged during extraction due to low skills.
  • Gadgets: new tier and rebalance
  • Expanded dialogues and quest improvements
  • Attack effects' balance changes
Sounds good. The full patch notes are available here. With this out of the way, Colony Ship is now ready for the second half of its Early Access roadmap, where the ship's major factions will come into play.

There are 9 comments on Colony Ship Early Access Update: First System Update

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 15 December 2021, 22:34:51

Tags: Raw Fury; Scape-IT; SKALD: Against the Black Priory

The free prologue for highly anticipated Ultima-like SKALD: Against the Black Priory was updated a couple of times after its release in June. However, creator Anders Lauridsen felt that the game needed more work and delayed its planned Early Access release indefinitely the following month. It turns out that like a number of other recent crowdfunded titles, SKALD will be forgoing Early Access entirely thanks to a publishing deal announced by Anders last month. Today it was revealed that the publisher in question is Raw Fury, the Swedish indie publisher behind games such as Kathy Rain and Star Renegades. Here's the new trailer they put together:


Thanks to this partnership, Anders will now be able to work on SKALD full-time until its release sometime next year. I'm sure it'll end up better than Mechajammer did!

There are 22 comments on SKALD: Against the Black Priory to be published by Raw Fury, coming in 2022

Game News - posted by Darth Roxor on Wed 15 December 2021, 18:20:16

Tags: Sinister Design; Telepath Tactics; Telepath Tactics Liberated

Sinister Design has just announced a ground-up remake of their best-selling international hit Telepath Tactics, under the title Telepath Tactics Liberated.

Here's what it's about, straight from the horse's mouth:

[​IMG]

For those who never played Telepath Tactics, Telepath Tactics Liberated is a deep and engaging strategy RPG built upon the combat mechanics of Telepath games past, albeit with layers and layers of tactical depth poured on.

Featuring a cast of dozens of engaging characters, a well-told story, 72 classes, more than 150 skills, branching promotions, and mechanical depth still not seen in any other strategy RPG to date, Telepath Tactics Liberated is an SRPG fan’s SRPG.​

If you've already played the original Telepath Tactics from 2015 and are wondering what's new in the remake, Craig is glad you asked because using telepathic precognition he predicted that you would ask “But Craig, I played the original Telepath Tactics from 2015. What’s new in this remake?” and responded with a long-ass list of things, some of which include:

  • New hand-designed maps!
  • New difficulty modes!
  • 3D terrain! (Elevation effects no longer distort the map; characters visibly sink into water or lava and disappear into chasms.)
  • More than 40 new skills to learn!
  • More than two dozen new classes!
  • Smarter AI! (You will now get shoved off of cliffs if you’re not careful!)
  • Support for saving mid-battle!
  • A vastly improved user interface, including a dedicated shop interface and a dedicated promotion interface!
And that's without even mentioning some of the more important bits like new dialogue and HDR bloom lighting!

Telepath Tactics Liberated is going to come out in mid-March 2022.

There are 9 comments on Telepath Tactics to be Liberated from Old Design

Tue 14 December 2021

Game News - posted by Darth Roxor on Tue 14 December 2021, 19:51:19

Tags: CreativeForge Games; Slitherine; Stargate: Timekeepers

In case you missed the news earlier this year, Slitherine announced they'd be publishing a game in the Stargate universe, namely Stargate: Timekeepers, to be developed by CreativeForge Games (Hard West, Phantom Doctrine).

Everyone who's ever watched Stargate SG-1 will tell you that the show probably comes the closest to being "X-COM: The TV Series" as you can get, so a sane man would expect a "tactical computer game" to follow the formula of the beloved classic. Well... a gameplay video was released today, as seen below.



Ein Verletzter! JAFFA KREE!​

It's anyone's guess why the video comes with no sound had to be re-released with sound the next day after putting up, but the gameplay should definitely look familiar to you. Yep, it's a Commandos clone. Not exactly what I expected, but it makes sense when you think about it. Too bad that this footage looks so lazy and uninspired.

At the moment, Stargate: Timekeepers is "coming soon," and promises 14 "narrative-rich missions" where "choices matter" (yeah right). You will control a team of 6 specialists and sneak behind enemy lines to break out... OF ZE TIMELOOP!

There are 36 comments on Stargate: Timekeepers is Commandos with Jaffa

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 14 December 2021, 19:00:00

Tags: Expeditions: Rome; Logic Artists; THQ Nordic

Last year, Larian published a community update detailing their plans to implement Twitch integration in Baldur's Gate 3. It was obvious to me that this sort of thing would eventually become a standard feature in premium RPGs, but I don't think anybody expected Expeditions: Rome would be the game to take it to the next level. In their twelfth dev diary, THQ Nordic reveal that they've commissioned the development of an expansive Twitch extension for Rome, which they describe as the most ambitious to ever exist for any game. In addition to selecting dialogue options, the extension actually lets viewers directly influence combat in a variety of ways. Witness the future of your genre, Codex:

We’ve spent time with streamers, talking with them about the challenges they have with strategy games. While fun to play, they can be tricky to stream. They are, by nature, more complex, cerebral, and slower than action-oriented titles. By using extensions in daring and new ways, we can both drive more active opportunities for streamers to entertain their audiences as well as reduce the learning curve when audiences tune-in for the first time.

For those who don’t know, a Twitch extension is a piece of interactive software built right into Twitch’s video player. Viewers can interact with the Twitch extension like an app on screen. In the case of the Expeditions: Rome extension, it will provide information about the current state of the game while also providing Twitch viewers with unprecedented options to directly affect the state of the game they are watching.

From in-game controls and notifications crafted to streamline how streamers interact with their audiences to a laundry list of audience interactions, Rome’s extension leverages years of focus testing, experimentation, and research to create an experience laser focused at transforming how Streamers play strategy games forever.

Audiences can directly influence nearly every aspect of gameplay. During Rome’s turn-based combat, audiences can direct AI targets, heal or knock-down both enemy and streamer combatants, re-name units with their TwitchID, set fire to the battlefield, and much much more. Streamers can ask for help or beg for mercy as the audience directly influences how challenging or easy each combat encounter can be at every step of the process.

Streamers can also use a variety of interaction options in the RPG dialog system to start a vote in-game on a dialog choice, allow the audience to control a specific dialog decision, or even turn full control over to their audience for all of their roleplaying decisions, all in real-time. The extension is designed with a number of in-game controls to help streamers modify and curate their interactive experiences with their audience so they can pace their streams around what type of moments they want to create.

Think the next mission will be tough and don’t want the audience to mess with the integrity of the encounter? Go into the in-game options and disable combat behaviors for a time. Have a tough choice about whether you should sentence a potential traitor to death or spare him for later use? Trigger a vote right in the dialog box to see what the audience thinks before moving forward. Audiences can browse through the streamer’s quest log, inspect their unit’s builds and stats, view the combat log, send care packages… you get the idea.

One challenge we had to overcome was how to streamline the way viewers get to leverage the extension. Some of the functionality is by vote, and are free interactions, but some actions are designed to be based on donations to your favorite streamer. With how the Twitch Bit donation process works, it was difficult to tie bit donations directly to actions, as someone could go to heal a combatant, for example, but then never complete the Twitch Bit process and lock out that option for all other viewers indefinitely.

To solve this, we introduced a currency called Denarii in the extension. The relationship between Bits and Denarii is 1:1, so each Bit is worth 1 Denarii; we’re not trying to make anything shady here, just streamline the feature usage so that everyone can have the most fun. Viewers can donate some Bits to their favorite streamer for a pocket full of Denarii in the extension, then use that Denarii to play with some of the crazier features within the extension. This gives viewers a fun way to support their favorite streamers and directly interact with them in the game at the same time! We also give complete control to the streamer to set whatever Denarii values they want for any action, so they can customize the experience however they want to fit their audience size.
Some people have worried that THQ Nordic have done a poor job promoting Rome ahead of its release next month. Perhaps this feature is the ace up their sleeve. Or maybe nobody will care and the game will flop. Still, it's likely to be a valuable proof-of-concept for future titles. They plan to announce a beta launch date for the extension during their devstream tomorrow, along with some other "exciting announcements". We shall see.

There are 8 comments on Expeditions: Rome Dev Diary #12 - Twitch Extension

Mon 13 December 2021

Community - posted by Darth Roxor on Mon 13 December 2021, 16:48:46

Tags: RPG Codex; RPG Codex Awards

[​IMG]

The ultimate showdown has arrived.

Community member Deuce Traveler has started a poll to reveal the RPG Codex top vintage RPGs of all time.

The rules are simple. Each participant gets 10 points to spend on a maximum of 5 games from the list painstakingly compiled by the Ring of Prestigious Gentlemen. The list starts with Akalabeth: World of Doom (1980) and the cut-off point is December 1996, aka the release date of Diablo 1 and the beginning of the phenomenon known as The Decline.

The poll will run until the end of 2021, so you have ample time to think about your picks. The game with the highest number of points shall be declared the winner.

Special thanks go to Deuce Traveler for coming up with the contest, and the Ring of Prestigious Gentlemen (Decado, mondblut, ERYFKRAD, Fowyr, Zed Duke of Banville, JarlFrank, Dorateen, octavius, zwanzig_zwoelf) for offering counsel on the format and the list of RPGs.

What are you waiting for? Go and vote here! To arms!

There are 110 comments on RPG Codex Best Vintage RPG Poll

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