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Mon 18 November 2019

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 18 November 2019, 01:30:44

Tags: George Ziets; Matt Barton; Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer; Obsidian Entertainment

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In this week's episode of Matt Chat, George Ziets discusses the game considered by many to be the high mark of his career - the Mask of the Betrayer expansion for Neverwinter Nights 2. George and Matt agree that expansions are often better than the original games, both because the developers have more experience by the time they create them and because they're smaller & more focused. According to George, the key to designing great choice & consequence as exemplified in Mask of the Betrayer is to keep the overall number of choices small and make sure each one has drastic and wide-ranging effects. He cites the Okku/One of Many choice as an example. During his time at inXile, George made an effort to design choice & consequence in a similar way.

Near the end of the episode, Matt and George talk a bit about the differences between working at large and small studios. Needless to say, George prefers smaller ones. He also has strong opinions about open office layouts (kill it with fire). According to Matt, there are two more episodes left to go.

There are 26 comments on Matt Chat 433: George Ziets on Mask of the Betrayer

Fri 15 November 2019

Company News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 15 November 2019, 14:14:47

Tags: Adam Brennecke; Chris Avellone; Chris Parker; Feargus Urquhart; Grounded; Josh Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; The Outer Worlds

As is custom, a number of gaming outlets were invited to Obsidian's offices a couple of weeks ago to have an early look at their recently announced new game. Eurogamer's Robert Purchese took the opportunity to snoop around and try to find out what else was going at the studio one year after their acquisition by Microsoft. Apparently not a whole lot has changed as of yet. Yes, there are people working on post-launch content for The Outer Worlds. Josh Sawyer is working on something too, Chris Parker is the director of some unannounced project, and Feargus Urquhart is very happy that he gets to spend time actually making games now.

To picture the rest of Obsidian, imagine a square and in each corner you have a different team. There are lots of hallways and rooms - it's not open-planned - but in each corner there's an open area where the occupants of nearby rooms teams can convene.

One of these corners is devoted to The Outer Worlds and shoved into another is Grounded. But the other two? Pillars of Eternity is no longer an active thing so what were all the other people working on? I spied my best, by the way, but didn't see anything incriminating - unsurprising for an organised press tour. But on my way around I did see people like Tim Cain waving from his office (Outer Worlds co-director) and, I'm pleased to say, Josh Sawyer. I'm pleased because I genuinely thought he was going to leave.

Sawyer sounded fed up when he talked at Digital Dragons earlier this year. He said Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadire had been "the most stressful directing experience I've had so far" and that he was "burnt out" directing and making isometric RPGs. He also talked about being overridden a number of times by management during development, which sounded ominous.

But Sawyer is there at Obsidian, beloved bike in his office, headphones on, tapping away at something - as far as I know he's finished making the pen-and-paper Pillars of Eternity role-playing game.

In a separate interview, Sawyer's Pillars pal Adam Brennecke, who's directing Grounded, told me: "Just like with Outer Worlds we have big RPGs being worked on right now. We have a lot of stuff being worked on right now." So I thought I'd ask Feargus Urquhart "how many?" at the end of his guided office walkaround tour.

"More than one, less than forty," he told me with a smile. "We're working on a number."

The Outer Worlds is included in that. A post-release plan hasn't been announced yet but there's still a team in The Outer Worlds corner working on something. Obsidian isn't leaving it behind in a rush to work on Microsoft projects.

"Actually it's the opposite," Urquhart said. "What's always been interesting about the independent developer before was: who was going to pay for support? If I'm not being paid for support by the publisher then [...] we have this weird thing of how do we do it?

"In the Microsoft world, we get to run a studio based on what makes sense for the franchises and I'm not having to make these day-to-day decisions so much. People are obviously loving Outer Worlds and we made it because we love it, so now we get to keep on doing things to help support [it]."
The Codex will be interested to know that Robert has been trying to score a one-on-one interview with Feargus since last year in order to ask him about Chris Avellone's accusations from the now-legendary May of Rage. Those interview requests have been blocked, but clearly Chris did not get what he wanted.

I've wanted to speak to Urquhart since the Microsoft acquisition but for one reason or another I haven't been able or allowed to. Part of that, I'm sure, has to do with my wanting to put the allegations made by former Obsidian design director Chris Avellone to him.

Avellone accused Obsidian management of, among other things, meddling in projects and causing more harm than good, usually resulting in more work for the team. When Microsoft was rumoured to be buying Obsidian, Avellone even went so far as to Tweet Xbox boss Phil Spencer to say, "Hire the devs, fire the chaff at the top." Avellone elaborated on his frustrations with Obsidian management in an interview with VG247 earlier this year.

I still haven't had the chance to really sit down with Urquhart to put Avellone's allegations to him, and all the questions I asked him on this visit were off the cuff, made while we were walking around. It wasn't the time or place. But I did unearth some related information.

Microsoft didn't, for instance, "fire the chaff at the top". The co-owners, "they're all still around", Urquhart told me. No one has taken the money and run. Chris Parker, for instance - director of Alpha Protocol - is now making a new game, presumably in charge of it.

"I want to make role-playing games," Urquhart went on, "my partners want to make role-playing games, so this is the best place to do that. We all laugh [about] going to sit on a beach in Fiji but that would be entertaining for about a month. After your 47th Mai Tai...

"I and my partners - and everybody - got in this to make games. That's what's interesting to me. The thing with Microsoft changes that equation and that's cool."

By changing the equation, he means he no longer has to relentlessly pitch Obsidian to publishers to keep the lights on. "Increasingly my job over the last five years has been business, more and more and more," he said. "But more of my job now gets to actually be working on games."

In what capacity? "Meddling," he told USG, with what had to be a knowing grin. "I would love to be a game director again," he said. "I got to do that back on Fallout 2, I've done it intermittently for short periods of time here, and it would be cool to be a game director again."
As mentioned, USgamer's Kat Bailey was also at Obsidian that day. The details seem to be entirely recounted in Eurogamer's article, but you can read about what Feargus told her here and here.

There are 28 comments on Eurogamer checks in on Obsidian one year after acquisition

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Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 15 November 2019, 00:44:56

Tags: Brian Fargo; inXile Entertainment; Wasteland 3

Microsoft's much-hyped X019 event in London today ended up giving us little more than a seemingly endless stream of trailers for cartoony multiplayer games. That includes Obsidian's new game, which we're just going to pretend doesn't exist, thank you very much. Yet at the very end it was somewhat redeemed when Brian Fargo was finally allowed on stage, ushered in by Phil Spencer himself to close the show and unveil a new Wasteland 3 trailer. It's a gritty lament for the lost world of 1987, which you can tell because it's got a giant robo-Reagan.

Even before the trailer went out, Wasteland 3's Steam page was updated to indicate that the game is coming out on May 19th. It's on GOG now too, and on both stores the game is now available for preorder for a steep $60. There are some preorder-exclusive items which I expect will also be given to Fig backers. The only thing left to find out now is when backers are getting their hands on Wasteland 3's Early Access beta. Brian Fargo and Jeremy Kopman will be talking more about the game at X019 tomorrow, so maybe it'll be announced then.

There are 44 comments on Wasteland 3 gets new trailer, now available for preorder, releasing on May 19th

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Wed 13 November 2019

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Wed 13 November 2019, 23:51:45

Tags: Andy Kipling; Brian Mitsoda; Cara Ellison; Florian Schwarzer; Hardsuit Labs; Paradox Interactive; Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2

In addition to the development update where Hardsuit apologized for its delay, there were a number of other Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 panels at PDXCON last month that weren't livestreamed. Each one covering a different essential aspect of the game - combat, facial animations, narrative, and hub design. It seems Paradox aren't ready to release the full recordings of those panels yet, but for today's Bloodlines 2 dev diary they put together a video containing snippets from each one. It's not hugely interesting but there is some new gameplay footage in the facial animations part. Here's the video, along with an excerpt from Hardsuit CEO Andy Kipling's personal recap of his visit to PDXCON.

The next day we woke up early and headed over to the Funkhaus where PDXCon was being hosted. We had the chance to show the very same demo we announced the game with, back in March at GDC. To this day, there have been no recordings of this build, which meant that we could offer our guests something exclusive. As I got into the groove, it was 7 months since I last did this demo, I recognized that we hit our familiar stride with when doing the press demos, a demo that was well received. It would turn out to be a stark contrast to the next day, however.

Saturday the 19th started early. We arrived at the venue around 7:30 am and the fans were already there en masse. Kudos to you all who were standing around outside the early cold fall morning.

Demos with the fans started at 8:30 that morning and immediately I was surprised, excited and impressed. In all my years in this industry and with all the demos I have been a part of, I can not say I have ever had the privilege to present to a group of fans like the people at PDXCon. Within 30 seconds of starting the demo, our audience was clapping, cheering, shouting out answers for dialogue and generally showing a level of excitement I haven’t experienced before. And as a developer, that was super inspiring and emotionally fulfilling. For as early as it was, and as jet-lagged and tired I was, that initial experience was a real inspiration and something I took home to Seattle to share with the team. If only they also had been there. And to top it off, I had a Malkavian cosplayer in our audience!

From there it was a few more demos, followed by the big announcement show. After some quick rehearsals outside on the banks of the river Spree, it was back inside the concrete Funkhaus for a deep dive into combat mechanics, where I stood in for our designers, who had opted to stay home and press on with development. Despite my trepidation, it went off without a hitch.

By then, we had also settled into the rhythm that was our time at PDXCon. If one of us was not manning the demo booth, then someone was off giving a talk, be it on Combat, Living World, Dialogue Systems or the game’s narrative. Oh, and speaking of Narrative, I should note that while my experience reflected most of the other HSL dev’s experience, Brian and Cara, being responsible for our narrative, had quite a different experience; doing back to back interviews for two days straight. I’m truly impressed and glad that they could take on that responsibility.

[...] This takes me to the Dev Update on the main stage at PDXCon. While we did not end PDXCon with the keynote it did mark the culmination of a lot of behind-the-scenes work. We spoke to some of the history of the project, the studio, the relationship with Paradox, where we are presently and most importantly; where we are going from here.

I mentioned this earlier and I will mention it again, but the support that you all have shown us following the delay announcement has been tremendous and wonderful. It is that kind of response that inspires and motivates us developers and so I wanted to personally say thanks. It is something that we not only heard leading up to PDXCon but was reinforced over and over while at the event – do what is necessary and best for the game and we will support you.

So, with that in mind, and as we alluded to in the keynote, we are going to be a bit quieter for a while as we do just that – do what is necessary and best for the game; making it all it can be. This means that you may not hear or see from us as much but that does not mean we have forgotten about you. Rather, we are heads down working to make Bloodlines 2 everything we want it to be. We look forward to seeing you on the flip side. Until then...​

There probably won't be any more major Bloodlines 2 news until next year. I would still like to see those panels though. Maybe with accompanying dev diaries going into further detail?

There are 4 comments on Bloodlines 2 Dev Diary #7: PDXCON Recap

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Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 13 November 2019, 20:21:13

Tags: Call of Saregnar; Legendworks

Since 2014 or so, esteemed Codexer Damjan Mozetič AKA Rhuantavan has been working on an indie pet project by the name of Call of Saregnar. It's an oldschool first-person party-based RPG inspired by the likes of Betrayal at Krondor, Daggerfall and Realms of Arkania, but mostly by Betrayal at Krondor as you'll soon see. Somehow we never got around to posting news about it until now, but this new trailer Rhuantavan put together for the annual Slovenian Games Conference is the perfect opportunity. Check it out:

Call of Saregnar will probably be in development for quite a while longer, but it's definitely coming along nicely. If you'd like to help Rhuantavan and his small team out, you may wish to consider donating to his Patreon. Additional links and details are available on the game's official website.

There are 28 comments on Check out the first trailer for Betrayal at Krondor homage Call of Saregnar

People News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 13 November 2019, 15:52:22

Tags: Josh Sawyer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Most people realize by now that Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire was a commercial disappointment. The possible reasons for this have been debated over dozens of pages on our forums. Now Josh Sawyer himself has come clean about his game's failure, first in a post on his super secret goon forum two weeks ago, and then publicly as a response to a question on his Tumblr Q&A blog this weekend. His main problem is that he's not sure why the game didn't sell, which makes him a poor candidate to lead development on a sequel.

That is not something that I get to decide, but I do think that the relatively low sales of Deadfire mean that if we consider making another Pillars game in this style, we’re going to have to re-examine the entire format of the game.

It is difficult to know exactly why a sequel sells worse than its predecessor if both games review relatively well. Is it because the first game satisfied the existing need and the audience just wasn’t interested in the second? Is it because awareness was lower for the sequel? Is it because despite the strong reviews and the strong sales for the first game, people didn’t “really” like it? Maybe it’s a combination of all of these things.

The problem is that without really understanding the reason(s), it’s hard to know how to move forward. It would be easier in some ways if Deadfire were also a colossal critical failure and we could point to the massive screw-ups that we needed to address. Players did criticize the low difficulty at launch and the main plot, which I think are fair and reasonable, but those problems alone don’t really explain the difference in sales. And while player reviews were weaker for Deadfire than for Pillars 1, professional criticism tended to say that Deadfire was an improvement over the first game in most areas.

(Yes, Deadfire has an 88 Metacritic and Pillars 1 has an 89 Metacritic, but IMO Pillars 1′s review scores benefited from a nostalgia bump.)

Players who hate RTwP combat will say that it’s because Deadfire continued using RTwP combat, in contrast to the phenomenally better-selling (and better-reviewed) turn-based Divinity: OS2. Even if that’s true, Pathfinder: Kingmaker, which generally had lower review scores than Deadfire, sold better than Deadfire and had RTwP combat.

I’m sure some of the people reading this think they know precisely why Deadfire sold worse than Pillars 1. I don’t have that confidence, which is one of several reasons why I am leery about trying to direct a sequel. I couldn’t give our (Obsidian’s) audience the game that they wanted and without understanding where I went wrong, I would be guessing at what the problems are and how to remedy them.
Josh followed this up with some additional contemplation on Twitter. Faced with this sudden outpouring of agony, many people assumed that he'd become depressed about the whole thing. So it was a bit of surprise when in response to another question on Tumblr today, Josh announced that one of the games he'd be interested in directing is...Pillars of Eternity 3. But only if he can figure out what went wrong and how to fix it.

Most of the games I’m interested in making now aren’t ones that would have very large budgets.

I would like to make something akin to a Darklands spiritual successor at some point, though I would be less likely to cleave to Darklands’ mechanics than I was to stick with IE-ish mechanics in Pillars. I just like historical fantasy, especially in late Medieval/early modern Europe.

I’m still interested in making a game about running a bike shop in Chicago. This one is kind of a combination of a sim game and social interaction game, dealing both with the practical realities of running a bike shop as well as the social dynamics of how communities and bike shops interact.

I think the postbellum rise of Chicago is really fascinating, too, and I’m interested in some sort of game focusing on paranormal investigators during the height of American Spiritualism.

I would love to make a Pillars Tactics-style game that focuses on small set piece encounters and a strong, relatively short story with a lot of choice & consequence.

I’d love to make a medieval/early modern European murder mystery in the vein of Name of the Rose or Cadfael.

As awful as some people might find it, I’d really like to make a deeply cynical near future squad-based tactics game in the vein of Jagged Alliance, but you’re playing as some dickhead VP running a PMC cleanup crew and fucking them over to maintain your profit margins.

And I would be interested in directing Pillars 3 if I can figure out how to make it something I would enjoy that there’s an audience for. It may be that someone else would do a better job at that than me, though.
So what is Josh Sawyer up to these days, anyway? It looks like he's arrived in London for X019, so maybe we'll find out soon.

There are 153 comments on Josh Sawyer says he failed with Pillars II, would direct a third game if he can figure out why

Mon 11 November 2019

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 11 November 2019, 01:32:42

Tags: Adventure Construction Set; Earth & Beyond; George Ziets; Matt Barton; Neverwinter Nights 2; Obsidian Entertainment; Westwood Studios

Matt Barton's interview with George Ziets continues this week with some more discussion of the latter's early career. George got his first taste of game design with Stuart Smith's Adventure Construction Set, a mid-1980s game creation toolset that could be used to create Ultima-like RPGs. After talking a bit about how the industry has changed since then (so much more tools, so much more games), the discussion moves on to the topic of George's first professional game development role on Westwood's failed MMO Earth & Beyond. Apparently the game suffered from severe executive meddling, with the entire plot thrown out six months before it was due to release.

George's next role was on Neverwinter Nights 2, which as we know was a development hell of its own. The interview quickly segues into an amusing bitching session about RPG strongholds. George wishes they would all cut the faux-strategy game crap and just work like the strongholds in Baldur's Gate II. It's a really fun episode, and we haven't even gotten to Mask of the Betrayer yet. More to come next week.

There are 8 comments on Matt Chat 432: George Ziets on Adventure Construction Set, Earth & Beyond and Neverwinter Nights 2

Fri 8 November 2019

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 8 November 2019, 22:06:28

Tags: Baldur's Gate III; Beyond Divinity; Divine Divinity; Divinity II; Divinity: Original Sin; Divinity: Original Sin 2; Larian Studios; Swen Vincke

This is not the Larian news you've been waiting for, but for the first time in months there's reason to believe that something may be about to happen. Last week IGN published a single new Baldur's Gate III concept art of an illithid floating in its nautiloid ship.


It also turns out there was an interview with Swen Vincke in last month's issue of Game Informer, which is now available online. The interview is about the history of Larian and Swen's career, a topic that's been covered well enough in recent times, but I'll quote some of the more recent bits.

So how did Baldur’s Gate happen out of this?

I wanted to license an RPG system, preferably D&D, preferably Baldur’s Gate. I got in touch with them through somebody I knew from the industry. They put me in touch with Nate Stewart, who was the head of D&D, and so I got kind of an exam. Like, “What will you do with it?”

I was like, “I’m the perfect guy to make it.” And [then there was] nothing. But we kept bumping into each other at every trade show.

Eventually he calls me and says, “Do you still want to do this?” And I said, “Yes!” He invited me to downtown Seattle and in a shady bar he presented to me the full map for Baldur’s Gate 3. It was pretty much everything we had talked about. A couple of weeks later he called me and they said yes. So we needed to present them with a design document as we were making Divinity: Original Sin II.

So what was one of the biggest changes you made to Divinity: Original Sin during production?

It used to be a real-time game. We made it turn-based. I see that Yakuza has been taking from our book. [laughs]

I asked myself, “What are we doing? We’re making a real-time game because they told us.” Publishers told us that there’s no way you’re going to get your distribution deals if it’s turn-based. It needs to be real-time, blah, blah, blah. We’ve been conditioned into thinking real-time. I was in the shower, I was like, “What are we doing? We’re gonna be competing with Blizzard making an action RPG? We can’t compete with Blizzard, we don’t have the resources. But no one is making turn-based RPGs anymore. So maybe that’s where we should be going.” And that was a really good move.

For Baldur’s Gate 3, how do you encapsulate the entire Dungeons & Dragons system in a video game? Where do you even begin?

It’s really how do we capture the books, the rule system, the feeling you have at the table in a video game, and how do we do that without alienating people that have never played D&D in their lives. Mixing that, I think we found it. You guys will have to judge. You can’t make a game without taking creative risks. You can, but then you’re just making the same game. We’ve taken a lot of creative risks, more than people will expect, I think, considering the amount of money we’re throwing at it.

For instance, in Divinity: Original Sin II, you can do almost anything. How do you build a ruleset that can handle all that?

We try to be very consistent about it. “Systemic” is the in-house word. If it’s not systemic, it doesn’t go in. Basically, we learned this over time, one of the errors that we made in our early games was we were so focused on getting the money that we were puting the systems in there as gimmicks so that we were going to convince people to put money into the games, right? We learned that if you put something in a game, it has to be consistent throughout the game, something that you can always use. If you can’t, you shouldn’t put it in there. We’ve gotten better at it over time because one of the criticisms was always [that] we were very ambitious, but [the games were] badly executed. What people start discovering in D:OS, we just make those systems work always. Whenever we put in a new system it has to work with the existing systems, and if you make those complete, you get stuff like this. That’s where the beauty comes from.

One of the developers came to me and was like, “I’m playing with my buddy, and I’m doing the exact opposite of everything he wants to do.” He said, like, “[The other player] is gonna ruin the game.” I told him, “Don’t worry about it. This game has got you covered.”
In other news, yesterday at a local gaming event called Level Up KL, Swen announced the opening of a new Larian office in Malaysia to help develop Baldur's Gate III. And today Larian released another one of those silly Divinity: Original Sin 2 free Gift Bag DLCs. So what is all this leading up to? Maybe it's all just a coincidence, but note that Google Stadia is launching on November 19th. I doubt Baldur's Gate III will be out this year in any form, but it wouldn't surprise me if they showed us something to help promote Stadia.

There are 40 comments on Swen Vincke Game Informer Interview, New Baldur's Gate III Concept Art, Larian Expands to Malaysia

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Fri 8 November 2019, 01:22:12

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; The Outer Worlds; Tim Cain

The Outer Worlds has been out for two weeks now. It's now clear that the game is a commercial success, as confirmed earlier this week by Xbox's Phil Spencer and by Take-Two CEO Strauss Zelnick in today's quarterly earnings call. There have been several developer interviews since launch day, but yesterday's interview with Tim Cain at PC Gamer is the first one to discuss the game's future. The Outer Worlds had a remarkably bug-free launch, so Obsidian have been taking their time with its first patch. It will be out soon though, and then a second patch around Christmas, after which they plan to begin thinking about the sequel. No mention of DLC, though. Here's the relevant portion of the interview:

Cain and his co-director Leonard Boyarsky knew what they had to live up to with The Outer Worlds, shipping an Obsidian RPG—especially since they created Fallout, and Obsidian hadn't made a game in this style since 2010's New Vegas. Before they even had concept artists, they'd written more than 100 pages of worldbuilding material, defining voice and technology and corporations down to specific word choices: Robots have circuit boards, but they don't have chips.

"We got really picky like that. For me, I want to know that 10 years from now, when I'm probably not working on this, that it's still the game I imagined," he says. "Plus, I saw Fallout going in a different direction. No fault of their own—we didn't leave a lot of notes around. So as people started working on it, they had to play the game and go, 'I think this is what they meant...'"​

They did their best to cross every T and dot every I, but what ended up being most surprising about The Outer Worlds was its painless launch. That's the other thing Obsidian's games in this style, like New Vegas and Knights of the Old Republic 2, are known for: Being a bit buggy.

Cain says they were prepared to crunch after release, fixing crashes and issues players ran into. But it was so smooth, they've been able to take a breather and take some time before the first patch, which should be out soon, and respond to some more substantial feedback.

"Somebody found a place that it consistently crashed, but just on one platform, and then there's been another bug where sometimes companions get in a bad state in your ship," Cain says. "But for the most part the things we're fixing are things people have asked for, like larger fonts."

Another quality of life issue he intends to fix is that vending machines don't show how much you're carrying, which makes selling items while over-encumbered a tedious process. There's also difficulty, which came as a surprise: Many players have asked for a harder setting that doesn't come with the restrictions of the Supernova difficulty. He's got a list of UI things to address, and hopes to put out a second update around Christmas, once more player feedback comes in. But when we spoke, it was definitely time for a well-earned victory lap.

I asked Cain about the creation of one of our favorite characters in The Outer Worlds, the robot SAM. The idea for SAM, a no-personality no-illusions-of-humanity plain' ol robot, was to build a companion for players who wanted to play without the "peskiness" of companions having their own sidequests, but with some of their advantages.

Writer Megan Starks took on Sam, and Cain told her: "It's not sentient. But it's programmed to be upbeat, trying to be helpful. It seems everything through the lens of its programming, which is, 'I clean things."

"She wrote some really awesome stuff, Cain says. It says things sometimes that you're like, is it being meta? It's saying something just about cleaning but it's actually sometimes social commentary, too. We had originally thought he was going to be more robotic and it was Megan who said, 'I think it should sound like they recorded a salesman at the factory, who was super excited like, 'Oh my God, I get to be the voice of a robot.'"

So far The Outer Worlds seems to be the kind of success story that makes you wonder why Obsidian hadn't made a game in this style for so long. According to Cain, it wasn't for lack of wanting—it's just been hard to get them made.

"This is the form of a game I love to play," he says. "It's not necessarily open world, because we get tighter control over what kind of narrative we tell. Hub and spoke, is what a lot of people call it. First-person gives us a cool immersion. I know Leonard mentioned once years ago that we had already planned to take Fallout first person after Fallout 2.

"I don't know why a lot of publishers think nobody wants to play this. Part of the reason Obsidian hasn't done it, is because publishers didn't want them. Now Microsoft, I think, is going to keep making stuff in this vein, because this looks so popular. But I can tell you three years ago, not a lot of people were interested in this style of game and Private Division took a chance, and they were really good."

For now, he's got a few months of work ahead to take feedback on The Outer Worlds and prepare that second patch. After that? Well, nothing's official, but it sounds like there's more Space Capitalism ahead.

"I want people to play for awhile and then see what the friction points are and see if there are bugs we missed, put out something before or after Christmas and then think about sequel," says Cain with perhaps just a bit of a twinkle in his eye. "I don't think we're probably going to talk about that. But I'm thinking about it."
According to an announcement on the Obsidian forums, that first patch should be coming along sometime next week. Obsidian are also going to be at Microsoft's X019 event in London on November 14th. If there is any DLC planned, perhaps it'll be announced there.

There are 93 comments on The Outer Worlds is a commercial success, patches and sequel on the way

Tue 5 November 2019

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Tue 5 November 2019, 20:25:21

Tags: Solasta: Crown of the Magister; Tactical Adventures

The Solasta: Crown of the Magister Kickstarter campaign successfully concluded last month. Two weeks ago, Tactical Adventures announced their plan for keeping us updated on its development. They intend to publish weekly dev diaries on the game's website and Steam page, plus monthly recaps that will also be pushed to Kickstarter. It seems sensible to post news about the latter. As you'd expect, the first dev update isn't about one thing in particular but rather a quick look at everything the team has worked on this month, which includes Solasta's unnamed main city, tutorial levels, world map mechanics, character creation and more. Here's an excerpt:

Main City

There's one question that has been asked quite a few times during our Kickstarter: "Is Solasta a pure dungeon crawling game?" If you've been following our updates, you'd likely know the answer is no! We actually just started working on the main city - which will remain unnamed for now as we don't want to spoil too much. We're still evaluating how much of it will be open for you to visit, we'd hate to pour too much time into that and end up having to cut other locations as a consequence. For those of you out there who are wondering - yes, there will be a tavern, for what's a city without one!

Campaign Introduction

It's no secret that most games nowadays need tutorials to ensure that the player understands how the game works. This could be as simple as pointing out elements in the UI (for instance, many people complained they couldn't find the "Rest" button in the Demo), or as complex as explaining the rules of combat to someone unfamiliar with the tabletop ruleset (Action, Bonus Action, Reaction...). So, in order to do that without boring our future players to tears, we've been working on including those during our Campaign Introduction Levels!

Game Design

There's quite a lot we still need to refine in terms of rules and how everything works in Solasta. For instance, we've been working on Design Documents on two significant topics that weren't part of the Demo: Traveling & Random Encounters. What is revealed on the World Map (more on that later!) and what isn't? How do you travel to undiscovered locations? How do other RPGs handle traveling? This is but a tiny glimpse into the mass of questions we have to find answers to when we put a design onto paper in order to avoid wasting time coding something and realizing afterwards that... well, it just doesn't work (or it does, but it's not fun).

Other topics we've been tackling include climbing (how high can you climb? What affects the DC?), sleight of hand (can it be used for something other than stealing? What happens if you get caught?), rethinking the inventory system again (by the end of the project I think fingers won't be enough to count how many times we've revamped the inventory) and... Party Banter! (Kickstarter Stretch Goal)

Tools & Gadgets

Tools and what now? When you're creating a level, you need tools and gadgets to do what you want. Sometimes, it's something as simple as saying "This door can be lockpicked" or "When I activate this lever, I want that door to open"... but the simple things are often the most crucial ones! So, our Programmers make sure that our Level Designers get what they need - as once they make the gadget, our Level Designers can use it as much as they want. Now some of you might already have an inkling of a larger picture here... If I said modding, would that help?

Wait wait wait, what does this have to do with modding? Well, if and when we release modding tools, we want people to be able to easily make more dungeons and levels - and that's where all these tools & gadgets come in. Everything we add for our Level Designers, we want Modders to be able to use it later on.

Invisible Work

Designers & Artists often get to show off their work with pretty screenshots and gifs, but Programmers? They work in the shadows, carefully biding their time before they can finally OVERTHROW THE TYRANNY OF... Sorry where was I? Ah yes, Programmers. Among other things that you cannot see, but are very important, they've been making improvements on all types of movement (Jumping, Climbing, Crawling...). Because yes, even little things like your character going prone to crawl through a duct automatically when you click on it needs some programming love behind it. Otherwise you'd be stuck with manually having to tell your character to go prone, then crawl, and then manually telling your character to stand back up. Ugh.

Fun fact, our CEO also implemented Character Creation! If you remember the Kickstarter Update where we showed you a sneak peek, back then everything was on paper - now we can actually create a character in-game.
Solasta's CrowdOx pledge management portal will be launching later this month. That's handy because it gives us time to deliver the money from our fundraiser, which ends this Friday. Last chance to get the game if you missed the Kickstarter campaign.

There are 1 comments on Solasta Development Update #1: Goodbye Telema!

Codex Review - posted by Infinitron on Tue 5 November 2019, 16:03:47

Tags: Disco Elysium; ZA/UM

There was only a single review of Disco Elysium up on Metacritic when the game was released. Now there are many of them, nearly all glowingly positive. It's time the Codex joined its voice to that chorus, and I can think of no better person to do the singing than blessed bataille, our expert on all things literary and post-Soviet. Get ready, because things are about to get deep:

Instead of giving us the usual freedom to become a soon-heroic, god-chosen nobody, Disco Elysium puts the player in the tear-and-alcohol-soaked shoes of a particular *somebody*. That somebody has a name, a face (sort of), a semblance of life, and a long history of destructive self-abuse, all of which slowly resurface during the course of the game.

While it may seem somewhat restrictive to disallow self-insertion in a cRPG, it helps the story to focus on the inner turmoil of our character as much as on the people and events that surround him. After all, the game’s original title used to be No Truce With The Furies, and that alone illustrates pretty well how important it must have been for the authors to have a singular ruined soul at the epicenter of the narrative. Since one obviously cannot construct effective personal drama for all possible player avatars (the only guaranteed common trait being player agency), the authors made the furies torment our hero through his prior life. It’s one of the instances where Disco Elysium’s PC-centric pen-and-paper origins shine through and affect the standard cRPG conventions. The scope is narrower but more focused, intimate, intense. A bit like that other text-heavy RPG with a set protagonist.

To dial it back a little and return us to the dimension of *computer* role-playing games and their freedom to play as whomever thou wilt, ZA/UM employs an obscure literary trope known as “total retrograde amnesia.” Or was it a selective memory wipe? A mere pretense fueled by shame? Repressed memories? Something more supra-natural? The reason for blanking out is up to the player to establish later down the line. Whatever the cause, only our past is set in stone, and it is for us to decide what kind of person we will become by the time all hell inevitably breaks loose.

The first step on the path of self-discovery is to distribute 8 points between the four main attributes: intelligence, psyche, physique, and motorics. Each attribute governs 6 thematically appropriate skills that may range from something as simple as Logic or Endurance to the more esoteric Inland Empire and Shivers. I highly recommend everyone to read their full descriptions, even if you don’t plan on investing in some of the skills. Besides providing clues and tips on what attributes to pick for certain archetypes, they’re simply a joy to read.

What really stands out when you start familiarizing yourself with the skills is how difficult it may be to fit some of them into the existing RPG categories. It takes a bit of time with the game to truly get what Esprit de Corps is really about, for example. What do Shivers actually do? What’s the difference between Drama and Suggestion? The skill selection might be the player’s first encounter with the experimental side of Disco Elysium, a sign of things to come. It only gets weirder - and sadder.

After a binge of world-ending proportions, our nameless, featureless, and pantsless hero wakes up on the floor, in a room, in a city, on a continent; all of them totally unknown and mysterious (except maybe the floor). How does one proceed under such arcane circumstances? By initiating an inner monologue of course! But who does the talking? Your skills, my liege. Depending on your choices during character creation, it may be Inland Empire lamenting that we didn’t get to see what was on the other side of the killer debauch, or Logic trying to piece something together from what little information about our current situation we have, or Pain Threshold welcoming the anguish that comes with being alive. They start talking when you regain some of your higher cognitive faculties and don’t shut up until the credits roll.

The easiest way to understand how you interact with your skills is to imagine the bicameral mind and-- that’s it, actually. That is exactly how it’s done. The player is in control of what the cop (ah, that’s one mystery solved) says and does, and your skills do most of the background thinking, guiding you to failure and regret (and an occasional triumph).

Oddly enough, each of them has a distinct personality and a... portrait. In a lesser RPG, these could have been templates for the player’s potential party members. They’re chatty, opinionated, and, most importantly, often fallible. Half Light, the mix of a psychotic barbarian and a scaredy-cat which is supposed to represent your fight-or-flight response and vigilance in the face of danger, will misjudge the gravity of a situation as often as assess one correctly. Despite its strong-willed facade, Authority often acts as a feeble sleazeball that tries to exploit its position in the warrior caste and use it as a lever to subjugate other people and get RESPECT. Conceptualization is just a third year humanities student always looking for opportunities to turn life into a living canvas. Fair enough. 24 almost-people to see you through this week-long hangover.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Disco Elysium

There are 397 comments on RPG Codex Review: Disco Elysium

Mon 4 November 2019

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 4 November 2019, 00:42:06

Tags: Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magick Obscura; Baldur's Gate III; Baldur's Gate III (Obsidian Entertainment); Digimancy Entertainment; Disco Elysium; Earth & Beyond; George Ziets; Journey to the Center of Arcanum; Loom; Matt Barton; The Outer Worlds

The first episode of Matt Barton's interview with George Ziets is a direct continuation of his Digimancy Entertainment announcement from two weeks ago. George said then that he wants his new company to make RPGs with unusual settings, and in the first part of the episode he goes over some of those settings - Arcanum (he finds the Journey to the Center of Arcanum sequel concept intriguing), Ravenloft, the LucasArts adventure game Loom(!), and of course Planescape. In the second part of the episode, George shares his thoughts about a few new games, namely Disco Elysium, The Outer Worlds, and the upcoming Baldur's Gate III. It turns out that when Obsidian were trying to pitch their own BG3 back in 2008, there were a few people in the studio who tried in vain to make it turn-based. George believes that Larian's game will be turn-based, but he has no inside information about the project.

At the end of the episode George talks a bit about how he got his start in the gaming industry at Westwood, where he worked on cancelled MMO Earth & Beyond. Apparently he got an interview invitation from BioWare shortly after he started working there and had to turn them down - quite a life-changing decision. According to Matt, there will be at least three more episodes with George.

There are 16 comments on Matt Chat 431: George Ziets on Alternative Settings and New Games

Fri 1 November 2019

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 1 November 2019, 21:36:42

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

Looks like all the vaporwarey indie RPGs are checking in these days. What's been going on with Realms Beyond since its last update back in June? It turns out Ceres thought the game's combat demo would be ready by now. It's been taking longer than they expected to polish it to perfection and they now plan on releasing it in January. One essential feature for the demo is the character creation interface, which is the main topic of today's Kickstarter update.

It’s been a while since our last update. We’ve been hard at work designing maps and writing quests – and finishing up the combat demo, which is taking us longer than expected. The main reason for that is the combat demo’s scope: rather than just giving you an arena with a handful of fights, we give you a small story, four different maps with varied environments, shops to buy new equipment in, and the full character creation system as it will appear in the complete game.

The combat already works very well, but we still need to finish up the character creation menu and the shopping interface, and the encounters you’re going to face in the combat demo will have to be playtested a couple of times to make sure it offers just the right amount of challenge. The combat demo is the first taste of the game you’re going to get, and we want to make sure the first impression is a great one. Honestly, we underestimated the actual amount of work the combat demo would require. At the end, we don’t want to release unfinished gameplay elements and that’s why we need to spend more time in designing, implementing and polishing than originally planned. Therefore we are moving the release date of the combat demo to January.

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Character Creation

The most important part of any RPG is its character creation. Many of us have spent hours trying to create different character builds in Fallout, or assembling that perfect party of six in Icewind Dale or the old Gold Box titles. Realms Beyond is going to offer you a complex character creation tool that gives you all the classic choices you would expect – ability scores, classes, skills, feats – and some unique ideas of our own that allow you to further define your characters and their role in the world.

Rather than just picking a race and be done with it, Realms Beyond lets you choose your character’s origin: which region of the world does your character hail from? It is more than just a cosmetic choice, as your character’s origin will influence the knowledge of local customs, politics and events the character has, as well as the reaction some NPCs will have towards that character.

Furthermore, you will be able to select a descent for your characters: which social class they hail from and what they did before they became adventurers. Noble, craftsman, peasant – these descents also come with unique background knowledge for your character. Characters with a noble background will be familiar with the customs of the nobility, while characters with a peasant background will be able to tell a farmer why his crops are failing.

The character backgrounds are more than just flavor, as they will occasionally offer unique insights into the events you encounter during the game.
The update also includes a batch of new screenshots showing various areas recently added to the game, but since we're out of room here you'll have to click to see those yourself.

There are 35 comments on Realms Beyond Kickstarter Update #21: Combat Demo in January, Character Creation and New Screenshots

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 1 November 2019, 15:49:49

Tags: Copper Dreams; Whalenought Studios

To few people's surprise, the Copper Dreams beta ended up not coming out in late September, or in October. Joe and Hannah haven't fallen off the face of the earth, though. As today's Kickstarter update announces, they've got an exact release date for the beta now - November 15th. Along the way, they've also decided to scrap the party combat system that was described in the previous update, so it's back to single character with non-controllable companions now. The update has the details on all of that and more:

Due to some pesky life stuff, we haven’t been able to finalize what we needed to for the beta — primarily driving enemies and some visual anomalies that need updating like mesh-swapping armor pieces working and some effects that will make gameplay more clear. Our newest alpha build featuring the start of those will be up in the next few days, followed by a video showcasing the beta, and releasing it on the 15th of November. A thousand apologies for the delay — we're very excited to finally get it in your hands, and will be on track for a 2020 release.

Beta testers, you’ll be getting an email when that’s available regarding what help we’re looking for with the start of the game. It'll explain what we can focus on tweaking with your suggestions while adding more of those maps in as we continue to finish stitching them together.


The new dialogue layout is pretty slick, using the power of multiple cameras! The characters are all animating 3d models from the game-world who gesture with their chat bubbles. Keywords are thought bubbles, and you get a little report card for people you meet with any known info you've obtained that's important. Aptitudes also use this and show their roll info in their own panels nearby. This was a social roll to get this drunk to follow you around.


The last update we talked about the RISK meter and segmenting turns to different party members. Shortly after we tested and discussed this companion-combat with some of our Alpha backers, we decided to roll back to single-player turn-based combat. Companions will remain auxiliary and the player can direct general commands to (move/attack/talk) as originally planned. Defend is now a normal action you can roll for while playing. Companions are both other agents, hires, and anyone on the street if you can charm/bio-hack them.

Map Stitching

A big part of 2019 activities involved revising some code to get more enemies on screen, better performance with the line of sight transparency and black, as well as stitching together the map. Map loading is so 1999 [insert plethora of games that already got around it], and 20 years later I think we can dismiss it as lazy. And disruptive! I think back to a game like Dungeon Siege, and it was really neat that the whole game was just one enormous map you wade through — it really pits you in the world, rather than seeing it as a small art piece or tactical map.

For a more modern city, having interiors, rooftops, and underground all webbed together gives a much more organic feel, and a lot more tactical variance. This is also effective for the combat and NPC sensory mechanics — with a wide open and expansive the map, not having the safety of a loaded room also makes you vulnerable. Climb a roof and jump into a 3rd story window to escape some gang members, and they could follow, or be welcomed by a bunch of winos with broken bottles inside to surround you.

The Mega-Map is also a very organic way of going from block-to-block in the wilds of Calitana, and it's fun to just rage-drive your way out of a block if you need to get outside quickly. Prior to this map to map points always bottle-necked into large gates to transition scenes, but now there can be multiple streets that exit.

Between more populated towns (city blocks) there lies the urban wilderness, or more appropriately, urban wasteland. With grids down, civilians abandon these areas, and the streets are held by the gang and the gun, and a good taxi or a Treader with a turret attached are your best bets to get through.
Check out the second half of the update for details about Treaders and the game's other drivable vehicles, including lots of animated GIFs. If your vehicle is equipped with a turret or you have an extra pair of cyber-arms, you can automatically fire at enemies while driving around. Joe and Hannah are still figuring out how to best implement that.

There are 8 comments on Copper Dreams Kickstarter Update #26: Combat and Cars, Beta Coming November 15th

Thu 31 October 2019

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 31 October 2019, 23:08:40

Tags: Stygian Software; Underrail; Underrail: Expedition

The Expedition expansion for Underrail was undoubtedly this summer's most significant RPG release. While it's now been overshadowed by other titles, development on the game continues. Today it received its first major update since the expansion launched. Stygian are calling it the Core City Factions Update and it's intended to be the first in a series of wide-ranging content updates featuring all sorts of additions and tweaks. As Styg has previously hinted on our forums, they've also begun work on a second expansion which will be a standalone campaign featuring a new player character. The latest development update has the details:

Hi guys,

We're rolling out the first content update after the Expedition release and we're doing it directly on the main branch so good luck everyone! But first, a few words regarding our current state and our future plans.

Despite having hardly any mainstream press coverage upon release, Expedition sold decently well in the initial wave and then kept doing well in the following weeks. This is very encouraging because this tells me that during the years we did manage to establish a big and dedicated enough of a fanbase, that is keeping an eye on the game and spreading the word about it, that we are no longer at the mercy of whims of individual mainstream journos of dubious gaming pedigree. Speaking of individual whims, we did in the end get a huge visibility boost (that translated into a financial one) from our friendly Ugandan YouTuber in the form of this video. Much love to Sseth.

Our plans for the future are two-fold. First, we intend to release at least a couple more content updates. These updates will vary in size, but you can probably expect something comparable to this one. They will feature mostly minor quest changes, new items, couple new areas and possibly some moderate mechanical changes. I don't know how frequent these will be, but we'll do our best not to keep you waiting for too long.

Secondly, and this will be our major focus, we'll start working on another expansion for the game. This one will be a standalone campaign in which you'll play as a new character in an area that will not be connected to the main game. We decided to do it this way for two reasons: first, because the base game is big enough as it is and we don't want to add more of the big content chunks either horizontally or through further character scaling (we will be adding some smaller stuff through the content updates, though); and secondly, we want to be able to revisit certain base mechanics and design patterns we used in the base game and improve upon them without either making the game inconsistent or having to redesign major parts of the base game. We'll talk more about what these things are and how we're improving upon them in the future.

That's it regarding our plans. We'll try to keep you guys posted on the development.
I think we know now that it will probably be years before we see that second expansion, but these themed content updates might help pass the time. Check out the full update for the complete changelog.

There are 30 comments on Underrail Dev Log #64: Version - Core City Factions Update

Wed 30 October 2019

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 30 October 2019, 19:26:03

Tags: Fatbot Games; Vaporum: Lockdown

The Legend of Grimrock series might be over, but we still have Vaporum, the steampunk dungeon crawler considered by some to be the next best game in the modern revival of the real-time grid-based dungeon crawler genre. The developers at Fatbot Games have been talking about doing a prequel since last year and today they're ready to reveal it. Here's the announcement teaser and press release for Vaporum: Lockdown.

Vaporum: Lockdown, a prequel to the award-winning steampunk dungeon crawler Vaporum (Vaporum Trailer), is coming out in early 2020, and will be available on Windows, Mac, Linux, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One. The game expands on everything that made the first game good, including more menacing enemy types, broadened skill trees, new gadgets, plenty of new unique items, and original puzzles and mechanics. Vaporum: Lockdown follows the story of Lisa Teller, a teleport operator & scientist, who struggles to survive the aftermath of a terrible event.

About Vaporum: Lockdown

Vaporum: Lockdown is a prequel to the award-winning steampunk dungeon crawler Vaporum (90% rating on Steam). It is a grid-based, single-player, single-character game, seen from a first-person perspective in an original steampunk setting, inspired by old-school games like Dungeon Master I and II, the Eye of the Beholder series, and the more recent Legend of Grimrock I and II.

You will encounter even nastier enemies with unique strengths and attack patterns. To beat them, you will have to employ a broad array of weapons, gadgets, upgrades, and smart tactics.

Fortunately, there's plenty of powerful toys to play with. Brand new weapon types, each with a specific use, many new unique weapons, synergistic armor pieces, gadgets that allow you to raise your own army of underlings or to manipulate the battlefield, boosters, and more.

Prepare to solve new kinds of puzzles and hazards, using new interactive elements, which will test both your wits and reflexes. The overall storyline will have you piecing together a solution to the main obstacle, where the individual pieces are spread over several levels. You will learn a lot more about the world and its inhabitants through voiced dialogs, phonodiaries, and written notes.

Improve your exoskeleton to be ready to face the dangers that lurk around every dark corner.


  • Fight in real time! First-person real-time combat with deadly foes with varied abilities and behaviors.
  • Stop time mode! Enable this mode at any time to cause time to only pass when you act, giving you unlimited time to reason about your next best move. Useful in both combat and puzzles!
  • Be tactical. Use various attacks and read your opponents – each enemy has a different set of strengths and weaknesses.
  • Fully voiced main characters. Explore the story through a fully voiced main protagonist and several other key characters, in the form of dialogs and phonodiaries.
  • Tons of customization options! The gadget-based RPG system allows you to evolve your exoskeleton over time and also adapt to any situation at will.
  • Absorb fumium from defeated enemies. Unlock additional circuits in your exoskeleton and gain new bonuses and skills.
  • Keep your wits about you. Solve level-wide objectives and puzzles that vary in difficulty.
  • Explore and loot. Look for optional passages filled with additional challenges and rewards.
  • Survive the chaos that has set in after terrible events, and escape the tower on full lockdown!
  • Immersive steampunk setting. Beautiful graphics, stunning sound design, and an atmosphere of constant danger lurking around every corner.
According to its Steam page, Vaporum: Lockdown is due out in the first quarter of 2020. Fatbot plan to reveal more details about it later on at their new official website.

There are 10 comments on Vaporum: Lockdown is the upcoming prequel to steampunk dungeon crawler Vaporum

Fri 25 October 2019

Codex Review - posted by Infinitron on Fri 25 October 2019, 20:11:11

Tags: Heluo Studio; Tale of Wuxia

All right, that's enough JRPGs on the Codex front page. It's time for a CRPG. By which I mean a Chinese RPG of course. I've never heard of Tale of Wuxia before, but it must be good if Darth Roxor decided to just randomly review it out of the blue. Indeed, he considers it to have one of the best character systems he's ever seen in an RPG. So read on, gweilos:

Tale of Wuxia’s main tagline is that it “has been dedicated to providing gameplayers with a player-defined platform, where they can customize their own Wuxia” (“Wuxia” is Chinese for “martial hero”), so as you may imagine, character building is an important part of this game.

And what a platform for character building it is! When you look at the system at first, you might get suspicious, because it has all the elements that don’t work in most other games, and which lend themselves to a great many trap builds. I’m talking of course about the multitude of statistics (there are around 40 things to raise), and the fact that seemingly useless things (“tea-making”, “calligraphy”) are coupled with what looks like obviously superior options (combat stats). In another game, you’d identify the dump stats, pump your sword skill to maximum and set sail to victory.

This is not at all the case in Tale of Wuxia. Here, all the statistics, from floriculture to martial arts, are useful to some degree, for a number of reasons. For starters, most combat styles in the game scale off two abilities – a primary combat skill and a secondary skill. For example, there’s a Taoist sword-fighting style, whose effectiveness is influenced by your skill in calligraphy. Similarly, a throwing weapon style will need high chess-playing. A zither (yes, the musical instrument) fighting style requires a high score in music. So on and so forth.

Also, a word on how the styles actually work. Apart from being influenced by a primary weapon skill and a secondary support skill, they usually give you a set of three unique moves in combat, though the most basic ones may be limited to two moves. All the moves require energy (mana, more or less) to perform, while the higher-tier abilities are only unlocked when you reach enough proficiency in a given style, and they also go on cooldown when used. Switching between styles in combat is possible, but it puts all the better abilities on cooldown, so effective switching requires a modicum of planning to pull off. The move sets are all clearly focused on a specific purpose, and the abilities often work best in combos. To follow the example of the Taoist sword style – the first, basic attack gives you a mana shield, the second move buffs you with vampirism (leeching both health and energy from damaged enemies), and the third is an area-wide slash that ignores armour. Proper combination of the three can leave you almost unkillable.

The versatility and flexibility when it comes to the combinations of skills and fighting styles gives tremendous freedom and breadth to the character system. The ways of building your wuxia are numerous, and you might switch between different styles many times throughout the course of the game – whether it’s because a new one you’ve just unlocked is more powerful than what you had before, or because you got bored of the old one and want to try something different.

Furthermore, raising various skills to high levels often gives you various long-term boons. These might be unlockable choices in adventures, skill check opportunities, or entirely unique events that are triggered only at certain skill thresholds.

There’s also a nice synergy between the above aspects, as the events you unlock often serve to let you gain new combat styles, which might not even be related to the skill that triggered a given adventure. Of course, these events will also net you experience, new acquaintances, items and the like.

Another element that ties all these parts together are the “internal arts”. These are basically passive abilities that boost your character’s performance, and their functionalities vary wildly. Some simply give stat bonuses (some of which keep rising the longer combat goes on), but others are more involved, and may give you a poisoning aura, let you move freely through enemy zones of control, periodically remove debuffs, etc.

Obviously the final piece of the puzzle that makes the system whole is equipment. You don’t get to play dress-up too much in Tale of Wuxia, as you can only have three items equipped at a time (a weapon, an armour, an accessory), but the bonuses they provide are still significant. Apart from the obvious features like boosting your attack and defence, your gear will also grant you additional abilities, which are not unlike the internal styles.

When you combine all these parts – stats, combat styles, internal arts and equipment – you can get so many, so different character builds and playstyles, it’s honestly almost overwhelming. You can mould your character into an unbreakable, ever-regenerating bulldozer, an artful dodger, a toxic avenger, a mass-slicer and dicer, Cacofonix, a ranged pinner and kiter, an immortal swordsman, a fan-slapping paralyser… and more. Or combinations thereof. It’s completely crazy, and it’s unlike anything I’ve seen in an RPG.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Tale of Wuxia

There are 63 comments on RPG Codex Review: Tale of Wuxia

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 25 October 2019, 01:21:08

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; The Outer Worlds

The development of The Outer Worlds began in early 2016, and there are indications that it may have been planned as early as late 2015. Yet the desire for a Fallout: New Vegas successor from Obsidian goes back much earlier than that. I've always thought it was crazy that they weren't immediately picked up to make another game of that type, and it's sort of tragic that having taken so long to finally arrive it's now seen as a kind of throwback retro experience. Over the past three days The Outer Worlds has been streaming all over the place, the Take-Two marketing machine finally roaring to life. The masses are aware, and we shall soon know whether the cult of New Vegas is still strong.

The Outer Worlds is available for purchase for $60 on the Epic Store and the Microsoft Store. However, if you have Windows 10, we recommend that you instead rent the game via Xbox Game Pass for PC, which costs just $1 for the first month. They're practically handing it out for free. If you ask me Epic got ripped off here.

There are 70 comments on The Outer Worlds Released

Tue 22 October 2019

Review - posted by Infinitron on Tue 22 October 2019, 19:50:41

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; The Outer Worlds

Obsidian unveiled the launch trailer for The Outer Worlds on Friday, a week ahead of the game's release. With three days to go the reviews are out now too. Allowing reviews before launch day is a sign of confidence in a game's quality, and as you'll see that confidence was for the most part well placed. But first, the trailer:

Here's a list of all of today's reviews of The Outer Worlds. There are a lot of them! Scores generally range from high to very high, although a few notable websites chose to ding the game down for playing it too safe. On the whole, it averages a couple of points higher than Fallout: New Vegas.

App Trigger 8.5/10, Ars Technica
Attack of the Fanboy 4/5, AusGamers 8.5/10
CGMagazine 9/10, COGconnected 91/100
Critical Hit 8/10, The Daily Dot 4.5/5
Daily Star 4/5, Destructoid 9/10
DualShockers 9.5/10, EGM 5/5
Eurogamer, GameCrate 8.25/10
Game Informer 9.25/10, GamingTrend 65/10
Game Rant 4.5/5, Gamers Heroes 9/10
GamesBeat 91/100, GameSpace 9/10
GameSpew 8/10, GameSpot 9/10
GamesRadar+ 4/5, Game Revolution 4.5/5
God is a Geek 8.5/10, Hardcore Gamer 4/5
IGN 8.5/10, Kotaku
Mashable, Metro GameCentral 9/10 8/10, PC Gamer 79/100
PCGamesN 7/10, PC Invasion 7/10
PlayStation LifeStyle 10/10, PlayStation Universe 10/10
Polygon, Press Start Australia 8.5/10
Push Square 9/10, Rock, Paper, Shotgun
RPG Site 8/10, Screen Rant 4.5/5
Shacknews 9/10, Stevivor 9.5/10
Time, The Digital Fix 7/10
The Indie Game Website 8/10, TheSixthAxis 8/10
TheXboxHub 5/5, TrueAchievements 4.5/5
Twinfinite 4/5, USgamer 4/5
VGC 4/5, Wccftech 7.8/10
We Got This Covered 5/5, Windows Central 4.5/5
Worth Playing 9/10, Xbox Achievements 92/100​

GameSpot's review also reveals The Outer Worlds' sixth and final companion, who (somewhat predictably) turns out to be an enthusiastic robot named SAM. At this point we've probably seen enough of the game, but in case you want even more, Obsidian will be doing a "Twitch Plays" crowd-directed livestream on their Twitch channel later today at 15:00 PDT.

There are 49 comments on The Outer Worlds Launch Trailer and Reviews

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 22 October 2019, 01:20:09

Tags: inXile Entertainment; Wasteland 3

The Wasteland 3 backer alpha was released just under two months ago, and by all accounts seems to have made a good impression. The next step is the Early Access beta, which inXile said would be releasing in "late fall" back in June. According to today's Fig update the team will be at Microsoft's X019 event in London next month on November 14th, so I expect more details will be revealed around then. Also in the update, a look at some of the weapon customization options for Wasteland 3's mighty armored truck, a recap of inXile's visit to Gamescom, and a roundup of backer alpha previews and feedback survey results. Here's an excerpt:

It’s been a couple of months since we released the backer Alpha, and while game development continues, we’ve been incorporating bug reports and feedback. While most of the results are being kept in-house so we can work on them, determine best steps forward, etc. we have a few fun highlights to share with you further down this update.

Alongside the Alpha, Wasteland 3 was at gamescom, where we debuted a new trailer, had hands-on with the game both behind closed doors with press and in the Deep Silver and Xbox booths, and were ecstatic to have been awarded “Best RPG” at the show.


We’re happy to announce that we will be attending X019! Tickets are still available to purchase. If you’re going, be sure to stop by and say hello, and of course don’t miss the Inside Xbox livestream at 12pm PDT on November 14 for plenty of Xbox Game Studios news and announcements.

More info on the X019 page here:

Steel Horse

The Kodiak is your vehicle in Wasteland 3, and as you can customize and outfit your team of Rangers, so too can you upgrade and outfit your vehicle to get around Colorado. We think of the Kodiak as a full-fledged member of the team, and it’s a big part of your play experience. It gets you around the world map, but even more important are its capabilities in combat. Changing paint schemes and visual appearances is awesome (and will offer a ton of customization), but making it tougher and more formidable against your enemies will be what transforms it from a junker to a high-end war machine.

We’re going to give you a little sneak peek of some concepts for the turrets you can attach to the Kodiak in Wasteland 3—which is the most powerful weapon slot type you can equip. The Railgun you’ve likely already seen from the Alpha, but there are a few new ones below.

[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

More from Cologne

There was also a ton of coverage from gamescom from Brian Fargo and Game Director Tim Campbell, as well as interviews from Lead Level Designer Jeremy Kopman who we sent out to San Francisco to get the game in front of US press sites.

Here’s just a small smattering of the coverage that came out of it:
Thanks for reading, and we’re looking forward to seeing you at X019!​

I particular recommend reading the interview with Jeremy Kopman at VentureBeat, which reveals some details about the game world outside the alpha location.

There are 5 comments on Wasteland 3 Fig Update #33: Going to X019, Kodiak Turret Customization

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