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Fri 13 December 2019

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 13 December 2019, 23:30:15

Tags: Gothic (THQ Nordic Remake); THQ Nordic

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THQ Nordic announced that they'd acquired Piranha Bytes and the Gothic IP back in May. While most people were thinking about the future of ELEX 2 under its new owners, it turns out they had additional plans. Namely, the development of a high fidelity remake of the original Gothic. However, it seems THQ aren't sure there's a market for it, so they've taken the unusual step of releasing a playable prototype on Steam to all owners of previous Piranha Bytes games. Note however that the remake is not being developed by Piranha Bytes, but by a different THQ Nordic subsidiary in Barcelona. They've put together a trailer and comparison video for it, and the accompanying press release has the full details. I quote:

Barcelona, Spain / Vienna, Austria, December 13th, 2019 - „Welcome to the colony!“ – how is it possible that 18 years have passed since we first heard that phrase at the beginning of Gothic, the game that set a milestone in the history of German fantasy RPGs, such as Risen and Elex? Since then, we all have grown older, acquired some wrinkles, and are laughing at how we look in pictures from the early 2000s – or how games looked back then.

But, what if we could turn back time, take everything that was great almost 20 years ago, and put it in a beautiful modern look (let’s say powered by Unreal Engine 4) along with improving some things that were not that great, like the combat system, for example?

To find out what the true Gothic fanbase thinks of a modern remake of the cult classic RPG, THQ Nordic and it's new Spanish development team, THQ Nordic Barcelona, will start an experiment. Today, a free playable prototype (Gothic Playable Teaser) of what a new Gothic could look and feel like will appear in the Steam Library of everyone who owns a game from Piranha Bytes, be it Gothic 1-3, Risen 1-3, or ELEX. They can play the yet-untitled Gothic Remake project and roam around the Mining Colony of Khorinis. After that, THQ Nordic is eager to learn from the players through a survey following the completion of the prototype, whether and how it should proceed with the production of a full Gothic Remake, or leave the heritage and the great memories associated with it untouched.

You want to learn more about the Gothic Playable Teaser? Check the official website:


We know you must have a thousand questions– we’ll try to cover a few in this FAQ:

Q: Who is developing this project?
A: THQ Nordic Barcelona. You can find out more about the studio at (Hint: We are looking to grow our team)

Q: Is Piranha Bytes involved in the project?
A: No! Piranha Bytes is working hard on a different project, which will be announced in 2020.

Q: Wait, why can we only play two hours?
A: Because it’s just a prototype, done by a new small team in Barcelona and we wanted to do an unusual approach and give this into the hands of players early. What you are going to play is all we have to show you at the moment.

Q: Ok, got it. But if we want the full game, how long do we have to wait?
A: Quite some time. We will only start full production if the community demands a Gothic Remake. In order to do so, we will need to grow the development team and rebuild Gothic from scratch.

Q: This can become a remastered HD version of Gothic?
A: We’d like to call it a remake. We are using a completely new tech (Unreal Engine 4) and so basically nothing but the story, the setting, the atmosphere, the music and the world of Gothic will remain. The whole tech, all graphics, the sound, different systems will be recreated according to modern high quality standards.

Q: Can I buy the prototype?
A: Yes and no. Everyone who owns ANY game from Piranha Bytes will get it for free - so if you don't have either Gothic, Gothic 2, Gothic 3, Risen, Risen 2, Risen 3 or ELEX you can buy one of them now and the prototype is also yours.
Well, regardless of whether this goes anywhere and how it turns out, it's nice to have an ETA for the announcement of ELEX 2.

There are 107 comments on THQ Nordic want to remake Gothic, playable teaser released to owners of previous Piranha Bytes games

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 13 December 2019, 22:07:35

Tags: CD Projekt; Cyberpunk 2077; Disco Elysium; Raphael Colantonio; Weird West; Wolfeye Studios; ZA/UM

Another year is coming to its end, and as we know the last chance to announce something important before the year ends is at Geoff Keighley's annual Game Awards event. So what did we get yesterday? Unfortunately Baldur's Gate III did not show up, nor did any Outer Worlds DLC. There was some other stuff though, like a Cyberpunk 2077 behind-the-scenes soundtrack featurette, a teaser for some sort of League of Legends turn-based RPG called Ruined King, a new trailer for the Gears of War turn-based tactics game announced last year, and a hilariously awful trailer for a new D&D co-op action-RPG called Dark Alliance. For the Codex, the most potentially interesting announcement at the event was probably Weird West, an unexpectedly isometric action-RPG by WolfEye Studios, the new company launched by Arkane Studios founder Raf Colantonio and revealed to the public last month. While the announcement trailer describes the game as an action-RPG, its Steam page refers to it only as an immersive sim. We don't generally cover that sort of thing here, but considering the people involved, I'd say it deserves a shoutout.

As for the actual awards, the biggest winner of the evening was none other than Disco Elysium, which ended up winning the awards for best RPG, best narrative, best indie game and best indie game from a new studio. That almost makes up for having to watch three hours of crap.

There are 16 comments on The Game Awards 2019: Disco Elysium wins everything, Raf Colantonio's Weird West, and other nonsense

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Thu 12 December 2019

Game News - posted by Darth Roxor on Thu 12 December 2019, 15:35:24

Tags: Golden Era Games; Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar; Turtles

If for some inexplicable reason you still haven't grabbed Cleveland Mark Blakemore's masterpiece Grimoire: Heralds of the Winged Exemplar from one of the many retail outlets that it can be purchased from, you will be delighted to know that it has just entered the GOG catalogue.

Check out the snazzy new trailer!

Gaze upon the extensive list of features! (which for some reason fails to mention the secret buttons in secret places that do secret stuff)

After more than 20 years of development, the greatest roleplaying game of them all is finally ready for release! Grimoire is an homage to the classic dungeon blobbers and is inspired by Wizardry, Might & Magic, Lands of Lore, Anvil of Dawn, DungeonMaster and the Eye of the Beholder games!

600 hours of play possible in a single game
Lush Colorful 2D Hand Drawn Artwork
Retro style MIDI music and 8 bit sound effects
244+ Maps in the game to explore!
Turn-Based strategic combat
Multiple Beginnings, Multiple Endings
144 context sensitive magic spells
14 races, 15 professions, 50 skills
64 intelligent NPCs with 8000+ Words in Vocabulary
Full Sentence Communication with NPCs
240+ monsters each with special powers and defenses
1000+ items, Carry Containers, Global Party Inventory
30 conditions, from Confusion to Disease & Lycanthropy
Automapping, Autowalking, Autohealing
Global Map Atlas With Position Marker
Quest Journal, Hint Prompting, Help Facility, Mini-Quests
Complex LockPicking Interfaces for Doors & Chests
Challenging Puzzles and Rich Interactive Dungeons
Browsable Character Library for up to 100 characters
Multiple Crafting Workshops for all items
Up to 12 Commented Postage Stamped Savegames
Multi-themed GUI and customizable screen layouts​

And finally grab it here for the bargain price of 6.99 United States Dollars (or 9.32 once it goes off sale if you're a slowpoke).

There are 93 comments on Grimoire now available on GOG

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Mon 9 December 2019

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 9 December 2019, 23:52:48

Tags: George Ziets; inXile Entertainment; Matt Barton; Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer; Torment: Tides of Numenera

As it turns out, this week's episode of Matt Barton's interview with George Ziets is in fact the final one. The first half of the episode is about Torment: Tides of Numenera, which George says suffered first and foremost from overpromising and overscoping. He believes the game's problems, including the poorly balanced adaptation of Numenera tabletop mechanics and excessive prose, all stem from this. In the second half of the episode George answers various questions, mainly about the future of Digimancy and RPGs in general. He'd like to create an RPG set in a realistic far future space setting and would also love to work in Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea universe. George isn't sure he'll ever be in a position to create a game as good as Mask of the Betrayer again, but with Digimancy he might have a chance.

Matt's interview with George Ziets is now over, but it might be the beginning of a new wave of Matt Chat interviews after years of relative inactivity. George has helped him get in touch with developers he hasn't interviewed before, including Kevin Saunders and other inXile & Obsidian folks. Stay tuned!

There are 47 comments on Matt Chat 435: George Ziets on Torment: Tides of Numenera and the Future of Digimancy

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Thu 5 December 2019

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 5 December 2019, 22:16:58

Tags: Bigben Interactive; Black Shamrock; Cyanide Studio; Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory

Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory was supposed to have been out on October 3rd. The game looked decent and that date would have put it right between Stygian: Reign of the Old Ones and Disco Elysium, making for a very exciting month for RPGs. But then Bigben announced that the game was going Epic-exclusive for a year, and then it got delayed...twice! Today the game was finally quietly pushed out with no promotion whatsoever. There isn't even a launch trailer.

You can grab Paranoia from the Epic Games Store for $30 (or $35 for the Ultraviolet Edition which includes some cosmetic DLC and an "experimental weapon"). But honestly, if the publisher has so little confidence in their product, I don't see how they can expect gamers to have any. I wonder what the hell happened here.

There are 55 comments on Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory Released

Wed 4 December 2019

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 4 December 2019, 20:34:11

Tags: Alexander Mishulin; Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous

It was always clear that Owlcat Games would follow up the success of Pathfinder: Kingmaker with another Pathfinder RPG. Last week they began teasing something on social media, with a series of images gradually revealing a hidden artwork. It seems that by Sunday the Pathfinder experts in the audience became convinced that they were looking at an adaptation of a certain tabletop adventure path, and they were not mistaken. Today Owlcat officially revealed Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous. It's an epic adventure set in the Worldwound region of Golarion, where a planar tear to the Abyss has unleashed a permanent demonic invasion. According to PC Gamer, who got an early look at the game's feature list, Wrath of the Righteous will include at least two new base classes (the Witch and the Oracle), a new race and new archetypes, plus it'll incorporate the Mythic progression system which is basically Pathfinder's take on epic level abilities. The game will also feature some sort of equivalent to Kingmaker's kingdom management layer, which I guess is now an Owlcat trademark. I'll just post PC Gamer's entire writeup here:


I never set out to become a king, but apparently the king life can just choose you, as my poor confused Cleric found out in my first playthrough of 2018's Pathfinder: Kingmaker. He showed up trying to pay off his student loans and ended up sitting on a throne fending off dryads, giant owlbears, and tax collectors.

At release, Kingmaker offered deadly CRPG combat and memorable moments of humor (like the Inconsequent Debates quest) alongside a unique kingdom management aspect. "The muscle memory I developed playing Baldur’s Gate for hundreds of hours came straight back to me," Andy Kelly wrote in our review.

However, Kingmaker also drew criticism from a number of bugs and contentious difficulty. As Owlcat Games announces Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous today, the studio looks to build on the series' foundation. “We learned a lot from the launch of the Pathfinder: Kingmaker. Now we are making a lot of effort to make sure the game will be released far more polished. A lot of issues came from the fact that the player has a lot of choices in the game, and some of those choices (especially ones that are set apart by 20-30 hours of gameplay) tend to interact in the ways that we didn’t predict.” said Alexander Mishulin, creative director at Owlcat. Mishulin also described additional tools that have been created to help level designers “follow the entire decision tree to make sure the team appropriately addresses all branches.”

Wrath of the Righteous will migrate the RPG to a new part of the world of Golarion, the Worldwound, a demon-infested wasteland where a planar tear to the Abyss—which you’ll be able to visit—has opened. This unfortunate landscape is where you’ll be thrown into a war between mortals and demons. I imagine that a widespread demonic siege will ratchet up the stakes a bit. I’m definitely more worried about rampaging demons than whether or not to pay off a mafia of bards, as I frequently found myself doing in Kingmaker.

Wrath’s setting is actually based on the adventure module for the Pathfinder tabletop game of the same name, so “players of the original adventure path will encounter a lot of familiar faces and encounters, but [there] also will be new characters, twists, and stories,” said Mishulin.

With this change in setting comes a corresponding shift in visual style, moving Pathfinder towards a darker vibe. A meager, single piece of art has been released so far, but from it I can see that the emphasis on the angelic versus the demonic is heavy, and that the action is more dangerous: swords are bloodied and demons are having their faces disassembled.

Owlcat is also bringing at least two new base classes and the mythic progression system from the Pathfinder tabletop game. This system will let you pick from several different Mythics, including a mischievous trickster, an immortal lich, a celestial angel, and others. The mythic progression system grants quite a few powerful ability choices in the tabletop game, so you can expect to have an extra layer of customization on your main character.

Regarding new classes, we know for sure that the Witch—who operates precisely like you’d expect with spells, hexes, and a witch's familiar—will be making an appearance. Alongside them, the Oracle, who is a kind of belief-oriented holy spellcaster, is joining the cast to butt heads with the demonic hordes. There’s no concrete details on which other classes or prestige classes will appear, but there will be new ones beyond those that appeared in Kingmaker, and there’s also going to be a new race and new archetypes to play with.

The unique part of Kingmaker was certainly the kingdom management, and I’m hoping the system will add more meaningful choices in assembling settlements and reduce the number of high risk/low reward events. “In the Wrath of the Righteous we want to keep the best parts of the mix of strategic and RPG experiences," Mishulin told me. "Make it slightly deeper, with a better connection to the core experience and tailored to the story of the Wrath of the Righteous. And of course, we will be listening to our fans to make this system even more enjoyable.”

From the sounds of it, we’ll see a return of a similar system. Perhaps Wrath will put a focus on managing the war effort against the demonic invaders similar to Mass Effect 3? I’d certainly like to see my next befuddled cleric confront a more serious threat, though I imagine he’ll probably be trying to figure out if his loan servicer will accept demon scales.

Owlcat hasn’t shared a release window with this announcement, but more information should come with time over on Wrath of the Righteous' official website.
Owlcat, who left their corporate parent and became an independent studio back in October, apparently raised $1M from venture capital firm GEM Capital to help finance this game. It's unclear if that means there won't be a crowdfunding campaign, although you'd think they would have mentioned it to PC Gamer if they were planning one. By the way, according to GamesIndustry's article about it, Chris Avellone is involved with this too.

There are 59 comments on Owlcat Games' next RPG is Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous

Mon 2 December 2019

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 2 December 2019, 23:57:16

Tags: 4 Dimension Games; Archaelund

Back in February we posted about Archaelund, the upcoming Realms of Arkania-style RPG by the Codex's DavidBVal set in the world of his previous game Exiled Kingdoms. Archaelund was originally supposed to come out on Steam Early Access in early 2020, but now it looks like it's going to be late 2020. The game has come far enough along to get its own Steam page though, including a super cool teaser trailer. I'll post the trailer along with the Early Access FAQ:

Why Early Access?

There is already an active community following Archaelund's development in forums; we want to broaden this community and give them an Early Access version so they can participate. Listening to players is essential, plus we love to have an active community playing, enjoying the updates and providing feedback during the upcoming years of development.

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?

The goal is to release the first Early Access version in fall 2020, then over the following years to make gradual updates until all the planned content is implemented. Our priority is making the game as good as it can get, and make it huge, so we have no dates set in stone.

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?
  • The Early Access version to be released on fall 2020 includes around 30% of the whole planned geographical areas.
  • Some of the already available areas might be improved during development.
  • The Early Access version covers the character progression up to a limited level, based on the available content at the time.
  • Many more Advanced Careers and playable races are planned, as moving into new Careers is an important part of the character development once mid and high levels are reached.
  • The first Early Access release only includes the first chapter of the Main Quest.
We will make a great effort to make all saved games compatible through each Early Access update.

What is the current state of the Early Access version?

The Early Access version scheduled for fall 2020 will be a playable game with all the core mechanics of Archaelund being functional. The geographical content will include most of the Southern March, a large semi-civilized region of Archaelund. The first chapter of the game's main quest will be completable, as well as dozens of handcrafted quests. This amounts to no less than 30 hours of playable content, probably more.

Will the game be priced differently during and after Early Access?
We will gradually raise the price during the Early Access stage, as we add content and features.

How are you planning on involving the Community in your development process?
By listening attentively, of course! Both positive and negative feedback will be considered. No matter how much thought and work we put into a game, the interaction with players and listening to their opinion is essential to reach the full potential of Archaelund.
Fall 2020 seems like a long time from now, but it's all relative. David tells us he's planned a five year development cycle, with almost four years still left to go until the game's final release.

There are 14 comments on Archaelund gets a teaser trailer, releasing on Early Access in Fall 2020

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Mon 2 December 2019, 22:31:25

Tags: Baldur's Gate III (Obsidian Entertainment); Dungeon Siege III; George Ziets; Matt Barton; Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity

After taking a week off, Matt Barton is back with another episode of his interview with George Ziets. The episode starts with a couple more questions about Mask of the Betrayer, which soon leads to more discussion of George's narrative design preferences with regards to settings, stories and choices. After that George talks a bit about Dungeon Siege III, which he returned to Obsidian to make (following a short period at Zenimax working on The Elder Scrolls Online) after having been promised he would get to be narrative lead on Obsidian's Baldur's Gate III (which as we know never got off the ground). Without going into details about internal politics, George confirms again that he was forced to go against his design preferences and simplify DS3's narrative, leading to a title that satisfied neither Dungeon Siege fans nor classic Obsidian RPG fans.

Another game that George has some misgivings about is Pillars of Eternity, which he thinks could have turned out better if Obsidian had selected a single story pitch instead of doing a "contest" that ended up combining elements from multiple pitches. Matt doesn't spend much time on Pillars though and chooses to move straight on to Torment: Tides of Numenera, which is the topic of next week's episode. There might be another one after that, too!

There are 1 comments on Matt Chat 434: George Ziets on Narrative Design, Dungeon Siege III and Pillars of Eternity

Fri 22 November 2019

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Fri 22 November 2019, 14:05:56

Tags: Anshar Studios; Gamedec

After an exclusive early reveal at PC Gamer yesterday, Anshar Studios have officially published the first in what will be a series of dev diaries for their upcoming cyberpunk virtual world detective RPG Gamedec. The topic of this first video is Low City, the perpetually dark underbelly of 22th century Warsaw where players will spend much of their time between missions. I'll post it here along with an excerpt from the accompanying press release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – November 22nd, Katowice, Poland.

Warsaw City, where Gamedec takes place, isn’t officially divided into districts, but everyone knows if they’re in the upper, middle, or lower part of town. The inhabitants of these three areas have completely different qualities of life. In today's video, Łukasz Hacura, an executive producer from Anshar Studios, together with Marcin Przybyłek, author of the Gamedec saga, explain the complexities of Low City. Watch the video and transport yourself to a place where natural light does not reach.

Watch the first Gamedec development diary HERE and prepare yourself for virtual world investigation.

Low City is a place where, even on a sunny day, it’s so dark you can’t get by without artificial lighting. It’s where apartment prices plummet, Public Transport Tubes terminate, and aurocar stops start to show up.

The lower you get, the lower the population becomes. At the very bottom, called RoU (Roof of the Undercity), you can find both deserted places and areas bustling with life.

If you stand on the lowermost walkway of Low City and look 150 meters down, you will see the mist and dust-covered ruins of Old Warsaw. That’s Undercity. Inhabited by savages who rejected civilized life and nasty creatures like poisonous bats or toxic, mutant rats. Low City is protected from those oddities by MG buoys. Whenever they detect a bat approaching or a rat climbing one of the towers, they open fire, eliminating the menace.

Temperature disparities between Low City and Mid City can cause weather anomalies like dirty rains, created by vapor condensation under the walkways of Mid City.

Low City’s biggest allure are the night clubs that are open 24/7. If you don’t come from this polis layer and you intend to visit it, take a few words of advice.

First, watch your account. Don’t let any suspicious-looking individual, even a kid, come near you without a good reason. Second, don’t believe everything you’re told. Third, think twice before going online using local equipment: it’s all knockoffs and patched-up salvage, infusion liquids are not original, and a “cheap gamepill” can damage your metabolic pathways.

So, if you decide to use local devices or medications – do it at your own risk.

Oh, and pay some kid to watch your stuff while you’re in VR. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.​

Anshar have been running a "Steam Wishlist Challenge" since last month where they'll unlock various goodies as the game receives more wishlists. They're also running a community survey that you might want to check out. There'll be more to come next year, I expect.

There are 28 comments on Gamedec Dev Diary: Introducing Low City

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

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 36 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 29 comments on Eurogamer checks in on Obsidian one year after acquisition

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

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

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 36 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 211 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 52 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 115 comments on The Outer Worlds is a commercial success, patches and sequel on the way

Tue 5 November 2019

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

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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

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