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RPG Codex Interview: The Banner Saga, 2D Turn-Based Strategy RPG

Interview - posted by Crooked Bee on Sun 18 March 2012, 22:38:35

Tags: Alex Thomas; Kickstarter; Stoic Studio; The Banner Saga

UPDATE: The Banner Saga Kickstarter is now live! Check it out and support it here:

The Banner Saga -- a 2D turn-based tactical strategy/RPG hybrid currently being developed by Stoic Studio, a small team of ex-Bioware employees -- is about to go the crowdfunding way, with a dedicated Kickstarter page scheduled to be up tomorrow. The game got quite a few people excited over here already by its promise of turn-based tactical combat as well as by taking its inspiration from King of Dragon Pass, among other games. We even have a lively thread about it here in the General RPG Discussion subforum.

That's me interviewing Alex Thomas on The Banner Saga

Therefore it should come as no surprise that, before the launch of the Kickstarter campaign tomorrow, we've sent some questions over to Stoic Studio's Alex Thomas and he was kind enough to answer them for us, this interview being the result. Have some snippets:

As a game designer, what do you think of the current state of the video game industry, and strategy/RPG industry in particular? Are there certain trends that are worrisome to you or, on the contrary, that you particularly appreciate?

AT: Well, one of the main reasons we decided to make a game was because one of my favorite genres has been disappearing lately- turn-based strategy in the style of Shining Force or FFTactics. In my opinion, the problem with giant AAA games has always been the inability to innovate, which got left to the startups and the indie games. Indie development, of course, can't afford to push the tech, the visuals and the complexity of big games like Skyrim. The fact that indie is becoming more and more viable while big publishers keep chugging along is fantastic because I think we're going to start seeing a lot more overlap between the two. I can't think of a more ideal situation. That said, it has been a little disappointing seeing such an overpopulation of shooters versus everything else. I like a good shooter as much as the next guy, I'm just looking forward to a little more balance in the genres that I think will slowly come back around.​

In general, what makes a strategy game "deep" in your view, and where should RPG elements come into play?

AT: Alright, now we're getting into some dangerous territory. I can already see getting some strong feedback on this one. Our biggest prerogative in making a game with strategic combat, is that it's truly strategic. In some turn-based strategy it's just stat comparison and grinding, and that becomes outright dull. In fact, it's practically the opposite of strategy. Chess or Go, on the other hand, has no stats and is the pure essence of strategy. I'm not saying we're going to be the next chess. What we are aiming for is a balance of these things. We have a system in place that I don't think has been seen much. It requires finesse in placement, using the board and understanding the strength of weaknesses of all your pieces, but it also has an element of rpg with a few stats and abilities that need to be taken into account, and characters that upgrade over time. I can't wait to start showing it in the near future.​

Elsewhere, you cited King of Dragon Pass, Final Fantasy Tactics and Mount and Blade as influences. In what ways would you want The Banner Saga to be similar to each of those games? Do you have some specific points of similarity in mind?

AT: Absolutely. Our travel mode, as mentioned before, is where events happen. Much like King of Dragon Pass, the people you pick up in your caravan as you travel are not just warriors but peasants and clansmen and just a wide range of society. As you travel they'll react to things in different ways. There may be strife within the caravan that you have to deal with, and making one decisions may bite you in the ass later. For example, a certain family may make a demand that the rest of the caravan is against. If you deny them, a few days later they may run off with supplies overnight. If you acknowledge them it may turn into a string of events that are much more costly. We're thinking of travel mode as a moving village. They're not just commodities, they act like real people and that's what I've always loved so much about KoDP.

Final Fantasy Tactics is the kind of mood we want to capture in combat. It was the first game to really feel like it had game mechanics that went way beyond surface level and I would play it for the sheer joy of experimentation. I imagine there were a lot of people like me who had maxed out the characters and classes before even getting to Dorter. That feeling of building a "deck" of characters with abilities that complement each other tactically, the way you would make a specialized deck in Magic: the Gathering, is something we wanted for combat in the Banner Saga.

As for Mount and Blade, well, I can't we've taken much from the gameplay. It's my absolute favorite game and what I really enjoy about it is the mood and setting more than anything else, the real sense of survival in the world and the way politics actually affect the gameplay. More than anything, this is one of those influences that lead us to making games.​

We are grateful to Alex for taking his time to do the interview! I'll be sure to edit this post once the Kickstarter goes live and keep you all updated.

Meanwhile, be sure to read the interview in full: RPG Codex Interview: The Banner Saga, 2D Turn-Based Strategy RPG

UPDATE: The Kickstarter page is now up: Check it out.

There are 478 comments on RPG Codex Interview: The Banner Saga, 2D Turn-Based Strategy RPG

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Codexian Wasteland 2 Location + Statue Fund-Raising Drive

Competition - posted by DarkUnderlord on Wed 14 March 2012, 07:22:28

Tags: Brian Fargo; Codex Statue in Wasteland 2; Kickstarter; Wasteland 2

Want this in Wasteland 2?

Carrying on from this thread (and as suggested by this thread), the Codex is aiming to raise $5,000 for the Wasteland 2 KickStarter currently being run by inXile. If successful, this will score us an in-game statue (we're going for the Codex Troll as created by MCA, shown above) and a Codexian-based location.

Brain Fargo, CEO of inXile has confirmed that he is willing to work something out for us if we can raise the cash:

If your group puts 5k together I will find a way to make sure there is a shrine for a codex shrine or something else if you have a clever idea. I'm am quite flexible and I know at the end of the day I really want groups like yourselves to be happy with this game.​

UPDATE (March 15): Only $1k left to go. Tally is now on the right side of the front-page, where hot topics used to be.

Chris Avellone has also thrown in this offer:

If you need further incentive for members, you can let folks know that anyone who donates more than $250 to the Codex cause I'll draw them a personal Codex troll they can use for their avatar or for a quick-and-simple emoticon.​

As a thank you from the Codex, everyone who donates will get at least one months ad-free for every $5 donated to the cause (just give me a few days to set that all up). To find out more, including the current (updated as of March 15) list of donors, follow this link.

UPDATE (March 16): We have officially reached our goal with just under $7,000 raised. As soon as I transfer some of my own funds, we will reserve a statue place in the KickStarter for the RPG Codex (under the Codex' name). Due to possible tax / PayPal fee issues, we're putting in $6k towards the KickStarter and will hold the rest until we know for sure how much the charges will be. We now need ideas on what to do if we raise more dosh... And of course, you can still drop in $250+ for your own MCA troll!

UPDATE (March 17): Check the content item for updated donors. Also, please be advised that processing donations takes at least 48 hours. So if you've donated and aren't on the list yet, give it at least 2 days before you PM me asking why you're not on the list. Also, we may have a tax problem... Please stand by.

UPDATE (March 18): Ok, hopefully we've resolved the tax issue and we've changed our PayPal account. Check the content for more details and an updated list of donors! This will likely be the last update in the news item for now, but I'll continue to update the donor list and the tally daily.

UPDATE (March 20): We've decided to end the fund-raising drive when we reach $10k. Also, if you've donated but don't want one of the digital copies we get, let me know (names with an * in the list are those I've noted - some people have advised me but if you've not got an *, advise me again). Updated donor list and additional details are in the content item.

UPDATE (March 22): Updated donors. Going through and working out ad-free patron stuff now...

UPDATE (March 23): Our target of $10,000 has been reached (and surpassed just a smidge). We've now closed the fund-raising drive and will (just as soon as the funds clear) make our contribution to the Wasteland 2 KickStarter for the RPGCodex!

UPDATE (March 28):

It has been done! See the content update for more details.

More details available here, including an updated list of donors.

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Wasteland 2 RPG Codex Interview - Part 2: Michael A. Stackpole

Interview - posted by Crooked Bee on Tue 6 March 2012, 08:27:11

Tags: Kickstarter; Michael A. Stackpole; Wasteland; Wasteland 2

When we at RPGCodex learned about Michael A. Stackpole, a key original Wasteland designer, joining Brian Fargo's new team, we had this pretty great idea: why don't we interview him as well and hear his thoughts now, more than twenty years after Wasteland was released, on the way the possible sequel should be designed in this day and age? There were a few things we were really curious about, and luckily, Michael was up for it, so here we have the result.

We are extremely grateful to Michael A. Stackpole for taking his time to answer our questions and to Brian Fargo for green-lighting the interview! Special thanks go to @MMXI for the splendid job he did in editing and refining the questions that I originally worded quite clunkily, and to @Monolith for troubling Brian Fargo with the whole thing.

I can't help but quote a good chunk of the interview for you:

- An extremely important part of Wasteland was its puzzles. Today, however, it seems that elaborate puzzles have no place in cRPGs. Why do you think this is? Do you consider them a viable element in modern game design? If not, what could be a contemporary replacement and would it be possible to create something as memorable as, say, Finster's Brain without them?

MS: The things that players tend to remember the most about Wasteland adventures were not the puzzles per se, but the moral choices players had to make. When I do book signings, now 24 years after Wasteland came out, I still get folks wanting to know what the "correct" solution was to dealing with the rabid dog. Why? Because they felt like hell killing the dog. The dog puzzle, if you will, engaged players on an emotional level. That's not something that happens when you're killing ten orcs to get a key to unlock a chest which contains a scroll which will let you find a treasure which is the sword that lets you kill a monster. Why designers haven't stepped up to engage players emotionally is beyond me; though it may have to do with the difference between making puzzles and creating stories. Ultimately, creating stories is what we did with Wasteland, and what we'll do with the new Wasteland.

- Today's role-playing video games tend to be developed with maximum accessibility in mind. A lot of developers seem to discourage experimentation and exploration by introducing features such as quest markers to guide the players. Wasteland, however, didn't hold your hand at all, and it was therefore extremely easy to miss out on large chunks of content. What is your stance on this today?

MS: A hunk of the appeal of rpgs is the element of discovery. My preference would be to keep everything in world, but quest markers and other visual clues on a mini-map might be something which is useful. Then again, with a top down view, getting and using clear and concise directions is a lot easier than in many a FPS or MMORPG. For my tastes, it would be fun to have a mode in which folks could get that hint information. Maybe a GPS device that functions off and on, so you use it sparingly. Ultimately, of course, we want the game experience to be fun, not frustrating. If navigation becomes a problem in that regard, finding a simple and elegant solution will move up in the list of design elements to be included.

- Wasteland represented conversations through a hybrid system of keyword typing and multiple choice selection, separating knowledge acquisition and quest progression. However, over the 15 years, full-blown dialogue trees have taken over the genre, with games such as Wizardry 8 and Morrowind being the last ones to experiment. Do you see any merit in alternative dialogue systems today? How would you approach conversations in Wasteland 2?

MS: The idea of handling conversations isn't as exciting for me as handling consequences of how the conversations conclude. I'd rather get into the meat of how you know someone is telling the truth, and what you do when you find out they've lied. It's possible to design an interface that not only takes into account player choices in a dialogue tree, but selects responses based on factors which the players might not even know about. Their actions in killing everything that moved in the last town might have a serious effect on how folks deal with them in this town. Ditto an action they take immediately, or even the folks they have in their party. I do a lot of dialogue in my day job. What is said isn't as important as how it makes folks feel. That's for the player. Determining how the NPCs feel and how that tempers their responses is just one more fun part of the design.

- An impression one gets from reading old interviews is that the Wasteland developers, regardless of discipline, were able to make their mark on the actual game world. As you once put it in an interview, "Everyone wanted to have his own map". Do you envisage this kind of collaborative design for Wasteland 2? How delicate is the balance between cohesiveness and variety in terms of locales?

MS: In the past quarter century (it hurts me to say that), I've spent a lot of time coordinating the development of some large worlds, like FASA's BattleTech Universe. I've worked with other authors, like Timothy Zahn, Kevin J. Anderson and Aaron Allston on coordinating elements for Star Wars® books. What I've learned through all those experiences is how to coordinate individual efforts and their contributions into the overall project. Short form, if the overall project has enough flexibility, you can allow designers to go nuts with their maps and not have it ruin the overall design. As long as what they do, and the best case scenario of how a player can come out of their map doesn't upset the balance, and as long as they include any specific design element to speed the overall story, you're good to go. So, we have the systems and room for folks to come in, and I'm really looking forward to their contributions.​

Michael also talks about how today's players see video games, Wasteland's character system, "depth and consequence" as that which Wasteland had and "a lot of RPGs lack today," and the importance of a voiced narrator and engaging text. I'm curious to hear what you all think about Michael's answers.

Meanwhile, be sure to read the interview in full: Wasteland 2 RPG Codex Interview - Part 2: Michael A. Stackpole

There are 236 comments on Wasteland 2 RPG Codex Interview - Part 2: Michael A. Stackpole

Wasteland 2 RPG Codex Interview with Brian Fargo - Part 1

Interview - posted by Monolith on Sun 26 February 2012, 00:55:15

Tags: Brian Fargo; Kickstarter; Wasteland; Wasteland 2

If you had asked me a couple of weeks ago whether a sequel to Wasteland could become reality I'd have asked if pigs can fly or who I should point my meson cannon at for making a FPS out of it. Then suddenly Kickstarter happened to a different, also quite underappreciated genre and here we are, presenting to you the first part of our interview with Brian Fargo - about Wasteland 2, how crowdfunding could make it happen and that it "is going to be a top down, party and turn based game".

Take a glimpse:
- Being pessimistic for a moment; if the crowd funding approach fails to take off, but you instead attract the attention of a publisher and hammer out a deal, do you feel that the resulting version of Wasteland 2 would differ in terms of style? How do you think crowd funding will affect the type of game produced?

RPG Codex being pessimistic.. cmon.. never. I guess one has to ask the question if the game would have been a sales success if there wasn't enough fan support to fund it. Many RPG players love and respect Wasteland yet many Fallout players don't realize its roots. If the Fallout community truly knew then it would probably will be a successful funding. However, if we took your pessimistic scenario I think it would be a mistake to take this game in another direction other than what we have been discussing with the fans. The fans have made it clear that they want a certain kind of game and if publisher X popped up and said "Good news we are going Wasteland and its going to be an FPS", they would be incurring quite a wrath. Keeping it closer to the original game just seems right.
And a look at the full article

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Ultima 5: Lazarus Interview with Ian Frazier

Interview - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Wed 15 February 2012, 20:24:27

Tags: Ian Frazier; Ultima 5: Lazarus; Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny

For quite some time now the bros in Jaesun's super-secret bro forum concerned themselves with a hobby-project of theirs. It was an interview about a Dungeon Siege mod, Ultima 5: Lazarus. Now, having a new, fancy homepage, we might as well put it online. I'll give you a snippet:

-What were your primary motivations for recreating Ultima V in a modern engine? How did the Lazarus project come about and how did you get involved with it? Why did you choose to remake Ultima V as opposed to one of the earlier or later games in the series?

The first motivator was simply a love of Ultima. After Ascension came out, I was incredibly sad. Partially because I was disappointed by Ascension itself, but more because I hated for the series I loved so much to finally be over. The idea of bringing it back to life (i.e. Lazarus) in some form was very appealing to me.

The next motivator was that Ultima V itself seemed to me like it had so much potential to be an amazing "modern" game experience. It had this story with shades of gray and this giant cool world to explore and an interesting, dark atmosphere…but all of those things were hinted at more than actually there—after all, the game was from 1987! NPCs had tiny snippets of dialogue, the graphics were archaic, the music was beautifully crafted but sounded very dated in midi form, etc. I wanted to take that core idea and spirit that made Ultima V so cool and bring it back to life with all that 15 years of technological advancement afforded us. (this is also why I didn’t choose to remake one of the later games—I felt Ultima V had the most potential, plus I thought Ultima VII was still playable enough that it didn’t “need” remaking)

The third motivator was selfish: I knew from 6th grade onward that I wanted to be a game designer, and as I was preparing for college I knew that I needed to make a game of my own to learn the skills and "prove myself," because class-work alone was not going to get me into the incredibly competitive games industry. I figured I needed a project and, well, Lazarus was it! Starting my first week of college, I began to sketch out the early designs for Lazarus and start trying to get fellow students and some Ultima fans online to join me in working on this crazy project, and eventually it started to build up steam. A long 5 years later, we finished!
Hope you like the read.

Read the full article: Ultima 5: Lazarus Interview with Ian Frazier

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At long last, we're finally back

Community - posted by DarkUnderlord on Mon 13 February 2012, 08:25:08

Well, it seems everything went all right and we've finally been able to bring the front-page back online. If you'd like to read more about the sordid story behind our month and a half offline recently, follow the link at the bottom.

In other news, gallery images will be brought online shortly. The actual gallery itself will take some time. We are enabling file uploads for patrons though, so that you can upload images directly into your posts (which should make updating LP's a breeze). For the time being, that will replace most of the functionality of our gallery.

Our spiffy new Tag feature is also still under-development. Expect that to come online over the coming months. Content Search and News Archives are also still on the to-do list. And then there's TCancer... which I still have to write a bunch of converters for and solve a rather major technical issue before I can bring that back.

Until then, enjoy your New iCodex 2.0 and feel free to complain about missing features / make new feature requests. Hopefully it doesn't over-load the server...

Read the full article: At long last, we're finally back

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The Age of Decadence Demo Preview

Preview - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Sun 12 February 2012, 11:44:36

Tags: Iron Tower Studio; The Age of Decadence

In one way or another we got our hands on the Age of Decadence demo beta and decided to pen a preview. This article, too, will be added to the new and improved content system as soon as it is up.

... and here it is. Here's a slice:

Those of you familiar with Vince D. Weller’s (a.k.a. Vault Dweller) take on how an RPG should be like, probably have certain expectations when it comes to how The Age of Decadence ticks. Let me immediately put it this way: judging by the demo it looks like the game does indeed deliver on the promises. The demo was hooking enough for me to play it several times in a row, trying out different backgrounds and fiddling around with an array of different combat builds, having fun. Bodes well, does it?​

Read on about how it delivers.

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Swen Vincke talks to the Codex

Interview - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Mon 6 February 2012, 16:25:13

Tags: Dragon Commander; Larian Studios; Swen Vincke

Larian Studio founder Swen Vincke was kind enough to waste his precious time answering a couple of questions. Initially the interview was all about Dragon Commander, Larian's upcoming RPG/Strategy hybrid, but then we digressed a bit. Keep in mind that those questions were asked and answered in December, but since the frontpage still isn't up yet I'm publishing the interview here and now in the news forum and will add it to the content system properly at an unspecified later point.

Here we go.

Thanks to Swen for his time.

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Talking to Bill about Bloodlust - A Vampire RPG

Interview - posted by DarkUnderlord on Mon 5 December 2011, 02:55:22

Tags: Bloodlust

Did you ever play the Last Half of Darkness? It was a creepy DOS horror game made by William Fisher and now floats around various abandonware sites. William Fisher (Bill), the game's creator, has made several more games in the series since but now, he's trying something different - he's making a Vampire RPG called Bloodlust. With Bill's pedigree in horror and a seeming interest in making a decent game with choices and consequences, we decided to talk to him about it:


3) Are you funding this game yourself? Have you made any other games apart from this, and if so how did they sell?


Yes, this game is funded by myself. Prior to that, I have released 4 games in the Last Half of Darkness series (Point & Click Adventure style gameplay) - The point and click niche is fairly small and never sells as much as I like... but they all sell good enough.


4) What is the story behind this game? How much of an impact does player actions have over the story, and what year is the game set in? (assuming it is set in Earth)



The player was bitten and is resurrected as vampire fledgling at the start of the game - the story unfolds as the player grows in bloodline and his/her memories slowly come back (Oh no! Please not another amnesia premise? Yes... lol!)


Apparently slight memory loss is a side effect of the resurrection process. But who resurrected you? Who has bitten you? How did you wake up in creepy ruins area? ... It all unfolds as the story progresses.


I am planing on setting it up with choices and consequences for the player to decide throughout the story. Siding and helping certain clans affects certain storylines, quests, etc. and ultimately creates different outcomes, etc. The demo starts off in a ruins/graveyard area with strange creatures and then moves towards the gritty backstreets and alleys of New Orleans where you find more humans and clan members.


You can read the rest or visit the website and download a demo.

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Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning Interview @ The Codex

Interview - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Tue 8 November 2011, 15:33:41

Tags: Big Huge Games; Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning is an open world role-playing game currently in development at Big Huge Games. Ken Rolston, lead designer of Morrowind and Oblivion, does design duties on this title (inbetween his larping sessions), whereas R. A. "Drizzt" Salvatore contributed by thinking up the whole new Amalur universe. Ian Frazier (U5:Lazarus) is Lead Designer of Reckoning and we deemed it a good idea to ask him some questions about the game, which is scheduled for release in February 2012 by the way.


How awesome will the game be? What's Ian's favorite cereal? Can you play a dark elf dual-wielding scimitars? Follow Vault Dweller to find out the answers to these and other important questions:


3. Talking about why you'd want people to buy your game you listed "our combat, our colorful art style—just the sheer size of the world." Is there anything for people who like RPGs?


Combat that’s genuinely fun, a beautiful art style, and a massive world to explore are all things for people who like RPGs! Why wouldn’t an RPG player like these things? I’m an RPG fanatic and I certainly enjoy them! The massive explorable world in particular is something that RPG fans tend to appreciate. 


As far as other things for RPG fans, though, how about hundreds of quests to experience? Interesting characters to meet? A unique role to play in various factions? Expansive character advancement, crafting, and loot systems? We’ve got all that, and more.


Read the full interview here.


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Extravagant Frayed Knights Codex Preview Feature

Preview - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Sat 24 September 2011, 01:26:47

Tags: Frayed Knights; Jay Barnson; Rampant Games

As most of you probably know, Indie developer RampantGames is about to release the first part of their blob dungeon crawler cRPG : Frayed Knights: The Skull of S'makh-Daon. What can I say, I've asked Jay Barnson to tag team a preview feature with me. It's half preview, half Let's Play and half interview.

Despite the fact you'll get this pre-generated characters as your party, you're free to level them up as you like. They cover the basic RPG archetypes and while you can pick skills and feats not fitting their predefined role, I think it's at least dubious to do so, in terms of combat efficiency. Although nothing stops you from trying anyways. Unlike other blob crawlers the game doesn't feature a phase-based combat system but a truely turnbased one with initiative-rolls before every turn to determine the sequence in which the combatants are going to act, something I prefer over phase-based.


Staying true to cRPG traditions we start out with pretty much zero resources. Expect a potion of Negligible Healing, 2 potions of Liquid Nap (per person) and some sort of weapon, for instance a Shoddy Quarterstaff, which is almost as good as a regular quarterstaff, except it's not. Additionally, Chloe comes with 3 charges on her wand of Incendiary Crackleball, a spell that does almost nothing, but it does it to multiple enemies.

Read the whole thing here.

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TNO Reviews Neverwinter Nights 2

Review - posted by Jaesun on Wed 21 September 2011, 18:29:46

Tags: Neverwinter Nights 2; Obsidian Entertainment

TNO has written up another review, and this time he did not like Neverwinter Nights 2: [INDENT]For an Obsidian game, NWN2 has a remarkably BioWarean pedigree. Not only in the structure and the plotting (the '4 quest hub design has been linearized, but the tutorial + linear segment before the game opens out is still there, DA:Os plot bears remarkable similarity to Act 3, etc.), but also in the gameplay: the gradual wasting away of non-combat options, the rise of 'pick up token and kill enemies' sidequests, the dumbing down of combat to a difficulty slider between 'easy' and 'tedious', and the confusion between 'playing it safe' and smearing everything in generica. NWN2's small archipelago of interesting features are drowned in a sea of the forgettable, the poorly executed, and the pervasive sense that you've done this all before (and done better, too). Avoid wasting 30 hours of your time on this game.[/INDENT] [URL='']Read the review here.[/URL]

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Codex Exclusive - Elder Scrolls: Skyrim Interview with Bethesda

Interview - posted by DarkUnderlord on Sun 11 September 2011, 16:27:39

Tags: Bethesda Softworks; The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

Finally, in a long-awaited Codex Exclusive™, Bethesda talk to us about their much loved upcoming Elder Scrolls Game, Skyrim:


PCM: There was some criticism in Oblivion that axes became "blunt", which is to say, instead of having a separate axe skill like they did in Morrowind, they were part of the sets of blunt weapons. Have you taken steps to address that criticism? Maybe by bringing back the axe skill?

Todd: Well, you'd think "bring the axe skill back" but that's not where games are going.


Clicky to read the rest.

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[Quickie Nr. 002]: Jools and Dungeon Siege III

Review - posted by Jaesun on Wed 7 September 2011, 14:38:38

Tags: Dungeon Siege III; Obsidian Entertainment; Quickie

For our second article in the prestigious Quickie series, Jools gives us his impressions of Dungeon Siege III. A snippet:

Last bits and bobs, now. The AI is, well, non-relevant, which is ok in this kind of game. Average encounters (again, the classics: spiders, slugs, bandits, skeletons, etc) will be easily dispatched of, whereas bosses, for one, occasionally display some thin strands of originality, as far as game design goes. Nothing revolutionary, mind you: they are "original" within this game and in comparison to similar titles out there. The economy is not even bad, it is just futile: in the whole game I never once found myself having to buy an item from any merchant, nor the need to sell mine. All the cool stuff drops from mobs and chests, and the drops are PC-related, so if the PC is the melee guy, they will get melee drops, and so each character will get class-related drops. Convenient! Too bad the characters' appearance will only "upgrade" at certain levels and upon equipping some of the items: most items will not have any effect on the visual appearance of the character. Again, a Diablo comeback. The "campaign", as mentioned, is really short: 10 hours, and that's taking things slowly and doing every of the (few) possible side-quests.

Read the whole thing here.

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[Quickie Nr. 001]: Konjad and Dragon Age 2

Review - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Thu 11 August 2011, 07:24:38

Tags: BioWare; Dragon Age II; Quickie

There comes a time when a man has to announce the start of a new ongoing series of content items on the Codex. We call it "Quickies". It works not unlike "Forgotten Gems" except we plan to shove there content pieces (mini-reviews or articles etc.) which are too short or too... short to pass as real Codex content. So the local, mostly degenerate, populace is permitted, nay, encouraged to submit further such entries in the future.


So, without further ado, I herewith announce that the honour to start this new potent series with Quickie Nr. 001 goes to Konjad and his review of Dragon Age 2. Have an excerpt:

Dragon Age was a bit different. With it came a return to an isometric camera-angle and fully controllable party members, while the rest of the game stayed true to Bioware's trend of putting action front-and-centre. Dragon Age 2 abandons the throwback to earlier times that Dragon Age: Origins represented, going closer to the action genre like Jade Empire, but still remaining a role-playing game in some aspects. The camera is now fixed on the player's character (or any chosen party member), and while it is still possible to fully control the entire team, it's a bit clunky and inconvenient, and the game definitely lacks the free camera mode and ability to zoom out, so as to get an overview of the battlefield.

As you can see, Dragon Age 2 is still very much RPG, probably because it still has a camera.


Read the full review here.



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Piranha Bytes Interview on Risen 2: Dark Waters

Interview - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Tue 9 August 2011, 15:13:18

Tags: Piranha Bytes; Risen 2: Dark Waters

Most of you probably know that Piranha Bytes' next game Risen 2: Dark Waters is scheduled for release later this year (for October to be precise). I would have loved to do an interview with them but unfortunately I'm too busy. Therefor I've sent my best agent old man Vault Dweller to ask them some questions. Here's a snippet:

2. What lessons have you learned from Risen? Lessons that could be translated into meaningful gameplay improvements?

As always we collected all the feedback from our fans and the press before we started to design Risen 2. One of the main critic points was the way the story was told in Risen 1. The beginning of the game seemed overwhelmingly complex for beginners because of all the freedom, and the fourth chapter was too thin story-wise.

To tackle these problems we applied a technique we call the “pearl principle”. We changed the game structure in a way that the game starts with a small world that becomes bigger and more open the longer you play. The story is like a string of pearls that is split up at certain points, but comes back together again at a later point. Through that we make sure that there won’t be a very thin last chapter again.

Read the whole interview here.


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Of Monsters, Men and BROche

Review - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Thu 14 July 2011, 19:26:22

Tags: CD Projekt; The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings

CDProjekt's recently released [B]The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings[/B] garnered critical acclaim all over the mainstream gaming media, so we thought it was time we jumped the bandwagon. This review is a collaborative effort between Vault Dweller and myself. As most Dh'oine know, the game is excellent, so it doesn't come as a surprise that Vault Dweller insisted on heaping a lot of praise on it. Here's an excerpt: [INDENT]When it comes to interacting with the environment and its inhabitants, the Witcher 2 is truly without equal. Take boss battles, for example. In most RPGs all you can do is approach a monster and attack its health bar, while pretending that you’re slashing, dodging, jumping, and yelling “Die! Die! Die!” In the Witcher 2 battling bosses is a cinematic, adrenaline-filled battle guaranteed to keep you on the edge of your seat. Your options seem truly limitless. You can chop off a monster’s tentacles – at conveniently marked spots, then jump on one you didn’t cut, hacking at it with righteous fury for some odd but incredibly cinematic reasons, jump off at the last minute, run up a bridge above the monster, and toss a grenade at him. Take that, Kratos! Needless to say, if your environment interaction skills aren’t up to par and you fail to interact with the environment in a timely manner, you’ll have to repeat this exciting, cinematic, adrenaline-filled, edge of the seat keeping sequence all over again. And again, and again, and again. We are not complaining though, as this sequence only gets better every time you go through it and discover new nuances. If you know your RPGs, then you’ll probably agree with me that only Resident Evil 4 and God of War 2 handled the interaction with the gameworld better, so the Witcher 2 is definitely in a good company.[/INDENT] Read the whole review here.

There are 242 comments on Of Monsters, Men and BROche

Din's Curse & Demon War Review

Review - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Thu 30 June 2011, 19:27:09

Tags: Din's Curse

Our own reviewing dude TNO decided to fire up Soldak Entertainment's Din's Curse including the expansion Demon War and now bestows judgement upon it.

Din's Curse is unique in how much of the game is procedurally generated, and how it evolves dynamically. In this game, being told that 'bad guys are starting an uprising' will mean bad guys will actually rise up into your town instead of obediently waiting to be stopped in the nick of time like almost every other RPG. It's fantastic: the 'Diablo with dungeons that fight back' moniker is wholly justified. It is not only the bad guys who get up to stuff (besides invasion, they also lay curses which give debuffs until you take the quest to solve it, produce machines to make dungeons harder, block the gates, fight amongst themselves, etc.) the good guys can also head off to do the quests themselves, turn on each other, or betray the town in any number of ways. Occasionally the system unfairly shafts you: once all three of my key NPCs killed each other whilst the last standing survivor turned rogue and left, losing me the map; another time one of nastier monsters was made a boss type, leading to a behemoth with a DPS almost two orders of magnitude higher than mine. Yet these cases are rare - for the other 30 ish hours of playtime, it worked perfectly. Although 'living world' is inaccurate for a game where the NPCs are primarily objects and quest-givers, it is definitely a 'living situation': there's considerable strategy as to how to prioritize the various quests, most of which are on a hidden timer.

Read the whole review here.

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Dungeons of Dredmor Preview @ RPGCodex

Preview - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Fri 17 June 2011, 21:19:42

Dungeons of Dredmor, a comic fantasy roguelike dungeon crawler game from Gaslamp Games, is about to go gold. With the release being imminent, resident community member and valuable human resource MisterStone decided to reap all the fame and glory for himself by previewing the game.

As for game mechanics, DoD distinguishes itself from other roguelike games through its skill trees and crafting system. Although there are no named classes in the traditional sense, you essentially create your own class during character creation: you get to choose seven skill trees, and are not allowed to add new ones later in the game. The game boasts a total of thirty four skill trees (!), including five melee weapon proficiencies, two ranged weapon proficiencies, three defensive skills, and seven schools of magic. In addition there are skills that work in tandem with other skill trees, such as those that help you cast spells more efficiently, give you buffs or special attacks in combat, and so on. There are some rather unique miscellaneous trees such as the ‘fungal arts’ series (which lets you grow mushrooms for personal use and gives the ability summon fungal pets), a series of skills devoted to wand use, and the archeologist tree, which helps you avoid traps and allows you to do weird things with unique artifacts. Finally, there are the crafting skills: alchemy, smithing and tinkering- more on this later.

Each skill tree has between three and seven upgrades, and the player gets to upgrade a single tree each time they level up. For combat skills, an upgrade usually just means bonuses, but in some cases also usable powers. For the magical disciplines, each upgrade represents access to a new spell. I found that each magical discipline seems to have a fairly wide range of buffs, debuffs, attacks, summons and the like, although certain disciplines focus more heavily on one area over another- for instance, “promethean magic” is mostly about dealing damage with fire, whereas golemancy is almost entirely about summoning. Mathemagic is largely about debuffing and teleport spells. All in all, I found most of the disciplines pretty interesting, although I sometimes find myself wishing they were even more specialized than they are… it seems that in many cases choosing more than two or three magical disciplines gives you several redundant abilities.

Read the whole preview here.

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Forgotten Gems: 2400 A.D.

Review - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Mon 30 May 2011, 15:56:17

Tags: Chuck Bueche; Forgotten Gems; Origin Systems

Esteemed community member Crooked Bee did not only finish [url=""]her LP[/url] of Origin System's [b]2400 A.D.[/b], she also decided to contribute to our popular [i]Forgotten Gems[/i] series by typing up a retrospective review. [indent]In 2400 A.D., everything is a puzzle. Many of the more important quests can only be solved if lined up in a puzzle-like chain. The absence of a quest journal or an automap only make that aspect of the game stronger. The closest you get to having a map is by acquiring a certain device that lets you survey your surroundings when used; it has a very limited scope, though, and leaves much for you to figure out by yourself. Finding your way into the underground is certainly one of the puzzles, with several solutions hidden around the city. Sometimes failing is the best option, and you can learn as much, if not more, from your failures as from your successes; being arrested, for example, is actually the quickest way to reach the underground, requiring, however, a bit of out of the box thinking. Getting to know where to find an item, who to ask about it and who to show it to, all belong to the game's most pleasant and challenging moments. Even locating the vendors to buy new items from or sell old ones to (and those are two different types of vendors) can be a problem if you don't look around or follow clues carefully enough, as the underground tunnels tend to be quite maze-like and hide many secrets. There are also other puzzles: a slidewalk maze, a maze of pushable crates, or a transporter maze. Writing down clues is a must, as is searching around for them. The controls are again Ultima-like, with the game utilizing almost the entire keyboard for issuing commands. You can't just see the items lying on the ground next to you, you must search around to uncover them. The game features some of Ultima V's future and much praised interactivity, which creates even more room for implementing puzzles. You can push around or climb over many of the furniture items surrounding you -- you can even climb over NPCs in your way! -- sometimes revealing well-hidden, and even plot-critical, passages. Climbing pipes to get to otherwise inaccessible areas is a must, too. Doors can be kicked out, consuming a good deal of your Energy, 20 or 40 points depending on the door type. And if you can find and repair (which is also done as a puzzle) the game's most powerful secret weapon, you'll be able to simply blow doors open like a real badass. The city of Metropolis features an extensive slidewalk system that can also provide some entertaining moments (try disabling a robot standing on a moving walkway!), as well as transporter and subway networks. Figuring out how to operate transporters, including the secret ones, is in fact one of this game's hardest puzzles. And as far as interactivity goes, you can even get run over by a subway train! Truly ground-breaking stuff.[/indent] [url=]Read the whole article here.[/url]

There are 27 comments on Forgotten Gems: 2400 A.D.

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