Interview - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Tue 9 August 2011, 15:13:18Tags: Piranha Bytes; Risen 2: Dark Waters
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.
Review - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Thu 14 July 2011, 19:26:22Tags: CD Projekt; The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
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.
Read the whole review here.
Review - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Thu 30 June 2011, 19:27:09Tags: Din's Curse
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.
Preview - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Fri 17 June 2011, 21:19:42
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.
Review - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Mon 30 May 2011, 15:56:17Tags: Chuck Bueche; Forgotten Gems; Origin Systems
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.
Read the whole article here.
Review - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Fri 13 May 2011, 20:33:54Tags: Academagia
Negative relationships are pretty interesting. Some students will hate you ‘just because’, but you can just as well make them grow to hate you through your mischievous actions. Slandering someone, using offensive magic, will all lower your relationships with people. This can lead to a couple of fun things, as they shall often try to retaliate, spreading foul rumours about you among students, trying to put you into detention, sabotaging your actions, etc.
When your mutual hatred with a certain character reaches the epicentre, you may actually even be called to a magic duel. If you’ve really grown sick of someone, there you can go as far as unleashing eleven barrels of magic to put them into the infirmary right when they are supposed to take an exam. Through the usage of even more illegal magic, you may even attempt to gain control of your enemy, and have him do your bidding as a mindless puppet. Being an asshole has never been so amusing!
Interview - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Fri 29 April 2011, 19:35:05Tags: CD Projekt; The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings
Review - posted by Elwro on Mon 4 April 2011, 14:32:40Tags: OlderBytes; Swords and Sorcery: Underworld
<p style="padding-left: 30px;">Every step outside of a tavern is a risk, and don't be surprised if your freshly created party is reduced to 1 barely standing, 5 unconscious after a stroll around a corner of the starting town. (...) later on, in true oldschool tradition you're fighting varieties of dragons every second step.
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Review - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Thu 24 March 2011, 20:23:08Tags: BioWare; Dragon Age II
Read the full review here.
Review - posted by Elwro on Sun 13 March 2011, 19:27:43Tags: Drakensang
Review - posted by DarkUnderlord on Tue 1 March 2011, 06:43:59Tags: Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven; New World Computing
I have been told by a townsperson whose name I cannot recall, that the Dark Magic master can be found in a small town called Sweetwater. What at first seemed an absurdly easy task for the power it would grant my party has quickly turned into a nightmare. Over the hill near Sweetwater are swarms of Titans and there is no other way in to the town. I cast the “fly” spell, nervously hover over the beasts while taking massive damage, and drop down to the ground to cross to the next zone. Once it loads, my party survives for about 3 seconds before being obliterated by the giants’ shock attacks. My last save was 3 hours ago and I think I’ve been playing for 6 hours straight, but I can’t be sure. The only indication is the slight ray of light coming through a crack between the blinds. Fighting off sleep, I reload, and try again.
What? Reloading in my RPG?
Editorial - posted by DarkUnderlord on Thu 27 January 2011, 01:09:34Tags: The Year in Review
<p style="padding-left: 30px;">If 2009 was the year stuff didn't happen, then 2010 is perhaps as good as it gets to the year stuff did happen. Sort-of. The year opened with a bang as BioWare released Mass Effect 2, the sequel to their previous space romance simulator Mass Effect. It was a design goal right from the start for you to be able to continue with your Mass Effect save games into Mass Effect 2. What remained to be seen was how BioWare would overcome the problem of finishing the first game with an awesome character capable of kicking ass and chewing space-gum - and yet still allow you to level-up your stats in the sequel. The answer of course, was an ingenious and revolutionary system that...
Until next year.
Information - posted by JarlFrank on Thu 23 December 2010, 01:42:44
<p style="padding-left: 30px;">While their earlier works were much more obscure than the EoB-style games they made later on, they were very interesting and, at the time, unique experiences that can be put into the same sub-genre as Diablo, but with much more depth than either Diablo or any of its clones would ever achieve. If they had continued to develop games in the style of Dusk, Summoning and VoD, maybe the sub-genre of the Action-RPG would look vastly different today, with more dialogues, non-linear stories and puzzles than Diablo’s simple kill-and-loot gameplay.
This is what happens when you change your company's name to some kind of popamole bullshit.
Review - posted by DarkUnderlord on Sun 5 December 2010, 02:03:14Tags: Fallout: New Vegas; Obsidian Entertainment
Fallout: New Vegas is one of the best RPGs of all time. A masterpiece, although not an unblemished one - the Obsidian trademarks of beta-as-release candidate, consolized interface and badly optimized graphics are there. But so is a cracking story, clever, intricate quest/C&C design, and the wasteland brought back to life in the same blackly jaunty way Fallout did. If you've been after a proper successor to Fallout, or simply something to redeem the genre after several years in the doldrums, look no further. Welcome back, MCA: all is forgiven.
Agree / Disagree? More importantly, what does this mean for Dungeon Siege 3?
Competition - posted by DarkUnderlord on Sat 4 December 2010, 11:29:21
- [Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines]: grotsnik made two entries and wins a prize, not for his follow-up "serious" entry, but for his original Dracula inspired series of letters. At one point we were happy to give him all 5 copies and declare him the out-right winner. But then we didn't.
- [Fallout]: treave took the rape and torture theme others had tried and ran with it, creating wonderful subtexts that will score him a game.
- [Fallout 2]: In what was deemed a surprise entry, Commie actually wrote something pretty good. It's a story about a man who's entire world is reduced to 'a thumb and a forefinger' and it wins him a prize.
- [Planescape: Torment]: flabbyjack for making a simple tale that seemed like a good start, disappointing only in that it didn't go further.
- [Arcanum]: Kaanyrvhok - who needs a lesson in the definition of "we said short, mother-fucker" - wins because anyone who can talk about a character called "Huggy" engaging "in a sort of masterbatorious foreplay" deserves a prize... even if it was all a bit tl;dr.
Notable mentions but ultimately deemed unworthy were:
- <span class="postbody">Zed's graphic rape story that might've worked better if it had pictures. </span>
- <span class="postbody">zelda64whatagreatgame for his tale of a new 'artistic' approach to a store. </span>
- <span class="postbody">Callaxes', who tried to grab our attention, did so mildly successfully at one point but then didn't go anywhere with it. Also "burrowing" ladders lulz.</span>
Interview - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Tue 30 November 2010, 23:05:54Tags: Divinity II; Larian Studios
<blockquote>Another rather nifty idea in Divinity 2 was the mindreading. In my opinion the *thank god no one knows the location of mah trezure*-kind of application was a bit overused and in FoV it was a bit too expensive XP cost-wise but it was a nifty mechanic nontheless and enabled some nice unique quest solutions. Can we expect to see this or a similar mechanic in future games or was it an one time thing for Divinity 2 only?
I’m glad that one received so much positive attention. It was quite a lot of development work to put it in there, and I’m pretty sure many people in QA wished it wasn’t there. I remember when introducing it, the team looked at me as if I’d been taking drugs. Already they were overloaded with work to get all of the content in, and here was this madman telling them that every single dialog should get a mindread path because of this new cool skill. Considering the amount of dialogues in the game, that really added a lot of work to their plate, so you can understand that on occasion they took a shortcut, but there really are some very cool mindreads in there. And yes, we’re thinking of similar ”small” things when it comes to our next RPGs.</blockquote>
Review - posted by DarkUnderlord on Wed 17 November 2010, 15:33:10Tags: Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny
<img style="border: 0pt none;" src="http://www.rpgcodex.net/images/screenshots/ultima_v/53368424.jpg" alt="" width="640" height="480" />
It only gets better from there.
Review - posted by DarkUnderlord on Sun 24 October 2010, 05:23:21Tags: Gothic 4: Arcania; JoWood Productions; Spellbound
... improvements the game has made over Oblivion:
... the highly enjoyable role-playing aspects:
... and even the meaning behind the game's title itself, buried deep within the game's lore:
In the end he enjoyed it immensely and recommends you should all pick yourselves up a copy. 5 stars.
Review - posted by VentilatorOfDoom on Sat 2 October 2010, 11:42:38Tags: Strategic Simulations, Inc.
Other than completing the main plot there are a couple of areas to explore, many of which will have a subplot or a few interesting sidequests to do. Contrary to the “escape the arena” solution, the violent approach isn’t always the best. Sometimes settling a conflict peacefully gains you the best rewards. Of course, being an AD&D game, Dark Sun: Shattered Lands has no skills, as diplomacy and the like, so instead of skill checks in dialogues it’s generally up to you which course of action you choose when talking to NPCs. It’s most likely wise to be not overly hostile; sometimes you might find unexpected allies against the Drajian army.
Read on for the full review...
Review - posted by DarkUnderlord on Sun 5 September 2010, 03:54:27Tags: Heroic Fantasy Games; Knights of the Chalice
But is the game fun? Read the rest to find out.