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A long-winded rant about BioShock

Review - posted by DarkUnderlord on Mon 28 July 2008, 11:01:23

Tags: BioShock; Irrational Games

In the spirit of "there's no point writing a review for a one year old game unless you whinge about everything that's wrong with it", here's the long Codex whinge on BioShock:

... and it doesn't end there. BioShock also uses audio superbly as well. Beyond the audio diaries, the monsters you're fighting often have conversations with each other before they realise you're there. Then when they attack, they're using phrases that relate to the game-world rather. As you walk passed the in-game vending machines, they kick into life and start playing a cheery song. Video screens will display short movies as you walk by on occassion and some rooms even have speakers with audio advertising. As you find and collect Plasmids (the game's "magic spells"), you're shown a short video. Again, it's simple stuff but it makes you want to listen to the world and think about what you're hearing for at least a while before you go ahead and blow the next monster's brains out.​
Sound makes BioShock good. Read more here.

There are 20 comments on A long-winded rant about BioShock

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An interview with Vince D. Weller

Interview - posted by JarlFrank on Wed 23 April 2008, 18:18:43

Tags: Iron Tower Studio; The Age of Decadence; Vince D. Weller

We asked Vince D. of Iron Tower Studios a few questions about founding your own indie game studio. Here's a piece:

I've started with the setting, main story overview, and major design elements (character system, combat, multiple ways to handle quests, non-linearity, etc). I didn't do all the quests or ways to solve them, of course. I'm talking about the concept phase here. For example, one way to keep the main quest non-linear is to have multiple factions interested in it. These factions shouldn't want the same thing as that would make your choice of a faction less important. So, they should want different things which would give you different reasons to pursue the main quest and would require you to make very different decisions once you are at the end of your journey. At the same time you can't be sent to several different directions at once, so your final destination should be able to offer and support different outcomes, etc. In other words, you develop the frame of a game first and then fill it in with the actual content.​

There are 20 comments on An interview with Vince D. Weller

Eschalon Review

Review - posted by Elwro on Sat 29 March 2008, 20:08:54

Tags: Basilisk Games; Eschalon: Book I

Basilisk Games are newcomers to the indie RPG development field and their debut title, Eschalon: Book One, shows a lot of promise - if you like games with a definite oldschool feel. It's far from perfect, though. Read our review to learn our thoughts on the game.

Read the full article: Eschalon Review

There are 12 comments on Eschalon Review

2008: On the Horizon

Information - posted by Elwro on Mon 14 January 2008, 19:16:40

Since 2007 marked a definite upswing in the prevailing hivemind opinion on the state of PC CRPG's (apart from The Sequel That Shall Not Be Named, of course), we have a look at what to expect from 2008.

There are 10 comments on 2008: On the Horizon

Interview with the Afterfall lead designer

Interview - posted by JarlFrank on Wed 9 January 2008, 20:52:27

Tags: Afterfall; Intoxicate Interactive

We got a hold of Maciej Prósiński, lead designer of the Polish post-apoc indie RPG Afterfall, and asked him a few questions on it. Here's a bit on solutions to quests to make your mouth water:

Quests will have many solutions, most of which will only be available to a player character with specific skills. Thanks to the plot bypasses you will often come upon completely alternative solutions, for example, to convince someone to help you, you will use acquaintance with some important characters. It is worth to mention that certain choices in performing a quest will bear various, sometimes long-term consequences. Some of the suggested paths may also prove to be dead-ends.
As for the endings, we have adapted for ourselves the brilliant, but for an unknown reason never repeated solution from Fallout – the modular epilogue. After finishing the game and watching the outro presenting the consequence of the path you have chosen, you will also be able to see the fate of the world and its individual locations which you have influenced by your actions or non-action.​

There are 5 comments on Interview with the Afterfall lead designer

2007: The Year in Review

Editorial - posted by Section8 on Fri 28 December 2007, 13:42:08

Tags: The Year in Review

Another year is drawing to a close, and unfortunately, Prince hasn't put his lyrical mind toward partying like it's 2007. So instead, I've opted to don stockings, banana hammock, scarf and midriff jacket and get the job done myself with the official RPG Codex Year in Review 2007 Platinum GOTY Edition. Pre-order now for a signed photo of me in said stockings, banana hammock, scarf and midriff jacket!

There are 5 comments on 2007: The Year in Review

Styrateg review

Review - posted by Elwro on Wed 12 December 2007, 20:58:05

Rake in Grass bring us a turn-based fantasy game which, though not oozing innovation from every byte, is quite entertaining and might be just what you need on a lazy afternoon.

There are 12 comments on Styrateg review

The Witcher Review

Review - posted by Cardtrick on Sat 1 December 2007, 15:34:27

Tags: CD Projekt; Witcher, The

Cardtrick sent in this review of The Witcher, explaining why exactly this game is a worthy addition to any CRPG fan's collection:

The Witcher is one of the first games . . . well, ever . . . to actively hype its choices and consequences. This alone should make it interesting to the average Codex reader. The basic idea, in case you've been living under a rock (or, you know, have a life outside of games) is that The Witcher presents you with choices during the course of the game without clear answers. Only much later in the game do you discover the consequences of your decisions, which can have significant impact on the plot.​

Read the full article: The Witcher Review

There are 25 comments on The Witcher Review

Forgotten Gems: King of Dragon Pass Review

Review - posted by JarlFrank on Thu 22 November 2007, 20:20:05

Tags: A Sharp; King of Dragon Pass

JarlFrank reviews this '99 gem. Although a first glance might make you suspect this is a management strategy game, JarlFrank has no problem claiming this is, in fact, a genre-bender with such a large dose of the RPG design elements we all love that it belongs in our review repertoire and that you should play this game. Read his short & sweet review to find out why.

Read the full article: Forgotten Gems: King of Dragon Pass quickie review

There are 6 comments on Forgotten Gems: King of Dragon Pass Review

The Broken Hourglass interview

Interview - posted by Vault Dweller on Mon 12 November 2007, 22:05:41

Tags: The Broken Hourglass

I decided to try something different and instead of asking 10-15 unconnected questions, I asked Jason Compton, the lead designer of The Broken Hourglass only 3 questions, but studied his answers under a microscope.

The difference is, dungeons tend to be more a bit exciting than storefronts and residences. Anyway, what do you have in the urban dungeon department? Discovering a well hidden, ancient door in some basement leading into unknown darkness somehow sounds more exciting then discovering a cave in the middle of nowhere, so tell us all about it.

There are three sequences in the main game which could be considered "urban dungeons." One is the old caverns beneath the Arena, where forgotten rubbish—and the occasional forgotten monster—is discarded. Another is an ancient tomb, cracked open by diggers hoping to tunnel their way out of the city. The creator of the tomb is still down there, so you can ask him all about how it was built, if you don't mind the smell. The third is a sequence which takes the player through a long-forgotten and roundabout path between two city districts, including a trip through the buried catacombs and a sewer system. The endgame also has aspects of "urban dungeon." All three certainly have their share of combat challenges, but the tomb and the catacombs sequences in particular are much more of a balanced adventure than a monster-bashing crawl.​
Click here to read the rest, or if you've never heard about the game before, start with our first, introductory interview.

There are 7 comments on The Broken Hourglass interview

Mysteries of Westgate interview

Interview - posted by Vault Dweller on Fri 9 November 2007, 15:00:41

Tags: Neverwinter Nights 2

We were given an opportunity to ask Alan Miranda and Luke Scull a few questions about upcoming Mysteries of Westgate:

7) The game promises choices and "huge consequences." An actual example would go a long way to back up these claims and fill the hearts of unbelievers with faith.

Luke: I’m sure it would, but I wouldn’t want to spoil too much of the experience for players. Let’s just say that I know the depths of loathing loyal Codex readers reserve for developers that talk the talk but fail to meet expectations when it comes to choice and consequences. I’m not only walking but swaggering, and not just because I’m drunk.

Alan: I will echo Luke on this one, in that we definitely do provide some big choices with significant consequences to the player. We made a conscious decision when writing the core story during pre-production to allow for branches in the story instead of a single linear path. The challenge was to make the different branches as polished as if we had just made one route, since polishing a single linear path would take only half the time. Revealing what these choices are would ruin the story, so you’ll just have to keep the faith.​
Click here to read the rest.

There are 6 comments on Mysteries of Westgate interview

Mask of the Betrayer contest

Competition - posted by Vault Dweller on Tue 30 October 2007, 22:54:51

Tags: Neverwinter Nights 2; Obsidian Entertainment

Since Mask of the Betrayer has so many different options and outcomes, we'd like to spread the word about it and a contest with prizes directly from the developers is a good way to do it.

Want to win signed copies of NWN2, MotB, and KOTOR2 from Obsidian? Various memorabilia? A hot date with grandpa Feargus? Click here to see the fine print and details!

There are 20 comments on Mask of the Betrayer contest

Depths of Peril post-release interview

Interview - posted by Vault Dweller on Sun 28 October 2007, 19:05:34

Tags: Depths of Peril

I had a chat with Steven Peeler about his first indie game Depths of Peril:

5. What would you have done differently given a choice? Also, what are you best and worst DoP design decisions?

Looking back on the project, I would probably say something I would do differently is bringing in artists a bit earlier in the project. This turned out fine in the end, but finding artists and getting good progress on the artwork was pretty stressful for me during a lot of the project.

I think the best design decision of the project was including the covenant gameplay. Not only is this one of the biggest distinguishing features of Depths of Peril, but it is also the feature that led to other important unique things in the game like consequences to your actions and the very dynamic world. The covenants is one of those features that changes just about everything in the game. They adventure in the world, they can solve quests before you do, they start wars and raid other covenants including yours, they help out when the town is attacked, they can grab recruits before you do, guards, rumors, and crystals all are due to the covenant gameplay, they can destroy your covenant, and the list just goes on and on.​

There are 7 comments on Depths of Peril post-release interview

Mask of the Betrayer Review

Review - posted by Vault Dweller on Fri 26 October 2007, 00:31:06

Tags: Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer; Obsidian Entertainment

My thoughts about Mask of the Betrayer:

That’s where the game starts to shine so brightly that you completely forget about any flaws the game has and get lost in a well crafted gameworld. It’s like a dream come true – a non-linear game loaded with well-written dialogues, interesting quests, more choices than you can handle, and enough consequences and to make the game highly replayable. It’s hard to imagine a better feature list.

I can't stress it enough. The choices are everywhere. There are plenty of consequences. What you did may even cost party members their lives. Many characters respond to and recognize your choices, commenting on what you did and affecting your gameplay. I couldn't believe how many opportunities to do things differently the game offers.​

Click here to read the rest

There are 217 comments on Mask of the Betrayer Review

Previews and the gaming media

Editorial - posted by Vault Dweller on Fri 21 September 2007, 16:52:01

Tags: Loki

Let's look at the preview practices of the gaming media, using Loki as an example. Loki is yet another "epic" action RPG, yet another attempt to capitalize on Diablo 2 success, yet another spectacular failure. Reviews tore apart the game's weak mechanics and dull gameplay, describing it as "less entertaining than watching someone else watch TV", but hands-on previews showed complete ignorance of Loki's numerous faults. Why? Because to journalists these faults, according to Patrick the GameSpy journalist, weren't "even real".

Click here to continue

There are 19 comments on Previews and the gaming media

The wonderful world of Fallout 3

Preview - posted by Vault Dweller on Thu 30 August 2007, 18:40:37

Tags: Bethesda Softworks; Fallout 3

We present you our Fallout 3 preview. It contains nothing but facts and specific statements from developers and media. We'll continue updating the article, adding new facts as they became available, until the game is released, so drop by every now and then to see what's new and exciting.

You're no longer alone in the harsh, post-apocalyptic world. You have a father and not just any father. He's a scholar and a gentleman - voiced by Liam Neeson!!! - and you just can't live without him. Your love for your father is so strong that when he leaves you and the vault one day, you blindly follow him into the wasteland.

Twitch Guru: "The main character's father, a genetic scientist, mysteriously departs... "

Worthplaying: "......your father, one of the most important people in Vault 101..."

Emil: "So take the relationship with "my" father. He's my moral compass..."

Bethesda: "Neeson will play the role of the player's father and will appear prominently throughout the game. ...and provides the dramatic tone for the entire game"

Gavin: Your dad is like this warm, inviting guy. He's Liam Neeson! Who wouldn't want Liam Neeson as their dad, right?

There are 45 comments on The wonderful world of Fallout 3

Are the paradigms of role-playing outdated?

Editorial - posted by Role-Player on Mon 6 August 2007, 17:44:38

Just when you thought it was safe to read the Codex, Role-Player blinds us with yet another long-winded arrgh!ticle about computer role-playing games based on his industry expertise as a couch potato. This time, the infidel demands we lay down our weapons against the maintream invaders and sell our babies into slavery! Oh, and there's some words in there too:

Unlike physical stats, which can be fitted into the system through much more meaningful ways even if they can succumb to the same issues, social stats like Intelligence and Charisma cause more problems than those they set out to solve for a very simple reason. You can not force players to role-play their stats, and you can’t force those stats to help players role-play. This dredges up an earlier point – the absence of a direct mental link between player and character ends up rendering the adherence to social stats trite and ineffective. In the long run, the impact of mental and social stats that limit a character’s progress becomes either negligible or a hassle since you can not code personality traits the player does not have the ability to play nor can you give gamers a personality trait they have no idea of how to role-play. And in terms of how storylines are advanced, this causes a great rift as well considering many times players can see right through plot twists or narrative directions before the characters do.

With that said... Get rid of Intelligence and Charisma as a play mechanic that influences dialogue.​
Awarding his "ideas" with 2 out of 5 Goatses just doesn't cut it anymore. For the good of the people, Role-Player must be stopped!

There are 67 comments on Are the paradigms of role-playing outdated?

Chris Avellone Dialogue Monologue

Interview - posted by Vault Dweller on Tue 24 July 2007, 01:42:40

Tags: Chris Avellone; Obsidian Entertainment

Many moons ago I asked Chris to answer a few questions for our dialogue interview. Chris was too busy at that time, but promised to do it in the future. Unfortunately, he lost the questions, but being too proud to admit that, he wrote a monologue about dialogues instead.

As a "twist," I’m going to do this interview primarily through visuals, which is how I think game interactions should be in the first place - mostly because a good chunk of human dialogue is essentially communicated non-verbally anyway.​

There are 26 comments on Chris Avellone Dialogue Monologue

What is Fallout 3?

Preview - posted by Vault Dweller on Thu 19 July 2007, 20:47:00

Tags: Bethesda Softworks; Fallout 3

If you really like to know what kind of game Fallout 3 is shaping up to be, click on this link!

There are 48 comments on What is Fallout 3?

Depth of Peril preview

Preview - posted by Vault Dweller on Sat 30 June 2007, 03:53:14

Tags: Depths of Peril

I had an opportunity to play http://www.soldak.com/content/blogcategory/17/30Depth of Peril (alfa version) this week:

Here is the basic overview: you go and fight monsters, gaining loot and experience in randomly generated areas. Now, here's the twist, you are not the only hero in this land of the brave. Other heroes, representing local factions called covenants, do the same "hero" thing - fight monsters, gaining loot and experience. Unfortunately, the town seems to be too small for all of you, and as C. McLeod once said "There can be only one!", so it's either you or them. You can use basic diplomacy to keep someone off your back for a while and/or make offensive/defensive alliances. The game is over when your covenant's lifestone is destroyed or when you destroy other covenants' lifestones. Naturally, the lifestones are well protected by hired monsters, NPCs, and heroes, so attacking a lifestones is like attacking an enemy base in an RTS game: come prepared and expect a lot of resistance and casualties. Let's take a closer look now:

There are 16 comments on Depth of Peril preview

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