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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

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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

Calling Fallout 3 into question(s)

Editorial - posted by Section8 on Thu 21 June 2007, 17:43:12

Tags: Bethesda Softworks; Fallout 3

Well, that day has finally come. Fallout 3 is no longer just a speck on the horizon, and we're starting to see some vague revelations of what the game actually has in store for us. As most predicted, those who adore Fallout to the point of obsession aren't exactly overjoyed, given that Bethesda have indeed taken the route they've been hinting at for years - they're "going with what they know". So we have two sides being their predictable selves.

But is the bleak outlook justified? An awful lot of people seem to be either instantly dismissive of the Fallout fanatics, branding their collective opinion as a kneejerk negative response to something they've made their minds up about long ago. There also seems to be a more zealous movement who derive pleasure from Fallout fans general state of unhappiness, which paints them in the terrifying light of caring more for the well-being of a company's bankroll than that of their fellow man.

So, here's an opportunity to ask yourselves the same questions the "angry vocal minority" have asked themselves to get to this point. Maybe you'll come up with more positive responses than we did, so by all means, share them on our forums. But firstly - Into the Wastes!

There are 17 comments on Calling Fallout 3 into question(s)

Some thoughts on the Fallout 3 article

Editorial - posted by Vault Dweller on Sun 17 June 2007, 00:26:25

Tags: Bethesda Softworks; Fallout 3

I decided to share some thoughts on the Fallout 3 article with you guys:

To show that Bethesda understands and, like, totally digs the setting, the game features exploding nuclear reactors in cars and mind-blowing "tell me it's a joke" handheld nuclear catapults. In the example described in the Game Informer article, the main character, undoubtedly inspired by the famous Baron Munchausen, kills two giant ants by shooting at a NEARBY car's nuclear reactor. A small nuclear blast destroys the car and the ants, but ignores the resourceful main character, standing a few meters away. The nuclear catapult is an even more retarded concept and, hopefully, needs no explanation. Using nuclear explosions in close combat in a survival game that watches your rad count is kinda stupid. Even for Bethesda.​

There are 200 comments on Some thoughts on the Fallout 3 article

The Dialogue Interview

Interview - posted by Vault Dweller on Fri 18 May 2007, 02:56:49

Tags: Brian Mitsoda; David Gaider; Josh Sawyer; Scott Bennie

I've decided to explore the concept of dialogues in RPGs a bit by asking Brian Mitsoda, JE Sawyer, Scott Bennie, and David Gaider a few questions about this delicate subject. I also asked Chris Avellone, but he's busy watching the Aliens movies for ...uh... research purposes. I tried to play dirty and threw "think of teh kidz!" line at him. His chilling "The kids must suffer" reply provided a rare glimpse into his dark soul and, coincidentally, answered question #10: "What's evil and how do you show these traits in your characters?". Anyway, the interview:

6. What games/characters would you use as outstanding examples of great writing in games and why? What influenced you as a game writer?

Brian Mitsoda: Fallout was the game that made me transition from a career in film and apply at Interplay. I enjoyed that the story could be different to each player and I saw potential in reactive storytelling and the possibilities of game narratives. I was a bit naive in thinking it wouldn't sink into the same formulaic trappings of the film industry, but I look at games like Planescape, Psychonauts, and System Shock as examples of how interesting stories and gameplay can be intertwined in a way that can't easily be duplicated by other forms of entertainment. Planescape, I probably don't have to explain the sense of brilliant weirdness and fantastic exploration to readers of this site and Chris (Avellone, my boss) really hates it when people get fanboy on him (but you should probably dress up like Falls-From-Grace and wait for him in his car, he loves that.) The mind voyeurism/exploration aspects of Psychonauts and the smoothness with which they were blended into the game design, wow... more games should have that kind of story integration (and be that funny). For System Shock, I not only enjoyed the terrifying exploration of Citadel Station, but I don't think I've ever hated a "bad guy" in any game, movie, or book more than Shodan because she actively taunted and harassed me in a way that traditional written medium bad guys can't replicate.​

There are 42 comments on The Dialogue Interview

Neverwinter Nights 2 interview

Interview - posted by Vault Dweller on Fri 27 April 2007, 15:04:25

Tags: Josh Sawyer; Neverwinter Nights 2; Obsidian Entertainment

We asked Josh Sawyer a few questions about Neverwinter Nights 2:

4. How would you evaluate the finished product? Any lessons learned there? What worked well, what worked ... uh, not so well? What was the game's biggest strength/weakness?

I think the game as released is a high 7, low 8 title. To be honest, the major issues are due to a lack of polish. There's certainly a lot of stuff in the game, but none of it really looks or feels great. At best, the controls and features feel good, at worst they feel terrible.

For example, the camera. Programming got the camera in and fixed a number of its glaring problems, but for all the various camera modes you could run in, it was hard to find one that felt good. The toolset is also an appropriate example: highly functional, very powerful, not enjoyable or fast to use for many tasks.

The biggest problems during development were an unrealistic scope and a lack of focus on quality/fun from the beginning. It's arguable that the former resulted in the latter. With D&D games, it's easy to become consumed by the idea of adding every feat, class, and race you can find in various books.​
It doesn't matter whether you agree with Josh or not, what matters is that he isn't afraid to speak his mind. :salute:

There are 19 comments on Neverwinter Nights 2 interview

Jade Empire review

Review - posted by Role-Player on Wed 18 April 2007, 00:24:28

Tags: BioWare; Jade Empire

Our dragon punch to Bioware's latest console port to grace the computer role-playing genre, Jade Empire: Special Edition, is finally up.

It's nice that Bioware made something that people who don't enjoy RPGs could get into, but they don’t seem to have thought about the people who actually enjoy them. Jade Empire is pretty much Knights of the Old Republic - only shorter, with kung fu instead of lightsabers, a less obvious main villain, a setting that while not radically new feels fresh in the face of all the usual high fantasy drivel that pollutes the genre, and with considerable role-playing thrown in to the mix. This may be good news for those who enjoy Bioware games as it’s pretty much what you’d expect the game to be and in this regard, doesn’t disappoint. It’s a definite improvement on some of their design philosophies but don’t pop a vein, however; we’re still treading Bioware territory here.​

You might want to give it a shot. Or not. It does feature oriental lezzies, though.

There are 49 comments on Jade Empire review

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