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Game News First public reveal of Wormwood Studios' upcoming RPG, Fallen Gods

Discussion in 'RPG Codex News & Content Comments' started by Infinitron, Dec 31, 2015.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Tags: Fallen Gods; Mark Yohalem; Wormwood Studios

    We've known since August 2014 that Mark "MRY" Yohalem's Wormwood Studios, developers of 2012's PS:T-inspired adventure gaming classic Primordia, have been quietly working on their next game, an RPG of sorts by the name of Fallen Gods. Last night, Mark posted a new update on Wormwood's site, an end-of-year summary that properly reveals Fallen Gods for the first time. The update also has information about two other upcoming games from the Primordia team - a cyberpunkish-looking platformer called Until I Have You by programmer James Spanos, and a new Primordia-esque adventure game called Trenchmouth by artist Victor Pflug. But RPGs come first, so here's an excerpt from the Fallen Gods announcement:

    [​IMG]

    Finally, Fallen Gods continues creeping forward. I'm hopeful that as Torment work wraps up in early 2016, and I'm able to give full attention to FG, the pace will pick up. In the meanwhile, let me tell you a little bit about the game.

    Its roots lie in two old, non-computer games from my childhood: Barbarian Prince and Lone Wolf. I rediscovered these back in around 2006, and I was simply blown away at the things they accomplished without the assistance of a computer. I loved the ways in which BP created this reactive, complicated game with very simple tools. And I loved that choices and skills in Lone Wolf felt meaningful. I was coming off having played a lot of computer RPGs where improving a stat, gaining a feat, picking an option really did not feel significant at all. In Lone Wolf, by contrast, each of the special abilities just felt . . . well, special. And you got to use them in these great ways, with great frequency.

    I then launched into a massive project to hybridize these games with Weird Worlds, a procedural "coffee break" game. The game was called Star Captain. I read about 100 space opera novels, watched hours of space opera TV and movies, studied a ton of space opera P&P games, and churned out a 250-page design document. I was very close to signing a contract with S2 Games to co-develop the title (at the time, I was doing writing for them), but it fell through, and I switched gears to make Primordia. Then I discovered that Mass Effect had largely preempted my narrative concept (cannibalizing the space opera canon) and a slew of games, most prominently FTL, had seized on the same gameplay structure. Well, shit.

    Around the time Cloudscape died, I was reading Beowulf to my kids and The Long Ships to myself, and fell in love with Anglo-Saxon language and Norse fatalism. I embarked on a long reading journey, which took me through most of the Icelandic sagas, the eddas, the Tain, the Exeter Book, and lots of history books. So immersed, I realized that I could take Star Captain back closer to its Barbarian Prince roots, and thus Fallen Gods was born.

    The basic gist of the game is that the player is one of the eponymous "Fallen Gods," who must win his way back to the Cloudlands -- our Asgard -- by hook or crook. I don't want to spoil too much at this point, but basically it is a bleak game that blends Norse mythology and Icelandic folklore (and European folklore more generally) with a rather bleak worldview that fell upon me when reading a series of books about the aftermath of various revolutions (Russian, French, Bolivarian, and anti-colonial wars of liberation in Africa). The current pantheon of Fallen Gods successfully overthrew the indifferent, and even cruel, primordial gods who ruled before them (a blend of titans and animistic prehistorical gods). Despite this signal and perhaps noble victory, the new gods, led by Orm the Trickster, have proven fairly inept as divinities and catastrophe has befallen the world: political, ecological (I was also reading, among other things,The Earth Without Us and The Sixth Extinction), and spiritual.

    Anyway, the "hero" -- more anti-hero, or let us just say, player character -- has a fixed number of days to make his way back to the Cloudlands, lest he become mortal forever. The game plays out through three systems: the world map (depicted above), events (which are still coming together from an interface standpoint), and combat (which is still in the mockup stage).
    See the full update for an early look at Fallen Gods' visuals, including the aforementioned combat and event sequences. There's also a bit of information about Mark's contribution to Torment: Tides of Numenera.
     
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  2. LeStryfe79 Deal Breaker Patron

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    Thanks News Jew!
     
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  3. Zorba the Hutt Arcane Weasel

    Zorba the Hutt
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    Sounds interesting :salute:
     
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  4. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    Thanks for the coverage! (Though this really didn't merit three threads.)
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2015
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  5. Shadenuat Arcane

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    Banner Saga gameplay became quite popular I see.
     
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  6. Excidium II Self-Ejected

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    Gotta maximize brofist profit.
     
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  7. Jaesun Fabulous Moderator

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    :takemymoney:
     
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  8. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    Shadenuat The gameplay is really nothing like Banner Saga. That said, in my neverending tale of woe, after spending a year reading Norse sagas and so on, a host of Norse-inspired games preempted me again (including Banner Saga, but also Expeditions, Eitr, Jotunn, Loki's whatever, etc., etc.). This time I can't really afford to change settings again, and even if I did, I'm sure it would be just like how parents give their kids "original" names only to discover so did every other yuppie in the neighborhood. :D
     
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  9. Barghest Augur Patron

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    'fixed number of days' Not sure I'll enjoy the pressure.
     
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  10. Zeriel Arcane

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    The space thing looked really good. Shouldn't have abandoned it, I think, space games of that ilk are far from a market so glutted with titles that one couldn't possibly succeed.
     
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  11. Bubbles I'm forever blowing

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    I assume there'll be a PoE-style "story mode" where all the gameplay hassles are removed.
     
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  12. Excidium II Self-Ejected

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    It begins.
     
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  13. Crescent Hawk Arbiter

    Crescent Hawk
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    I wonder when Byzantine Era or ancient China\Mesopotamia settings will be cool enough for devs.
     
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  14. Jedi Master Radek Arcane

    Jedi Master Radek
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    I would fucking buy it!
    I want to be:
    [​IMG]
     
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  15. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    I liked it a lot. I hope to revisit it someday. All the same, the combination of lots of similar games on the market and a surprising hiccup I hit with the design (something I think I've dealt with on FG) made switching the right move. Maybe if/when I finish FG, I can go back to it.

    Barghest Bubbles The fixed number of days is inflexible. The game is conceived not as something where you play a single epic session but where you replay many times -- akin to FTL, although a bit longer.

    I want to damp down expectations. I think there are a number of reasons Fallen Gods will be unsatisfying to the Codex:

    * The combat, while certainly much more complicated than that of either Barbarian Prince or Lone Wolf, is meant to be resolved quickly. It is almost the antithesis of AOD combat.
    * It is not a character-driven story, and there is not even a strong narrative arc to a given gameplay session (again, think FTL, though more complicated). It's really more about mood, lore, and interesting (I hope!) vignettes. I think the writing is very different from anything else out there, but I'm not sure there's much of a market for it. The vignettes interact in a sense (because you can get items or followers in Vignette A that can be used in an interesting way in Vignette B), but there isn't any kind of strong reactivity in that sense. Indeed, most of the reactivity is localize to the warband. The warband members are more like the characters in, say, King of Dragon Pass than like companions in the standard cRPG. In fact, they may even be a little thinner than KoDP characters. Somewhere between those and X-Com soldiers, with a major difference being that they have special skills that can be used in events. For example, in one event you encounter a young woman trying to expose an unwanted child. If you have a witch in the warband, you have the option to let the witch eat the baby (!), which powers her up in various ways. In another event you encounter an ill-omened lammergeier, and if you have a woodsman in your party, he can try to shoot it with his bow. Etc.
    * There's not much in the way of economy in the game -- in towns, you can just buy food, rest, or hire followers -- and there's not looting in the traditional sense: there are about 30 magical items and you don't get them by grinding combat. In fact, you can't really grind combat, which exists as a means of attrition (it doesn't yield experience points).
    * There are dungeons, but you don't explore them in a traditional way: you basically just advance through them, one vignette at a time.
    * Character progression is very limited. Under the current design, the god has five levels, followers three, and leveling up primarily just increases stats (i.e., doesn't give new skills or spells or anything). I am currently of the view that the god will be randomly generated at the start of each session to force different play styles. The game is not really about powering up because the god is very powerful and his followers are either warriors or skilled types, or rustics who wouldn't get better in any event. There is not XP. The god gains soul-power in various ways, and he can use this to level himself up or to perform miracles. Followers level-up randomly by doing useful tasks.

    Anyway, obviously I still think the game is good, but I don't want people to hope for too much from it, or to hope for something different from what it is. I'm not particularly interested in adjusting it to meet people's preferences because it really is a vanity project, or maybe better said a curiosity project, to see if this game I've envisioned for many years can be made, and to see what it will be like when it's done.
     
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  16. Jedi Master Radek Arcane

    Jedi Master Radek
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    So it is some kind of lorecentric roguelike? If so, have you thought about the possibility of each game starting in different season and having different festivals or monsters/evets than the previous one?
     
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  17. <3sRichardSimmons Arcane Patron

    <3sRichardSimmons
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    :bounce:
    That sounds fucking awesome. Not enough KoDP influence in the genre at present.
     
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  18. MRY Prestigious Gentleman Wormwood Studios Developer

    MRY
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    Seasons are tricky. There are great visual effects we could do for them, and one idea I had was that you'd start at the autumnal equinox and end at the winter solstice, with the days getting shorter, etc. as the year went on. But the problem is, outdoor event illustrations need to be fairly neutral as to season -- as it is, illustrating, designing, and writing events takes a long time, and we'd need to do considerably more events to accommodate four different seasons. Also, monsters are pretty expensive too -- to concept and animate (that's a dollar cost, and a cost in Dan's time), but mostly from a lore-building standpoint. I'd probably rather use those art resources on more animations and more variations of existing sprites, rather than new sprites. And the lore resources on writing more events.

    "Lorecentric roguelike" seems off to me. I think "roguelike" is really over-used. To me, true rogue-likes are really about complicated interactive systems and detailed dungeon generation, huge quantities of content, lots of classes, etc. That things are procedurally generated and replayable is only one part of that package.

    FG is procedural. It's a generated hex map for the overworld, with locations and events placed on it. (Some events spawn as you play, some are fixed from the start.) Dungeons are just a stack of events, and that stack is generated as well. But the gameplay is too simplistic to be compared to rogue. And while you can die, you also respawn -- as long as you're still a god, you're mostly immortal, and it's running out of time, not death, that you have to fear. (Recovering from death takes time, though, and you can lose followers, etc., so it's a pretty big setback.) There are some things out there that can kill you -- Firstborn, wurms, witches, other gods -- but they're uncommon. (You can also get into a fatal scenario, like being buried alive, where you can't undie before you run out of time.)

    I think the major appeal of the game will be the atmosphere: the writing, art, and music are all pretty carefully and thoughtfully done. The lore is a big part of that. Also, the events just let you do stuff that are kind of neat. I mean, AOD is probably better in that regard, but basically I've tried to avoid the Judeo-Christian-Biowarean notion of good and evil. It's much more about being a swaggering god who cares about his reputation, to some degree, and about escaping the crapsack world foremost of all.

    Probably a lot will turn on whether you like the writing or not. My instinct is that a lot of people won't, but I hope some people will. I guess there's no harm posting a sample.

    (Dwerg are our dwarfs. I'll talk more about them later.)

    Anyway, you can:

    Take the coins.
    Demand more.
    Save her.

    Gold is an important resource, so let's ask for more coins!

    If we have the Healing Hands power, we can heal her injury. Healing Hands also lets us heal followers (inside and outside of battle). It's a pretty good power.

    You can now:

    Bid her to join your band.
    Claim her by right.
    Let her go.

    There's a risk of her turning down an invitation, so claiming your right of rescue is a safer bet for getting a follower. A maiden is a valuable follower as she can tend to the god's wounds, and can help in various rituals, including one game-winning condition. She also wields a dagger, and while she's in the bottom tier for combat, even a weak fighter can be valuable in battle.

    So these choices: (1) lost us a chance to get some coins; (2) lost some happiness among your more valorous followers who probably thought that bargaining with dwergs was ungodly behavior; (3) cost us some soul-power to heal the maiden; and (4) got us a maiden follower, but with low happiness. Happiness can be raised by giving gifts (which is costly, as it loses you an item), by resting with a skald in the party, by resting in an inn, and by making certain choices in battle.

    On some level, the gameplay is really about exchanging resources: time, gold, soul-power, food, and strength (warband, items, leveling up, etc.). Most of the event choices involve this kind of exchange, but you can also exchange things in a more mechanical way: hunting, for example, trades time for food; buying food, by contrast, trades gold for food.

    Anyway, there isn't that much done in terms of implementation to know how well the overarching strategy will work. But that should give a sense of it.
     
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  19. Invictus Arcane The Real Fanboy

    Invictus
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    I may be crazy but I am getting these Magic Candle vibes from your descriptions and the narrative driven gameplay and storyline sounds exactly the kind of relaxing sort of games I enjoy to change pace from the usual combatfag fare that I play
     
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  20. Major_Blackhart Codexia Lord Sodom Patron

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    Interesting. I'll see how things progress.
     
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  21. Jedi Master Radek Arcane

    Jedi Master Radek
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    Thanks for the very detailed answer!
    Worthy of becoming a codex meme :)
     
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  22. Kind of like the Volournian notion of derp.
     
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  23. ERYFKRAD Barbarian Patron

    ERYFKRAD
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    Good luck MRY.
     
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  24. himmy Arcane

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    I think this would be a nicer placer if all devs made posts here detailing why the Codex will hate their game.
     
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  25. ArtB Cipher Patron

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    As far as the writing is concerned, the Anglo-Saxon influence shines through (there's a fair chance the Icelandic Sagas are like that to, but I've never read those), at least to me, which I like a helluva lot. But yeah, I can certainly see how a lot of people might be a little put off by it. Nevertheless, keep it going, man, this looks very intriguing.

    Talk about managing expectations, the Dex is gonna LOVE this :P
     
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