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Tue 4 August 2020

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 4 August 2020, 00:16:16

Tags: Anshar Studios; Gamedec

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In the two months that have passed since upcoming cyberpunk detective RPG Gamedec appeared on the Escapist Indie Showcase stream, Anshar Studios have released two additional dev diary videos introducing aspects of the Gamedec universe. We haven't seen any additional virtual worlds since the game was Kickstarted, but it is still due out this year and today a pre-release build was released to backers. The backer build apparently consists of the Twisted & Perverted scenario we saw back in March. There's no trailer for this release, but a handful of press outlets have previewed it. Here's the preview from Gaming Trend, who also uploaded a cool 100 minutes of gameplay footage:



You play a cyber detective who specializes in helping people in the game space — a Game Detective, or Gamedec for short. In the demo I got to play (which I’ve captured in its entirety below — it’s anything but short!) I was contracted by a rich CEO of a software conglomerate named Geoffrey Haggis. His son logged into a virtual world and has somehow ended up stuck there for well past the maximum amount of recommended time. Seems simple enough.

Nearly every single interaction you have in the world of Gamedec results in a consequence of some kind. Having run this demo several times, the game never judges you for your actions, merely accounting for the choices you make. Something as simple as looking at graffiti on the wall and selecting how you interpret it results in a logged action. Do you see it as art? Defacing property? Do you see something religious buried inside? No matter your choice, the game is using each one to define your personality. What I noticed immediately is that there are so many of them that it’s nigh impossible to just “back up” and just choose all the “Paragon” options — the world is more gray than that.

Fredo Haggis, the son of Director Haggis, was celebrating his birthday with his friend Timmy. They decided to set out on a wild night, as evidenced by the obvious hooker strapped into a nearby VR couch. Looking around the room, I also found Timmy and Fredo’s discarded clothes. From the moment I created my character I had already decided on a path — I was born in the lower city. As I had made this choice I knew that if I rifled through the clothes of these two rich kids, I’d likely find something tucked away in a hidden pocket somewhere. Similarly, if I was born on the high city side of town I’d have different options with Director Haggis and he wouldn’t look at me like something he just scraped off his shoe.

As the game is in development, the devs give you an immediate boost, letting you pick from four different professions to start to define your Gamedec. A Sleeve is a person with ties to the world of crime, a Glazier is a magician of virtual worlds and a machine tamer, the Infotainer is a high-charisma charmer in the virtual world, and the Scalpel is a medic with extensive knowledge of medicine. Beyond the obvious Shadowrun-like backstory choices, you’ll also get points in four different categories called “Aspects.” These color-coded choices tie directly to the decisions and observations you make through the course of interaction with people, places, and things. Perhaps you show a bit of compassion to Timmy and his situation and that puts a point in that column under that heading. Maybe you really lean on your AI to help you with the crushing loneliness of your bachelor life, putting a point into that aspect. Verbosity, intuition, selfishness, determination, impatience, calmness, caution, logic, discretion — this long list doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface on all of the possibilities. In the current build there are 32 skills you can unlock with these various aspects, granting access to other professions, as well as deeper specializations within them. The demo only grants access to a few of them, but it’s already very apparent that every run can be wildly different based on these choices. Below you’ll see a second full playthrough that has me interacting with the characters in this scenario in a completely different way, and with very different outcomes. I’m sure I’m only scratching the surface.

Using my powers of persuasion I took a run at Timmy to see if he could tell me why his friend is currently stuck in the virtual world. A small meter shows me that Timmy has more than a few secrets to reveal, but I’d have to either get him on my side, or scare him shitless till he coughs them up. Either way, it’s another choice with consequences. Actions now can lock other actions later.

As a detective, my job is to draw conclusions. Scouring an area I collect clues and create a hypothesis about what might have happened, both in the real world and the virtual one. Using the decision screen I can use the clues I’ve uncovered to decide what thread I want to pull. Which virtual world did Timmy and Fredo go to? Which ways did the clues point? Once I made the choice, there was no going back. Each branch leads to new investigation options, but closes any you didn’t choose permanently — choose wisely. As a prime example, I had to track down a cult leader in my playthrough, leading me to have to decide between two people as the culprit. You can imagine my surprise when the final clue I uncovered was whether that person was a man or a woman — it’d be very easy to go off half-cocked and make the wrong choice, but it could make for interesting RPG arcs.

I went into Gamedec just excited to see a fresh take on Cyberpunk storytelling, and boy did I get it. Too many games make the claim that choices matter, but Gamedec’s focus on detective storytelling creates a grand tapestry of interwoven choices that can have a wide variety of outcomes. You’ve seen me fail to keep Fredo alive twice in the videos above, but know that the right choices can end with a happy father and a very alive Fredo. Gamedec is an indie game flying in very rarified air. There’s something here — something I’ve not seen massive publishers with hundreds of millions of dollars at their fingertips deliver. Not only do choices matter more than “good” and “bad”, they have far-reaching implications and often further-reaching consequences.
An additional preview is available at IGN and isn't as positive, though I'm not sure the author entirely gets the point of the game. Gamedec will be at the virtual Gamescom later this month and I imagine we'll get to see more of it there, including perhaps a release date announcement.

There are 8 comments on Gamedec Backer Build Released


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Sat 1 August 2020

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 1 August 2020, 01:21:12

Tags: Call of Saregnar; Legendworks

The development of Call of Saregnar, Rhuantavan's super cool Betrayal at Krondor-inspired RPG, reached an important milestone today with the release of its first backer demo. Our users report that the game doesn't have much content but is already very polished and fun. There's no fancy trailer or announcement blurb for this release, so here are a few screenshots from the game's press kit instead.

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Head over to Call of Saregnar's official website and donate via PayPal or Patreon if you'd like to join in.

There are 48 comments on First demo for Call of Saregnar released to backers


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Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 1 August 2020, 00:07:15

Tags: Pahris Entertainment; Space Wreck

Last year we told you about Space Wreck, an upcoming Fallout-inspired isometric space RPG from Codexer Martins "Kamaz" Ceplis. The game was supposed to be out on Early Access this February but was delayed twice, first to August and then to February again, next year. Kamaz has used the extra time to give its character sprites a visual upgrade, which you can see in the new trailer he put together this month. The trailer offers a look at Space Wreck's character system and its implementation of dialogue, stealth and combat.


Cool stuff. Hopefully this will be the game's final six month delay.

There are 10 comments on Check out the new trailer for Space Wreck, still coming to Early Access in February

Wed 29 July 2020

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 29 July 2020, 23:55:46

Tags: Psychic Software; The Necromancer's Tale

Codex MVP LESS T_T has spotted yet another upcoming title on Steam. The Necromancer's Tale is a narrative-driven isometric RPG where you assume the role of a minor noble who is drawn into the necromantic arts after returning home to investigate the suspicious death of his father. It's set in the 1730s in what appears to be an Austro-Hungarian barony on the Adriatic coast, although it doesn't look like it's aiming to be historically accurate. The game's creator is a prolific Irish indie developer named Sam Redfern, who has apparently been working on it since late 2018, though it was only announced back in March. Watching the latest gameplay footage, you might assume that it's another Disco Elysium clone, but apparently it will have some combat (turn-based, of course). Here's the video and description from Steam:



The Necromancer's Tale is a narrative-driven top-down RPG where you play the role of a minor noble in the 18th Century, drawn into the Dark Necromantic Arts as you seek knowledge and revenge. Great power awaits... along with the weird, the morbid, and a gradual descent into madness.

Before you lies a great spellbook, filled with powerful rites of death and reanimation. Can you decipher the pages and master its arcane rituals without losing your mind or being strung up by the townsfolk? Your progress will require great determination, cunning and secrecy, as well as a willingness to confront difficult aspects of yourself and all humankind.

The Necromancer's Tale focuses on conversation, narrative and ritual more than on combat. Yes, there are battles, and tactical turn-based combat; however fighting on its own will not be a route to success. Choose your words wisely, because the characters you meet are already suspicious of the eerie events in town.

Unlike most RPGs, this isn't a hero's journey as they rail against an evil lord. It is a person's descent into madness as they plumb the depths of black magic in their search for revenge, the terrible things it asks of them and the uncomfortable choices they make in their search for power.

Spells and rituals are not treated like guns, that you acquire and then use without a second thought: the process of gathering/manufacturing materials and knowledge and then the process of putting them into action is non-trivial and is a focus of the game.

Confusing dreams, strange distant lights through the trees, spooky voices whispering your name, a loosening grip on reality - the game focuses on the unsettling experience of becoming a necromancer and transcending mortality, whatever that may mean... The game deals with themes of death, change, morality, and a gradually eroding sense of time and place.
According to its Steam page, The Necromancer's Tale isn't due out until 2022. For more details about the game's characters and setting, check out the official website.

There are 21 comments on The Necromancer's Tale is an upcoming narrative RPG about a young noble's descent into darkness

Tue 28 July 2020

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 28 July 2020, 01:30:23

Tags: Focus Home Interactive; Lightbulb Crew; Othercide

Othercide, the surreal horror-themed tactical RPG from French studio Lightbulb Crew, is out tonight thanks to an unusual midnight release schedule. Over the past month, Focus Home Interactive have released a whole bunch of trailers, dev diaries and community videos to promote the game. The best one is the gameplay overview trailer from two weeks ago, which offers a solid introduction to the game's unique combat and character development features, including its focus on manipulating the turn queue to set up powerful combos.


Othercide's review scores vary but are generally on the positive side, including an eye-popping 9/10 from IGN who describe it as the best turn-based tactics game of the year so far. Here's a list of all the launch day reviews I was able to find:

Othercide is available on Steam now for $35. It seems pretty cool and likely to be overlooked. I'd say give it a try if you're a fan of tactical RPGs with unique takes on combat, or if you're just too impatient to wait for August's bigger releases.

There are 37 comments on Othercide Released

Fri 24 July 2020

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 24 July 2020, 21:35:12

Tags: Mechajammer; Whalenought Studios

The Copper Dreams beta build was unexpectedly updated two days ago. Once again, the game's visual style had completely changed. In fact, it now looks remarkably like Serpent in the Staglands, Whalenought's first title. This time they published a Kickstarter update to explain what was going on, starting with the fact that the game is now called Mechajammer. Here's its new trailer:



Greetings! We hope this reaches you all in good health.

The Copper Dreams project gets a new name to go with its shiny coat of paint and ruleset as we begin to complete main sections of the game. Beta v2 deathmatch modes now available for testing and glory.

We had mentioned earlier this spring that we wanted to perfect some of the movement systems and companions in the game since the alpha work. The Alpha/Beta v1 response has favored tighter controlled characters for faster turns with simultaneous minded tactics, and we've chiseled beta v2 to focus on that.

There’s an improved interface for actions, and we made the appropriate cozy visuals to engage your fleshy eyeballs and roleplaying imagination. Sprites are super easy to at-a-glance in the midst of the action compared to their 3d counterparts of old, allowing you to survey a battlefield much more quickly. The environment lovingly followed — an industrious colony surface atop the skeletal husk of a city with a century worth of damage from the Ci-War, now pushing back the encroaching jungle and mutations from all sides and depths. All of it drenched in rain-soaked streets, haunted under-cities, and atomizing laser deaths.

For those of you who got a beta release a while back as we were finishing up on our final tweaks for tiles and squad gameplay, that’s been updated on Steam with all changes. If you didn’t receive that invite send us an email and we can shoot you another. All other KS tiers will be receiving an early test invite in the future (final release date coming soon). Next release(s) on Steam will be additional maps to test on, and soon the first big chunk of the game to explore.

We’re also working on some updates for the community page so that's been currently down, and the next content we share will be more story related now that beta v2 is done and we're getting more chunks of the main map done.
The new beta has been received more positively than the original release in March, though as the update states all it contains right now is a deathmatch mode. Hopefully the game is now truly entering full production. The combination of Serpent in the Staglands' visual style with the new mechanics that Whalenought developed for Copper Dreams was probably always the right way to go.

There are 51 comments on Mechajammer Kickstarter Update #27: New Title, Beta Updated

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 24 July 2020, 02:01:40

Tags: Avowed; Obsidian Entertainment

Feargus Urquhart has talked for years about how much he wants to make a big Skyrim-like RPG using the Pillars of Eternity setting. After Obsidian was acquired by Microsoft and hit it out of the park with The Outer Worlds, it was clear that it was only a matter of time. Behold the reveal trailer for Avowed, unveiled today at the Xbox Games Showcase:


So what can one say about this? First of all, it's notable that they're not calling it Pillars of Eternity 3 or even Pillars of Eternity: Spinoff. On its very sparse official website, the game is described only as an "epic, first-person RPG set in the fantasy world of Eora". It appears to be specifically set in Aedyr, on Eora's previously unseen western continent. Judging by the repeated references to vows and oaths, it sounds like the game's story will likely involve Woedica, who is that nation's patron goddess. One of her many titles, Oathbinder, appears on the player character's sword in Eld Aedyran runes. But otherwise, it's clear that the main point of this trailer is to inform mass audiences that "Hey, we're making a Skyrim!". Well, we'll see where it goes. I suspect it'll be a while yet before we learn anything more about Avowed, but as always, let the drama begin.

There are 139 comments on Obsidian's next big RPG is Avowed, a Skyrim-like set in the Pillars of Eternity universe

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 24 July 2020, 01:19:14

Tags: Carrie Patel; Obsidian Entertainment; The Outer Worlds; The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon

Obsidian announced way back in December that they were planning to release story DLC for The Outer Worlds this year. Over seven months later they finally revealed the first one today at Microsoft's Xbox Games Showcase event. The Outer Worlds: Peril on Gorgon is a full-fledged late game expansion, a "noir-tinged" mystery set in an abandoned Spacer's Choice research facility on the Gorgon Asteroid. The story apparently involves investigating the origins of the Adrena-Time drug, implied in the base game to be responsible for Halcyon being infested with psychotic marauders. The expansion features an increased level cap, new perks, flaws and skill tier unlocks, and new gear including three additional science weapons. Also audio logs, because you can't have a mysterious abandoned space facility without those. Here's the announcement trailer:


After the announcement, a number of websites published their interviews with the expansion's game director Carrie Patel and its art director Matt Hansen. The most notable takeaway from the interviews is that development on Peril on Gorgon actually began in January 2019, before The Outer Worlds was released. When the game turned out to be a commercial success, they decided to restart development and make the expansion significantly larger. It should be roughly comparable in scope to Monarch. Here's a list of interviews I was able to track down:

Peril on Gorgon is releasing on September 9th and will be priced at $15. It's the first of two planned expansions for The Outer Worlds and will also be available as part of a $25 expansion pass. This wasn't the only Obsidian title announced today, but I'll save that for a separate newspost.

There are 18 comments on Peril on Gorgon is the first expansion for The Outer Worlds, coming September 9th

Thu 23 July 2020

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 23 July 2020, 01:06:11

Tags: Hardsuit Labs; Paradox Interactive; Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2

Apparently that silly Damsel reveal trailer was an excuse for Paradox and Hardsuit to skip last month's Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2 dev diary. Unfortunately there are no big announcements to share yet in this month's installment. It's a pretty fillery development update about Hardsuit's process for producing visual effects, using the Tremere Blood Orb spell as an example.

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When you hear Visual Effects (VFX), images of giant explosions and magic missiles might come to mind, but VFX for games goes far deeper than that. From a mundane leaky pipe or blowing leaves to supernatural Tremere blood magic, VFX is responsible for bringing the dynamics of the game world to life.

VFX artists must be very versatile. It’s our job to bring the vision of the Art Director to life. One day that could be creating realistic blood, the next it might be communicating an idea like Toreador Celerity, or it might be making trash blow around. It might also be something you never even considered, such as our Christmas Lights which are actually VFX!

Inception
Every effect starts as a need from a department. Let’s look at the Tremere Acolyte’s Blood Orb attack. VFX usually happens toward the end, so first Design will come up with the parameters of the effect, Engineering will make The attack work as expected, and Animation will create the enemy character animations that are needed, and then VFX comes in.

We start with a kickoff meeting with the Art Director and designers so we understand what the effect needs to look like and what information it should communicate to the player. Understanding the context of the effect is really important. Next, we get concept art from the Art Director so we have a visual target and general quality part to aim for, and schedule out the work with the Production team.

Block-out

In the block-out phase, we do some fact-finding. What are the technical requirements for the effect? Is there anything we need to build or other unknowns that have to be tackled to be successful? One of the questions for this particular effect was how we wanted to handle the light effect when the Orb is activated, so we prototyped a solution and synced up with our Lighting engineers to make sure everything was going to work ok. Once all of our questions are answered, we can move on to the next phase.

Iteration
This is where we polish our effects to a shine. We work on improving the look of the effect, then we get feedback from the Art Director and improve it even more. Does the effect meet the quality standards of the Art Director? Does it tell the right story, have the right timing and tone? Once the effect is meeting all of our needs, we can move on to the final step!

Audio / QA / Final Review
Now Audio can come in and add the cherry on top. QA will hammer on the effect to make sure nothing is broken. The project directors will review it and could also have points of feedback to address.

And Ship!
Now we have a finished effect ready for the players to enjoy!

Built by a small team
Throughout the project, the VFX team has been very small. There have been times when no one was working on FX at all! We’ve had some talented people come and go from the project, and the final result is a blend of everyone who has touched Bloodlines 2. At our height, working with outsourcing partners, we had 7 VFX artists working full time on the project, but for the majority of the time it has been a single VFX artist with Tech-Art support. (Hiring VFX artists is hard!) We’re very proud of what we’ve been able to achieve given the limited resources we had throughout the project.

Every visual effect is a new set of artistic and technical challenges, and solving those challenges can be a lot of fun and very rewarding, and we are very excited for everyone to see what we’ve conjured up for Bloodlines 2!​

It's not very reassuring that they're still using that area from last year's E3 demo to demonstrate this. On the other hand, judging by the use of past tense in the last section, it sounds like they might be mostly done with the game's visual effects.

There are 7 comments on Bloodlines 2 Dev Diary #12: Putting the 'Blood' in Bloodlines

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 23 July 2020, 00:25:08

Tags: Lost Pilgrims Studio; Vagrus - The Riven Realms

The free prologue demo of Vagrus: The Riven Realms has been available for almost two months now, first as part of the GOG Summer Sale, then during the Steam Game Festival, and finally as a permanent release on Steam two weeks ago. Our users who tried it out were pretty impressed, praising the game for its excellent lore and atmosphere. Earlier this month, developer Lost Pilgrims announced that they would also be releasing an Early Access version of Vagrus on July 22nd. The Early Access build is based on the alpha builds previously available only to Fig backers and is much larger than the prologue. Here's its trailer and an excerpt from the Early Access FAQ:



Why Early Access?
Vagrus is a narrative-heavy game
so unless you know for sure that you enjoy reading a lot, we suggest trying our FREE Prologue to give you a taste of what to expect.
The setting of Vagrus is a dark, gruesome world and accordingly, the game is hard. If you are looking for a casual experience, Vagrus might not be a good choice.

Vagrus has been developed for close to three years now and we have always used a decidedly open development process from the start. We have involved players whenever we could - we shared details on our progress and decisions while they shared their valuable insights so that we could tweak the experience. We started with a few fans and gradually grew that audience. By now, thousands have played Vagrus and its demo. All this happened to prepare for finally bringing the game to Steam and opening it up to a huge player base in the form of Early Access. This way we can continue involving players to eventually be able to deliver a unique game between our vision and their preferences.

Approximately how long will this game be in Early Access?
Our current plan is to release Vagrus sometime in 2021, so it will definitely stay in Early Access for at least six months, most likely even more. The date will be very much dependent on how we progress with content creation, as well as on the addition and improvement of features based on player feedback, and of course the final polishing stage.

How is the full version planned to differ from the Early Access version?
The current Vagrus build has approximately 50 hours of content and most of the major features have been deployed by now, but we still have plans to add more. The full version will have a bigger world for players to explore with more settlements, points of interest, recruitable companions, and playable stories, of course. It will include completely new features (like mercenary tasks), extensions of existing elements (like crew combat tactics and actions), user interface improvements, and more.

What is the current state of the Early Access version?
The currently available 50 hours of content come together from two parts:

‘Pilgrims of the Wasteland’ is a standalone story that initially is a more linear and text-heavy experience, with less branching in the overall story, albeit full of choices and consequences within the events themselves. It introduces the world, some characters, game mechanics, and concepts gradually, opening up more in its second half. Its estimated playtime is 7-10 hours (depending on playstyle).

In the open-world main campaign, you can create your own character (vagrus) and travel anywhere in a huge game world from the start. The campaign already has a gigantic region with dozens of settlements and points of interest to explore, six companions you can recruit, scores of enemy types, character creation, and a ton of story content for you to discover. Players who spent time in it suggested it holds approximately 40 hours of content, and we know that some of them have spent more than a hundred hours in the game already.
The Vagrus: The Riven Realms Early Access release is available on Steam and GOG for $30, with a 10% launch discount until next week. That's not particularly cheap, but as you can see they're not afraid to admit that this is a niche game.

There are 5 comments on Vagrus: The Riven Realms now available on Early Access

Tue 21 July 2020

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 21 July 2020, 23:43:38

Tags: Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

The Definitive Edition of Pathfinder: Kingmaker will be out next month, but you won't have to wait that long to try out the new turn-base combat mode. Owlcat have decided to release it as a beta update on Steam. The new Kickstarter update has the details on how to install it.

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Pathfinders,

It is less than a month until the release of Pathfinder: Kingmaker Definitive Edition for PC and consoles. With this update comes turn-based mode and a number of fixes. In preparation for this, we are launching a beta for 2.1! In this test, you will be able to play in the turn-based mode. We have put a lot of work into it and now we are ready to present it to you. We hope that you will love it and share your thoughts about it.

If you find any bugs you can report them using the in-game bug report feature by pressing F11. You can use the same tool to provide feedback to us - just choose the “Suggestion” option under the text window.

You can find how to join the beta-test here.

Patch notes are here.
The rest of the update looks pretty decent too.

There are 51 comments on Pathfinder: Kingmaker Kickstarter Update #74: Turn-Based Mode Beta

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 21 July 2020, 23:01:25

Tags: Stygian Software; Underrail; Underrail: Expedition

Styg has released the second major content update for Underrail which he first teased back in March. It's called the Waterways and Psi Update and it does pretty much what the title indicates. As I expected, the new content is mainly located in the Expedition expansion, but it seems like the real centerpiece of the update is the psi system overhaul. Psi in Underrail will now use an elaborate dual resource management scheme, which might be described as Vancian spellcasting combined with a long-term mana resource that must be replenished using psi inhalants. It's an ambitious enough change that Styg has decided to release the update as an experimental beta first. He explains his design goals in the new development update:

Hi guys,

We're rolling out a new content update. It's going to land on experimental branch first in order to thoroughly test it out.

To play experimental branch on Steam, you right click the game in your library and go to "Betas" tab. To do so on GOG Galaxy, you go to Manage Installation -> Configure. Make sure you don't override all your live version saves just in case something goes horribly wrong.

The first major theme of this update is the change to psi mechanics. The full changes are listed below. They are not primarily meant to kick the full psi builds down a notch (though they will do that), but to address the following issues with psi that I find the most problematic and detrimental to the game as a whole, not just in terms of difficulty:
  1. Psi gives you too many utilities. Due to how the psi functions now (prior to this update) it's almost impossible to add new stuff to psi without extending the already bloated spectrum of combat utilities of any given psi generalist (which most psi builds are) even further, since, unlike with combat utilities, there are no limits to what a psi invoker can access during combat.
  2. Psi is cheap to spec into. Even though every psi school is a separate skill, they are all based on a single base ability, which is the only one required to be maxed out in order for your character to be powerful. If you invest heavily enough into it, the psi abilities themselves will make up for many deficiencies in other areas. No other robust build works like this, they usually require at least moderately strong investment into a secondary base ability.
  3. Psi does not require any expendable resource. Pretty much every other build does so I introduced a resource for psi as well. Now it has a dual (or hybrid if you will) resource management aspect. Also I used this opportunity to put a sort of a limit to how much psionic output you can dish out in a single fight, so we'll see how this works out.
  4. This is the least important point, but it's still worth addressing. Some abilities are a bit too cheesey and easy to exploit so I changed them up a bit. This does not make them perfectly balanced or un-cheeseable and I know there is other stuff out there that's cheese as well. These are just the ones that bothered me the most and were long overdue to change.
Anyway, the detailed changes are in the list below. What I hope to do in the future with psi now that I've dealt with psi generalist question is to facilitate more hybrid builds, which I think the new system will support well.

* * * * *

The other major theme of the update is a lot of new content for the waterways - one big new dungeon, a couple of smaller locations, many new random encounters and other stuff. I'll leave it to you guys to find out for yourselves.

On a related note I halved the price of all the fancy jet skis and all the parts, so they will be easier to acquire now. We do not need such ridiculous prices anymore since we added the economic component to the difficulty settings.​

As always you can check out the full update for a complete changelog, including all the details about the new psi system and much more.

There are 15 comments on Underrail Dev Log #67: Version 1.1.2.0 Beta - Waterways and Psi Update

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Tue 21 July 2020, 00:47:45

Tags: Brian Heins; Matt Barton; Obsidian Entertainment; South Park: The Stick of Truth; Tyranny

It ended up taking Matt Barton two weeks to upload the third and final episode of his interview with Obsidian's Brian Heins. The episode begins with some additional discussion about Tyranny, specifically Brian's decision to use a different sort of character system for it. Brian likes skill-based character systems, but he says that if he could go back he would have removed improve-by-use because the team didn't have time to balance it. He is however very proud of the game's spell crafting system.

After a brief discussion of the advantages and challenges of crowdfunding, the interview moves on to South Park: The Stick of Truth, which Brian worked on as an area and system designer. We've heard before that Trey Parker and Matt Stone were difficult to work with, and Brian provides some concrete examples of this. Every piece of content in the game had to be approved by them, which became a problem when they disappeared for months at a time to work on their show. When they returned, they would often declare that certain jokes had become old and throw out content that had already been created. Sometimes they actually took jokes that they'd created for the game and used them on the show, which meant they had to be replaced.


The final question of the interview is again contributed by George Ziets, who worked with Brian on Westwood's cancelled MMO Earth & Beyond. It's a game that Brian believes could have been a success if EA had been willing to invest in it. He would work in the MMO industry for another decade before joining Obsidian for good in 2012. Brian got his start in the industry working on text-based MUDs at Simutronics, a job he managed to score right out of high school thanks to his heavy activity on the company's forums. He says it was a good way to learn the ropes because of how easy it was to make and test changes. For those looking to break into the industry today, Brian recommends getting into modding and building a portfolio.

There are 3 comments on Matt Chat 454: Brian Heins on South Park: The Stick of Truth and his Early Career

Thu 16 July 2020

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 16 July 2020, 22:48:57

Tags: Solasta: Crown of the Magister; Tactical Adventures

Looks like we're going to get more Solasta: Crown of the Magister dev diary videos. The topic of this month's video is the game's combat action economy. In Solasta's implementation of the 5th Edition ruleset, there are four action types that a character can perform during their turn in combat - movement (which varies by race and terrain type), regular actions (which also include maneuvers such as dashing, dodging and disengaging), bonus actions (such as off-hand attacks by dual-wielders) and reactions (eg attacks of opportunity and readied actions). There are also free actions that can be performed at any time, usually related to interacting with the environment.


Very informative. What's nice about these videos is that much of what we learn in them will also be useful for Baldur's Gate 3.

There are 37 comments on Solasta: Crown of the Magister Dev Diary - Combat & Action Economy

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 16 July 2020, 00:18:23

Tags: Baldur's Gate 3; Larian Studios

Larian have published a new Baldur's Gate 3 community update. It's basically a recap of what we learned about the game's combat and stealth systems in last month's gameplay stream and last week's interview with Nick Pechenin. I suppose it's always good to have these things in writing. No Early Access release date yet, unfortunately. Here's the relevant part of the update:

BG3 deploys fifth edition D&D rules and is class-based. We’ll go into what that means per-class later this year, but for now let’s focus on how BG3’s combat plays. It’s come a long way since the reveal in February. It’s now faster, and more responsive. And it works well in both singleplayer and multiplayer.

If you watched the gameplay stream, one thing many of you have noticed is how fluid combat in BG3 now feels. Despite being turn-based, which allows you to have an authentic D&D experience and really deliberate over your moves as a team, BG3’s combat is much faster than DOS2. But how? Magic? A rift in the space-time continuum? Currently, neither of those things. In fact a lot of it is down to how animations are both created and processed. We invested heavily into what drives our animation pipeline, and specifically made tweaks to improve the feel and motion in combat. The increased brevity and flow is down to many, many changes shaving off microseconds (and sometimes entire seconds). For example, another character’s turn will begin - behind the scenes - as the previous character is ending their animation. Even things as simple as combining move animations with the hit of a melee strike shaves seconds off combat.

Since the initial gameplay reveal in February, we totally overhauled the order of combat. Early Access means change, and change is shaped by feedback and testing over time. BG3’s combat is now set so that each combatant takes a turn at a time but there’s a twist. If multiple combatants of the same faction follow one another in the turn order, then you can simultaneously command each of them.

That means that based on the results of the initiative roll, you’ll experience a different tactical puzzle in each combat that really mixes everything up but still allows you to react to the “cards” you’re “dealt”, so to speak. (There aren’t literally any cards, sorry MTG fans!) Between the RNG of initiative, and the planning, you should be able to have a fresh experience with every combat while still being able to predict and plan with friends how to combine spells and abilities, and ultimately win the fight.

Baldur’s Gate 3 is a party-based game that you can play alone, controlling each character, or as a party of up to four where each person rolls their own character. (It’s of course possible to also play as 2, or 3 people, with AI, etc).

In multiplayer, when your avatars and companions are next to each other in the turn order players can simultaneously control characters. This allows you to communicate with your friends and combine spells and abilities to take advantage of more brains on the battlefield, and more hands on the keyboard. This, compared with Divinity: Original Sin 2, drastically reduces the amount of time each player would have to wait between turns, since they’re able to move together.

Stealth is also a big part of Baldur’s Gate 3 - if you want it to be - and it goes hand in hand with the game's great sense of verticality, and ability to shove people. Sneaking is a really useful technique for positioning your party prior to the initiative roll, ensuring you get the first strike. Using stealth, it’s perfectly viable to sneak into a camp, avoid being seen, and roll crits to victory. With a little thought comes the perfect ‘shove’.

Using stealth to prepare for combat is even more fun due to the introduction of forced turn-based mode. This is a big new feature that allows players at any moment during exploration to switch to turn-based rules. Each turn equates to 6 seconds, allowing players to predict and navigate enemy movement, or solve puzzles that require clever navigation (for example, not getting hit by a fireball!).

Our stealth mechanics now also take light and darkness into account. You can be obscured or heavily obscured so that even when you are caught in the visibility cones of the enemy, you still have a chance to slip through unseen. Of course, that is if your enemies don’t have darkvision. Here’s a little table that summarizes how light, darkness and darkvision affect stealth.

Clear area = always visible.
Lightly obscured = stealth check.
Lightly obscured + enemy has darkvision = visible.
Heavily obscured = undetected.
Heavily obscured + enemy has darkvision = stealth check.

Things get even more interesting when you discover you can manipulate light by using spells or throwing water at a torch, as lighting is dynamic, and thus shadows are also.

To summarize, forced turn-based mode, allows you to switch to turn-based rules in exploration, to set up traps, bypass patrols, steal, and otherwise head on many other roguish exploits. But you don’t have to be a rogue class, of course.

These are all super useful techniques that, when used imaginatively, really help you to get the best chances during your initiative roll as combat starts. Baldur’s Gate 3 has high-stakes combat, so making good use of surprise mechanics will give you a leg-up.
It's good that they're releasing these updates more frequently. It sounds like the next one might be about player choice.

There are 13 comments on Baldur's Gate 3 Community Update #4: Combat and Stealth

Sun 12 July 2020

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sun 12 July 2020, 00:55:18

Tags: Devolver Digital; Raphael Colantonio; Weird West

Indie publisher Devolver Digital broadcast their wacky annual event today. Weird West did not make an appearance during the stream itself, but they did hide a new trailer for it in their free Devolverland Expo promotional game, which was soon uploaded to YouTube as well. It's a feature trailer narrated by Raf Colantonio that offers an overview of the game's primary features - simulation, setting and visual direction, a dynamic event system, and permanent consequences that can't be reverted by reloading a saved game.


If you'd like to hear more, Raf also spoke about Weird West in an interview with GameSpot and in a quick Q&A with PC Gamer, both released last week.

There are 22 comments on Weird West Gameplay Developer Commentary Trailer

Sat 11 July 2020

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 11 July 2020, 01:07:08

Tags: inXile Entertainment; Wasteland 3

The Wasteland 3 backer beta ended last month. In a new Fig update published today, inXile unveiled some of the improvements they've made to the game since then based on backer feedback. The most notable of these is the much-requested addition of Wasteland 2-style alternate firing modes, now not just for automatic rifles but for all weapons. Furthermore, the Animal Whisperer mechanic has been expanded and now allows the Rangers to recruit any animal in the game. The update includes a brief video showing some of the new animal companions in action:



Before we get to the improvements we’ve been working on since Beta, it’s important to note that this isn’t a comprehensive update on all the features, fixes, and feedback we’re working on—these are some of the things that we have fully implemented. We’re looking forward to sharing a few more as development wraps up.

Alternate Firing Modes

One of the most common requests from Beta participants was bringing back firing modes for automatic weapons. Our thought in removing them was that the types and variety of weapons we have in Wasteland 3 will more than make up for single- and multi-shot choices, but the message was well received.

That said, we couldn’t just throw it back on a few assault rifles and call it a day. Wasteland 3 (like everything else) punches it up to 11, and we’ve added additional firing modes to many weapons across the game. That’s right, no matter what weapon type you’re using, be it a shotgun, assault rifle, pistol, or sharpened road-sign, you’ll likely have access to an alternate firing mode. These are attacks that aren’t inherently better, but provide you with situational flexibility—and in the right circumstances they can be devastating. These alternate firing abilities won’t generally be found on powerful or unique items, or weapons with their own secondary effects.

Custom Portraits
This one wasn’t so much a Beta request as a question we get from time to time, and we can confirm that custom portraits are in, and they are spectacular. This is a PC-only feature that allows you to create, name, and once again add a custom face to each of your squad members. Might we recommend a squad made entirely of your family and friends? Or the various ingredients in a ham and cheese sandwich?

However you choose to roleplay your squad, custom portraits can help put on a finishing touch.

Sell Junk

Yes, we will indeed have a sell junk button when visiting merchants. We’re not exactly challenging the paradigms of game design here, but it was a common Beta request/mention. Good job, you.

Hide Armor

We shared this on social a while back, but this is a good place to show it again—with an update! Based on Beta feedback we’ve added the ability to hide your armor, and that now also includes leg armor.

All Animal Companions in Combat

One of the features we’ve gotten consistently positive feedback on has been the Animal Whisperer system and bringing animals along with you in the game; however, there was a clear message we received that people would like to see more animal friends taking an active role in combat. You’ve spent the points, you’re bringing these furry friends with you, and so it only makes sense that they’d be able to assist you with claw and fang as you explore Colorado.

To that end we’ve added attacks and attack animations to all creatures in Wasteland 3, allowing all animals to join you in combat, and making this a more fulfilling skill to put your points into. We’ve also redone all the animal walk, run, and idle animations.
Good stuff. In other news, inXile are running a series of polls on social media to determine the backstories of a couple of Wasteland 3's premade starting character pairs, so head on over to Twitter and Facebook if you want to have an impact.

There are 4 comments on Wasteland 3 Fig Update #43: Beta Improvements

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Sat 11 July 2020, 00:31:13

Tags: Baldur's Gate 3; Larian Studios; Nick Pechenin

Rock Paper Shotgun have released a 50 minute video interview they conducted with Baldur's Gate 3 lead systems designer Nick Pechenin. As you might expect, it's a mechanics-centric interview that's mostly focused on Larian's adaptation of various 5th Edition D&D systems. The interview includes footage from last month's demo build and is split into two parts. Topics covered in the first part include the new initiative system, the reduced emphasis on elemental surfaces compared to Divinity, scouting and stealth, adapting the Ranger's Natural Explorer and Favored Enemy class features, and the implementation of companion Astarion's vampire weaknesses. The more eclectic second part covers the inspiration mechanic, low level difficulty and the level cap, drunkenness, adapting the less useful spells from the D&D spellbook, the still WIP reaction system, death and resurrection, long and short rests, using turn-based mode outside of combat, and more.


I'm impressed by how thoroughly Larian are adapting the D&D ruleset. It's not exactly the impression we got when the game was announced and Swen was talking about how D&D had too much missing. If you're interested in a particular topic and don't want to watch the entire interview, RPS have helpfully provided timestamps in the video descriptions.

There are 54 comments on Interview with Baldur's Gate 3 lead systems designer Nick Pechenin at Rock Paper Shotgun

Tue 7 July 2020

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 7 July 2020, 23:17:55

Tags: Big Bad Wolf; Cyanide Studio; Nacon; Vampire: the Masquerade - Swansong; Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood

Nacon, the French publisher formerly known as Bigben Interactive, broadcast their Nacon Connect digital conference today. The very first game to appear was Vampire: The Masquerade - Swansong, the "narrative RPG" from The Council developer Big Bad Wolf first announced last year. In Swansong, players will assume the roles of three different vampires in the aftermath of a brutal ambush on the new Camarilla Prince of Boston, which can be seen in the game's new cinematic trailer. In the following three minute segment, Big Bad Wolf quest designer Eliott Hipeau reveals some additional details. The game will feature character creation for each of its three protagonists, allowing them to specialize in persuasion, lockpicking, hacking and other abilities. Later on during the stream, we finally got our first look at gameplay from Nacon's other World of Darkness game, Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood. It's just as popamole as I imagined it would be, but I'll include it here for the sake of completeness.


Swansong and Earthblood are both releasing next year, the latter on February 4th. The catch unfortunately is that both games appear to be Epic Games Store-exclusives. At least Spiders' latest action-RPG Steelrising isn't. Ever wanted to play as Marie Antoinette's robot bodyguard in alternate history mecha-Paris? Now you can!

There are 15 comments on Nacon Connect 2020: Vampire: The Masquerade - Swansong & Werewolf: The Apocalypse - Earthblood

Interview - posted by Infinitron on Tue 7 July 2020, 15:48:30

Tags: Brian Heins; Matt Barton; Obsidian Entertainment; The Outer Worlds; Tyranny

Matt Barton has finally uploaded the next episode of his interview with Obsidian designer Brian Heins. It starts out with some more discussion about The Outer Worlds, regarding the advantages of creating a relatively small game, before moving on as expected to Tyranny. In response to a question contributed by none other than George Ziets, Brian describes the origins of the game's setting, which was originally created by Chris Avellone and then further fleshed out by Brian, Matt MacLean and the other leads. It continued to evolve over the course of the game's development, including for example the concept of the Archons being powered by belief. There are some confessions, too. Brian admits that Tyranny's combat was poorly balanced and that its ending was rushed, which happened because he realized partway through development that the game was too linear and that its story had to be revised.


Other topics discussed in this episode include Brian's love of working with concept artists, his thoughts on combatless RPGs, and Tyranny's take on evil. It sounds like the topic of next week's episode is going to be South Park: The Stick of Truth.

There are 28 comments on Matt Chat 453: Brian Heins on Tyranny

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