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Codex Review - posted by Infinitron on Fri 12 October 2018, 00:10:28

Tags: InXile Entertainment; The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep

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As you probably know, The Bard's Tale IV had an absolutely disastrous launch. It's safe to say that the game is a flop. Ambushed right out of the gate by performance issues on one side and angry grognards on the other, it never even had a chance. The sad thing is that most of the people who actually bothered to play it past the first few hours seem to have found it fun. Not exactly good, mind you, but fun. Esteemed Codex contributor felipepepe, who is a frequent connoisseur of the unusual, found the game to be so interesting in its idiosyncrasy that he felt compelled to write a review. His conclusion? The Bard's Tale IV could have been a good-for-what-it-is casual gem, if only it wasn't so bloated with filler content. I quote:

Bard's Tale IV only has about 6 enemy archetypes: Humanoids, Goblins, skeletons, ogres, liches and those weird one-eyed things. Of course, you have several classes of humanoids, goblins and undead, some with bows, others with shields, etc. And the ogres are reskinned to be demons or even a dwarven golem.

They also look very good (except the human faces) and have very elaborate animations, kneeling down when poisoned, struggling when teleported and so on. Of course more variety is always good, but this would be a decent bestiary for a short game.

But Bard's Tale IV doesn't want to be short. And it has no qualms about making you fight 20 groups of cultists, berserks or undead in a row if that means making the game longer.

This isn't me bitching about enemies looking the same. The problem here is that they fight the same. And so do you!

The enemies also don't do anything to demand a change of tactics either, as they always fight the same way. The underlying system is good, but it's underused and fails to offer diverse challenges. Once you learn to fight berserkers that counter your attacks, every single battle against them plays the same. See a wizard? He'll just summon goblins in the first turn and then keep using Mangar's Mind Jab. The weird one-eyed thing? It will just charge its beam attack every. single. time.

There are some very unique encounters, like a hidden stone golem that has massive armor, a plant boss that regenerates every turn, or several waves of reviving skeletons, and these will make you stop to think, maybe even retry with different skills. They show the potential the system holds, and it is indeed a good system. But I'm talking about maybe eight fights in my 30 hours playing. Once again, the problem is not the system per se, it's the "quantity over quality" mindset that's operating it.

Sadly, this also affects the dungeons and puzzles.

In a sense, the dungeons of Bard's Tale IV are closer to Legend of Grimrock than Bard's Tale I-III. Enemies are visible on the screen, they don't respawn (except for the end-game [fuck whoever approved that]) and every area is filled with puzzles and secrets.

Sadly, level design-wise, they are much closer to Skyrim's dungeons. That's because they are all mostly linear, moving you from set piece to set piece. The only true maze is a single underground area based on Skara Brae from Bard's Tale I. Other than that, all dungeons force you through a fixed path, offering at best a large area with three inter-connected puzzles, that must all be completed to advance.

Yet, I had fun with some of the dungeons. The best ones, such as Mangar's Tower, set a nice pacing between unique puzzles, fight a few harder battles and uncovering some hidden secret. That dungeon even knows how to use empty spaces, such as a long and ominous walk towards a dark altar, walking across a gorgeous scenery while eerie music plays.

I understand that this has nothing to do with what Bard's Tale I-III did but, again, I'm judging it for its actual content, not its Kickstarter promises. This is a casual, mass market game, something much closer to an RPG version of Portal or The Witness.

Now, personally, I think that the best puzzles in RPGs are the ones that make use of the lore, NPCs and/or environment. NPCs in this game are terrible and just stand in place giving quests, but Bard's Tale IV has some nice puzzles based on searching your surroundings or understanding a riddle hidden in a story. They are easily the best puzzles in the game.

In fact, Bard's Tale IV made me do something that few RPGs in the past 20 years did: take notes.

One puzzle, for example, has you inside a small garrison, reading notes from the soldiers and officers about what kind of beverages they are allowed to drink, and then using that information to unlock a secret passage by the storage room. None of these puzzles are hard (save for two very obscure ones based on crows), but they work well with the first-person view, atmospheric ambiance and shiny graphics to immerse you in this world.

Sadly, that kind of puzzle is vastly outnumbered by a far less exciting type: purely mechanical puzzles, like pushing blocks, gear puzzles, pipe puzzles and the "fairy puzzles", which are about using signposts to guide a fairy. These puzzles are completely disconnected from the world. You reach them, solve them in a vacuum, and then move on.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: The Bard's Tale IV

There are 166 comments on RPG Codex Review: The Bard's Tale IV

Sat 13 October 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 13 October 2018, 01:51:13

Tags: OtherSide Entertainment; Sam Luangkhot; Underworld Ascendant

After several delays, OtherSide Entertainment have finally released the beta build of Underworld Ascendant to eligible backers. This is the last pre-release build before the game comes out next month. You can read more about it here. Alongside the beta there's a new development update, which is particularly informative this month. Most games wouldn't be overhauling their narrative design months before release, but Ascendant isn't like most games.

Over the last several months, our narrative team (writer/director Joe Fielder and writer Crispin Boyer) have been working with OtherSide Austin studio head Warren Spector to further refine and finalize Underworld Ascendant’s story.

For example:
  • Several new roles have been added, as we’ve expanded the population of characters within the Saurian town of Marcaul to include mediators to the Factions and more.
  • The player’s nemesis Typhon is no longer a slumbering primordial nightmare, but is now an active taunting threat, full of menace and… wow, yeah, he’s actually really damn scary.
  • The game now includes VO support for Memora, which are captured memories from major characters detailing important events and secrets of The Stygian Abyss. These are found as quest items in main quests and also hidden in dark and often difficult to access areas that only the clever and capable can find.
  • Final recordings took place several weeks ago! Those have since been processed, implemented within the game, and delivered to our Localization team for translation.
  • We are currently bearing down on locking down all in-game text, including bits of series lore and lizardman graffiti hidden throughout the lower levels of The Stygian Abyss.
The update also has details about new enemy variants that OtherSide created to beef up the roster.

We’ve mentioned in previous updates that we’ve been expanding the variety of enemies and potential allies you can encounter in the Abyss, and who better to start with than our favorite Skeletons?

Our Tier 1 and Tier 2 Skeletons can now equip a couple of different weapons, which should give you pause when assessing any encounter with them. Make sure you’re aware of their range and the risks of engagement, especially if a Skeleton seems to look slightly different…

Additionally, notice how the armor and design of an enemy may give you a hint about how they’ll interact with a stranger. Take, for example, the Chthonians…

As we near Beta, we’ve been making substantial updates to the game from its Alpha-state to really breathe life into it. With these new enemy variations, new level passes, systems improvement and revisions based on Backer Alpha and external playtest feedback, we continue to draw closer to our vision of The Stygian Abyss.
Clearly, the developers are trying to do as much as they can with very little. It's starting to sink in with the posters on the official forums that Ascendant probably won't magically transform into a full-featured RPG by November. It doesn't help that the beta is apparently rather janky. I don't think this is going to end well...

There are 4 comments on Underworld Ascendant Update #50: Beta Released, New Narrative

Fri 12 October 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 12 October 2018, 23:27:29

Tags: Colony Ship; Iron Tower Studio; Vince D. Weller

We've gotten a look at Colony Ship's inventory and character screens in previous development updates, but not at its main screen interface. That's the topic of this month's update. It's a slicker take on The Age of Decadence's interface, with pop-up icons for special attacks and additional slots for grenades and other items.

We’re implementing the interface right now so let me show what we have and get some feedback. Let’s start with the standard features:
  • Two weapon slots showing equipped weapons and selected attack’s stats (damage, AP, ammo)
  • An optional textbox giving you detailed blow-by-blow info during combat
  • A combat queue we used in Dungeon Rats to show who gets to act when
  • 4 belt bags so you can throw grenades or use items in combat without moving them to the weapon slots
The combat interface is familiar, but instead of selecting attacks via a drop-down list, which was a bit messy and not very intuitive, you’ll use icons that appear when you click on a weapon slot.

The icons are grouped in 3 different categories:
  • Basic attacks (fast, regular, power for melee; snap shot and regular shot for ranged; there are no power attacks with guns)
  • Aimed attacks (self-explanatory; you get an extra bullseye shot with ranged)
  • Special attacks (double shot, short burst, long burst, double strike, flurry (3 strikes), and swing (hits 3 tiles).
Your feedback here would be much appreciated.
The update also gives us our first look at Colony Ship's dialogue interface, which is thoroughly modernized. For starters, it's a window rather than full screen, and yes, those are skill check thresholds you're looking at.

[​IMG]
^ we don't have Mercy's portrait yet so we're using a placeholder portrait. As for the design:
  • The dialogue window won’t take the entire screen, as in AoD since it added nothing but extra work (the camera had to be manually positioned)
  • The checks will now display the skill or stat level required to avoid playing a guessing game; if there is no value listed (see the first response), the stat acts as a modifier (strengthening or weakening the reaction) not a check. Strength can be used as a modifier too if you’re trying to intimidate, for example, so it’s not Charisma only.
  • Since we’ve decided to show the check values, might as well show your skill levels so that you don’t have to rely on memory alone. Green means your skill level is equal to or higher than the check value. Yellow means it’s lower but you can still make an attempt. Red means no go (what used to be hidden options in AoD). Before you start freaking out, remember that the check system was changed and it’s no longer a binary ‘succeed or fail’ setup, so green lines won’t always be the best and yellow lines won’t always lead to failure and death, so we aren’t highlighting the best and worst options for you here.
  • The tags can be turned on and off in the options, so if you don’t like them, turn them off.
Thoughts?
I guess it's sort of like Fallout meets Pillars of Eternity, which is fine by me. Check out the full update for images of some (but not all) of the main screen interface elements. I guess it's not completely done yet.

There are 53 comments on Colony Ship Update #31: The Interface


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Wed 10 October 2018

Company News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 10 October 2018, 00:14:36

Tags: Microsoft; Obsidian Entertainment; Private Division

The rumor that Obsidian was seeking to be acquired by Microsoft has been floating around since August, when it was shared by a plugged-in user named Klobrille on the ResetEra forums. It was tempting to dismiss at first. Surely there was no way Microsoft were interested in a studio whose bankruptcy they had nearly caused back in 2012 with the cancellation of Stormlands. At best it was just another one of Feargus' zany schemes, doomed to go nowhere. Lately however it has seemed like things are happening at Obsidian. In recent weeks, we've learned of the departure of two long-time employees, Rich Taylor and Anthony Davis. Klobrille showed up on ResetEra again last week to announce that negotiations were ongoing and the odds of a deal had increased. Finally, today the story was picked up Kotaku's Jason Schreier, who reports that it's all but a sure thing. I quote:

Microsoft is finalizing a deal to acquire the independent development studio Obsidian Entertainment, according to three people briefed on the negotiations. We don’t know if ink is on paper yet, and plenty of major acquisition deals have fallen apart in the final hours, but those close to the companies believe it is all but done.

One person with knowledge of the deal told Kotaku they’d heard it was “90%” finished. Said a second person: “It’s a matter of when, not if.”

Obsidian, best known for its work on critically acclaimed role-playing games like Knights of the Old Republic II (2004) and Fallout: New Vegas(2010), has been independent since it was founded in 2003. The Irvine, California-based studio has long been beloved by RPG fans, but has often faced financial strains, nearly going out of business in 2012 before it signed a deal for an online tank game and launched a Kickstarter for the isometric throwback that would become Pillars of Eternity.

One compelling argument for the sale is that being owned by a company with deep pockets will offer Obsidian stability and resources the likes of which it has never had before.

“We do not comment on rumors or speculation,” said a Microsoft spokesperson.

“Unfortunately, we don’t comment on rumors or speculation other than to say that the Rumors album by Fleetwood Mac still holds up,” said an Obsidian spokesperson.

In late 2017, Obsidian announced that it was developing a new RPG that would be published by Private Division, a label of 2K Games designed to fund mid-sized games. The companies did not say anything about which consoles the RPG will be available on, and it’s not clear how this sale will affect that game. One option is for Microsoft to buy out the contract; another is for Microsoft to simply inherit it, allowing Obsidian to tie up its loose ends as part of the acquisition.

“While it is our policy not to comment on rumors or speculation, we look forward to publishing the upcoming RPG from Obsidian Entertainment, and remain confident in the team there to deliver an outstanding game,” said a representative for Private Division.

This would be a huge move for the company behind Xbox, which has been on a shopping spree this year, snapping up four game studios including Playground (Forza Horizon) and Ninja Theory (Hellblade). Its most recent notable game studio purchase before that was Mojang, the maker of Minecraft. Microsoft has kept Minecraft multiplatform, even enabling cross-play between Switch and Xbox One players, but console makers usually buy studios with the intent for those studios to make games for their consoles, not the competition. Microsoft’s biggest weakness this generation has been its stable of first-party developers, and with Obsidian, the company now has an RPG-focused studio that can help it compete against the PlayStation’s strong lineup.

A person familiar with goings-on at Microsoft said the company has been looking to bolster its PC development, which makes the PC-focused Obsidian a perfect fit.

Obsidian and Microsoft have a checkered history. Before the release of the Xbox One, Obsidian was working on an Xbox-exclusive role-playing game, published by Microsoft, called Stormlands. Tense disagreements between the two companies led Microsoft to cancel the game in 2012, and to some involved it was hard to imagine the pair working together again. The Xbox department is under different leadership now, however, with Phil Spencer taking the top role in early 2014. And the move appears to make sense for both parties.
So, is this the end of Obsidian as we know it? I think the crucial question is, for what purpose is Microsoft acquiring Obsidian? Will they become another console-centric blockbuster action-RPG developer, or will they be allowed to assume a more niche role within Microsoft, similar to the position of Firaxis Games within Take-Two Interactive? Speaking of Take-Two, one thing I'd be skeptical of is the idea that this acquisition will harm the development of Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky's game. Getting the original creators of Fallout on their payroll must be a big draw for Microsoft, so they wouldn't want to do anything to drive them out. The statement in Kotaku's article makes it sound like Take-Two are going to be publishing the game no matter what happens. We should probably hope that they do, since it reduces the odds that it'll be a Windows 10 Store exclusive or something awful like that. That leaves us with one final question, though - what's going to happen to Josh Sawyer?

There are 241 comments on Obsidian reportedly about to be acquired by Microsoft


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Tue 9 October 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 9 October 2018, 00:57:10

Tags: Ctrl Alt Ninja; Druidstone: The Secret of the Menhir Forest

Ctrl Alt Ninja have published a brief new development update to announce that Druidstone has reached its alpha milestone. That means the game is playable from start to finish with all major features implemented. It's still a long way towards beta and release, but in the meantime we have a new screenshot to admire.

[​IMG]

We are glad to announce that Druidstone has just reached alpha milestone! Alpha in our terminology means that the game can now be played from the beginning to the end and all major features have been implemented. Sure, there are some rough corners and the fat and variety is still missing (more equipment, abilities and the like) but the main campaign is now there. It’s always a special moment to play through a game in development for the first time, and our very own Juho has been fully occupied with that tasks for the past days. Luckily, he encountered only three crashes (which have been fixed already) and a game breaker which caused all equipped items to get lost in the middle of the campaign (oops!).

Next week we are going to regroup, go through the feedback gathered during the alpha test and form a battle plan how to get Druidstone to beta. We suspect the TODO-list is going to be rather hefty, but this is normal and nothing to worry about.

To celebrate the milestone, below is a new screenshot from the alpha build, featuring Niederdorf Manor, an important location with a darker mood. The level is still missing beta level polish, but it already brings a nice variety to the wilderness and dungeon locations, don’t you think?
Additional screenshots have been posted on the official Druidstone Twitter account over the past few weeks. You could already tell this from the screenshot in the summer update earlier this year, but it's increasingly clear that the game will feature Blackguards-style set piece combat scenarios with unique objectives. Hopefully it won't be long before we get to see it in motion. Maybe in the next Christmas update?

There are 11 comments on Druidstone has reached alpha

Mon 8 October 2018

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Mon 8 October 2018, 01:33:30

Tags: Adam Brennecke; Carrie Patel; Chris Parker; Dan Spitzley; Feargus Urquhart; Josh Sawyer; Justin Britch; Kazunori Aruga; Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire; Scott Everts

This must be documentary week for RPGs. The website Shacknews (which is apparently still a thing) has inaugurated two new features - 24 'Til Launch, a series of documentaries focused on video games' last day of development, and Long Table, a series of in-depth panel discussions with game developers. It turns out that none other than Pillars of Eternity II is the subject of both series' first installments. Shacknews editor David Craddock was at Obsidian back in May, recording the documentary on the day before the game's release and the panel discussion shortly after its release. For people who closely followed Deadfire's development, there probably won't be much new in the documentary. However, the panel discussion might be worth watching if you have the time. It's interesting to hear the opinions of the less frequently seen Obsidian veterans, such as co-owner Chris Parker, designer Scott Everts and programmer Dan Spitzley. There are also a few extras, including a video of an early prototype build of Pillars of Eternity.


So why did it take five months to release these videos, you ask? Maybe it's because David Craddock needed time to finish his free 480 page book about Pillars of Eternity and the history of the Infinity Engine RPGs, entitled Beneath a Starless Sky, so it could be released alongside them. Nice! I haven't read the book yet, but it seems to be full of interesting tidbits, though perhaps not at the level of the Pillars of Eternity chapter in Jason Schreier's Blood, Sweat, and Pixels. One thing worth noting is that Craddock was unable to elicit any information about Chris Avellone's departure from Obsidian. Apparently he was told that the two parties have entered litigation, but Chris tells us that's not the case. Oookay.

There are 18 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Feature at Shacknews: Documentary, Panel Discussion, Book

Thu 4 October 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 4 October 2018, 01:56:33

Tags: Timeslip Softworks; Vigilantes

Vigilantes, the groovy modern day crimefighting tactical RPG from Timeslip's Timeslip Softworks, went out of Early Access today - a day earlier than expected. It must be a scary thing releasing an indie RPG right on the heels of September Madness, but Timeslip has done his best, even going through four iterations of the launch trailer before he was satisfied with the result. It's similar to the Early Access trailer from last year, but offers more of a look at the game's systems and also some dialogue (including skill checks!). I'll post the trailer here along with the description from Steam:



Vigilantes is a combat focused, turn-based tactical RPG set in the declining, crime riddled city of Reiker. The game offers hardcore squad-level combat in a gritty neo-noir setting, intel gathering through surveillance and interrogation, a detailed character system, base building, crafting, and much more.

Key Features
  • Party-Based Tactical Combat System, including lethal and non-lethal attacks, powerful perk-based activated abilities, attacks of opportunity, cover, aimed and special attacks.
  • Deep Character System: build the ultimate crime-fighting team using the UPLIFT system which comprises 6 stats, 9 skills and allows for a variety of viable builds. Further customise your characters with over 60 perks.
  • Gather Intel: Run surveillance and interrogate defeated enemies to locate each gang's leadership and facilities.
  • Adversary System: If an enemy manages to flee, they will become more powerful and you will have to face them again later. Take them down quick!
  • Reactive AI: An enemy that reacts to your actions, by setting up ambushes, and is responsible for recruitment, building facilities, improving gang equipment and training.
  • Crafting: Upgrade weapons from 9 distinct classes and craft special items, such as hot-loaded ammo, armour, and medical items.
  • Base Building: Build and upgrade 5 facilities (gym, library, firing range, surgery, workshop) to gain bonuses and access advanced crafting options.
  • Story: Experience the hard-boiled story of a group of vigilantes waging war against the overwhelming might of the criminal underworld. Gain advantages in combat through skill checks and choices in dialogue, and help out citizens in need.
There's plenty more information about Vigilantes in Timeslip's vast archive of development update videos. If you're looking for a tactical RPG that's unique and also cheap, you can grab it on Steam for just $15, with a 10% launch discount until next week.

There are 87 comments on Vigilantes Released

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Thu 4 October 2018, 00:19:00

Tags: Beyond Divinity; David Walgrave; Divine Divinity; Divinity II; Divinity: Dragon Commander; Divinity: Original Sin; Divinity: Original Sin 2; Jan Van Dosselaer; Larian Studios; Swen Vincke; The Lady, the Mage and the Knight

Gameumentary is a games journalism outlet that specializes in producing free full-length documentaries about video game studios. You may have seen their Kingdom Come: Deliverance documentary back in July. This week they released a 68 minute documentary about Larian Studios. Although primarily dedicated to the Divinity: Original Sin games, the first half of the documentary is about Larian's history prior to that, starting from the cancelled The Lady, the Mage and the Knight, through Divine Divinity and Beyond Divinity, up to Divinity II and Divinity: Dragon Commander. There's not much new here in terms of information if you've read the various "history of Larian" articles that have been published in the press over the past few years, but it's worth watching for the photos and footage - including a look at an early real-time version of Original Sin, back when it was still called "Eyes of a Child".


Thoroughly inspiring stuff. Don't miss the post-credits scene at the end, where after a respectful tribute to Kirill Pokrovsky, Swen Vincke reveals the codename of Larian's next major title - Project Gustav. That's actually been a thing since at least July, apparently.

There are 11 comments on Larian Studios Documentary by Gameumentary

Sun 30 September 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sun 30 September 2018, 23:23:38

Tags: Copper Dreams; Whalenought Studios

It feels like the Copper Dreams alpha has been perpetually a week away for the last six months. According to the new Kickstarter update, Joe and Hannah intended to release it last weekend but were distracted by their work on the beta (which consists of the game's main campaign rather than a limited test scenario). In the meantime, they've continued to refine the visual style and have implemented a host of interface quality-of-life improvements, which you can see in the update's accompanying video:


Joe and Hannah also have some interesting ideas about how to handle player death. They'd like the game to work a bit like a roguelike, with an autosave slot that updates after every non-combat action, so if your party gets wiped you can return to the moment just before the battle started. However, at least in some cases there will also be an option to keep on playing, with your party whisked off to the local clinic by robots, imprisoned by the authorities, or finding themselves in other, more unusual predicaments. I quote:

Play it Out

We wanted to design something around the concept of what we do when players might be incapacitated in a tabletop game and the DM doesn't want to make everyone re-roll. There are some fun narratives that can occur that we wanted to explore as a part of normal gameplay, and thought that was worth experimenting with for the main campaign. As the nature of the previous option, choosing to Play it Out saves immediately after, so when they are available it can be more or less of a gamble given the situation/location.

1. Clinic

Your agent in the alpha and main campaign have wicked good health insurance, thanks to your plum job. Playing it Out in a location that isn't heavily fortified or a dungeon lets your HealthInsurance Body-Bots come find you and fly you off to the nearest clinic location. The randomized city is divided up into blocks, and with a few exceptions every one of those has a clinic, so you'll never be far from where you fell.

At the clinic, a half-day passes (! this important for events), and you can choose to stay longer and heal or get back to it. Clinics are automated and will automatically bill you, or if you fail to have the funds bill your Syndicate which will keep a tab on you and make you pay for lunch.

2. Jail

If you fell due to or near by MFI, the city overlords, you'll be tossed into a procedural jail. Like the clinic, every city block usually has an (otherwise inaccessible) jail attached, and depending on your method of breakout you'll be outputted back into the block you were at. These jail maps are relatively small, isolation cubes for the city riff-raff, but will always have your equipment stored in an office that you'll want to loot before leaving. Maybe you can steal other inmates stuff!

3. Event

These can be a gamble for a session. Events occur when you fall in an atypical location, like surrounded by cyber-mutants, in a Syndicate compound, in a sewer system with monsters, or other unfortunate places. Syndicates will throw you in the sewer drain which will put you in a different location, maybe to get help after, or maybe some other problems. At worst you might come out of these situations with a permanent disfiguration or ailment before a Body-Bot finds you, maybe mutants spread a mutation to you before throwing you out, or maybe you have a limb eaten off before you're found.

On the flip side there are potentially rewards and secrets to be found. Those sewer drains might throw you out into an otherwise inaccessible location where you are healed and able to discover cyber-quests, treasure, or other secrets. Some mutants are friendly and you could be rescued with augmented with beneficial mutations.
Right now the plan is to announce a new release date for the Copper Dreams alpha by the end of the week. The update will apparently be released "shortly thereafter" alongside a new trailer, so I guess it's not far off. Then again, we've heard that before.

There are 37 comments on Copper Dreams Kickstarter Update #22: Visual and Interface Improvements, Death Events

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sun 30 September 2018, 01:21:23

Tags: INSOMNIA: The Ark; Studio Mono

INSOMNIA: The Ark is a retro-futuristic dieselpunk RPG from a Russian team called Studio Mono, set aboard a colossal space station that's been floating through deep space for centuries. Originally known as just InSomnia, the game has existed in some form or other since at least 2011. It was Kickstarted in 2014 and again in 2016, gradually changing from an isometric RTwP-type game to a third person action-RPG along the way. Despite such changes, our community remained interested in the game, intrigued by its unique setting and Fallout-inspired design. After a flurry of promotion over the past few weeks, INSOMNIA's long journey has finally come to an end. Here's its launch trailer and description:



INSOMNIA is a dieselpunk sci-fi RPG about the slowly degrading remnants of human society attempting to survive on an abandoned space metropolis. Develop your character, explore lovingly handcrafted locations, interact with peculiar NPCs and factions, craft equipment and try to stay alive in this brutal world.

Welcome to Object 6 - a colossal space station set on a dismal 400-year journey in search of a new home. Your character wakes from cryogenic sleep — stricken with a rare psychological disease and unknowingly holding humanity’s last hope in his bare hands...

Exploration is rewarding…and dangerous

Survive hunger, thirst, fatigue while searching for valuable technology and resources in over 70 unique locations. Pay attention - INSOMNIA’s nuanced world can conceal unexpected quests from treacherous characters, as well as savage enemies and deadly hazards.

Personalized journey

Break free from character classes and unwanted grind with a flexible perk system combined with a large amount of craftable items and equipment. Choose your gear wisely - every armor and weapon type in the game has its own tactical virtues and shortcomings.

Сhoices matter

Navigate a non-linear storyline with ‘points of no return’ that encourage unorthodox approaches and 12 different story endings. Your character’s chosen background plays a role in how you interact with NPC’s and factions, as well as influences the outcomes of certain quests.

A rich universe

Experience a neo-noir world with elements of dieselpunk. Witness man-made apocalyptic landscapes imbued with a dark ambient soundtrack and echoes of a decaying civilization.
The game is apparently pretty cool but also quite janky, as its Steam reviews will attest. It seems hard to believe it'll survive, coming out at the tail end of this crazy month. But if you've been looking for something more actiony to play, it might be a good choice. You can grab INSOMNIA on Steam for $30, with a 10% discount until next week.

There are 47 comments on September Madness - INSOMNIA: The Ark Released

Wed 26 September 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Wed 26 September 2018, 01:28:46

Tags: Obsidian Entertainment; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire; Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire - Seeker, Slayer, Survivor

Obsidian have released Seeker, Slayer, Survivor, their arena mode/treasure hunt expansion DLC for Pillars of Eternity II. It probably won't get a lot of attention coming right on the heels of Pathfinder: Kingmaker, but they did make a pretty cool launch trailer for it. Check out that giant alligator boss:


Alongside the DLC comes Patch 3.0, which adds two new god challenge modes, a mega-boss (confirmed to be incredibly challenging by beta testers) and a variety of other new features. The new Fig update has the details:

Patch 3.0

New Berath's Blessings! New Magran's Fire challenge modes! A new mega-boss!

There's a lot of new in Patch 3.0, and we can't wait for the community to experience all we have to offer. Check out some of the highlights below:
  • New Magran's Fires Challenges
    • Eothas' Challenge - Players must complete the game in a certain amount of time
    • Galawain's Challenge - Beasts have random buffs set throughout the game.
  • New Berath's Blessings
    • Loaded Pockets - NPC pockets are filled with more and rarer items for those Watchers who have sticky fingers.
    • Legendary Crew - Three veteran sailors from the Kraken's Eye tavern are willing to cut you a great deal. Hire these experienced sailors for cheap!
    • Discount Craftsman - Crafting and enchanting costs are reduced!
    • Mythical Discovery - The Watcher's starting armoire has a Mythical Adra Stone that can upgrade any one legendary quality item to Mythic!
  • Spider Queen Megaboss - Belranga has arrived and if the feedback by our beta testers is any proof, she's as terrifying as we were hoping she would be. Hunt her down now to find some...mouth-watering rewards
And these are but a few of the giant patch that is 3.0! Check out our full 3.0 Patch notes, or go see the changes live in-game now!​

Not mentioned in the update is that the patch also adds a "recently used spells" interface and an optional kill camera(!). Sensible additions for a combat-focused DLC. If you're still waiting for Kingmaker to get a few patches, Seeker, Slayer, Survivor is available now on Steam and GOG for $10.

There are 26 comments on Pillars of Eternity II Fig Update #56: Seeker, Slayer, Survivor Released

Tue 25 September 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 25 September 2018, 19:24:58

Tags: Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

September Madness continues this week with the release of Owlcat Games' Pathfinder: Kingmaker. Kingmaker appeared in our lives out of nowhere back in May 2017. Some were skeptical at first - a rather generic-looking RTwP RPG from a team of Russian unknowns with obligatory Chris Avellone involvement, clearly intended to capitalize on the success of Pillars of Eternity. The game would soon would make its way to Kickstarter, and with each new update it became clear that this was no typical Eastern European shovelware product. The "team of Russian unknowns" was in fact a band of seasoned Nival veterans and roleplaying enthusiasts, who had been working on the game for at least a year. It was already in a quite functional alpha state when the Kickstarter launched, and the gameplay footage we saw was indisputable evidence that Owlcat knew what they were doing.

So Pathfinder: Kingmaker is out today, and expectations are high. Not only is it the world's first proper Pathfinder CRPG, it's also in effect the first real D&D CRPG since Neverwinter Nights 2. Not to mention the game itself is an adaptation of a well-known Pathfinder tabletop adventure path. For those frustrated by Obsidian's iconoclastic take on the Infinity Engine formula, Kingmaker is an especially important milestone. But even with all their talent and experience, do Owlcat really have what it takes to produce a satisfactory adaptation of a six chapter adventure path on their first try - with a complex kingdom management layer on top, to boot? I guess we're about to find out. Here's the launch trailer:


Pathfinder: Kingmaker is available now on Steam and GOG for $40. There are no launch day reviews, which strengthens my suspicion that Owlcat had to crunch on this game until the last minute. Some players are reporting severe loading time issues and typos - hopefully we're not about to witness another review bombing.

There are 119 comments on September Madness - Pathfinder: Kingmaker Released

Mon 24 September 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Mon 24 September 2018, 21:24:13

Tags: Fallen Gods; Mark Yohalem; Wormwood Studios

As I recall, this month's Fallen Gods development update was originally supposed to be about event design. It appears however that MRY has decided to embark on a brief detour with an update about violence. Specifically, the game's approach to violence, which true to its Norse inspirations, is grim and amoral - something which is also reflected in its mechanics. It's a relatively short update, but it makes up for that with some new screenshots. Here's an excerpt:

[​IMG] [​IMG]

Like many kids drawn to fantastical settings, I grew up taking comfort in the way fantasy situates violence within a moral plan. Fantasy novels are chock-full of bullied young protagonists, last survivors of near-universal slaughter, and heroes who seem helpless and hopeless against villainous might. This suffering is not just a preamble to, but a prerequisite for, later salvation. It is not merely that the wicked are punished and victims avenged; those who have been wronged find themselves, Job-like, even richer than before. (As a boy, I entirely believed that, say, Luke Skywalker could somehow be more than compensated for the trauma of coming home to the still-smoldering corpses of his murdered family. But it turns out that old wounds only ache worse as the years go on, and there is no psychic currency with which early losses can be offset by later gains.)

In typical fantasy novels, when a villain tortures a brave young woman or torches a helpless town, the bitter herb of his evil is mixed with the sweet confidence that he is merely sowing the wind. Even in ostensibly “grim-dark” series such as A Song of Ice and Fire, the long arc of history bends in favor of “breakers of chains” and once-bullied bastards. I mentioned earlier that “the noblest aspect of fantasy” is “its ability to train us to view doing good as the proper exercise of power.” Here I’ll add that its capacity to comfort, even if a kind of deceptive opiate, is no small virtue either. Run-of-the-mill childhood bullying is hardly the worst thing in the world, but it’s still rough, and that roughness is at least a bit diminished by books like The Once and Future King or any of a thousand other stories. But here, too, our game offers something different.

Unlike such fantasies, neither Fallen Gods nor the sagas that inspire it promises a moral plan for violence. When the strong use their might to hurt the weak, that does not necessarily set in motion a Rube Goldberg device by which the aggressors will ultimately suffer a comeuppance at the hands of their victims. The bloody slaughter of a people does not imply that the lone survivor will one day become king over a just, prosperous, and fecund realm; he may simply wind up an outlawed murderer meting out a measure of revenge until the day he’s caught and killed. Or he might not even make it that far. Perhaps, weak and weary, he’ll be run down a few days later and speared where he sleeps.

Our game’s setting is a world already whirling in the cyclone of such violence, and its story is that of a powerful, selfish fighter who sees others merely as a means to an end (or, we might say, a means not to end). To tell that story in that world means not flinching back from its ugliness—one must heed the cry of Aldonza in The Man of La Mancha when she is at last pushed to the brink by Don Quixote’s refusal to see the fullness of her suffering: “Won’t you look at me, look at me, / God, won’t you look at me!” As in the sagas, violence in Fallen Gods knows few limits, and it falls on the weak and undeserving no less than on the mightily wicked. Their suffering deserves to be seen and told.

That’s not to say that Fallen Gods features nothing but ugly violence or that its depictions of violence are especially gory or torturous. By the standards of modern video games and or R-rated movies, the violence is sparing and its depiction is restrained. But it is designed to have a bit more heft.

As with other aspects of Fallen Gods, that heft is conveyed mechanically. Because HP are so limited (typically single digit, even for a powerful warrior), every wound is serious. Healing is painstaking—in the field, resting restores a single HP per day, and time is valuable. There are no healing potions; rapid recovery can be achieved only by the godly skill of Healing Hands, which costs precious soul-strength, a resource the god gains only with difficulty, as previously discussed. Sickness (which encompasses both poison and disease) causes a person to grow weaker, rather than healthier, with each passing day, and unless you are strong enough to outlast the ailment, only Healing Hands or a priest’s craft can help. So too with crippling, a condition that halves the might of the injured, leaving him or her vulnerable in combat and much less helpful in events.

The seriousness of violence is also conveyed visually. Our attack and death animations avoid majestic or balletic movements. Though blood and gore is minimal, blows are meant to convey force; we want the player to wince when he sees a churl club a wolf’s skull. Illustrations likewise show battle not as glorious but in its rough-and-tumble grit.

Finally, Fallen Gods uses its narrative to drive this point home. The vignettes told through events involve not only battles in which the god participates, but also the aftermath of battles he’s missed, the weary despair that comes from the anticipation of battles that have not yet materialized, the economic drain of feuds, and so on. These events rely in part on the differences in perspective among the god (who is largely oblivious to others’ suffering), the narrator (who is aware of that suffering but takes it as a fact of life), and the player (whose values are likely very different from either the god’s or the narrator’s). The parallax effect of these overlapping perspectives is meant to be disconcerting and in some instances even dizzying, as when the narrator grumbles about surly thralls going about “unbeaten by their betters.”

Fallen Gods is an adventure in which the player has the opportunity to slay foul creatures, wield magical weapons, win powerful allies, and earn the admiration of many. But it is not unalloyed heroic fantasy, for beneath and within this quest is a frank and cautionary look at the uglier side of a world in which meting out death is viable way of life and perhaps the only way back to the heavens.
As always, the full update comes with a sample from the game's soundtrack. Next month - the update about events.

There are 11 comments on Fallen Gods Update #8: Violence

Sun 23 September 2018

Development Info - posted by Infinitron on Sun 23 September 2018, 01:36:37

Tags: Disco Elysium; Robert Kurvitz; ZA/UM

As we reported last week, the guys from ZA/UM took Disco Elysium to the annual EGX conference in Birmingham this weekend. Since the team relocated from Estonia to the UK, Disco Elysium become quite popular with the British games journalism literati. I'll assume that explains the rather flattering title of the developer session that lead designer Robert Kurvitz and an associate participated in yesterday. The session is hard to summarize, but basically they talked about the game and its inspirations - personal, cultural and political. There was much discussion of its unique skill system, in which skills are autonomous beings that talk to the player. Robert considers this an important evolution of the roleplaying genre, and essential to making character development feel like it matters.


The discussion is about 28 minutes long with another 10 minutes of Q&A. Robert's answer to the final question from the audience regarding the game's art direction is pretty cool. Once again, however, there's no gameplay footage in sight. Maybe they're saving it for Christmas?

There are 18 comments on Disco Elysium Developer Session at EGX 2018

Sat 22 September 2018

Preview - posted by Infinitron on Sat 22 September 2018, 00:57:17

Tags: Alexander Mishulin; Deep Silver; Owlcat Games; Pathfinder: Kingmaker

Pathfinder: Kingmaker is just four days away from release, and Owlcat and their publisher Deep Silver have been trying their best to promote it. Earlier this month there was a Kickstarter update about romances, and there's been a steady stream of micro-updates on the game's Steam page showcasing its artwork. Several videos have also been produced, including two light-hearted developer Q&A videos, a very silly trailer that introduces the game's companions, and more recently, a video that offers a look at its character creation possibilities. I'll post the latter two here:


Kingmaker was at PAX West early this month. Several previews of the game were published afterwards, most of them unfortunately a bit shallow. We finally got a decent preview a few days ago at a site called Trusted Reviews. It has the most in-depth description of the game's kingdom management layer we've seen so far, plus a few personal testimonials from creative director Alex Mishulin. Here's an excerpt:

Rarely has a colon so clearly delineated the two sides of a game. Pathfinder: Kingmaker is based on the pen & paper Pathfinder role playing system, which is itself an adaptation of Dungeons and Dragons third edition (to put that in video game terms, think Neverwinter Nights). At first that plays out exactly like you’d expect, a standard, not particularly imaginative isometric RPG with real time pause combat and an eccentric group of characters, including a splendidly oily, scheming little gnome who serves as an antagonist. Act One sends you on an epic quest to kill a bandit king in a place called the Stolen Lands. Then things start changing, as with the king dead you decide to set up shop in his lands and found your own kingdom.

Suddenly the game reveals a second layer, one closer to a strategy game than an RPG. There’s even a straight up city builder interface here, where you can plonk down taverns and blacksmiths in various towns around the kingdom. These towns will come to reflect your character and their moral choices, an evil kingdom might be stocked with bandits who raid their neighbours, while a lawful good one (yes we’re working with the old school D&D alignment system here) might be policed by shining paladins.

It isn’t just building though, as the kingdom will produce dynamic events that can be solved by assigning your advisors or companions, much like Dragon Age Inquisition’s War Table. One incident involved a group of villagers attempting to stone a young girl accused of Witchcraft. At first I assigned ruthless noble Landon to deal with it, as he had the highest stats. The result, he let them burn the girl and then fabricated evidence that she was guilty.

Horrified I reloaded and tried again, this time with the studiously lawful Valerie in charge. She stopped the mob and insisted on holding a fair trial instead, fortunately the girl was found innocent. Not every character can solve every problem, they have a specialty, like community, military, divine, etc. But the sheer volume of characters means you’ll nearly always have more than one choice how to approach a problem.

[...] I’m familiar enough with the Pathfinder system to marvel at the notion of fitting an entire city building game into a D20 dice system, but Alexander takes pains to explain that they stuck close to the source material, with one notable exception. “There are no goblins in there.” He gestures to a set of books for the pen and paper version of Kingmaker (unfortunately all in German, so I have to take his word for it). “ When we talked to Paizo they said they know that in Kingmaker there are no goblins but goblins are so Pathfinder that you have to find a way to introduce them. We’d already played a lot of Pathfinder so we were familiar with Pathfinder Goblins“ He explains “They’re very different from the goblins of dungeons and dragons. They’re very charismatic, they run and mayhem, they love fire and burning stuff, they hate dogs, they think reading something takes away your soul. They’re really strange, charismatic creatures.“ Fans obviously agreed, as a goblin companion was one of the successful stretch goals for the company’s kickstarter.

The other thing Alexander is keen to impress on me during our talk is just how interconnected to the strategy and RPG layers are. After Act 1 is over you’ll be constantly pivoting between Kingdom management and questing, with each affecting the other. He gives the example of a troll infestation which threatens the kingdom, requiring a quest to resolve it. You have three in game months to achieve this, or you’ll get a hard game over. “It is part of the story as well as part of the game, and because it’s part of the story the game is over if you lose your Kingdom.”

“But we do understand that some players don’t like the strategy game layer.” he adds “There is a special mode in settings where you can place your kingdom on automation. Most of the decisions will be taken out from you, you will still be speaking with NPCs about quests and side activities…. All of the decisions all of the events will be taken out from you and you will play with the kingdom in the background.” By the same token the difficulty level is highly customisable, so those who are more interested in the strategy layer can turn on “auto-level-up”, drop the difficulty and focus on kingdom building.

But the real fun seems to come from when the two overlap, when your questing overturns a person or item that helps your kingdom, or your artisans craft a great magical item to help your adventure. “The story of the game is the story of the kingdom” says Alexander. Finally, obsessive castle building an be more than just a sidequest.
Additional Kingmaker previews are available at Tom's Guide, USgamer, OnRPG, TechRaptor, Bleeding Cool and RPG Site. There was also an interview with Mishulin at Expansive last week, and most recently an interview with Chris Avellone about the game's story, also at RPG Site. Finally, today Chris and Alex participated in a Reddit AMA where they answered questions from fans. And I think that's about it.

There are 54 comments on Pathfinder: Kingmaker Trailers, Previews and Interviews

Fri 21 September 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 21 September 2018, 01:02:29

Tags: Star Control: Origins; Stardock

The story of Star Control: Origins begins in 2013 with the collapse of publisher Atari SA, owners of the Star Control license since their acquisition of Accolade in 1999. In the subsequent bankruptcy auction, the license was picked up by strategy game developer Stardock, who soon revealed their intention to produce the first new Star Control game in over 15 years. After what appears to have been a lengthy period of preproduction, Star Control: Origins was officially unveiled in late 2016 as a kind of reboot/reimagining of the Star Control continuity, set in a universe with entirely new alien races. Many of us were skeptical of this idea, but Stardock were serious about the project and pressed on.

Things took a turn for the wild a year later when the original creators of Star Control, Paul Reiche III and Fred Ford, announced their intention to create a Star Control game of their own - and almost immediately became embroiled in a vicious intellectual property dispute with Stardock. Tentatively titled Ghosts of the Precursors, Reiche & Ford's game was to be a proper sequel to the legendary second game in the series, for which they still owned the substantive copyrights. It's not clear what preceded what, but it was around this point that Stardock CEO Brad Wardell appears to have made the decision to add some of the alien races from the original games to Origins after all, albeit with different visual appearances and new backstories.

Bystanders soon took sides, with certain figures in the mainstream media predictably aligning with Reiche & Ford against the occasionally outspoken Wardell, and some of those who dislike said media reflexively siding with Wardell. The legal trench warfare has presumably continued behind the scenes, but it didn't stop Star Control: Origins from being released today. Here's the launch trailer and description:


Most of the launch day reviews are quite positive, with the notable exception of IGN and GameSpot, whose reviewers seem to approve of the game's writing but find its arcade action elements tedious.

GamingTrend 95/100
GameWatcher 9/10
GameSpace 9/10
Windows Central 4.5/5
USgamer 3.5/5
IGN 6.9/10
GameSpot 6/10​

I have to say that my own impression is that Stardock have done some legally questionable things here - but I also don't care. At the RPG Codex, we're all about games first, and right now Stardock are the only ones who have a game. But is it a good game? If any of us ever get around to playing it after this crazy September, maybe we'll tell you. Star Control: Origins is available now on Steam and GOG for $40.

There are 21 comments on September Madness - Star Control: Origins Released

Wed 19 September 2018

Game News - posted by Darth Roxor on Wed 19 September 2018, 14:15:09

Tags: Das Geisterschiff

Das Geisterschiff, a "turn-based cyberpunk dungeon crawler" by Surt R. (known as zwanzig_zwoelf among the RPG Codex denizens) has been officially released.

Here's the game's description from its webpage, and also a launch trailer.



Das Geisterschiff is a turn-based cyberpunk adventure/dungeon crawler hybrid with survival horror elements where you play as a mecha pilot working for one of the megacorps.

By 2072 the Earth turned into a scorched wasteland, forcing the population to move underground while two megacorps are stuck in an endless war over the territory and resources. After graduating from the military academy you've decided to join one of them.
Key Features

Non-linear dungeons filled with dangerous encounters, traps and puzzles;
Survival horror on steroids: no healing, no ammo pickups, no mercy;
Nuanced turn-based combat within dungeons;
Unique wireframe-like graphics supported by atmospheric electronic soundtrack.​

For the moment, you can get the game from the guy's website for a grand total of 7.22 eurobucks, though he claims it'll be coming to Steam soon. There's a free demo available as well.

There are 83 comments on Das Geisterschiff - Released

Tue 18 September 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Tue 18 September 2018, 20:26:33

Tags: InXile Entertainment; The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep

Welcome to September Madness, our chronicle of this month's crazy volume of anticipated or otherwise noteworthy RPG releases. We start the week off with The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep, inXile's sequel to the classic series of dungeon crawlers that put Interplay on the map back in the 1980s. Originally revealed way back in January 2015 and crowdfunded on Kickstarter that June, for most of its development The Bard's Tale IV was overshadowed by inXile's previous crowdfunded RPG, Torment: Tides of Numenera. The game's $1.5M haul on Kickstarter was widely viewed as a weak performance at the time, and as a cost-cutting measure its development was soon spun off to a new inXile studio opened in New Orleans.

The Bard's Tale IV has probably been ignored by most Codexers, who have never been huge fans of the blobber genre even in the best of circumstances (except perhaps when they're created by madmen from Australia). Yet in the aftermath of Torment's failure, there have been some contrarians among us who looked at Bard's Tale IV and bet that it would end up becoming inXile's most accomplished project, an unpretentious mechanics-first title produced far away from the allegedly negative influences of the California game development scene. Now that the game has been released, is that the case? We're not sure yet, to be honest! Have a look at today's reviews:

MMORPG.com 8.8/10
GameGrin 8.5/10
DarkStation 4/5
Game Informer 7.75/10
That's right, there are barely any of them, and none from the major PC gaming sites. There's also an unusually large number of in-progress reviews, all of which leads me to believe that inXile distributed review keys to the media very late, perhaps only a few days ago. As you might expect, the reviews we do have are rather shallow, with their complaints mainly reserved for the game's graphics and performance, the latter of which seems to be a major issue still. The most useful review right now seems to be this video from well-known gaming YouTuber ACG rather than anything from the traditional media. But ultimately, or at least for the next few days, we Codexers will have to figure this one out for ourselves. The Bard's Tale IV is available now on Steam and GOG for the price of $35. If you're a Kickstarter backer, be sure to check out this update as well.

There are 143 comments on September Madness - The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep Released

Sat 15 September 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Sat 15 September 2018, 18:17:33

Tags: Colony Ship; Iron Tower Studio; Vince D. Weller

How ironic! After much discussion and two rounds of voting, The New World has gone back to being simply Colony Ship, the working title it used before it was officially named. The latest development update wastes no time dwelling on that, however. It's all about the monsters of the colony ship. They're the mutated descendants of various animals that the colonists brought with them to help terraform Proxima Centauri. The goal is to make them more tactically interesting than the monsters from Dungeon Rats.

In AoD/DR most critters were melee ‘fighters’, half of them poisonous, with high DEX (to close the distance fast) and two attack types. Predictably, this design didn’t bring anything new to the table and what little it did bring got old fast.

So when it comes to creatures our goals are:
  • Tactical flexibility
  • Unique abilities that humans don’t have
  • Focus on various effects rather than direct damage (i.e. no 'fighters')
  • Different enemies working together or taking advantage of other critters’ abilities
  • Effective counters of ranged parties
Of course, having lofty goals is one thing, achieving them is another, so we’d like to run some ideas by our core audience and see what you guys think. Nothing is set in stone yet as we won’t start implementing the creatures until 2019, so we can easily make change at this point. We’re planning to have 6 creatures, mostly found in the Hydroponics and Wasteland. Let’s start with the creatures’ origin.

The Ship is en route to Proxima B, an Earth-like planet orbiting Proxima Centauri. Ninety percent of its surface is covered with water, but the planet is slightly bigger than Earth, providing approximately half of Earth’s landmass.

Losing Terran plants and crops to local pests and fungus would be catastrophic, so the Hydroponics Division was tasked with adapting the plants to the anticipated environment of Proxima B and developing biological forms of pest control (introducing predators from old Earth to change the native ecosystem and eliminate all local threats was the most cost-effective way to ensure that the colony would survive and grow).

Extensive gene-editing was employed to develop resistance to alien fungi and pests, and accelerated adaptation hacked into the plants' genetic code. Like many other critical systems, Hydroponics was abandoned during the Mutiny. The carefully cultivated flora and fauna was left on its own in harsh environs designed to propagate rapid and brutal evolutionary cycles.

When human beings finally decided to reclaim Hydroponics, they discovered an environment as wild and hostile as any Earth jungle...
The update describes three of Colony Ship's six monster types:

Frogs: Frogs are already used in agriculture as a form of biological pest control as they have a healthy appetite for insects and are highly resistant to insecticide. Plus they have a wide range of natural abilities: jumping, toxic venom, hallucinogen, even retractable spikes (the wolverine frog), which would make them a top choice when it comes to cost-effective terraforming.

The frog is a 'hard to hit, easy to kill' critter (high evasion due to the small size and mobility, low hit points and no damage resistance). They will attack in packs and come in 3 varieties: fighter, poison spitter, and 'mind flayer'. It's a low level critter that prefers easy prey (i.e. low level, poorly equipped parties). They aren't very aggressive and won't attack unless threatened. When you run into them for the first time, they'll be busy feasting on a corpse. If you want to go through that corpse's pockets, you'll have to kill the frogs first.

Starfish: An avid predator and an opportunistic feeder, the starfish is one of the keystone species which makes it an excellent addition to any terraforming arsenal. It can regenerate damaged parts, swallow its prey whole, and it even comes with its own body armor (hardened plates and spines).

The mutated version will shoot its stomach (yeah, it's actually a thing) to drag the victim within the attack range. It will also release a spore cloud, greatly reducing the visibility and your THC with ranged weapons. During its turn, the starfish will envelop you and drain your HP, regenerating some of the damage it sustains during the fight.

Unlike the frog, the starfish is easy to hit (with melee weapons) but hard to kill due to DR and accelerated regeneration. One starfish isn’t a serious threat but 2-3 would be able to ruin your day pretty quick.

Floaters: It’s a mutated jellyfish originally adapted from the Portuguese man o'war and designed to hover over crops and zap insects, while turning away larger animals. Things got a bit out of hand during the Mutiny when the mutation cycles ran wild and now the few remaining floaters haunt the ruins of the Mission Control Center.

Upon detecting oversized insects, the floater will slowly move to intercept them. Bullets have no effect on it but energy weapons would bring it down in no time. In the absence of such weapons or cells to power them up, you can hack it to pieces, which isn’t an ideal solution because the floater will zap every enemy next to it (crowd control), dealing energy damage. On top of it, the floater is equipped with a primitive version of brainwave disruptor, so the closer you get, the higher the chance to forget what you were doing and just stand there, drooling like an idiot (aka skip turn).

In short, the floater is easy to kill if you have energy cells to spare or hard to kill with melee weapons if you don’t. Certain implants and helmet will increase mental resistance. Other creatures and rival parties might (surely will) attack while you’re busy fighting the floaters.
See the full update for concept art of these three creatures, which helpfully shows their size compared to a human being. The other three creatures sound like they might be more exotic - the Wasteland's "Old Beelzebub" is one of them.

There are 59 comments on Colony Ship Update #30: New Title, Monsters

Fri 14 September 2018

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Fri 14 September 2018, 15:52:52

Tags: Dark Crystal Games; Encased

In case you missed it, Encased is an upcoming post-apocalyptic isometric RPG from St. Petersburg-based Dark Crystal Games that has attracted some positive attention. In the months since its re-announcement, the game's developers have been doing some good old fashioned community building - posting concept art and area renders on Twitter, soliciting input on our forums, and even setting up a site where fans can design an in-game character and win a free DLC. You can read about those efforts in this development update from July. Community alone doesn't pay the bills however, so like many similar indie titles before it, Encased has arrived on Kickstarter. The game is apparently getting made no matter what, but Dark Crystal are seeking $100k in funding to make it even better. The pitch does a good job of showing how it is actually pretty post-apocalyptic, despite my earlier skepticism.



The game is set in an alternate 1970's and revolves around the exploration of the Dome, a mysterious structure discovered in a remote desert. No one knows the exact nature of those who built the Dome, but the founders of this advanced civilization have come to be called the Forefathers.

You will discover miraculous technologies and weird artifacts in the labyrinths of the Dome, but that is not all the Forefathers left behind. Watch out for automated security systems, traps, and inexplicable anomalies.

In addition, the Dome itself is showing signs of consciousness. It has been reacting to the human presence since the first explorers entered its domain. Once inside, no one is able to leave. Uncovering the wonders and dangers of the Dome is a one-way road.

Exploration and exploitation of the Dome is carried out by the CRONUS Foundation, a massive organization founded by the world’s most powerful governments. CRONUS is divided into five departments, called Wings, each with its own director, specialization and history.

As a new recruit, the player must choose one of five Wings:
  • Black Wing - military and security forces;
  • White Wing - scientists, medics and researchers;
  • Blue Wing - engineers and technicians;
  • Silver Wing - upper management;
  • Orange Wing - ex-convicts who have exchanged their prison jumpsuits for the uniform of a CRONUS laborer.
Though your selected Wing grants certain starting bonuses and opens interesting options, your choice does not lock you into a “class”. You are free to develop your character, distribute skill points, and choose abilities as you wish.

Upon completing character creation, you are summoned to Crystal Sands, a city built directly outside the Dome as a staging point for personnel and equipment.

The transition station mounted at the apex of the Dome, above the only aperture, is called the Spire. After basic training, you will descend from the Spire into the Dome to land at Magellan HQ.

There is much to uncover during your first mission underground…. Relying on your stats and Wing training, you will find there are several ways to resolve each challenge. Replayability is one of our main goals for the game. After your briefing at HQ comes your first task: exploring a newly discovered Forefathers compound tagged Object O-12-Nashville.

After a few adventures inside the Nashville object (which we don’t want to spoil just yet), your group encounters an entirely new anomaly. You awaken something dreaming deep beneath the desert of the Dome. Your trespass has activated Maelstrom, a telepathic entity created to serve the Forefathers.

All connection with the world outside the Dome is lost and Maelstrom rages across the desert, infecting the minds of everyone it encounters. You and your group fall into a technology-induced stasis for five long years. And when you come to, the entire world has changed.
Seems promising enough, doesn't it? They've even got Iron Tower Studio associate Scott Hamm on board to help with the writing. Encased is scheduled for release on Steam Early Access in Q1 2019, with a final release later that year. A €18 pledge will get you a copy, including the Early Access. You can also get the "closed beta" and "closed alpha" for €120 and €215 respectively, although I'm not sure if that's worth it when everybody is getting Early Access anyway. Be sure to follow the game's Steam page if you like what you see.

There are 138 comments on Post-apocalypse under the dome: Encased now on Kickstarter

Blackthorne needs a kidney


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