The Making of Wizardry - Robert Woodhead Interview
Posted: Jul 18, 2018, 06:42 pm by RPGWatch
USGamer has a history of RPG series. This months entry explores the creation of Wizardry with Robert Woodhead.
Why do role-playing video games work the way they do? The answer to that question often boils down to, "Because Wizardry did it." But why did Wizardry do those things in the first place? To hear Wizardry programmer Robert Woodhead tell it, that answer amounts to, "Because of PLATO."
Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord debuted in the fall of 1981, the second wildly influential computer role-playing game to debut that year on Apple II. Richard Garriott's Ultima had shipped a few months earlier with its grab-bag approach to the genre. Ultima combined first-person dungeon exploration with outdoor travel from town to town presented with a god's-eye viewpoint. Ultima also included all kinds of odd anachronisms, including time travel and an outer space shooting sequence brazenly lifted from the finale of Star Wars, but its biggest influence was undoubtedly Garriott's time spent shaking dice in Dungeons & Dragons.
Wizardry took a different approach. Designed and programmed by Robert Woodhead and Andrew Greenberg, it consisted of nothing but dungeon-diving. The game was viewed entirely through the first-person wireframes seen in Ultima's dungeons (and Akalabeth before that). It had no overworld. A town at the mouth of the dungeon-navigated entirely through menus-allowed players to shop for gear, rest at inns, and save their progress. There was no wandering around to gather clues from random townsfolk. There definitely was no space combat. There was only the dungeon, consisting of 10 floors of monsters, tricks, and traps, each level spread across a labyrinthine 20x20-space grid.
Techraptor looks back in history to the game that was released 15 years ago, Knights of the Old Republic.
The movies were always the primary focus for original fans. For those who grew up in the shadow of Star Wars, however, it sometimes comes from the unlikeliest of places, like a video game. Many games have been made for Star Wars before, but very few take a gamble to allow the player to play in the sandbox of the Galaxy Far, Far Away. For many, that nostalgic memory is strongest with one of arguably the best Star War games ever made, the classic RPG Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
Now celebrating its 15-year anniversary, Knights of the Old Republic was unique as it was one of the few points in the Star Wars fandom to not focus on the current or future events of the films. It instead looked back to the far past-over 4,000 years in fact-to an age where the Empire never existed. LucasArts at the time was expanding, thanks in part to the success of 1999's The Phantom Menace, and was looking to increase production on Star Wars media into new territories with video games.
Enter BioWare, who at the time in 1999 were in early talks with LucasArts for delivering a game. In 1999, BioWare was a rising star on the PC market after the success of Baldur's Gate. The faithful adaptation of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons Rules, along with their team working on two concurrent projects-Baldur's Gate II and Neverwinter Nights-gave them enough clout to correspond with LucasArts, who asked the company to help co-develop an RPG.
Fallen Gods - Mappa Mundi
Posted: Jul 18, 2018, 12:42 pm by RPGWatch
The latest update for Fallen Gods is rather large but interesting and is titled Mappa Mundi.
You walk in the gloom of old firs, lost in thought, the world still but for your shuffling steps, the low-growing rowan blown by the breeze, and far-off birds softly purling. When at last you shake loose from this wood-spell, you find the path long gone, and the day's last span is spent in merely getting back.
Fallen Gods is a game focused on exploration. While that includes mechanical and narrative layers of exploration, the first and most basic layer is simply walking the land, seeking opportunity and avoiding danger.
The promise of a wonder-filled world to explore is one of the great pleasures of fantasy novels and RPGs. As civilized pleasures go, this one has a long pedigree: medieval maps purporting to depict the real world, such as the Hereford Mappa Mundi, look much closer to a Might & Magic map than what we would find in a contemporary atlas. In fact, even modern tourist maps retain some of this breathless excitement, a kind of simultaneous streamlining and exaggerating of the world to emphasize "points of interest" and tantalize the traveler with the adventure to be found at them.
This "point of interest" concept is, literally, used to describe map features in RPGs and strategy games. As I discussed in the "Days of Yore" update, one of the key inspirations for Fallen Gods was the old board game Barbarian Prince, a single-player board game that used a large, hex-celled map. And you can see such "points of interest" here: the Ruins of Pelgar at the end of the Lost Road beyond the Kabir Desert; Branwyn's Temple at the crook of the Nesser River; the town of Angleae that sits just south of the pass leading into the Dead Plains. Even a jaded and weary old timer like me still feels a certain tug of wanderlust when looking over that map.
Very early incarnations of Fallen Gods had a hex map (using some free-for-use tiles) that looked quite a bit like an uglier version of Barbarian Prince. But the addition of the wonderful Daniel Miller to the team meant that we could do better than that. And, as Arnold Hendricks himself discovered when making the jump from his board game to the cRPG Darklands, pixel art can create a more natural feel to the world: it looks like a land in which you're adventuring, rather than a map over which you're moving a token.
But while Darklands' pixels furnish an attractive landscape that underscores the game's well-researched realism, they seemed to lack a certain pizzazz when I first played the game. The reason, I think, is that I had spent formative childhood years playing console RPGs, and Chrono Trigger's beautiful world maps had left a lasting impression on me.
So, with Fallen Gods, the impossible marching orders I gave Dan were to create hex tiles (which are useful for defining the game's rules for world generation, movement, and the like) that fit together into a seamless pixel art world with distinctive points of interest. I'm pretty sure I used some word as unhelpful as "pizzazz," perhaps with a wave of a hand. Dan, busy with his bowl of greasy phở (nothing but the best for our artists!), merely shrugged.
Meet Sir Lora, a squirrel fleeing the Knights of Drey - an apocalyptic order of furry knights who believe in the coming of the Great Acorn. He'll join you in Fort Joy (along with Quercus - his undead cat mount) and follow you through your adventure, sharing his wit, wisdom, apocalyptic warnings, and even some skill-crafting secrets.
Knights of the Chalice II - July Update
Posted: Jul 18, 2018, 12:42 pm by RPGWatch
The July update for Knights of the Chalice II has plenty of screenshots so check them out.
Hello everyone, here is the July update on the development of Knights of the Chalice 2.
In the past weeks, there were many additions and improvements to the game.
* It's been a while since I posted gameplay screenshots, so here are a bunch of them. Click on a picture to enlarge it:
* Graphics: I have completed the transfer of many art pieces from KotC 1 to KotC 2, greatly expanding the number of available monster tokens in KotC 2. Even though they are not high resolution, KotC 1 sprites actually make fine supplementary tokens and portraits for KotC 2.
* Help entries: I'm very happy to say that that work is 100% complete. As well as information on controls and shortcut keys, the help covers all of the topics found on the website. But the in-game help is more in-depth and more exhaustive and everything is interconnected with hyperlinks. You can right-click almost anything in the character-sheet screens, character-creation screens and level-up screens to obtain specific information about what you clicked on.
* New adventure map: I've worked on a nice castle map that will have an important role in the demo. See the following map-editor images. Click to enlarge. The castle is called Gleegold Keep. I'm also including an image showing what the editor looks like when adding walls, special squares, altitudes and activable zones.
* Regional map: I've created a regional map, click on the image above to enlarge it. Locations where the party can travel to will be highlighted with a blue glow (or red glow when mousing over them). These locations will appear progressively on the map, as you learn about them in-game. Currently, the background image is a scaled-up version of a small part of my world map. The icon in the bottom-right corner of the regional map is intended to bring up the world map, in case the party needs to travel to another region. The locations / points of interest can be added easily using the editor.
* Soundtracks: I'm happy to say that I've finished adjusting the volume of the 50 soundtracks available in the game. Volumes needed to be adjusted so that one song is not much louder or much quieter than other songs. The KotC 2 soundtracks include new tracks from Manuel, new tracks from Tyson, all the tracks from my past games, plus a small number of ambient/nature tracks. Manuel and Tyson recently contributed new tracks.
* Bardic sound effects: I now have the complete set of bardic music clips from Robert. There will be four musical instrument categories: lute, harp, panflute and bagpipes, each resulting in different sound effects when the party's Bard plays a song. I also have item icons for all four categories. Now I just have to make sure that the bard can equip musical instruments and implement the four sound-effect sets in the game. Robert is also planning to do a Tavern soundtrack.
* Voice effects: I've just started processing the voice effects from voice actress Ariana. First I need to process them and prepare them for the game. Then I need to implement them so that they play at the right times in-game. For example, a random acknowledgement sound will be played when the player clicks to have the party move from point A to point B. Voice effects may also be played through scripts.
* Editor upgrade: I recently completed a massive upgrade of the module and map editor. Now the map editor is like an easy-to-use dungeon painting programme. It can be used to place braziers and pit traps inflicting any of the various energy types. It can also be used to place many adventure-map graphical elements, big and small, easily onto the map. You can place things like pillars, random forests, random barrels, interactive elements such as a lever, and many other things. For example, when you place a random forest, the editor picks one forest image out of a bunch of forest images that were created earlier by Roman, the graphic artist. Once placed, you can move the new forest, delete it or duplicate it.
In addition, the colourful animated butterflies, animated flies and animated bugs from KotC 1 are back. And there will be spatialised sounds for things like torch lights, flies, fountains, damp places, jungle areas, windy corridors and church choirs. Click on the image below to see the editor's fully-expanded menu. I'm also including an image of the Select Saved Game screen.
* Website update: I've recently added a chart of the weapon proficiencies of each class. Click the link and scroll down to see the chart.
* New module planned: I've been conducting talks with Tiavals concerning a Middle East-themed module or campaign that he is planning to create, in partnership, using the tools of KotC 2.
* Combat scripts: I have implemented a small number of script commands used to control enemies during combat.
The most important one is 'Tactics cast spell', the command used to cast a spell or manifest a psionic power. If a combat script contains several 'Tactics cast spell' commands, then the AI will try to cast each spell in the script sequentially, for example it will cast Haste in the first round of combat and Fireball in the second round. As well as the name of the spell, a few more things can be specified, such as a metamagic option, a target square or a target allied creature. You can also specify 'Breath Weapon' instead of a spell name, if you want the creature to use its breath weapon on a particular round. You also use this command to let a creature drink a potion or use a magic item.
Next, we have 'Tactics always cast'. This command is used when you want a spellcaster to make sure that someone always benefits from a particular effect. For example, a Cleric might want to cast Death Ward on an allied dragon any time the dragon loses the Death Ward effect. The same thing can be done with Stoneskin, Haste, etc.
Next, we have 'Tactics do not move'. This command is used when enemies should not move for a number of rounds because someone in the group is planning to launch at a particular location an area spell, such as Web, Silence or Darkness.
Next, we have 'Tactics run away'. This command allows the module creator to let a creature run away from combat when between 10% and 90% of its allies have been defeated and/or when a particular creature has been defeated.
Finally, we have 'If combat round number is equal to / above / or below a particular number'. There are two main uses. Firstly, an alarm may be triggered if combat is taking too long. As in KotC 1, this means that all enemies on the map will be ready for the player, so you cannot surprise them. There may also be more enemy groups and enemy patrols. The second use is when you want to have reinforcements join the battle, for example at the beginning of the third round and sixth round of combat. So you check for the combat round number and then you add monsters to the battle.
* What's next: First I need to complete work on voice effects. Then I need to implement equipped musical instruments and Bardic clips. Then I need to implement all the remaining wondrous/magic items that I've been planning to have in the game for a long looong time. I'm also planning to give more feats to a number of classes (as discussed in this forum thread). I also need to complete work on the spells that can be cast automatically after resting. There is also some work needed on certain script commands that I want to improve. For example, there's a script command to add dialogue answers, but I want that command to allow specifying the text colour and whether the answer can be selected by the player. That way, we can have the game display options that are not available to the party because it requires a certain Skill. Then there's some extra work needed on combat spellcasting AI. I also want to review all my notes to see if there's something important I forgot about.
Basically, the above is what I'd like to finish before focusing only on the demo adventure. In the demo, I'm planning to use high experience-point awards so that the party gains levels quickly, just like in the demo of KotC 1. It will feature a number of locations, a good number of combat encounters and several interesting riddles and puzzles, such as a piano riddle for which I recently collected piano sounds and created the following image. Traditionally, each piano key is marked with a letter, so you have to find a sequence of letters somewhere and then play the associated melody on a piano to solve the riddle and unlock something.
Thank you for reading! Comments are welcome. Farewell and stay tuned for the August update!
How many levels does the Aeon of Sands - The Trail have?
We could answer that with a number, which is higher than 60, but that tells only a misleading (or partial) story. Aeon of Sands is not a game where you face one level after the other in a linear way.
You will see the desert landscape, obscure mazes, from small to large size, fast paced arenas, nested in about 20 sites spread across the world. During one play-through, you see between one third to half of them, based on the choices you take during the extensive choose-your-adventure part.
The reason for that is that we developed a much more bigger game than you can see in one playthrough. So you can play the game only once to create your unique storyline, or repeatedly to discover different sides to it.
We wanted to give the player the opportunity to make real choices and and we wanted these choices to create the explorable paths of the world for him; your story choices create the game areas: it opens some paths and closes some others.
How long has the development taken so far?
Starting in 2012, about 2 years of research, planning, story and pipeline (how to get the exact old-school look and feel), followed by 3 years of implementation (code, graphics, gameplay, story, audio), and almost 1 year of beta-testing and polishing.
The development of Aeon in some numbers, (as of the moment of writing):
more than 300 hours of Skype calls;
18,095 emails exchanged between the two developers;
more than 30 GB worth of production data files
a story of about 80,000 words;
more than 240 illustrations / artworks that go with them;
more than 60 mazes to explore;
almost 60 individual opponents, monsters and bosses, for a total 572 frames of animation;
more than 200 individual items with in-game description;
more than 270 individual sounds, for monsters, items, ambient and GUI;
more than a dozen ambient music tracks;
one developed custom dialogue/story scripting language
Lastly, and probably most importantly, there is now a proper character creation to the game, and players are free to pick and choose exactly how they wish to look. You can choose your sex, race, and many more features that will allow the player to create the character they wish to play. This was a big issue of complaint with both Lords of the Fallen and The Surge, so this should satisfy many fans of these two games.
Choosing the right binary options broker can be very time-consuming. 7binaryoptions.com makes it much faster and easier.
Soul Saga - Early Access in July
Posted: Jul 17, 2018, 06:12 am by RPGWatch
The latest update for Soul Saga announces that the game will be releasing for Steam Early Access this July.
Soul Saga - Our 5th Anniversary
5 years ago. from this exact day, I came to Kickstarter as a young developer with a dream: to make a fun game inspired by the classics I loved from my childhood. At first I just planned to find a way to fund Soul Saga's development, but through Kickstarter I found much more. I found support, I found friends, and most importantly: I found a reason to live. Without you, I wouldn't have had the motivation to continue.
In a previous post I covered some of what I've had to sacrifice to keep working on Soul Saga. Since then, I left my entire life behind to return to the exact place I started Soul Saga: my parent's basement. I haven't left the farm since I got here half a year ago, because every waking moment has been dedicated to working on Soul Saga. It's been a long journey with a lot of pain and heartbreak... and if I had the chance to start over, I'd do it all again.
I set out to make a love letter to JRPG classics and ended up making a love letter to you, my friends. From the first moment I wake up, to the last moment I fall asleep, my only goal is to one day see you proud of the game you and I have created together. This is why I've been gathering your feedback and applying it to Soul Saga. I'm making this game for you, and it's you that has pushed Soul Saga to be the best game it can be.
Earlier this year I had hoped to have Soul Saga finished by July. Since then I have done nearly nothing but work on Soul Saga. While I haven't been able to completely finish it yet, I've gotten a lot done. However, after a lifetime of combating mental health diseases and the past 5 years pushing me beyond limits, it's become very obvious that toiling away alone will not be a feasible way to handle the remainder of Soul Saga's development. It's time that we try something new.
Early Access in July
Lately I've been looking back on the past 5 years of Soul Saga's development cycle and analyzing my own personal strengths and weaknesses to plan a realistic route to Soul Saga's completion. What I've found is that the most valuable strength I have isn't from within myself... it's you. Soul Saga could never have been as polished as it is today without your feedback and support. And the only way I can complete Soul Saga is if you can help me figure out the best way to utilize what its world has to offer. And we'll do that through early access.
In July I will be releasing Soul Saga in an early access state. At the moment it's not nearly the game it can be or the game that you truly deserve, but with you and I working together, one day it will be.
W40K: Inquisitor-Martyr - Review @Techraptor
Posted: Jul 17, 2018, 06:12 am by RPGWatch
Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor - Martyr has been reviewed by Techraptor.
Inquisitor relishes in sending waves upon waves of units towards the player, some of which are alarmingly powerful. As a Psyker, I battled while utilizing the Warp, an otherworldly power that seeks the corrupt all that use it. Using the Warp, I would teleport around the room, killing everything that I encountered while judiciously using my spells and hiding behind my cover when needed.
Sometimes I got my butt kicked, sending me back a few rooms and letting me ponder what exactly I did wrong. Inquisitor is great in that way, as it doesn't punish the player unless they make a mistake. If you become surrounded and later massacred by screeching enemies, there was a sequence of mistakes that led to that moment. Usually, it was along the lines of deciding to run in there guns (or in this case staff) blazing instead of moving forward cautiously. This is a game that demands focus and not an insignificant amount of skill, which only serves to elevate Inquisitor's combat above most of its contemporaries.
Gamerpros compared Warhammer 40,000: Inquisitor - Martyr to Diablo 3.
First thing that really differentiate Martyr from Diablo III is the level structure. Diablo III is known for huge, open, maze-like levels, which change each time you play. Levels are littered with enemies, meaning there is plenty for you to do, but backtracking caused by the randomized nature of the levels (as well as sheer scale of each area), makes it feel bit dreary at times. This also means that a single mission can take a significant time investment to complete. Since you cannot save your progress mid-level, you need to have at least an hour to spare to even considering starting a game session.
Martyr completely eliminates that issue. Each level in Martyr is quite a small, confined experience that could take as little as ten minutes to complete. This is all thanks to the decision to have smaller separate areas for every mission, instead of having many missions in a one single map. This makes the game much more approachable, and means you can get your ARPG fix in short bursts.
Elder Scrolls VI - What to Learn from Witcher 3
Posted: Jul 17, 2018, 06:12 am by RPGWatch
PCGamesN writes what they think The Elder Scrolls VI should learn from The Witcher 3.
One of the highlights of The Witcher 3 is the intimate relationships you form with its cast. The combination of terrific dialogue and expressive gestures, discussion of complicated emotions, and the drastic consequences of your decisions make the characters feel alive. It helps that you carry a history with Yennefer, Dandelion, and Triss over all three Witcher games, their personalities fully developed into independent people recognisable by their passions, talents, and the mistakes they make.
Characters in Skyrim, however are often voiced by the same few actors, and those you get closest to are your followers. This includes the likes of Lydia, Uthgerd, and Farkas, who mostly serve as an extra blade or bow at your side, and repeat the same voice lines as if they're on a timer.
Xenonauts 2 - Three Days Left
Posted: Jul 17, 2018, 06:12 am by RPGWatch
Xenonauts 2 has three days left until the crowdfunding campaign raps up. The latest update talks about the remaining stretch goals.
One Week Left: MARS / Sentry Gun Achieved!
With one week left of the Xenonauts-2 Kickstarter, we've just blown past 300% funding and hit our fourth stretch goal! Huge thanks to all of you!
This means the MARS Support Platform & Sentry Gun single-tile vehicles will now both be included in the final game for everyone.
MARS & Sentry Guns:
The MARS is a small robotic tank manufactured in the workshop that can accompany the Xenonaut soldiers on a ground missions. It has relatively high TU and HP, making it good for scouting and crushing fences / other obstacles to make a path for the rest of your team - but it has a relatively low Accuracy. It is smaller than the 3x3 armoured vehicles in Xenonauts 1 and therefore can enter buildings and UFOs, but can only carry infantry weapons (by default it carries the machinegun).
The Sentry Gun is a defensive unit that can only be deployed on Xenonaut Base Defence missions and can be manufactured relatively cheaply in the Workshop. These immobile units are placed during the deployment phase, but have limited rotation range - making them a good way of defending choke points but leaving them very vulnerable to flanking if left unprotected!
We've now started work on both of these units, and if all goes well we might be able to show off some early progress with them next week.
Final Week & Upcoming Stretch Goals!
It's difficult to know how well the final week will go for us, but Kickstarters often finish strongly and it's definitely possible that we hit one or both of remaining stretch goals.
The next stretch goal is arriving at £200,000 - the Additional Community Edition / Modding Support. Of course, we'll do our best to leave the game open to modding (just as we did in X1) but it'd be great if we could afford to take some extra time to add additional features / tools that will allow modders to make things that fundamentally change the game. I know this is something many of you feel very strongly about; with your help we can get there!
We'll be doing more PR work after the weekend - hitting up our mailing list, journalists, Twitter, Reddit, etc. It'd be great if you could help us spread the word in any way you feel you can, as everything helps! To help things along, we'll be unlocking two extra £500 and ten extra £200 rewards with 48 hours left to go.
Finally, we're working on some more additions to the Portrait Editor to give you guys even more options for your custom soldiers. There's a bugfix and a few new hair variants in the most recent update, and the portrait artist also thinks he's figured out a way to support greying hair for any hair color (something a lot of people have been requesting). That'll all arrive next week.
Have a great weekend everyone - and let's hope next week brings more stretch goals!
General News - The Witcher 3 vs Skyrim
Posted: Jul 17, 2018, 06:12 am by RPGWatch
Techquila compared The Witcher 3 to Skyrim in a number of categories.
The Witcher 3 vs Skyrim: Exploration
Ah exploring! Something RPG'rs absolutely love. Both Skyrim and The Witcher 3 have massive open worlds, but this is Bethesda's territory. There's nothing like exploring the dungeons and caves of Skyrm infested with deranged falmers and leaden with rare and legendary equipment.
The Witcher 3 is no push-over though. You'll always find something in every nook and cranny of the map, and not just some measly quest written in a hurry, but a memorable experience that'll make you want to explore every inch of the world. In the end though, CD Projekt just couldn't get to that level of atmospheric goodness Todd Howard and his beloved Elder Scrolls games are known for.
Bard's Tale IV - Four Things To Know
Posted: Jul 16, 2018, 06:02 pm by RPGWatch
Gameinformer shared their impressions of The Bard's Tale IV: Barrows Deep.
3. There Are Some Cool Exploration Elements
I had fun with the game's systems. As you gain party members, you gain access to Songs of Exploration, spells that can be used to open secret doors and solve puzzles. In the opening hours, it was obvious which song I was supposed to use. For example, an ability called "Hidey-Bide" reveals hidden item caches, and "Jarnel's Eyes" reveals hidden corruption in the environment, such as shadowy figures disguised as villagers, as well as a large area of the map. These abilities made me feel a little more connected to the fantasy of being a bard.
Consortium: The Tower - Alpha 1.5
Posted: Jul 16, 2018, 12:02 pm by RPGWatch
A new update for Consortium: The Tower brings it to Alpha 1.5.
Early Access Alpha 1.5 is here: Combat re-balanced Demo updated 212121
We have just made v1.5 live for you all. We've also updated the demo to include all of the latest fixes and polish. Click HERE to see a complete list of all the updates and fixes we've made to the game for you.
The biggest change/improvement revolves around combat balance - the early game is now much easier, giving new players more time and space to understand the game's mechanics and systems. We aren't declaring that the game is completely free of issues, but it is now quite stable and we're continuing to fix and polish things as quickly as we're able to.
Here is a complete list of the things iDGi is working on right now:
-Continued polish, fixing and improving all Act 1 content (i.e the game you all have access to now).
-Act 2 content development ongoing, screenshots coming soon!
-A secret partnership centered around a brand new feature for The Tower that no-one is expecting. Fig Backers will be learning about this first, but watch for a big official announcement in the coming weeks!
-A FREE Consortium choose-your-own-adventure digital prequel story is coming to Android and iOS devices! We haven't truly announced it yet, but we're quite close to a first release to our Fig Backers. A PC version will be coming to Steam sometime afterwards...
We have largely been silent over the past few months, and we apologize for any misconceptions that may be floating around out there as to WHY. Please always remember, this is a pure passion project for us, and we will never stop working on it until it's done... even if it kills us, and we have to reincarnate ourselves!
That being fact, in true indie developer fashion, we are all juggling various life responsibilities and contracts along with working on The Tower, so we need to maximize the use of our time. There's still a lot of game to get done here, and creatively we very much need to be able to work on the game in our own way, without any time pressure or outside influences.
So, we deeply appreciate all of your continued patience and understanding, even if we appear to go dark for long periods of time.
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