Wizardry, Anachronox Devs Kickstart Old-School RPG

Believe it or not, this is an actual backer reward - velvet pillow, front door delivery, and all. I can respect that.

Do you want an old-school RPG? Wizardry vet Brenda Brathwaite and former Anachronox mastermind Tom Hall sure do. They also want a million dollars, which is another pursuit I think we all have in common. So the longtime dev duo  – in conjunction with John Romero and Ghost Recon: Commander studio Loot Drop – has taken those most basic of human desires to Kickstarter in spite of the incredible risk associated with such a decision. And while Brathwaite and Hall’s variation on the theme ticks quite a few of the requisite “back in my day” boxes, it does stand to do one pretty unique thing. Or, well, technically two, I suppose.

Yep, if Old-School RPG hits its stretch goal of $1.9 million, we’ll get two completely different yet fully intertwined RPGs. I haven’t the foggiest idea of how exactly that’d all work, but it sure sounds like a neat idea. Here are a few details, though:

“If you’re kind enough to help us reach this amount of funding, we’ll create TWO FULL games – one designed by Brenda Brathwaite and one designed by Tom Hall. Not only will you cast, smash and slash your way through two full games, the endings of each game provide exclusive NEW game beginnings in the other! Import your crew from Tom’s game into Brenda’s and vice versa. The ending you create affects not only your new game beginning (if you choose it), but also provides unique advantages that you earn no other way.”

Also, if you haven’t already, watch the video. It’s impressively goofy and contains funny sounds that made me laugh.

Beyond that, Brathwaite and Hall are being oddly specific yet strangely vague. On one hand, Old-School RPG (probably not the final title) will come in a box (!) with a cloth map (!!) and… yeah (!!!). On the other hand, we know nothing about the setting, quest structure, characters, or combat beyond “it’ll have them.” (Update: Brathwaite, Hall, and co have now updated the Kickstarter page to say it’s a “first-person, fantasy/sci-fi RPG” with a four-character party. So potentially Ultima-ish or Grimrock-y. Interesting!) Encouragingly, they’re also aiming to include multiple endings and beginnings, so this probably won’t be some pre-cooked story where you simply fill in a few blanks.

As of writing, the Kickstarter had already crossed the $100,000 mark, so this one’s chances are looking pretty good. That said, how are you feeling about the “there’s gold in them thar hills” mentality toward resurrecting once-dead RPGs? I mean, I have no doubt that passion’s powering these projects more than anything, but there are now three in the works – and I’d be willing to bet a single, shining lock of John Romero’s wondrous mane money on the idea that more are on the way. Between that, adventures, and other such nostalgia-laden genres, there’s no doubt gaming’s in the middle of a full-blown retro revival. Are we in danger, though, of going too far? Is there a point of no return on paying (and making money off of) constant tribute to the past?


  1. AngoraFish says:

    Insta-backed, although I’m not 100% sure about the two-games for one idea. I’d much prefer one really big game with a synergy of good ideas rather than two different but related attempts at the same thing.

  2. ran93r says:

    Read that as Brenda Blethyn, I’ll get me coat.

  3. mondomau says:

    Excitement & interest rising…

    “it’s a first-person, fantasy/sci-fi RPG”

    …aaand gone again.

    Oh well.

    EDIT to avoid confusion: I don’t like first person RPGs, that’s all. No ill-judged snobbery intended or solicited.

    • vorvek says:

      What’s wrong with that?

      • Ragnar says:

        There’s nothing inherently wrong with first-person RPGs, but thinking back over the all the RPGs I’ve played, the first-person ones are among my least favorite (I don’t think the D&D Gold Box games count as first-person). I enjoyed Morrowind (though I never finished it) and Fallout 3 and what little I played of Deus Ex (just the first mission), just not as much as I enjoyed Planescape: Torment, Fallout 1+2, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest. And even Fallout 3 I would have played in 3rd person if the character animations weren’t unbearably bad.

        Maybe it just means I need to dust off Deus Ex (I know I picked it up on a Steam sale at some point) and play past the first mission to discover how good a first-person sci-fi RPG can be.

        • Wizardry says:

          Errr… what does Wizardry et al have to do with Fallout 3, Morrowind and Deus Ex?

          • Ragnar says:

            They’re all first-person RPGs? And thus serve to illustrate why the idea of first-person RPG excites me less than non-first-person RPG?

          • ResonanceCascade says:

            They’re pretty much the same thing, except one has wizards or something.

          • Wizardry says:

            But they are completely different. Those games are first person action games with RPG elements. They aim to be immersive and to make you feel like you are your character. Wizardry, Might and Magic and others are proper turn/phase-based RPGs where you move around your entire party as one big blob. In these games the first person perspective is merely a camera angle used as a tool to make exploration more of a challenge (specifically to add the requirement of mapping on graph paper back in the 80s).

            I don’t see how disliking Fallout 3, Deus Ex and Morrowind would mean you would automatically dislike Wizardry. Do you dislike all first person shooters? If not, why do you dislike Deus Ex? Is it because of the less than satisfactory mix of RPG elements and twitch based skill? Because you don’t have these problems in Wizardry and Might and Magic as they aren’t real-time.

          • MadTinkerer says:

            Ragnar, trust me: as someone who actually prefers first person action games with RPG elements to first person party-based RPGs*, it’s a completely different genre.

            It’s like the difference between Civilization and Starcraft. Both are top-down perspective strategy games. But that’s all they have in common.

            *It’s mostly a time issue. As much as I like huge sprawling epics in principle, I rarely have time to do all the sidequests and such anymore. That’s why I own all of the Might & Magic games released on GoG but have barely touched them. Maybe when I retire…

          • Ragnar says:

            That’s completely fair, and I understand. I was merely explaining that the phrase “first-person RPG” brings to mind Morrowind (and sequels), Fallout 3, and Deus Ex, and thus is less exciting than “isometric RPG” or “third-person RPG”.

            I’ve never played the Wizardry games. They sound a lot like Lands of Lore, except turn-based (which I greatly prefer for party-based games that don’t have party AI). Would it be correct to think of them as mixing CRPG setting, characters, and exploration with classic JRPG (Dragon Quest / early Final Fantasy) turn-based combat? And then using the first-person perspective, as you said, to make it disorienting?

          • Wizardry says:

            That’s a bit unfair considered Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest completely ripped off the combat from Wizardry.

            It’s hard to accurately describe the gameplay in a Wizardry game. I suggest you pick up Wizardry VI from any abandonware site (it hasn’t been on sale for almost two decades), load it up in DOSBox, build a party and go kill a few enemies for quarter of an hour to get a feel for what the games are about.

    • Vurp says:

      I agree with Vorvek.

      There is nothing wrong with a first person perspective. Also all the wizardry games did it so its really not much of a surprise.

      edit: Times like this make me sad that Kickstarter don’t have a Paypal option.

    • JackShandy says:


      E: Maybe you’re thinking about it like the x-com and syndicate remakes?

    • asshibbitty says:

      Maybe he read “old school” and thought of all those text RPGs he used to play on a PDP-1.

    • thesocialshift says:

      I was a little disappointed at first when they added first-person. The wizardary series was slightly before my time so I automatically think isometric and jrpg (with a little overhead thrown in). However, I do have some awesome memories of one – Betrayal at Krondor. Think I really liked the tactical combat mixed in.

      • DuddBudda says:

        I’m too young to have played wizardry, however I always though Deus Ex was a FPS RPG; it would be impossible for me to have had OP’s reaction

        On a completely unrelated note, has anyone else kickstarted so many old school RPGs that you kind of had this one filed under ‘backed’ already?

    • Zeewolf says:

      Just like Wizardry 8, one of the most celebrated “old-school” role playing games around. Sheesh, first person RPGs have been around for just as long as the isometric games, and people didn’t have a problem with them in the eighties so this new fangled “isometric or bust” trend is just completely bonkers.

      • mondomau says:

        Right, I’m going to reply to you, though it’s also to the other people that took my comment completely out of context. It’s got precisely sweet FA to do with what I consider to be an ‘old school’ RPG, those conversations are for boring people that have too much time on their hands.
        I just don’t like first person RPGs. Never have. I play the Elder Scrolls games in 3rd person wherever possible, and have never been able to get into might and magic , even though I really wanted to like it.

        That’s it! No snide dismissal of the project, no deeper criticism of gameplay trends. Okay everyone? Okay.



        • Pony Canyon says:

          I’m (partially) with you, but for other reasons. From their history, the big game produced by these devs that I loved was Anachronox. And the storyline and character progression is what really made that game work for me.

          I’ve never really played a first-person RPG that did character progression well. In fact, nearly every first-person RPG I’ve played doesn’t even try to do character progression (Ok, Arcana tried, but it didn’t really work). They usually just treat your party members as faceless game objects that are often completely interchangeable. From the sounds of the kickstarter page, that’s what we’re getting here.

          I really want to get on board, just because of Anachronox (!), but between the first-person RPG and the extreme vagueness of the Kickstarter pitch, it’s just not what I’m looking for. I will not be getting Anachronox 2, I would be getting Wizardy-whatever number we’re up to. Which is fine and ideal for many – and that’s great, good on you! – it’s just not what I personally want.

          • Wizardry says:

            It’s funny you say that, Pony Canyon, because Wizardry 8 has possibly the best character progression system out of all CRPGs. In fact, its only rivals are Wizardry 6 and 7. And guess what? All three are first person! So really, I don’t know what you’re getting at here. Anachronox has one of the most basic character progression systems around.

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            Aerothorn says:

            Reread his post, Wizardry. He’s clearly talking about character development, not leveling/class/whathaveyou development. And he’s right – at least in Wizardry 8 (the one I played) most party members don’t do much.

          • Pony Canyon says:

            Correct Aerothorn – that was my intention.

          • Wizardry says:

            Well even in that respect Wizardry 8 probably does it best for a game in which you create your whole party from scratch. You can assign different personalities to different characters, which is far more than what others have attempted to do. Sure, characters don’t really “progress” or “develop” in terms of their personality as such, but they at least actually have assignable personalities, unlike Icewind Dale and The Temple of Elemental Evil (to name a couple of other “create your whole party” CRPGs from around the same time).

          • Ragnar says:

            I think the main difference is party creation vs party recruitment. In isometric / third-person RPGs you have games of both styles, primarily party recruitment. In first-person RPGs you seem to just have party creation. Thus someone who enjoys the meeting / learning about companions aspect of RPGs isn’t going to find that in the first-person ones.

          • Wizardry says:

            It’s true, but that’s more to do with that style of game dying before party recruitment became a big thing. There still were a few party recruitment first person RPGs though, such as Fate: Gates of Dawn for the Amiga and Atari ST. Most of them were real-time though (playing like Dungeon Master/Grimrock), such as the Ishar series.

        • S Jay says:


    • menderslan says:

      When they say “first-person,” they simply mean the camera angle. It won’t be an action game; don’t get this type of game confused with the likes of Fallout 3 or Morrowind. The game they seek to make will be something more akin to Wizardry 8.

  4. Tom De Roeck says:

    For a second there, I thought our wizardry was making a new one.

    • phlebas says:

      Do we know for sure that our Wizardry isn’t Brenda Brathwaite?

      • JackShandy says:

        I always thought he was Warren Spector.

      • Tom De Roeck says:

        That would be awesome, as Im only a friend away from her on facebook.

        And ironic.

        But naw, wiz said hes recharging his hate powers, thats why he has been absent. I guess hes been.. happy?

    • deejayem says:

      I miss Wizardry. There was something comforting about his/her permanent curmudgeonliness.

      • Danny252 says:

        “Miss”? I saw him grumbling about something or other only the other day! I will admit he’s not quite as prevalent as he once was, though.

        • Mirqy says:

          Not as many of the old timers around on RPS as there used to be. Maybe…maybe we should get the band back together. Get some funding and have a proper old-fashioned comments thread. Just like we used to all those years ago…

      • Wizardry says:

        There’s nothing comforting about me. Just ask my wife and children.

  5. TheTingler says:

    Between that, adventures, and other such nostalgia-laden genres, there’s no doubt gaming’s in the middle of a full-blown retro revival. Are we in danger, though, of going too far? Is there a point of no return on paying (and making money off of) constant tribute to the past?

    If it’s done well, and contains a new Tim Schafer adventure, a new Broken Sword, a new Wasteland, an Obsidian Planescape Torment spiritual successor, a new RPG from the makers of Anachronox and Wizardry, and a new James Pond game… No.

    • NathanH says:

      Further, these things shouldn’t be “tributes” to the past, they should be efforts to develop certain genres that have mostly disappeared. A game that’s just like an old game but with better graphics and a better interface is ok, but potentially we can go far beyond that. Just because something is “old-school” doesn’t mean it can’t take advantage of new ideas, technologies, and possibilities, that are in line with the original concepts.

      • Emeraude says:

        Yes, I think that’s what interest me most with most of those projects: how they’re going to bring up old designs and sensibilities that have often been left on the wayside for no better reasons that they’re old to par with new technologies and more modern designs.

        I have no doubts some of the results I won’t like, but damn if it’s not worth the try… Just reading about Shadowrun Returns’ s updated conversation system gets my juices flowing for example.

  6. Lars Westergren says:

    A Wizardry inspired game by veterans of Wizardry. So, Wizardry, are you happy now? :P

    • Hoaxfish says:

      The next step is to call wizardry not a wizardry, and then promptly blink out of existence

    • Cinnamon says:

      You joke but I’m sure that some people wouldn’t be impressed unless the original Wizardry developers were making it. Brenda Brathwaite is probably the designer who worked on the series who has kept the highest profile in the industry but she isn’t the person who created the series.

      • Wizardry says:

        True. While she has done some work on most of the Wizardry games going back as far as the early 80s, she was mainly a phone-line support person, a game tester and then someone who wrote the manuals up until the development of Wizardry 8, in which she was one of many designers, most of which were working/had worked on Jagged Alliance 2, and the one responsible for the writing and story.

        She knows her Wizardry inside out and she loves the series, so I’m hoping she’s stubborn enough to steer this project in the right direction (away from Anachronox territory) and make something on par with Wizardry 8. She’s no Andrew Greenberg and Robert Woodhead (Wizardry 1-3) or David W. Bradley (Wizardry 5-7) or anything, but I’m sure she still knows what made Wizardry good.

        • Ergates_Antius says:

          But even if she were, there is no guarantee that she’d come up with the goods. Gaming is rife with examples of makers of older classics coming out with unimaginative dross (Hello John Carmack).

          Having the game made by someone who is a big fan of the originals and wants to stick as close to them as possible is a safer bet for getting when you want than having someone who was actually involved in the originals. I doubt there are any particularly esoteric skills involved in actually making a Wizardry game.

          • Wizardry says:

            Exactly. Which is why I’m really hesitant to go in for this Kickstarter. Firstly there’s not enough information for me to go on, and secondly there’s probably going to be too much Anachronox influence. I’ll probably wait until the final day to decide.

            I do think you’re doing the Wizardry series a disservice though. Wizardry 8 was a very complex beast. It’s sort of like what Jagged Alliance 2 was to previous turn-based tactics games. It was a huge evolutionary step, just like Wizardry 7 was nine years earlier, but unfortunately everything since has been a carbon copy of 80s style dungeon crawlers (i.e. simplistic).

            What I’m trying to say here is that Wizardry style games may be easy to create, which explains why there are hundreds of them for hand-held devices, but Wizardry as the series that started it all was also the only one to actually try to push the style forward. Wizardry 8 remains the most complex first-person phase-based dungeon crawler to this day.

    • DiamondDog says:

      But, who wizards the wizardry?

  7. asshibbitty says:

    Ugh finally something I can get behind. God bless Kickstarter.

  8. CaspianRoach says:

    No Steam? Shame.

    • Zeewolf says:

      They can’t promise that, given that they’ll have to go through Greenlight to get on Steam.

      • CaspianRoach says:

        Big names / publishers don’t need to go through Greenlight. Developers/publishers that have a game on Steam don’t need to go through Greenlight.

        • Supahewok says:

          They’re not exactly big name. The games they’re famous for are 8+ years old, and I’m pretty sure Brathwaite has been making mobile games since then, haven’t heard about Hall doing anything. They might have friends inside Valve, but without that, they would have to go through Greenlight.

          Still, since they seem adamant about being DRM free, unlikely to go to Steam in the end anyway. But they will probably release on GOG, so I don’t see what you’re complaining about.

    • Cold Steel says:

      Why would you want thinly veiled drm aka steamworks anyway?

      I’d much rather have it GOG style, not to say oldschool without drm.

      • CaspianRoach says:

        Because I do? It has all my games, handles everything petty concerning games and has achievements support. I only game from home and I’m always connected by at least 1 internet provider (99% of the time I am connected by two), so I see no negatives about Steam, only positives.

  9. Drayk says:

    I don’t know about this… We got Grimrock last year. isn’t it enough for nostalgic players ?
    EDIT: me being grumpy about the kickstarter frenzy)

    • Runs With Foxes says:

      No need for new games. Already got old games.

    • Caiman says:

      Did you seriously type that comment in?

      • Drayk says:

        Yeah… I did… I know most RPS readers won’t agree with me, and I am probably not as psyched as others for that kind of games, but feel that lately there is too much people trying to milk the kickstarter cow.

        When I see folks from ‘almost human’ making a game by themselves, I think they are braver than those older developers trying to get funds on merely an idea of the game they want to build. And nothing new; old recipes.

        Seeing that it doesn’t skyrocket like some former projects, maybe i am not the only one waiting for the first wave of kickstarter games to arrive… I already backed 7 of them and I am no rich man.

    • Tei says:

      Grimrock is a excellent puzzle game that happens to look like a rpg game. Its worh playing based on his qualities, dont need any nostalgia pull.

    • Wizardry says:

      It’s funny because Grimrock is a descendent from Dungeon Master, which itself was an attempt to turn Wizardry into an action RPG. In other words, Grimrock is a descendent of a game that was partly responsible for stemming the flow of progress in the genre.

  10. JackShandy says:

    Love that they give you a pen and paper version with it. 2d10’s, too. Sounds interesting.

  11. Hoaxfish says:

    I’ve had very little interaction with the Wizardry series.

    I played Wizardry 8, but the scaling monsters annoyed me. And at one point there’s a character with just an empty text field you’re supposed to manually write a conversation subject into… which is apparently vital for completing the game. I stopped playing when I discovered that point.

    Wikipedia says “The Dark Spire” on NDS is heavily inspired by Wizardry, and I really liked that game.

    So, I’m not really sure what “Wizardry” brings to the RPG table as a thing to be proud of.

    Also, I’m not into trusting John Romero, and the company doesn’t seem like it’s done a lot of impressive stuff either.

    I might buy it went it eventually reaches retail, but I doubt I’ll kickstart it.

    • Cinnamon says:

      So you don’t like Wizardry because it isn’t Monkey Island?

      • Hoaxfish says:

        No, I didn’t like Wiz8 mostly because of the scaling, and the “throw words at me until you hit the right one” textbox is generally a poor idea in my book.

        But I did like a game apparently inspired by the series… somehow a totally different experience from game, from the actual series, I did play.

        So, I don’t know if I would like the rest of the “Wizardry” series, whether Wiz8 is good indicator of how they all play, or if another game “inspired” by it is actually a closer experience.

    • asshibbitty says:

      I thought the ability to manually input dialog was one of the best things about the game. Old RPGs used to have these checks against people who don’t pay attention.

      You should read up on the series I guess. Whatever that crappy DS game was it’s probably one of the crappier ones that were influenced by Wizardry.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        Going by some of the reviews online.. The Dark Spire is “a good wizardry clone” and “good old school rpg”… of course a lot of other reviews go with “don’t play this old school crap, the graphics are terrible”… so it mostly seems to hinge on if you actually like old school RPGs.

        Visually, I’d say it reminds me of Fighting Fantasy books.

        Of course, based on my own opinion, I’d prefer to play it over Wizardry 8.

        • asshibbitty says:

          Well it’s a Japanese game apparently, so most likely it’s inspired by their own weird Wizardry spin-off. I think there’s a translated J-Wizardry game on PSP, and one on iOS which I never bothered to try.

    • Wizardry says:

      The level scaling did suck, as well as the slowness of combat (that can be partly fixed with a fan patch). But in these regards Wizardry 8 isn’t representative of the Wizardry series. There really are three distinct eras of Wizardry. The first has wire-frame dungeon graphics and rather basic yet hardcore gameplay and covers the first 5 games (Wizardry 1-5). The next era (the best era) actually has dungeon graphics, as well as a completely overhauled character system (Wizardry 6-7). Then, nine years later, Wizardry 8 comes out and is a true 3D game with even more complicated systems at play, but while in many ways this is the best Wizardry, it has the issues you stated which can ruin your enjoyment completely.

      So really, if you want to play one of the Wizardry games that effectively started the genre (and influenced those Japanese console/handheld dungeon crawlers) then play Wizardry 1/2/3. If you want to play a completely awesome Wizardry with a great character system and speedy gameplay then play Wizardry 6/7. If you want to play a more evolved and in many ways modernised version of Wizardry with resulting issues then try Wizardry 8 again.

  12. Paul says:

    They kind of fucked up this kickstarter. They should have waited at least two months after Eternity one is over, in that time create some concepts for story and some artwork. Then make a pitch with a lot more concrete info straight up. I think people would pledge lot more happily.
    That said, I pledged 15 bucks because it is Tom Hall who made Anachronox, but still.

    • Emeraude says:

      Agreed. The timing is doing the project a disservice -reporting it even a two week later would have helped a lot I think, by allowing people who donated to Project eternity to take on the following month’s salary, the lack of information is hurting it from the start – we have no idea from the opening pitch what it is they want want us to invest in, even roughly (I’ve seen quite a few comment around of people expecting another isometric game for example), and the way the message is sent I think is going to have some people yell at a cash grab (though I personally see it as a result of them not using PR)…

      Anyway good luck to them.

    • frightlever says:

      Naw, hype doesn’t work that way. Gotta strike while the iron is hot. If they waited 2 months there’s every chance something will have happened to put people off ever investing in a Kickstarter. Some dev going bankrupt without delivering the goods, or some other fraud or scandal. Meanwhile there are a bunch of people serially speculating on getting something back from their Kickstarter projects that they’re collecting like Pokemon. Best get their money before it’s too late.

      I suspect Ouya will leave a bad taste in many people’s mouths eventually (after much dragging out of expectation), but there are a heap of other projects which could come a cropper before the end of the year.

      • Emeraude says:

        Hype or not, if people don’t have the liquidities on hand because they’re already investing in other projects, they just don’t. Just look at the number of Obsidian Order members in the backers for this one. Now subtract all those that just can’t back up yet another project this month…

        I may be wrong on that, but I do think it’s impacting them right now.

        • frightlever says:

          Well, I don’t think the majority of people who’re handing money over to Kickstarter projects have to worry too much about another fifty bucks here and there. Kickstarter is not a game to be played by people who have to worry about their finances. Anyone that strapped for cash wouldn’t be “investing” (that is such the wrong word to use, but I use it myself from time to time) now they’d be waiting for a sale after release. YMMV.

          • Emeraude says:

            I like “investing” because it describe better the process as we see it, both as “investing cash”, and investing oneself in the process – work better than “supporting” in my opinion, or “donating”, which is not what most people do really – if anything, my general feeling is that Kickstarter has become a convenient fiction for a subscription (in a financial sense) model.

            And you’d be surprised at the number of people I see commenting they have a hard time finding the cash for one project – let alone two. Of course, no hard data to back that claim, just anecdotal evidence gathered over several forums.

          • jrodman says:

            I *could* finance 20 projects a month to the tune of 100 bucks.
            But I do have some other goals for my money, including saving some of it.

            I’m not going to gung-ho finance multiple projects a month, and I’m squarely in the target market for this sort of thing.

            The timing is wrong.

          • The Random One says:

            “Well, I don’t think the
            majority of people who’re
            handing money over to
            Kickstarter projects have to
            worry too much about
            another fifty bucks here and

            I agree, but for a project to successfully get a million bucks you also need to tap people who don’t make a lot of money but would fund things they totally love, and that must include a lot of people who gave more than they should to Eternity.

    • seniorgato says:

      No argument here. Project Eternity is still going full force and these guys come out with a nameless game. Sure the people seem like they have background in game development, but where is the meat? Art? Music? Story? Title? Those are things that would give you credibility… All I hear is, “I wanna make an RPG, please give us a million bucks”

      I’m not disputing their history. Doom, Commander Keen, Wizardry, Wolfenstein. Awesome games. But uh, that was a long time ago. Ah well, I’ll just wait and see. No sense pre-purchasing.

      • Wizardry says:

        Since when has the art, music, story and game title been the meat of the game? I want to know more about their plans for the character system and combat, as well as what non-combat gameplay there will be.

  13. rocketman71 says:

    The fact that Romero figures prominently but they didn’t have the balls to put him in the title (i.e.,
    “An Old-School RPG by Brenda Brathwaite, Tom Hall and John Romero!” in whichever order you prefer) doesn’t exactly give me much confidence.

    • MOKKA says:

      Well maybe it’s because John Romero isn’t really known for creating ‘oldschool’ RPGs. But I’m just guessing here.

      • Runs With Foxes says:

        It’s because Romero has a bad reputation among idiots.

        • lcy says:

          No doubt. Why one failed business and one bad game (which most people never actually brought) should automatically write him off, I have no idea. Quite a lot of very successful people make errors somewhere along the way, it’s part and parcel of risk-taking.

          • Muzman says:

            I broadly agree, but he did manage to blow a truly obscene amount of money doing this (enough for several old school rpgs). A least it was obscene in those days. Probably barely fund a Call of Duty now.

          • Ergates_Antius says:

            No doubt. Why one failed business and one bad game (which most people never actually brought) should automatically write him off, I have no idea. Quite a lot of very successful people make errors somewhere along the way, it’s part and parcel of risk-taking.

            The last game worthy of note [in a good way] he was involved in was release 15 years ago. Since then he’s done…. what? Games and the games industry have moved on a long way since then – why should his name carry any weight at all?

          • lcy says:

            The last game worthy of note [in a good way] he was involved in was release 15 years ago. Since then he’s done…. what? Games and the games industry have moved on a long way since then – why should his name carry any weight at all?

            Without wishing to be mean, that’s a more recent game success than most of the devs on Kickstarter. Besides which, is anyone really funding an ‘old school rpg’ because they are hoping for lots of modern design techniques such as cover based gameplay, or regenerating health?

        • aepervius says:

          What earned his reputation is not per see the bad game, but saying we would be his bitch AND then having the bad game.

          There is a good tip if you deal with customer : don’t insult them to entice them buy a product and then have a bad product.

          People are not idiot for not remembering fondly John Romero. John Romero was an idiot for insulting so many people.

          His reputation is probably shot until one or two good game are released where he had a good part in the development. In the mean time a project with his name will automatically make people recall who called them “making them bitch”.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        They still name-dropped Doom and Wolfenstein 3D.

    • Caiman says:

      It’s pretty obvious. Romero isn’t involved in the design of the game. It’s not his game, it’s Tom and Brenda’s game. That gives me enormous confidence actually.

    • Yosharian says:

      Romero is a talented guy, don’t write him off because of past failures. He was responsible for a lot of the genius in Doom, you know. Let’s face it, after he left ID they fucking went to shit.

      • Hoaxfish says:

        Maybe I have this wrong, but I always imagined Romero as basically throwing a bunch of “extreme” ideas at the rest of ID, and at the other end John Carmack would code it… the resultant game was “just the right amount” of Romero.

        So when Romero left, id became more entrenched in the “tech demo as games” company, while Romero’s new work was overflowing with undiluted chaos unrestrained by concepts like “playable” (hence Daikatana).

        • Yosharian says:

          That is exactly correct. You only have to look at the output of Ion Storm and post-Romero ID to see exactly what these two personalities brought to the table and how they were (are? who knows) each flawed in their own way. I believe (hope) Romero has learnt his lesson, whereas I know for sure that Carmack hasn’t.

          Although I have to point out that Romero was also a level designer and tool creator, so he wasn’t just throwing ideas at other people who did all the hard work =p

          The Doom wiki has a good article on Romero.

  14. Artesia says:

    Huh. Though I like Bard’s Tale, Wizardry and Might and Magic, I prefer Fallout, Arcanum and Planescape. But anyway, I know that there are many people who’s preferences are exactly reverse, so good for them. And appearance of (almost) any new indie-RPG project is a good thing, so kudos.

    • Hoaxfish says:

      Unless I’m mistaken, Wizardry/etc originate from the “older” school of old school compared to Fallout/etc.

      • Artesia says:

        Dude, if I know about Wizardry, M&M and BT, I probably know this, y’know? Also – first Wizardry was made one year before I was born, so it’s definition of old school RPGs. As are Ultima, M&M, etc.
        Hell, ancestor of all roguelikes were released just a year before Wizadry, IIRC. And yes, I do know that RPGs and roguelikes are different genres, thank you.

        • Hoaxfish says:

          I only meant, as far as nostalgia goes, there’s probably a bunch of people who grew up with one set, that prefer those, and other people prefer the ones they grew up with.

          As opposed to the situation where some people like Planescape more than Baldur’s Gate 2, and vice versa, even though both games are basically from the same era.

          • Artesia says:

            Ah, in that case I agree, but I know some of retro-game enthusiasts who, while younger than me, prefer party-based RPGs a-la Wizardry et al.

  15. Goodtwist says:

    Did anybody else first think that it was the Zombi-John-Romero?

  16. Pryde says:

    “John Romero’s about to make you his bitch” (c) … for your million dollars.

    Now thanks, been dere, done dat.

  17. skyturnedred says:

    $2.5 million stretch goal:

    John Romero won’t be involved.

  18. merc-ai says:

    It feels more like cash grab to me, really.
    It’s too vague, the timing is bad ( “just after Obsidian’s success”) , the situation with not mentioning Romero is shady, and their pitch text seems like it was written by a soulless marketing machine. “Award-winning”, “old-school classic” and all that. This is exactly the sort of stuff that happens when truth alone is not enough to convince people to invest in your game.

    I also think that a million is too much for this sort of game, and I’d prefer to see some indies do it for $100k of budget rather than see money being wasted on “award-winning industry veterans” who (probably) did not see any RPG development action in years.

    • asshibbitty says:

      That’s not how marketing works, that’s not how game development works, and that’s not how economy works.

      • frightlever says:

        It’s how the Kickstarter goldrush works.

        It’s like the stock market. When everyone is telling you to invest in stocks, it’s time to sell up and get ready for the crash. The Kickstarter crash is going to happen and it is going to be fascinating.

        • Emeraude says:

          The real test I think is going to be when enough games have been released, and more importantly how the first failure project (there’s going to be one, has to) is going to impact the process.

        • mike2R says:

          I don’t really buy that analogy. Unless I’m completely misunderstanding kickstarter, there isn’t a profit incentive. People aren’t investing money in a project with the promise of a return if it is successful, they are essentially pre-purchasing a product to help it get produced; perhaps at a small discount, or paying more to get extras.

          So it may be a fad, and it may all fade away after some projects fail, but there isn’t any chance of a bubble developing because you don’t have that feeling of missing out on easy money going around.

          I haven’t backed a single kickstarter project, and while this may mean a game I would have liked will not get made, that is the extent of my “risk”. I’m not going to have the sort of perceived losses I would have in a bubble. No wastrel brother-in-laws telling me how he made a fortune playing the stock market or whatever.

    • lcy says:

      Seriously? A gold rush for a million, split over a team of 24 (from the photo)? Less than 42 grand each, without taking into account any costs for the rewards, not to mention taxes.

      It’s not much ‘gold’, especially since most of them could earn more in a year (or two at most), in a stable, risk-free environment.

      • frightlever says:

        About 50 million bucks has been speculated on Kickstarter game projects this year. That’s the gold rush in which they are attempting to participate. Speaking of taxes, remember about a third of the Kickstarter money disappears in fees and taxes almost immediately.

      • merc-ai says:

        This sort of game (1st person party RPG, old-school, established engine w pipeline, 1 year dev time) does not necessarily require a million to develop (marketing costs not counted), nor a team of 24 specialists working on it all the time (because that is not how it’s done). If they really require that much money, then they are doing something wrong (keeping whole development in-house, or wasting cash on unnecessary stuff like full voice-acting or “star talent”).

        Math is all fine, but there are many ways to “save” money and optimize development costs (speaking out of game development experience). I did bend it too far with the 100k figure, of course :) That companies prefer to spend millions to ship a relatively simple game is what brought us into the publisher-dependent situation in the first place.

        • lcy says:

          I’m just saying, a million isn’t that high for a team of their size, not if they’re all on salary. No, they’re not an indie team starving for their ‘art’, but then they don’t claim to be. They’re a group of experienced developers who want to make their living by making a particular type of game, and they appear to be rather straightforward about that.

          And as for extravagant budgets – is a single million even enough for comprehensive mo-cap? If they want to spend AAA scale money on AAA scale extravagances, they’ll need 20 times as much.

          Edit – number wrong.

  19. frightlever says:

    “(Update: Brathwaite, Hall, and co have now updated the Kickstarter page to say it’s a “first-person, fantasy/sci-fi RPG” with a four-character party. So potentially Ultima-ish or Grimrock-y. Interesting!)”

    Or, ya know, Wizardry. How you got Ultima from that though…

    • Wizardry says:

      Yeah. That puzzles me too. Ultima was primarily a top down game, other than for the dungeon crawling parts of 1 to 5.

  20. Lilliput King says:

    They want a million dollars, they could’ve at least thought of a name.

    • Brise Bonbons says:

      Was going to make a snarky comment about the name, but I can’t beat this one. Good show sir.

  21. TheApologist says:

    So, I’m a Might and Magic kind of a guy but I never played Wizardry (I don’t know why, but it just passed me by). Is this for me?

    • crinkles esq. says:

      I don’t think we even know what ‘this’ is. But to give you an idea of Wizardry, its command menu battle system heavily influenced Japanese RPGs of the early 80’s. Some might say it spawned that whole style. The early Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest games especially.

    • jrodman says:

      If we’re talking might and magic 1,2,3,4, then it’s basically the same thing.

      If we’re talking M&M 7 vs wizardry 7, they’re still close cousins, but a bit differentiated.

    • TheApologist says:

      Thanks! It was M&M6&7 that I particularly liked. I also loved Anachronox.

      I suppose we can’t tell yet, you’re right, but it doesn’t seem a stretch to think that what they mean is that first-person exploration with party-based menu driven combat. In which case, I think I’m in!

      • Wizardry says:

        Well, Wizardry 8 is probably the most like the later Might and Magic games you enjoy, considering it’s 3D too (but with polygonal models instead of sprites) and doesn’t have tile-based movement (as in the first 7 Wizardry games and the first 5 Might and Magic games). If they do make a game in the Wizardry style I can only assume that it’d be similar to Wizardry 8, though with the amount of information they’ve given out so far it’s still anyone’s guess.

  22. crinkles esq. says:

    Hopefully Kickstarter will broaden their new rules for product submissions to include games. There’s way too many of these, “Hey, we’re veterans in the industry! We want money for this amazing game we want to make. We don’t have a prototype yet, let alone concept art, or even a clear idea of game mechanics to share with you. In fact, we’ve done no work on this game at all except for making this video. But give us lots of money and I’m sure we’ll figure it out.”

    • lcy says:

      Why? I’m more than happy to see a mechanism to help fund industry veterans make games of the type I want to play. So long as no-one is deceived into handing over money under false pretences, I really don’t see why only small, unknown, devs can be included.

      • crinkles esq. says:

        I think you misunderstood me. I don’t have a problem with industry veterans pitching games on Kickstarter. I have a problem with any game pitch that doesn’t have some preliminary work done to show specifically what kind of game this is going to be, art style, and preferably early prototype footage showing what they have in mind. Trotting out your industry status should be a deal-sealer, not the deal itself.

  23. ButchCore says:

    There may be a potential here, but their Kickstarter page just made me want to smash them in the face, for some reasons…

    They should grant a bit more consideration to the crowd they seek to appeal by avoiding such things as repeatedly nailing down some shallow “bullet points” supposed to make us melt and lose any common sense… We’ve heard, it’s an RPG, like role-playing game, with role-playing elements into it, and it’s old school, yeah real old school, say old school again (what does it mean already?), and it’s made by YOU, sure, we remember those games, and we see you’re apparently endorsed by like twenty people from God to John Doe… Now what’s that project all about, for real?

    The plain lack of seriousness (and I’m not saying straight face attitude, but substantial thinking) of their Kickstarter page just can’t give me confidence in this project a priori. :/

  24. Revisor says:

    Loved Daikatana (!, there, I said it), loved Anachronox (in fact have it installed right now), loved Wizardry 7. Backed.

    I’m also looking forward to Mrs. Brathwaite’s input regarding sex in games, having just read on Wikipedia that that’s her topic. In a certain way most games treat sex like teenagers do – they giggle and are vulgar to hide their shyness. Or ignore it altogether.

    • frightlever says:

      I loved Wizardry 7 until I was swamped under fifty groups of fifty mobs all trying to tear my party a new one. It’s such a cool world though, and great character classes. Fantasy/Technology/Aliens brilliant. I want to read books in that world.

  25. yanko44 says:

    two games for the price of one?! I’m a bit skeptical… we don’t even get to know the story/concept behind these games. Some of the veterans are (oldschool) shooters creators.. and they are willing to program turnbased games?! I don’t know….most likely they’ll pick up the cheque and let the young ones deal with it.

    • D3xter says:

      Sceptical? How can you say such preposterous a thing! It’s old-school, see all those KickStarters with all that information and concept about what they are actually planning to do? Forget those, this one is more old-schoolish than all of them! Aren’t you old-school enough to appreciate the old-schoolish-ness of this project?
      Buy one, get one free, as long as they’re still hot! Only a million, as long as stock lasts! Get your old-school RPG here people!

      First Screenshot here everyone: link to i.ytimg.com
      Ah, I thought you weren’t old-school enough for this…

  26. Caiman says:

    Wiz 8 is my fave game ever, so this got insta-backed. Don’t know why everyone is complaining about the lack of details. I read this as a ground-up approach just like Double Fine did with Adventure.

    • yanko44 says:

      I could use some money too. *puppy eyes*

    • Emeraude says:

      I think the complains mostly come from the fact that “adventure game” leaves very little room in people’s minds as to what the end game will be like. Old-School RPG gives much more interpretative leeway (you’ll notice before first update we didn’t even know it would be a 1-st person, in all probability Wizardry-like – but there’s still a bit of wiggling room, RPG.

  27. jrodman says:


    Leave some time between these.
    Too much overlap between project eternity and this. I’ve squandered my backing budget.

  28. Muzman says:

    My reaction to the top screengrab: ” Hey that science teacher looks like John Romero. Good to see Stevie Case out and about. Who’s the wizard?”

  29. Slinkyboy says:

    That’s a man, right?

    • jrodman says:

      That John Romero chick?

    • asshibbitty says:

      Ha ha a joke from ten years ago truly old school sir. Here’s a hint: you were supposed to grow out of this shit.

      I’m sure those posters dissing Romero are just kids trying to keep up the image of gamers as spiteful asshats. It’s impossible to hold a grudge for so long and over something so petty.

      • USER47 says:

        (maybe he meant Brenda:))

      • jrodman says:

        If it’s about Romero (as you suggest), I see no dissing, just references to a dumb old joke.

        If it’s about Brenda, I was trying to derail that, because I find it ugly.

  30. CletusVanDamme says:

    Gonna be waiting on this one. They just haven’t provided enough information about what it is they intend to do and honestly I find their video a little too far on the goofy side. The stretch goal of creating two games doesn’t quite sit well with me, and… well, honestly there’s just a bunch of alarm bells ringing here for me.

    So yeah, gonna wait and see if there’s anything a little more forthcoming before I give them any money. Here’s hoping that something good comes from it, seems lacklustre so far.

  31. Uberman says:

    Wow, their Kickstarted page makes it sound particularly unambitious. Just two short examples :

    ” Character Extensions (Stretch Goal): Wrestle with the old-school favorites from back in the paper days – alignment, age, rank and randomly-rolled temperament. ”

    ” NPCs: At least five known NPC races call this world home. Forge alliances with them and do their bidding – or be their undoing. ”

    A stretch goal to add alignment ? 5 races ? There are indie RPGs out there, especially Rogue-likes that offer so much more than this, and don’t go putting their hands in your pocket just to exist. Everything on their Kickstarter page says “generic RPG”. Levelling up ? That’s a feature ? Hell, you can level up in most action games these days.

    I love old school RPGs, but I expect a little more passion and vision than a page that says nothing more than ‘it will have characters and stats and junk’.


  32. JackDandy says:

    I’m VERY suspicious about this project. While there are some talented people behind it, it seems they just came up with this idea out of the blue.
    They keep repeating the phrase “old school” over and over, but didn’t even bother telling us what game this will be. They didn’t even think of a proper project name.

    I’ll pass on this one, and I suggest other people do the same, at least until they give better info about their game.

    • Hmm-Hmm. says:

      I agree. Sure, they may be experienced and it’s be an ‘old-school rpg’, but that (and their kickstarter page) doesn’t exactly tell us what specifically they are planning.

      But I suppose if people don’t mind knowing what the game’ll turn out to become because they like the prospect of an old-school rpg by these folk, well.. by all means.

      • yanko44 says:

        even if they fail to launch this project, it will be good advertisement for their company. Heck, I didn’t even know the existence of their studio.

  33. Jackablade says:

    Hrm. I’ll throw down some money if only because it’ll give Tom Hall a successful RPG to stick on his resume that might just give him the clout to finally rescue the rights to Anachronox Prime.

    A man can dream.

  34. int says:


  35. Sparkasaurusmex says:

    It is often that innovation in games development comes from “little” ideas put on top of popular concepts. The resurgence of these classic genres could lead to some great innovations and improvements on classic game styles that have stagnated due to perceived disinterest. Perhaps these first KSed games are just rehashed old-school games (which, for me, is welcome) but many people, some of them future developers, will be introduced to these genres through these games and without the retro-resurgence they would have only experienced a bunch of DA2 and GoW types.

  36. Iskariot says:

    I loved Anachronox. Played it twice.
    But this seems to become another one of those fantasy RPG’s and to be honest… for now I have had it with the trolls, and the dwarfs and the mages and the elves etc.
    Give me some scifi, like Anachronox and I am in.

  37. MythArcana says:

    Raised on Wizardry, disgusted with the “new X-COM approach”. The industry is following Hollywood with the bad remakes.

  38. deadly.by.design says:

    Will it run on a modified Quake 2 engine?

    To this day, I am still impressed with what Hall & Ion Storm did with Anachronox.

  39. MadTinkerer says:


    Hmm. Think I’ll go with the $60 version…

    Sorry for the interruption. You were saying?

  40. Kadayi says:

    The need to do more than say ‘look at our aged legacy’ and expect a handout of notsalgia bucks tbh. There’s just not enough substance to their pitch to get invested in Vs a lot of nebulous hand waving and appeals to redundancy. Looking at the returns so far in the zeitgeist period I’d be surprised if the hit their target by months end. Maybe then they might rethink their strategy and put up a Kickstarter that excites.

  41. mashakos says:

    No JOHN ROMERO WILL MAKE YOU HIS BITCH edition??! I’m out.

    but seriously, if this Kickstarter doesn’t succeed considering the talent behind the project, I will seriously lose faith in humanity.

  42. Jackablade says:

    They’ve updated with a story section now. It’s sounding like a vaguely Assassins Creed-ish future people being past people thing.

  43. Lanfranc says:

    Well, considering how “old-school” this Old-School RPG (are they literally going to title it that or what?) is going to be, I think I’ll use the old-school approach of waiting to see if it’s any good before I give them any of my (old-school) cash.

  44. Werthead says:

    “Tom Hall doing a Kickstarter…”


    “…which isn’t ANACHRONOX 2.”


    A damn shame he hasn’t been able to get the rights to ANACHRONOX back. That really would have been the most compelling Kickstarter to date for me.