Posts Tagged ‘RPG’

The RPG Scrollbars: Old Habitats Die Hard

There’s no better way to cause trouble than to talk about ‘firsts’. Say for instance that King’s Quest IV featured the first female adventure character, and you’re probably going to be drowned out by some pedant waving a copy of Infocom’s Plundered Hearts in your face. That pedant may even be me. Of course, that’s nothing compared to the folly of calling, say, Everquest the first MMO and leaving it without some very quick clarification. The extent of the first M in MMORPG, the importance of success over existence, the jump between mainframe and computer and all manner of other stuff makes it tricky to plant a flag everyone can actually agree deserves to be there.

But there aren’t many games with a better claim than Lucasarts’ Habitat, the latest classic game to get a fancy modern revival project. It definitely deserves it.

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The RPG Scrollbars: Notes On Writing A Universe

Hello, God talking. At least, within a certain small sphere. Like a few of Team RPS, I’ve been writing for games as well as writing about them recently, most prominently as the writer of Daedalic Studio West’s The Long Journey Home [official site] – a space exploration RPG with roguelike elements (but not the crap ones). You know. A SERPGWRENCO. We’re now at the stage where my job is basically done, the universe is designed, the dialogue is all written, and I’m asking tramps on the street if I can borrow their whisky just so I can breathe heavily into the bag. There’s not much more fun than working on a game inspired by some of your favourites, notably Star Control 2. At the same time, well… oh dear, here comes that pesky hyperventilation again…

But I’m not here to market, but to talk tools. I know I’m always interested in seeing behind the scenes, so this week, I thought I’d pull back the curtain a little to talk not so much about what I’ve been working on, but what I’ve been working in.

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How Darkest Dungeon found new horror through its turn-based combat

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the inner workings of their games. This time, Darkest Dungeon [official site].

Darkest Dungeon is an RPG in which four flawed heroes face damnably transcendent terrors as they explore the ancient narrow passages beneath a cursed mansion. Notch by notch, their grasp on sanity slips and their vitality trickles thinner as their torch dims and new horror befalls them.

This is a game in which pressure mounts, misfortune crushes, and mistakes are punished. You can’t expect your party to always survive, whether driven to death or madness, and its turn-based combat plays out with the constant understanding that every decision can turn on a knife-edge: a missed hit, an ill-considered target, the wrong ability. And a lot of that tension is founded on something that on its face sounds prosaic, even old-fashioned:

THE MECHANIC: 2D combat Read the rest of this entry »

The RPG Scrollbars: The genius in the inventory

I forget which game it was, exactly. If I had to pick one, I’d say probably the text adventure Humbug. It doesn’t really matter, as it’s not really the game’s fault, but I still remember the sadness of being told to go into the inventory and realising that while I was thinking of a big room full of bubbling liquids in interesting flasks and other cool science stuff, the game was actually saying ‘look in your pockets’. Especially as if it was Humbug, it’s a game about wandering around and exploring your crazy inventor grandfather’s house. I must have searched for whole minutes, back in 1990.

There’s never been a game that really harnessed that desire, but still, it explains a lot about one of my favourite things in RPGs – particularly those of the early 90s – that the inventory often was a place to experiment rather than simply pluck the correct item at the correct time. Even if then, as now, it’s often been more accident than design.

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The RPG Scrollbars: New Years Res Commandments

Yes, it’s that time again… give or take a week. 2017’s looking like a fantastic year for RPGs already, thanks to the second big wave of Kickstarters due to hit, and bringing sequels and brand new adventures with it. But, let’s not get complacent. Since I sadly cannot, and would not be so arrogant as to lay down resolutions for the industry without its will, instead there will be Commandments that are Law.

Which is a bit like lore, only harder to skip by hammering the ESC key.

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Heading back to World Of Warcraft with Nostalrius

Last week saw the return of World of Warcraft‘s most controversial server, Nostalrius. It’s a private server which aims to recreate the experience of ‘vanilla’ World of Warcraft – that is, WoW as it was at or shortly after launch, before being supplemented and re-shaped by a hundred updates and multiple expansions. Logging on, I’m told “Position in queue, 3801. Estimated time: 47 minutes”, before being ushered into a world of lag and people complaining about random disconnects. So, uh… yeah! Congratulations to the team for perfectly recreating the vanilla WoW experience!

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The RPG Scrollbars: The Scrolls Of Honour 2016

As mentioned last week, it’s been one of those years. Lots of the biggest RPGs that we were expecting decided to spend a few more months in bed, or simply skip 2016. Can’t blame them! It’ll mean an awesome 2017, even if looking back there’s only been a few big names to pick from. Still, tradition is tradition! This week, another year marks another set of the RPG genre’s most fiercely fought-over fictional awards.

(Disclaimer: Actual fighting may also be fictional, all awards are based on the incredibly scientific principle of Wot I Think, awards cannot be exchanged for money, goods or services unless they too are entirely fictional. Please write all questions or complaints onto the back of a Myst CD using a Sharpie, break it into four pieces and bury them in interesting points around the globe for future treasure hunters to encounter, reforge, and then gag “Oh, god, Myst…” Or indeed, not. Completely your choice!)

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The RPGs of 2017

So… 2016. (FX: ‘Urrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh….’) It’s not been the greatest of years, from just about every celebrity you might have loved deciding to peg it, to America electing the Curious Orange. As far as RPGs go, it’s also been fairly quiet, thanks to lots of stuff deciding to stay in the oven for a few more months. That’s not to say we’ve had nothing, not least Early Access versions of many of these games. Awards are coming later this month! But in terms of big, BIG, BIG releases, it’s been kinda quiet. Next year though? Whoooo-boy, do we have a lot of awesome stuff on the way. Here are some of my picks for the games I’m most excited to get my hands on in 2017.

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Wot I Think: Tyranny

It’s been a long time coming, but finally here’s my final review of Tyranny [official site], having completed the very lengthy game. You can read my thoughts at about the mid-point here, and I’d say I’ve changed my mind about very little, other than to have a greater respect for where the story was heading. Here’s wot I think: Read the rest of this entry »

The RPG Scrollbars: A fine figure of a Witcher

If you want Geralt to go and fight monsters for you, it’ll probably cost a few orens. To have him on your shelf? If you’re lucky, about £25. I’ve been waiting to get my hands on the official Witcher 3 figure set for months now… and honestly, I’m still waiting. They were originally due out at the end of October, only to be delayed until November. I was hoping to cover the entire series in one go, but that would mean delaying at least a week, and I suspect these things are going to be in high demand. So, to increase the odds of you being able to snag one for Christmas, let’s check out Geralt and Triss.

Spoiler: They’re every bit as good as you’d hope after the games. Read the rest of this entry »

The RPG Scrollbars: memories of evil and wickedness

So, a confession. My plan for this week was to talk about Obsidian’s Tyranny [official site] – the game, not any rumours of Feargus Urquhart openly stealing puddings from the company fridge no matter how well labelled! Unfortunately, that plan hit a tiny snag… I haven’t had a chance to play much of it yet. A shame, simply because the genre is well overdue a game that, to quote, Kakos Industries, Does Evil Better.

This week then, a tribute to and call out for the games that at least did evil interesting.

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The RPG Scrollbars: Questing at the speed of light

This week, something a little different. I’m going to talk about something I’m working on myself. Obviously, this brings with it certain complications. I’m won’t pretend not to be biased, though I don’t mean this to be an advert. I just thought it would be interesting to share some of what I’ve been working on as the writer and co-quest designer of Daedalic Studio West’s The Long Journey Home [official site], and to dig in to the difficulties and decisions that underpin the making of RPG quests.

Got the disclaimer? Cool. Filter accordingly as we blast off. Next week, back to other games and/or long rants about where my bloody Witcher 3 action figures are.

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The RPG Scrollbars: Size Matters

Even by Blizzard’s standards, The Mean Streets of Gadgetzan is taking the piss. In case you missed it, which I know you didn’t, but work with me here, it’s the newest Hearthstone expansion. The trailer is wonderful. The setting is a corrupt crime-town full of gangsters, hoodlums and mugs, all fighting for cash and control in a tongue-in-cheek mix of Lord of the Rings and Bugsy Malone. I’d love to play a full adventure/RPG/heck even shooter set in that world, not just play with a new set of cards using it as a theme. In just a minute of charismatic art and a fun song, Blizzard fleshed out Gadgetzan with more love and more detail than some games manage in their entire runs.

But, uh, here’s the thing. This is what Gadgetzan actually looks like.

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The RPG Scrollbars: Nine Years In Karazhan

Can a tower be a star? If you’ve been paying any attention to Blizzard’s wacky worlds recently, you’ll have spotted that it’s giving it a pretty good shot. Karazhan, home of Medivh, the Last Guardian of Tirisfal, whose corruption by the Burning Legion led to the orc invasions of Azeroth. A central location in the movie, as well as the mythos. A whole Hearthstone expansion dedicated to its wacky inhabitants.

This week, a new World of Warcraft patch called, yes, Return To Karazhan. But what is this place, for those who weren’t around the first time? What makes it so important?

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The RPG Scrollbars: The Elder Scrolls – One Tamriel

I make no secret of not having liked The Elder Scrolls Online [official site]. Believe me, I wanted to dig it, but nothing this side of Planescape Torment Kart could have felt more not like the game it was meant to be without being part of some fever dream. That said, I do admire the fact that the creators have spent their time since launch trying to fix it. The process hasn’t always been subtle. People hate the tutorial islands? Kill the tutorial islands! People won’t pay a subscription fee? Kill the subscription!

The other week saw by far the biggest change to the game – indeed, one of the biggest to any MMO I can think of since Square took Final Fantasy XIV back off the shelves to rebuild it and make it good. It’s called ‘One Tamriel’, and it finally opens the world up to be the kind of free-roaming RPG The Elder Scrolls is known for being. Can it make it the game I wanted? Unlikely. But hey, this is TEScO. Every little helps!

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The RPG Scrollbars: A Questline Of Sport

God, I hate sport. In other news, let’s talk sport! The fate of any successful game or genre is to be picked apart for reusable pieces, until it’s hard to remember a time when they owned it. Adventure games for instance began as one of the few genres with interesting stories and conversations and characters, before slowly being absorbed into RPGs, which now routinely offer much of the same experience minus the puzzles but with the option to shoot people in the face if they annoy you. In turn, sports games – FIFA 17 most recently – are increasingly turning their attention to RPGs to see what they might be able to add. Sadly, no sign of frost mages and dragon-based pitch invasions. Yet.

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Super Terraria World Makes Terraria A Full-Fledged RPG

Terraria [official site] has plenty to do already. Have you ever sat and just fiddled with it for a few hours? Interestingly enough, it also utilizes the same font I used in every report I turned in to my Language Arts teacher in middle school (it used to be called Mead Bold back then, but now it’s called Andy). So you’re forgiven if you feel a bit overwhelmed when you look over the Super Terraria World mod, which converts vanilla Terraria into an RPG with quests, NPCs and more.

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The RPG Scrollbars: Avoiding Adventures In Sorcery!

Last week saw the release of Sorcery 4 [official site], the final part of what’s technically Inkle Studios’ conversion of the hit-80s books, but in practice is easily the most crazily advanced, ambitious CYOA ever put to page or screen. I won’t go into too much detail here, because you can read John’s WIT of the series as a whole, or maybe my own interview with the devs from the start of the year. Suffice it to say that it’s been one hell of a ride, and I for one can’t wait to see Inkle’s next game – hopefully, like the masterful 80 Days, something else that breaks the mould harder and faster than Smash Mouth fleeing the Mystery Men in favour of the big green Shrek dollar.

But something I’ve been wondering about for a while. With all these choices… what if your choice is not to play? To refuse the adventure. Onwards! Reluctantly!

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Wot I Think: Sorcery! Part 4

With Part 4, Inkle’s triumphant Sorcery! series [official site] reaches its conclusion. It’s still sourcing its core tale from the Steve Jackson classics, but having taken wonderful leaps away to include its own far more elaborate possibilities. And the trajectory of each game being better than the last is not broken in this fourth release, the best yet, and indeed one I now feel comfortable calling one of the finest RPGs ever made. This is spectacular. Here’s wot I think:

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The RPG Scrollbars: MMO Jails And Virtual Porridge

Backstage areas have always fascinated me. Behind the scenes in theatres, where all the glitz and glamour dies instantly the moment you step where the public isn’t meant to see – down lethal staircases and in filthy preparation rooms. The tunnels in places like Walt Disney World, where cast members travel to avoid ruining the magic, and tough security guards probably not wearing mouse ears emerge to haul off trouble-makers. And in games, especially online ones, there’s often parts that we’re just not meant to see, from developer tricks to places for the GM team to hang out.

Quite often, these include prisons. For the really naughty players to go.

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