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#1 Saber-Scorpion

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 05:06 AM

SCORP'S REVIEWS:

I plan to review the Kickstarter RPG's I backed as they come out. I'll link each review here.

 

TOPIC DESCRIPTION:
This thread is about the possible CRPG Renaissance that we are witnessing here in the Year of our Lord Two Thousand Twelve. It's all thanks to a website called Kickstarter and the increasingly popular idea of crowdfunding, which allows game developers to cast off the yoke of their evil Publisher oppressors and create the games that they want to make and we want to play, rather than games that cater to the broadest possible demographic. This allows for the creation of games that no publisher would ever fund today, like point-and-click adventure games and isometric, party-based CRPGs. I'll mostly be posting about the latter, but you can talk about other crowd-funded games in other genres too.

 

Wasteland 2

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AKA The Last, Best Hope for RPGs. (it's a Fallout 3 reference)

Wasteland 2 is the sequel to the 1988 computer game Wasteland, the godfather of the Fallout series. The project is headed by Brian Fargo, who also directed the original Wasteland and produced - guess what? - the original Fallout. The only reason Fallout exists is because he no longer had the rights to the Wasteland name at the time (who did? EA... they published the original, back when they were just called "Electronic Arts"), so he made up Fallout instead of creating a Wasteland sequel.

Anyway, Fargo was never able to successfully pitch the idea of Wasteland 2 to a big publisher, so he moved the project to Kickstarter, as seen in the humorous video atop the Kickstarter page. The goal of the Kickstarter project was $900,000, the largest goal ever posted on Kickstarter at that time, I believe. It ended at over $3,000,000 (once the separate PayPal donations are factored in).

I backed it for $100 myself. Look for my name in the credits.

Why, you ask? Fargo is making big promises about this game. It's supposed to be the game that revives the dead genre of the isometric, party-based, turn-based CRPG (Computer Role-Playing Game). You create a squad of 4 custom Desert Rangers (and can recruit up to 2 followers as well) and wander the wastes, doing quests and fighting for survival in the turn-based combat system. There will be choices & consequences, shades of grey, all that good stuff.

The game has an estimated release date of October 2013. The official website is here, and here is the concept artist's DeviantArt page. Note the Scorpitron 2.0.


"Project Eternity" (now titled Pillars of Eternity)

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Project Eternity is a project by Obsidian Entertainment, headed by former Black Isle Studios names Chris Avellone (who is also involved with Wasteland 2), Tim Cain, and Josh Sawyer. It aims to bring back the beloved Infinity Engine RPGs of old, like Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, and Planescape: Torment, combining the best aspects of each. Here's a little of what we know so far:

  • The view will be isometric, with graphics that combine 2D and 3D. Possibly running on the Onyx Engine.
  • The combat will be RTwP (Real-Time with Pause), just like the Infinity Engine games.
  • The rating will be Mature, and the devs are promising to write complex stories and characters as seen in PsT.
  • The setting is a brand new fantasy IP by Obsidian.

I don't know about you, but they had me at "new Infinity Engine style game."


Torment: Tides of Numenera

Completing the trifecta of CRPGs-made-in-the-Unity-Engine-by-former-Black-Isle-devs, Torment: Tides of Numenera is the spiritual successor to everyone's favorite weird-as-hell interactive novel with a side of video game, Planescape: Torment. This one is not Planescape or D&D, however - it's set in the world of Numenera, an RPG setting that was also Kickstarted.

As I understand it, Numenera is a fantasy world in which as many as nine different nations have risen to the peak of their civilization and then suddenly crumbled, each building on the ruins of the previous, each leaving behind strange artifacts so powerful and advanced that the current citizens of Numenera see them as magic. Basically, yeah, it's weird enough to replace Planescape. The story of Torment is very similar to PS:T - the hero (the "Forgotten One," wink-wink-nudge-nudge) was used as the physical shell of an powerful being who travels from one mortal husk to the next, growing stronger each time. Another powerful entity pursues and seeks to destroy him, along with any husks he leaves behind. As you are one of the husks, you no doubt must discover the true NATURE OF A MAN these beings.

Anyway, it's gonna be isometric 2D just like Project Eternity and it looks cool, check it out. The Kickstarter has already been wildly successful, becoming the fastest project to hit $1 million - it took just 6 hours.




So, is this really a CRPG Renaissance, or will all our hopes and dreams (and Kickstarter funds) come to naught? In this thread we speculate, as we wait to find out.

I will post news as it is announced, unless someone else beats me to it.


Some other Kickstarter thingies that look pretty sweet (I backed all these):

If you would like me to add any other upcoming CRPGs and/or related Kickstarter projects to this list, just say so!


-Scorp


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#2 Werewolf King

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 06:01 AM

That's funny how so many concept artists have DA accounts.

But anyway, I've never really like turn-based video games. They've always felt really slow and dragged-out to me, but maybe this one'll be different.
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#3 880_ZERO

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 11:55 AM

The game looks interesting to say the least, though for the amount of money they got from Kickstarter, I'm rather surprised how low quality the scenery and stuff is. I'm all for colors in games, but it does look a bit cartoony, the main culprit being the foliage and how bad it looks.

Also, lol at the sign having the F-word in there.
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#4 Kasab

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 02:01 PM

AKA The Last, Best Hope for RPGs.


Oh, that hurts me. I mean, good on you for the Fallout reference, but Wasteland 2 isn't the last bastion of true PC RPG wonder. There's always... Obsidian? CD Projekt?
I do like the original Wasteland, though. To date, I've never been able to finish it without obtaining the Toaster Repair skill.
Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image
We should all get Wasteland avatars.

On the subject of turn-based combat, the first two Fallouts are still a terrible example of it. I love those games more than I love Baldur's Gate, but their combat is hideous. The biggest problems spring up from the inability to control NPCs. Are you facing an enemy, and behind you is Tycho with a shotgun? He'll hit you. He won't move around to get a clear shot, he'll just fire at you because he knows the enemy is behind you. Dogmeat? He'll run right in front of you, not caring what weapon you're toting, the stupid mutt. God, that combat system has a lot of quirks. If you aim at a specific body part, miss, and hit an ally, you'll hit the ally in that specific body part. If you have a good weapon, you can easily end up blowing your favourite companion's head clean off.
I've seen people argue that the erratic behaviour of AI partners made the first two Fallouts even funnier than they were, but I'd rather have full party control. I'm glad to see that's what Wasteland 2 is going for.

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#5 Saber-Scorpion

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Posted 20 July 2012 - 06:10 PM

Yeah, turn-based combat can be extremely fun when it's done properly. Taking control of a squad of units, placing them in strategic positions, using terrain to your advantage... you have a lot more tactical control in a turn-based system and can pull off tricks like ambushes and flanking maneuvers much more easily than when you're trying to organize all of that real-time. And you feel awesome when you succeed. The thing that makes the turn-based combat in Fallout 1 & 2 terrible is the fact that you only control one dude. There's not much strategy involved when you only have one guy to work with, and your NPC allies are dumb as rocks.

The game looks interesting to say the least, though for the amount of money they got from Kickstarter, I'm rather surprised how low quality the scenery and stuff is. I'm all for colors in games, but it does look a bit cartoony, the main culprit being the foliage and how bad it looks.

Also, lol at the sign having the F-word in there.

I admit it feels like it needs... something. But hopefully it will look better as development continues. They've certainly got enough people complaining about it looking cartoony.

And lol I was hoping no one would notice. :P

Oh, that hurts me. I mean, good on you for the Fallout reference, but Wasteland 2 isn't the last bastion of true PC RPG wonder. There's always... Obsidian? CD Projekt?
I do like the original Wasteland, though. To date, I've never been able to finish it without obtaining the Toaster Repair skill.
Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image
We should all get Wasteland avatars.

Yeah, I couldn't pass up the reference. :P As for Obsidian, they are an ally, obviously, since Chris Avellone is helping on Wasteland 2. CD Projekt are awesome, but they don't exactly make old-school CRPGs...

I had that Scorpitron avatar during retro-gaming April Fools Day... though I admit I've never played the original Wasteland...

-Scorp


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#6 Sniper-Serpent

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Posted 21 July 2012 - 05:25 PM

This looks cool, I do not beleive I havep layed this type of game before, (wait, does KOTOR count?) but always wanted to. NEver could get my hands on something like baldurs gate.
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#7 Fonen

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Posted 31 July 2012 - 10:06 AM

A word on cartoony graphics (well a few words but you get the idea).

There seem to be a few complaints on the graphic style that Wasteland 2 is using (not so much here but in general) and a few things need to be said in defence of it.

Stylized graphics will always look good. When we look back at the last console generations we can see that some games have had their graphics age very badly and if you look you can see that those games are usually the ones that tried to go as realistic as possible. By trying to go as realistic as possible you make your game look realistic, sure, but five years down the line you are surrendering yourself to the fact that there will be games that look more realistic and that your choice of graphics did not help the game in the long run (because playing the game a few years down the line the game will most definitely seem to look worse). Look at Oblivion, that game was really fun but with Skyrim out we can only look at it as a game inhabited by Demon-faced Elves and it makes it harder to see the game that we know and love.

Realism limits the graphics. Let’s say for a moment a realistic game wants to have a toaster in it, it must be very detailed (to an extent that it looks like a toaster and not a gray blob) or else it stands out and makes the game look inconsistent and not keeping with the realism it is aiming for. But in a game with stylized graphics there is no wrong way to texture that toaster, whether you want it pink, purple, or heliotrope, the way the game is build is not restricted by your petty reality but by your imagination.

Stylized graphics are beautiful. This is an opinion (well all of this is but this part especially) but just look at ta games with stylized graphics, Rayman: Origins. Both of those games look amazing and I count Rayman as one of the most beautiful games ever and it always will be. This generation seems to have adopted the idea that the only colours are brown and gray so when games break the mould and are colourful they not only look good, they become more of a unique experience, free to differentiate itself and simply be awesome, and from what I can tell Wasteland 2 seems to be doing just that, being awesome.

Of course, I could be wrong.

#8 Saber-Scorpion

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Posted 06 August 2012 - 10:31 PM

A word on cartoony graphics (well a few words but you get the idea).

There seem to be a few complaints on the graphic style that Wasteland 2 is using (not so much here but in general) and a few things need to be said in defence of it.

I agree with many of your points, but disagree with others. Probably due to personal bias. :P I guess I just prefer mostly realistic graphical styles because it's easier to get immersed in them and take the game seriously (assuming the game wants you to take it seriously). But on the other hand, I can get used to stylized graphics over time, as long as they are not too stylized.

I actually could make an argument similar to yours regarding 2D and 3D graphics. For example, here are screenshots from 2D game (Icewind Dale II) and a 3D game (Neverwinter Nights) that both came out in the same year (2002):

Icewind Dale II
Spoiler


Neverwinter Nights
Spoiler

Personally I find Icewind Dale far more attractive. 2D maps can incorporate a far greater level of detail and artistry than 3D maps with their limited polygon count and low-resolution textures designed to run on a variety of systems. For this reason, many 2D or semi-2D games from the early 2000's have aged more gracefully than their 3D counterparts. Even today, 3D graphics often look bland when compared with the stunning 2D concept art on which they were based, and some of the best backgrounds in 3D games are just painted skyboxes.

Part of me wishes that Wasteland 2 were being developed on a 2D or semi-2D (like Temple of Elemental Evil, which looked pretty nice) engine rather than a fully 3D one. The biggest advantage of 3D is the ability to manipulate the camera (zoom, rotate), and many games limit or remove this feature because it can get confusing or show just how low-detail their 3D models are. I hope Wasteland 2 allows for a good amount of camera control.

Of course, this is all kind of moot, since I'm pretty happy with the way Wasteland 2 looks so far, despite being 3D and rather stylized. :)

-Scorp


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#9 Saber-Scorpion

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 06:38 AM

NEWS: Recently, the developers hosted a poll regarding the controversial highly-saturated colors of the screenshot I posted above. Option 2 (the middle ground) won by a landslide. The poll itself was relatively pointless, however, since they said post-processing effects including desaturation will be optional, customizable in the game's settings.

ALSO: Sample music

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vX6MA7WF8YA

Very Fallout. :)

-Scorp


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#10 880_ZERO

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 01:36 PM

NEWS: Recently, the developers hosted a poll regarding the controversial highly-saturated colors of the screenshot I posted above. Option 2 (the middle ground) won by a landslide. The poll itself was relatively pointless, however, since they said post-processing effects including desaturation will be optional, customizable in the game's settings.

I would think they would have done more than just take the environment and make it desaturated. They could have taken the effort, if they were even really going to change the style this far in to production, and make it more or less grungy like Fallout or something. Darkening the textures I guess is okay, but the problem I think most people had (ex. the art style itself and not really the color) is still there.
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#11 Kasab

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Posted 16 August 2012 - 04:16 PM

I did some digging to see if any ex-Troika employees are on the team. It turns out Tim Cain (Of Arcanum/Bloodlines/Fallout fame) is at Obsidian. Considering that Obsidian are helping out greatly with project design, it's nice to see some Troika vets on the team. Brian Mitsoda worked on Alpha Protocol, (you can see his influence) but left to create his own studio. Jason Anderson was with InXile at one point, but he's also moved on. Leonard Boyarsky (The guy that created Fallout's aesthetic, Vault Boy, and Arcanum's world) is with Blizzard of all people, and worked on Diablo 3. I'm especially disappointed that Boyarsky isn't working on this project, because he'd be a valuable addition to the team. Of course, Wasteland 2 already has an all-star tag team of legendary RPG makers, so I'm sure one artist isn't going to make much of a difference.

Funnily enough, Troika were in the process of making a post-apoc RPG, just after Bloodlines was released.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzYmQyHl2bc
That's not forgetting Van Buren, the cancelled Obsidian Fallout 3 of which the demo can be found here. I played that demo a couple of years ago, though it confirmed something Scorp said above: Arcanum and Fallout will always look better than Neverwinter Nights.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFV55ICxQbk&feature=related

ALSO: Sample music


Oh, that's beautiful. Shoot me for this, but I prefer the soundtracks to Planescape and Fallout over Baldur's Gate. The early Fallouts have an ambience that only System Shock 2 and the Thief games do better, and Planescape's mysterious drums and dark orchestrals are something I've always found more interesting than the big old high-fantasy score. Not to say that Baldur's Gate doesn't have the best orchestral score. Arcanum's OST is really special, though. It's almost entirely string quartet based.

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#12 Rickard the Bearded

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Posted 05 September 2012 - 07:42 PM

XBAWKS HUEG SPOILER WARNING: WASTELAND 2 WILL INVOLVE...



Multiple camera angles.

And Robo Scorpions.

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#13 Saber-Scorpion

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Posted 06 September 2012 - 12:00 AM

Is a video of some camera zooming in and out on the same scene we already saw in a screenshot enough to get me excited? Is it really?

What do you think, Captain? Doctor?

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-Scorp


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#14 Saber-Scorpion

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Posted 15 September 2012 - 03:43 AM

I have modified this thread to include "Project Eternity" in addition to Wasteland 2. So basically now it's the "Scorp's Kickstarter Hopes and Dreams" thread. :P Feel free to read the expanded OP.

If anyone thinks I should add any other upcoming CRPGs or related Kickstarter projects to the list, just let me know.

EDIT: I'm a bit disappointed in the stretch goals they posted. I was hoping for something a bit more exciting than "a new race, a new character, etc." when we don't even know what/how many races and characters there are anyway. An editing tool or construction set as a stretch goal would have been nice.

-Scorp


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#15 Kasab

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Posted 16 September 2012 - 01:34 PM

So, is this really a CRPG Renaissance, or will all our hopes and dreams (and Kickstarter funds) come to naught?


I'm inclined to incline my neck and drawl out a "nope", but I'm a miserable cynic. See, my concept of a CRPG renaissance is a bunch of wonderful studios sprouting out of the ground (as if there's no such thing as female dwarves) and delivering a dozen new games with new themes and settings that challenge our preconceptions of the genre, and reach Planescape-like levels of narrative brilliance. What we've seen is a lot of veteran studios being turned down by publishers, or being so exploited by publishers that they can't afford to make the game without crowd funding. That says a traditional CRPG is not a profitable endeavour: It can only exist on Kickstarter or within the indie scene, where loyal fans of developers who established themselves more than ten years ago can pay for it. Something like The Twitcher 2: Kings of QTE is just about a success, but that's because it's modern and flashy enough to stand its ground within the industry.

What sells, then? Well, all the kids are playing Skyrim, and aggressively buying up all the DLC. Why, though? It's big, it's attractive, it's simple, and it's got a lot of glossy marketing and 10/10 reviews to draw people in. Did the original Witcher sell like that? Admittedly, it was a European game, but the point still stands. You can't really make this sort of grand, introspective fantasy RPG anymore unless you go to Kickstarter or have an allergic reaction in the presence of unquantifiable sums of money are indie. Still, you can point to Dragon Age and call that a grand and introspective fantasy RPG, (if you want to risk my ire) but look at the direction that series went in. Also, remember that games like Dragon Age are few and far between. We don't have the same explosion of fantasy RPGs that we used to, primarily because their original market (Scruffy PC gamers, circa 2004, who hung out on RPGCodex) doesn't exist in the same quantity, or isn't seen as a proper demographic by Bethesda. What was the dominant platform for fantasy RPGs isn't really as profitable, and the budget required to do the sort of grand, introspective fantasy RPG isn't something that the studios who want to it can really do, without first having spent ten years porting Interplay games to the Eastern Bloc, or making shovelware. Non fantasy RPGs also don't exist in the same amount. Human Revolution is the most recent RPG I'd really call worthy of the genre name, but even that's a game that's triumphed by the original Deus Ex. We had Alpha Protocol, though no-one bought it. There was... err, Bethsoft's Fallout games? They did quite well, but no-one prefers the Obsidian one with ambiguous morals and strong writing. Yet all of those are highly... don't use the word "consolised", Kasab... simplified experiences. You don't get these anymore:
Posted Image

I don't think we're so much seeing a CRPG renaissance as we're seeing a Kickstarter renaissance. The industry is no more viable a place for grand, introspective fantasy RPGs, so we're throwing up banners to attract the attention of the people who want this sort of thing, and getting them to fund it. I doubt Kickstarter and the indies are going to become the new standard for game development, but it's certainly glad to see that these things can exist in some form.

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#16 Halcyon

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 03:35 AM

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I've never played Baldur's Gate before (I don't have a credit card or anything like that so ordering things online is out of the question), but this newfangled/old-schooled game, Project Eternity, says that they will use complex, ambiguous morals and a detailed plot, so that's big a hook for me. Personally, I'm more excited for Wasteland 2, but maybe that's just because I already have characters in mind for that game. It also helps I've played Wasteland and every game in the Fallout series, but none of the other games referenced on Project Eternity except for KotOR. I am a philistine, I know. :P

#17 Saber-Scorpion

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 03:47 AM

I don't think we're so much seeing a CRPG renaissance as we're seeing a Kickstarter renaissance. The industry is no more viable a place for grand, introspective fantasy RPGs, so we're throwing up banners to attract the attention of the people who want this sort of thing, and getting them to fund it. I doubt Kickstarter and the indies are going to become the new standard for game development, but it's certainly glad to see that these things can exist in some form.

And that's perfectly fine with me. If these studios can use crowdfunding and other, similar methods to produce new Fallouts, Baldur's Gates, and Planescape Torments, then that's all I ask. I don't want to sound like a snob and say that "going mainstream was what killed the RPG" but... well... dammit, I just said it, didn't I? I'd better order some hipster glasses now. Of course, it remains to be seen if they can live up to these high expectations on their Kickstarter budgets, but I will remain optimistic for now.

Granted, I would like to see some new studios popping up, as you said. In the end, it always comes back to these former BIS employees. I love those guys, but some new blood would be cool too. The more RPGs the merrier.

It also helps I've played Wasteland and every game in the Fallout series, but none of the other games referenced on Project Eternity except for KotOR. I am a philistine, I know.

Stop right there. Go play Planescape Torment and Baldur's Gate II, and then come back. You'll thank me later. ;)

-Scorp


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#18 Saber-Scorpion

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 06:22 AM

Update on Project Eternity. It all sounds super rad, though I'm sad there's no confirmation about whether or not you'll be able to create your whole party yourself (Icewind Dale style) if you so choose... I hope that option is included.

Concept art:

Posted Image

Is that a female dwarf?! If so, I'm loving it.

EDIT: Also, Kickstarter posted on their Facebook page that Project Eternity is only the second project so far to hit $1,000,000 within 24 hours. Wonder what the first one was... Double Fine?

-Scorp


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#19 Kasab

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 11:56 AM

And that's perfectly fine with me. If these studios can use crowdfunding and other, similar methods to produce new Fallouts, Baldur's Gates, and Planescape Torments, then that's all I ask. I don't want to sound like a snob and say that "going mainstream was what killed the RPG" but... well... dammit, I just said it, didn't I? I'd better order some hipster glasses now. Of course, it remains to be seen if they can live up to these high expectations on their Kickstarter budgets, but I will remain optimistic for now. Granted, I would like to see some new studios popping up, as you said. In the end, it always comes back to these former BIS employees. I love those guys, but some new blood would be cool too. The more RPGs the merrier.


The biggest problem I've had with the RPG side of game development for the past few years is how few companies there are making proper RPGs. Really, only Bioware, Bethesda and Obsidian are helming the HMS Commmercial Success into the treacherous and uncharted Role-Playing Oceans, where sea-Orcs and Nerdfish do swim through the... anyway, too few companies. I really think Bioware doesn't deserve excuses for releases like TOR & Dragon Age 2, seeing as a studio with that much talent and money is in a position to create excellent titles. Bethesda have been re-releasing the same game, though I suppose it works. Obsidian like to pick up everyone's mess and try to clean it up, and generally they do a good job of it. They've worked with few of their own IP, hence why I'm excited to see what they can bring oboard for Project Eternity. Aside from CD Projekt, who else is there?

I'm not personally that big a fan of the Kickstarter model as the only way to access these games, as Kickstarter is a long pre-order. There's incentives, yes, but I prefer the traditional model. It's a shame that it doesn't really work for games like this.

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#20 Saber-Scorpion

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Posted 17 September 2012 - 06:48 PM

An interview on Eurogamer reveals more info about the Project Eternity setting. I haven't read the whole thing, but here are the parts that interested me the most:
  • No alignment system; only reputation with various factions is tracked. (yay!)
  • Dwarf pic confirmed to be a dwarf ranger from some kind of southern region. (double yay!!)
  • The game will have guns. (minor boo) I was ready for this, since guns were visible in the Kickstarter video. Still kinda disappointed, but guns is what all the cool kids use to show that they're hip and "not like Tolkien, honestly." Hopefully they'll keep it moderately realistic and won't include anything more advanced than a Harquebus.
Hope I'm not boring everyone to tears with all this crap. If you're not interested, guys, then feel free to bump another Red Base topic above this one. The forum could use some more activity right now anyway. :P

-Scorp


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