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News for Thursday, June 28, 2012

Posted by Brother None - at 22:45

With thanks to Fatshark, No Mutants Allowed has a bunch of keys for the post-apocalyptic action-RPG Krater to hand out to our loyal readers. Check out the website or Steam page. Our facebook page and twitter feed followers got first pick, but here's ten more keys. Hurry up and grab one, and share in the comments when you did, and your impressions when you try out the game.

KLY6W-A7CJ2-6KDF0
VKTKP-GNLEY-7TTPL
K95R0-KKP0R-MYQYZ
3R39D-29DJ0-KNEED
4XENQ-TIKG2-2R8YC
RPGAZ-4XKTZ-89AZA
N2TLH-ZDC78-KGP46
H9BN2-7TJXJ-79PL2
BD4KM-GNZWY-VR0P9
R6YQD-4F7EV-7ZALY

News for Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Posted by Brother None - at 23:26

Pixelitis offers a staff editorial musing on how Diablo III's old-school-ness proves an old-school Fallout can do well today.

Before the Fallout franchise landed in the hands of Bethesda, the developer of the first two games in the series, Black Isle, already had the third installment in the works. Codenamed Project Van Buren, it was isometric, used 3D visuals, and allowed players to stick to the traditional turn-based combat or switch to a new, real-time system. It sounded immensely promising, but then it was unfortunately canceled due to layoffs on Black Isle’s staff carried out by Interplay.

The rest, as you’re sure to know by now, is history. Bethesda picked up the Fallout license from Interplay following the closure of Black Isle and set out to create its own vision of Fallout – one done in the style the company was most comfortable with: a first-person action RPG.

Now in 2012, as I troll the depths of Hell in Diablo III, I’m now more than ever certain that that a new isometric Fallout game would work (and sell) in today’s market.

For me, the widespread critical acclaim for Diablo III - a game that still plays much like Diablo II – tells me that making an isometric PC exclusive title isn’t going to lead to lackluster sales. In its first week, Diablo III received rave reviews and sold a record-breaking 6.3 million units.

An isometric game making bank in 2012? Inconceivable!
Thankfully, they also bring up Shadowrun and Wasteland 2 on why it would work, because Diablo III alone makes a tenuous example. All the two titles share is perspective, and that alone is too little to draw any kind of conclusion on viability. Diablo has always been an action-based game with mass appeal, while for Fallout the isometric perspective is a fairly minor element of what scares people away from Fallout 1/2 style, compared to turn-based combat and pen-and-paper inspired mechanics.

It's fun to muse upon, but I'm not exactly holding out hope Bethesda will ever do a Fallout in the original style. It's not just about viability, they have simply been making essentially the same game for over a decade now, and they are too uninnovative, efficient a company for that to change.

What do you guys think? Will the revival of gold-box-era and 90s RPG styles lead Bethesda to possibly task Obsidian with a turn-based, isometric "spin-off" of Fallout?

Posted by Brother None - at 19:51

IndieRPGs offers a new interview with inXile's Brian Fargo, talking Wasteland and Wasteland 2.

One of the things that was so revolutionary about the original Wasteland was its almost GURPS-like adherence to skill-based characters and challenges. As a developer myself, I find it very challenging to balance a game with both character creation and more than a handful of distinct skills. Inevitably, some are going to be more useful than others; and if you’re not careful, there’s a real risk of players creating characters ill-suited to navigating most of the game’s scenarios. How do you deal with this? Do you deliberately try to balance the game’s skills, or do you permit imbalance in the name of role-playing?

Part of the solution is that we need to make sure to create the depth so that all the skills do get used and allow success. Obviously some skills are going to be used more than others and I think those are quite obvious. No doubt the Medic skill will be used more often than say Toaster Repair or Rocket Science. However it is a party based game so there will be a natural balancing that comes about unless you give all 4 characters the exact same skills. But that said we also reward people who pick some obscure skills to reward them for the tradeoff. But the reward may not come easy… you may have to discover it.

(...)

A substantial number of people excited about Wasteland 2 are actually more familiar with Fallout (available on GOG.com) than they are the original Wasteland (not currently available anywhere). There are some pretty clear differences between the two games, though: aside from the goofier tone, Wasteland has menu-based combat and a non-isometric perspective. Where these games differ, are you planning to adopt some of Fallout’s innovations, or are you hoping to create something much closer to the original Wasteland? What are your primary considerations in deciding?

Clearly things have changed since the first game and we are not trying to create a Apple II experience. What we like is the depth, cause and effect, the setting, the skills based system, Desert Rangers, modern weaponry etc. about Wasteland. We are going to allow the user to set the camera in different places so you can choose if you want a more top down view vs. a more isometric one. The menu systems themselves will also be customizable. But what makes this project innovative is really more about the communication with the fans and making sure we are in sync. We just put a long vision document out which went into great detail of what we think is important to the game as per the original and what the gamers have wanted. This transparency of development is something we relish doing and a major shift in thinking. I can’t imagine making a game any other way at this point.

News for Friday, June 22, 2012

Posted by Per - at 3:48

Word comes from IGN that Ukrainian developers Best Way (with a bunch of WWII RTS titles to their name) are coming out with a little something they call Nuclear Union, an RPG based on the premise that the Cuban Missile Crisis went a bit out of hand and now everything is radioactive and there are monstercams on the loose. In a completely non-startling twist, this time we see how the Soviets were doing in their underground shelters.

Scheduled for launch sometime in 2013 for PC, Nuclear Union is a role-playing game with an open progression structure. You’ll have a defined end goal, but the way you accomplish it is up to you, and you’ll be able to go back and freely explore any discovered territory. Gameplay be presented from a third-person perspective and though battles will take place in real-time, you do have the ability to pause the action to better line up your aim. You’ll also be able to recruit certain characters encountered on your adventures and travel with one at a time, and can issue basic commands to them during combat.


Playing as one of the pilots who bombed the United States, expect to encounter mutated monstrosities, bizarre anomalies and to defend yourself with Soviet prototype weaponry, including specialized assault rifles and tripe-barreled sub-machine guns.
There isn't much to go on yet - the short trailer doesn't show any gameplay, so the actual level of RPG-ishness is sort of up in the air - but it's certainly another project to toss on the big watchheap of post-nuclear shenanigans.

Spotted at the Codex.

News for Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Posted by Dragula - at 22:34

Wheras steampunk is not right up NMAs alley in the same way 50's retrofuturism is, it's still an interesting setting.

- An old west motif creates a steampunk inspired dystopic setting.
- Multiple-solution format supports diverse play-styles and replay value, and multiple potential endings dependent on the players choices. These will be REAL separate endings. Not a "different color explosion" ending, and not a "which button you pushed in the last 30 seconds" ending we've seen in some recent games. Who is in your party, who lived and died in your adventure, even what items you decided to bring along will affect your end of game options.
- Enemies will detect and pursue the player, confrontation is not always the best option.
- All enemies are in-map. Combat is a tactical choice and there will be no random encounters. Cold Fusion is a puzzle/mystery game at its core, and random encounters would interrupt the player's thought process.
- Survivalist skills of the player will be tested, poor decisions will result in real, permanent consequences to the player and their party. For example: Using a found whiskey still correctly can yield liquor, however mistakes can create poison or possibly explosions.
- Leveling system is based on equipment and skills growth, not battle experience. This is to encourage the player to scavenge areas and make survival choices.
- Player interactions with NPC's significantly influence gameplay. To do what it takes survive, you will need a silver tongue, fleet foot, deep pockets, or an itchy trigger. The choice is yours.
- Party members are the choice of the leader, but be warned that in this harsh and lawless world, you will not be able to bring everyone with you and situations may force the player to choose between being a friend and being a survivor.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/648671245/cold-fusion-secular-equilibrum-a-post-apocalyptic

It's 1/3 funded and has 12 days to go. Whether or not it makes it is really hard to say.

Would you like to see more steampunk inspired post-apocalyptic games? It seems to be a underused setting as far as RPGs goes.

News for Sunday, June 17, 2012

Posted by Brother None - at 17:43

I don't think we've posted on Underrail before, but Stygian Software contacted us to point out their independent, turn-based, isometric RPG, which both in setting and gameplay style looks like it'll be of interest to Fallout fans. Description from the website:

Story

The game is set in a distant future, when the life on the Earth’s surface has long since been made impossible and the remnants of humanity now dwell in the Underrail, a vast system of metro station-states that, it seems, are the last bastions of a fading race.
The player takes control of one of the denizens of such a station-state whose life is about to become all that much more interesting and dangerous, as our protagonist is caught amidst the conflicting factions of the Underrail as they secretly but violently struggle for the Humanity’s last gem of hope.

Features
  • Great character customization possibilities through stats, skills, feats, items and more that allows for many different play-styles
  • Tactical turn based combat that utilizes weapons, energy shields, grenades, psi abilities and more
  • Vast underground world to explore: city states, abandoned building complexes, natural caverns, secret areas and more
  • Elaborate item crafting system
And the latest, 15 minute, alpha gameplay footage:

News for Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 12:39

There's no update yet (though I imagine it will be coming shortly) but it's worth noting that the Fallout: Nuka Break Kickstarter project passed its $120,000 threshold, meaning that Tim Cain and Chris Avellone will come on board both creatively and as actors. Looking forward to seeing Tim Cain's jovial face, personally.

News for Monday, June 11, 2012

Posted by Brother None - at 23:50

With the 17th update inXile has released the Vision Doc, the ten-page document can be found here or downloaded from NMA. From the doc:

RPG: RPGs haven’t kept pace with time - they've regressed and even worse, taken pride in less role-playing than before. Important elements have been lost over time, sacrificed to technology, art constraints, voice-over expenses, and multi-platform console constraints. Wasteland 2 has no such limitations, it brings these RPG elements back, takes them out of the attic, and makes them part of gameplay again.

True RPGs allow options, allow you to make fundamental choices in customization and character creation, and most importantly, allow you to role-play and make your impact in a living world and see the consequences around you.

And by consequence, we don't mean token one-node lip service, we mean reactions, even a chain of reactions that builds over the course of the game. Even simple RPG elements such as the ability to write

your own character’s bio (frequently lost in the console generation), importing your own portraits of your characters that you like better than what a developer gives you, to larger, more important goals such as tactical combat and extended options to approach battles and fights.

In Wasteland 2, these RPG mechanics are there to be discovered all over again:

Customization: The ability to customize, alter, and improve your characters is as important as changing the world. Like the original Wasteland, your choice of what statistics and skills you invest in gives your characters personality, gives you multiple quest solutions, and gives you the ability to role-play beyond simply Thief, Fighter, or Mage archetypes. A low Charisma, low Agility, and high Strength character who specializes in medical skills and brawling can flesh out your characters with a sense of personality that other RPGs don’t allow for… perhaps that of an injured pit fighter who learned to tend the wounds of others in arena brawls in Needles and Vegas. Or a down-on-their-luck boxing coach who signed up with the Rangers as an instructor then graduated to going on missions to watch his new students in action. An ex-soldier who has forsaken the use of firearms after she was shot in the leg.

The amount of customization you can assign to your skills and stats help paint a detailed, vibrant personality for your characters… and give you added options when exploring the wasteland. That same injured pit fighter who knows how to talk about hand to hand combat with brawlers may gain information others cannot… or be able to earn money or earn respect through fighting in the arena itself and with enough medical knowledge to keep them going in-between matches. An assassin that specializes in lockpicking may unlock the back entrance to a hideout of Leather Thugs, take out their leader while he’s sleeping, and then leave quietly before the other dozen gang members know he’s there. A laser-toting doctor may be able to gain access to a community with his medical know-how, and when they get within range of a target, use their laser weapon skills to surgically take out a town’s gun turrets and pave the way for other Rangers to storm the place.

Assigning points over the course of the game into your chosen skills and stats can allow you to decide how each character grows as an individual. Your wounded pit fighter might gain new strength in his arms and have his cartilage repaired at Ranger Center, gaining more Agility. Your boxing coach may develop into the most skilled doctor the Rangers have ever known, and your ex-soldier may discover that some recently discovered horrors requires she take up the Rifle again and become a sniper to help her comrades… and herself… survive.
They're asking for feedback here, though I'm sure they'll see feedback posted here, as well.

Posted by Brother None - at 21:59

Another piece of Andree Wallin concept art has been released for Wasteland 2, this one giving a new look at the original's cover art.


Chris Keenan also notes the vision document is coming later today.

You can download this piece in different resolutions from the press site.

News for Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Posted by likaq - at 1:24

We don't regularly cover Dead State, zombie apocalypse mostly being outside our scope, but it's a promising, turn-based RPG project, with a more novel approach to the zombie narrative, a strong focus on survival over zombie-killing. And you can now help make it happen on Kickstarter.

Dead State is a compelling, high-tension RPG set at the beginning of the zombie apocalypse. As society is beginning to fall apart, the player must organize allies, fortify a shelter, scout for food and supplies, and make uncertain alliances, attempting to hold together a group as humanity teeters on the brink of extinction. And although the zombies lurk as an ever present threat, the biggest obstacle to the player may just be other humans with the same goal: survival at any cost.

Interact with dozens of characters in over 10,000 lines of branching dialogue that affect gameplay, story outcomes, and multiple endings. Explore multiple surrounding towns and areas to find supplies and recruit allies. Fight the living and the dead in strategic turn-based combat. Upgrade your shelter to provide new ways of keeping morale high, creating new weapons and armor, and keeping the dead out. Your leadership will mean life or undeath for the survivors of the zombie apocalypse.

We are so sick of most zombie games. Yes, we get it, killing zombies is fun. But that’s not what the zombie genre is about. It’s about survival, first and foremost – the struggle of the survivors faced with adapting to a world that has succumbed to an unfathomable event.

This is your story – you’re the leader and it’s up to you to force the lucky, the traumatized, and the selfish to work together for weeks and months after society has collapsed. Zombies are the least of your problems – you need to keep morale high, mouths fed, and your shelter safe. You will lose people. You will make enemies. You will have to make tough decisions. And you might not make it.

-A PC RPG with stats, skills, and perks that make a huge difference on your character’s abilities.

-Dozens of characters with branching, reactive dialogue, and randomized events that unfold over months of in-game time – player decisions and the death of loved ones can change relationships drastically.

-Turn-based combat where line-of-sight and noise affect whether you are spotted or not, making for extremely tense encounters.

-Base-building mechanics featuring multiple upgrades, NPC jobs, and item manufacturing.

-Scavenging mechanics that require players to find supplies, weapons, armor, and other items to keep their allies fed and alive.

-A morale system that factors in player success/failure, allies’ faith in the player, and the overall strength of the shelter.

-Crisis Event dialogues that factor in political maneuvering and making difficult choices that affect your whole shelter.

-Reactive AI that responds realistically to combat situations, player commands, and the state of panic from the presence of zombies.

News for Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 15:00

It's been pretty quiet on the news front lately, but our fellow post-apocalyptia fans might (or might not) be interested in seeing the first gameplay footage from The Last of Us, showcased at E3:

News for Saturday, June 2, 2012

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 23:57

GameInformer chatted with Brian Fargo about the upcoming, Kickstarter-funded Wasteland 2. Nothing new from what I can see, but still, here's a snip:

Do you worry at all about the vision of the designers and the developers getting distorted by this audience participation in the development cycle?

That is another very common question I get, and no, I don’t. Because we all have versions of it, you know. Even doing the tiers, right? I’ll give you an example which was early on we said, “How about we give the backers a special ability that non-backers don’t get?” Well that sounds pretty good on paper, right? Isn’t that cool? Guess what? They hated it! They hated it. They want the same experience for everyone and they don’t want to change for them or for anyone, even if it gives them a benefit. Now to me, that is slightly counter-intuitive, but I understood where they were coming from. And we didn’t do it, and I am glad we didn’t do it. Now if you take that extrapolation to the game design there are lots of things like that which are minor in the details which they have a very strong reaction to. I think as long as you are working with them on broad strokes type stuff, they kind of know what the product is, but if I was going to introduce something new or radical or go for a graphic look that is completely different than what they are expecting, then we need to be in communication with them.

Now once we have established those key points, we’ll go silent for a little while, but then we go into beta test, right? Well what is beta test? It is just audience participation. I don’t think Blizzard is afraid to do beta test. I don’t think Valve is afraid to do beta test. And they have to make changes based upon that input. So we’re not going to get in there in the beginning and say "Do you like the way this sentence reads?" you know? "Do you like the way this music sounds?" We’re not going to go there. We’re not going to go into every nuance of the detail. But they are going to get their input on the first pass, which is the broad-stroke vision of it all, and then on the second pass they are going to get in on the specifics of the game and majority rules. You know, if I put a – even if it is a song and 85 percent of people chime in and go, “We hate that song,” well, why fight it, right? There is no point. But I find that when I work with the fans as a whole, they are pretty smart. There are always the outliers that say things that you can’t do, but as a whole I find them to be very smart and they tend to fall in the places where I think they are. I’d say 80 to 90 percent of the time my instincts are kind of in line with where I thought they’d be, but then there’s the things like I mentioned earlier about “Don’t give us something extra,” little things like that which catch me off-guard. And again, I don’t think that affects the experience negatively in anyway.
Thanks GameBanshee.

Posted by Brother None - at 18:21

There's a pair of fanmade film efforts that are worth noting.

First, bishaway let us know about Fallout: Terra Australis, offering an announcement trailer with the outline but not showing much in the way of actual footage.


Further along is the Fallout: Houston project, which Duck and Cover has been following. You can see a ton of props and footage here, and they recently released a new trailer.



In other news, Life has an awesome series of photos taken shortly after a Nevada/Yucca Flat nuclear test on a model town (t/c Kotaku).


And finally, Jakesy lets us know Brother Vinni's is offering a "Nuclear Sandlot" 28mm miniature series, avoiding Fallout names but very clearly copied from Fallout: New Vegas. They do look pretty good, though.

Posted by WorstUsernameEver - at 11:27

Gather Your Party asked some interesting questions to Fallout 2/Fallout: New Vegas/Wasteland 2 designer Chris Avellone. There's way too much to quote everything that's relevant to this website, so I invite people to just read the full interview. Here's a snip anyway:

Mark: I imagine things have been pretty exciting for you now that you’re going to be involved in Wasteland 2. Can you tell us a bit of what you’ll be doing and what kind of role you might be playing in its development?

Chris: I’m doing a bunch of things so far, more than I expected. I’m helping with the vision doc, designing opening areas and the area design process, and helping build templates for dialogues and area specs. My contribution isn’t nearly as much as Fargo, Findley, Keenan and the rest of the inXile team, however.

When not doing physical design, I offer feedback and critiques and forward any random tidbits and elements I’ve dug out of my latest Wasteland 1 playthrough (“Remember when there used to be a West Germany?” “Hey, Reagan had a hover tank named after him!” “Needles used carrier pigeons as their communications center?!”).

Overall, I’m at inXile about 1.5-2 days during the week, either in design meetings, checking out Unity, or typing away on my headphones, and I love it.

(...)

Mark: Speaking of post-apocalyptic survival, you did a lot in the development of Fallout: New Vegas and its DLC. Which of the add-ons were you happiest with how it came out and which one do you felt you would have wanted to give more time? Which was your favorite as a designer and as a player?

Chris: I enjoyed Dead Money and Old World Blues most as a designer, and Old World Blues most as a player. I think, against internal expectations (including mine), Old World Blues turned out better than we expected. I felt we’d be burned at the stake by including that much clown-nose-honking humor in the Fallout universe. Still, we figured after the oppressive and desperation in Dead Money and Lonesome Road, a little levity was the shift the title needed.

Mark: Old World Blues was also my favorite. I took the Wild Wasteland perk so I knew what I was getting into. Was there any add-on you wanted to put even more time on?

Chris: All of them. I suppose Dead Money was the one that felt like it didn’t have enough time whether it came across that way or not (it’s why we had many of the restrictions the DLC had in terms of equipment stripping and not being able to return). I’m not certain more time would have helped Lonesome Road, as it was a resource issue more than a more time issue. Old World Blues felt like it had enough time to cook, in my opinion, and there were very few things I wish we could have put in – I felt like we got everything we wanted in there, plus more (the appliances in the Sink).
Spotted on the Obsidian Entertainment forums.