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Elder Scrolls Online storyline divides Tamriel into three alliances fighting under deadra invasion

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Elder Scrolls Online is upcoming MMORPG from Bethesda who have come out with early bits of the storyline. They recently launched their official website which presents the storyline in a nutshell as following:

The Story

Four years before the game's happenings, at age of 2E 578 there happened large arcane explosion in Imperial city causing mages go either mad or die. The explosion caused aftershocks that swept over Nirn. After this the Daedra started to appear in large numbers from Oblivion.

This is where Daedric Prince of domination and enslavement, Molag Bal, steps in. He has a cunning plan to weaken barriers between the worlds of Nirn and Oblivion to merge them into one, huge nightmarish hellspace to take over Tamriel.

Amongst all this madness running over plains, forests, marshes, and deserts of Tamriel - The Elder Scrolls Online storyline divides the world of Tamriel and it's inhabitants into three alliances who wrestle over control of Imperial City, the White-Gold Tower, and the Throne of Tamriel. The leader (top player) of the alliance who controls Imperial City may be crowned as Emperor!

Three Alliances

I. The Daggerfall Covenant. Formed by areas of High Rock, Sentinel, and Orisnium united under the rule of the High King in Wayrest. In other words races included in the pact are Breton, Redguard, and Orc.

II. The Aldmeri Dominion. Formed by areas of Valenwood, Elsweir, and Summerset Isle. In other words races included in the pact are High Elf, Wood Elf and Khajiit.

III. The Ebonheart Pact is formed by areas of Black Marsh, Morrowind, and Skyrim (my favorite setting of the three). In other words races included are Argonian, Dark Elf, and Nord.

The World

Bethesda promises most intense and large PvP (player vs. player) experienced so far in any MMORPG (but can they claim it?).  They promise hundreds of onscreen players similarly battling on the field in the heat of the battle.

They say that the game's area will focus within Cyrodiil which is split into strategic territories, which each alliance may control. Those include large fortresses, farms, lumber mills and so on.

According to IGN's own wiki the game should also feature Skyrim and Elsweyr region in addition of perhaps other Tamriel's region's appearing in reduced size or partly, but this information is not yet unconfirmed. Yet seeing their concept art it involves art also from Valenwood, what ever that means.

(Valenwood concept art)

(Alik'r Desert concept art)

Each alliance has it's own special stronghold in Cyrodiil ("home base") which is the main key area to protect. They hold artifacts called "Elder Scrolls". When one alliance attacks to another's Stronghold it has a chance to steal the artifact which must then be returned to the alliances own home base to gain special bonuses and powers over it. Bonus is then granted to all members of that alliance. Bethesda also promises that siege weaponry is included in the game which may bring nice element to the conquering phase.

Other than PvP, PvE path (player vs. environment) is also included although not much information has yet been let out of it other than storyline bits.

Level Scaling?

I find it hilarious to say but Bethesda aims to level scale things up again. Whenever one hears words level scaling it brings Bethesda to my mind every time. Bethesda has been notorious about level scaling things up in their single player RPG's whereas many hardcore computer role playing fans have bashed them over it.

This time they will be level scaling at least PvP combat. How much of it we don't know. But their website clearly states that "The Elder Scrolls Online features battle leveling system that temporarily increases a player's combat effectiveness to compete against higher level players, ensuring that everyone enjoys the experience".

Good thing or not? Enjoy some early in game screenshots below and go for more to the official Elder Scrolls Online website!

Shaker (PC) the old school rpg kickstarter project cancelled

Saturday, 20 October 2012

The game was due to be funded on with goal of $1million dollars, but the gaming company called Loot Drop behind the game have decided to cancel the project despite reaching quarter million of it's goal (approx. $248 000) with 15 days to go.

The game was supposed to be an "old school rpg" with fantasy / sci-fi blend world, but with 3D camera view. It was to be developed with Loot Drop including game designers like Brenda Brathwaite & Tom Hall, the two big names behind the creation.

I personally commented even earlier to other blogger's post that their campaign was not strong enough in my opinion, lacking real concept, image, and presentation of their upcoming game and game world to make real impression to those backing the project with cash. There was quite scarce information about the game with "old school rpg" phrase marketed so intrusive way that it was ironic. Even more when the project missed it's real "face", the real presentation what's it gonna be like. Of course few big names behind development and premise of "old school"-like game might be enough for some...

That seems to be first kickstarter computer role playing game failing with the fan funded system so far with Wasteland 2, Shadowrun Returns, and Project Eternity succeeding. Although one could argue that perhaps funding couldn't be claimed to be failure since they still had over two weeks to go, and they decided to cancel it by themselves.

Loot Drop are not giving up on the idea of making kickstarter funded game though, and look forward to come back with stronger concept and idea in near future.

The official announcement about the cancellation was made in Loot Drop website stating the following:

"Ultimately, our pitch just wasn’t strong enough to get the traction we felt it needed to thrive. Sure, it may have made it. We could have fought our way to a possibly successful end. In reading your feedback and talking it over internally, however, we decided that it made more sense to kill it and come back with something stronger."

Neverwinter franchise takes the shot on MMORPG field (PC)

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Neverwinter Nights franchise with it's first game, originally developed by BioWare based on Forgotten Realms world setting, was third person fantasy rpg released for PC in 2002. Sequel for the game was developed and released by Obsidian in 2006 for PC.

American MMO specialized game developer Cryptic Studios have acquired rights to do Neverwinter MMORPG game. While fan funded projects like Wasteland 2 and Project Eternity with smaller budgets seem to be bringing single player role playing games alive again for PCs, the other end are growing amount of massive online role playing games.

While there's been several decently large MMORPG's in the past decade and even longer, the most massive ones standing comparison with for example World of Warcraft have been coming with limited amount until lately. Bit over decade ago there was only a few massive ones like EverQuest and Ultima Online. These days fingers of two hands are not enough to count every mention worthy massive fantasy MMORPG, of which amount is growing rapidly.

Cryptic and upcoming Neverwinter MMORPG seems to be following foodsteps of what BioWare did with Star Wars: The Old Republic and Blizzard did with World of Warcraft. Cryptic have released a short trailer about Neverwinter MMORPG just recently and judging by it the game seems to bring the same old to the table than what WOW and SW:ToR have already done, with a new world to explore of course. Whether this is good thing or not is up to you to judge, but we'll see when the final product is ready.

Cryptic Studios is known for in MMORPG field by developing City Of Heroes, Champions Online, and Star Trek Online. See their "Helm's Hold lore" trailer of upcoming Neverwinter MMORPG below and comment your own thoughts!

What is Project Eternity (PC)?

So what is this Project Eternity, a role playing game that broke $4million barrier by fan funding with and PayPal donations combined?

For those who don't know lets take a quick glance to Project Eternity to see what it aims to be (all things are not written in stone yet):

The game will be developed and published by Obsidian Entertainment. A studio behind games like Star Wars: KotoR II, Neverwinter Nights 2, and Fallout New Vegas. But that's not everything. Obsisian was formed from the remains of Black Isle Studios which means they have some ties to Fallout 1 & 2 as well as Icewind Dale series. The experienced game designers behind the wheel include Chris Avellone, Tim Cain, and Josh Sawyer. So the team making the game is without a doubt skillful.

Project Eternity aims to bring pure classic fantasy themed RPG to the audience who loved the old school role playing games such such as Baldur's Gate. In fact Obsidian claims they will be combining elements from Baldur's Gate with it's colorful characters, great dialogue from Planescape: Torment, and dungeon driven exploration of Icewind Dale. Sounds pretty good on paper?

(Early shot of the game remiscent of Baldurs Gate but more beautiful)

Although it's quite early yet to say any deeper details of the Project Eternity and it's story, there's some early details and goals that Obsidian have set for the game. We know that it will use top down isometric view like Baldur's Gate, and it will use some sort of enchanted Infinity Engine (with most likely combination of 2D backgrounds and 3D characters, Unity 4?). The game will feature sort of a central character which you can freely create, while other members of the party will be recruited along the way on your journeys. The original idea was that you cannot create whole party from the scratch. However one of the funding goals achieved is "Adventurer's Hall with full party creation" so it remains yet to be seen whether original plans have changed!

However it will be rewarding to find recruitable NPC's on your journeys. Pre-made joinable NPC characters do give a chance for Obsidian to make them more detailed with their own background stories and tone with the surrounding world, which would be bit more limited with player made characters.

The game uses real-time combat system with pause ability which sounds something alike Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale franchises. This means that coordinated attacks and party positioning plays big role in successful combat.

The game's story is yet unknown, but the world setting is brand new. It's not based on already existing and pre-written gameworld like say Forgotten Realms, but the world is made from the scratch instead. It will be classic fantasy world balanced between magic and rational, sounding much like Baldur's Gate setting. The game will have at least two major huge cities with smaller settlements, a Stronghold, several dungeons, and additional mega dungeon called "Endless Paths" which will feature 13 levels. And more is yet to be revealed.

(World map for Project Eternity?)

On the side of dialogue and solving problems by different answer choices Project Eternity aims to do things bit similar to Fallout 1 and 2. Chris Avellone (in Reddit conversation) says that he does not want particular skills (for example speech) to be "insta-win" where having high enough skill attribute would result instant success in dialogue. In Reddit boards he states:

"What we'd rather do is have attributes and skills open up a range of new information that allows you to make a more informed decision about a choice rather than gate you to a solution."

This would mean that depending of your attributes (and who knows perhaps other things too) you could get new possible branches open up in dialogue options, which would give you optional ways of moving forward on topic. Avellone also promises unique dialogue options for low intelligence characters and adds that he enjoyed doing the ones in Vault City in Fallout 2 especially. I totally hope that several dialogue branches and different ways of solving things with multiple different end results is where Project Eternity will shine as I feel this is one of the core things that makes RPG what it should be.

The game won't have full voice acted dialogue. But it's in the cost of more diverse conversations and reactions from npc characters, which at least in my opinion is far more important element in RPG than ear candy.

About leveling - referring to Tim Cain (Reddit) leveling up should be slower than majority of rpg's these days, making every level-up more rewarding and meaningful event. Talking about skills they won't be as strict as in AD&D setting. Skills are not class-specific. For example barbarian can have lockpick skill and use it. However certain classes will have certain bonuses in specific skills, which should make some class-skill combinations more effective. However all spells cannot be learned by all magician classes because some powers are internally-derived. Therefore priests and paladins for example will have bit altered spells in their arsenal.

For everyone afraid about level scaling the world around player like in recent Elder Scrolls games, Obsidian promises to dump level scaling to a minimum. Designer Josh Sawyer states "We don't want to push players to grind to make their way through the game's central plot. Side content will probably not be scaled at all. This includes wandering off in a random direction of wilderness. It should feel dangerous and risky, IMO". If you're one of those guys wanting to get your head ripped off by Ogre at level 2 while aimlessly wandering and are hungry for some excitement, then this should please you greatly. I for one enjoy getting my ass kicked once in a while while wandering to far off the "safe zone"!

Loot drops will be aimed more towards placed loot than random. According to Sawyer there will be only tiny amount of randomization. There will be huge amount of unique hand placed items with written histories and stories behind them.

So far Project Eternity sounds like Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale fans wet dream. But we have to remember that the release is still very far off. The thing I personally am most excited and concerned about the same time is will the game feel like a repeat of either of those above mentioned games, or can Obsidian make it feel fresh and familiar at the same time with some new tricks in the sleeve?

Remarkable funding goals reached:
$1.1 M - initial goal
$1.6 M - Mac & Linux support
$2.0 M - Player house
$2.2 M - German, french and spanish translation + extra region & faction
$2.4 M - Crafting and enchanting
$2.6 M - Adventurer's hall with full party creation
$2.8 M - George Ziets
$3.0 M - Stronghold area
$3.5 M - Second big city area
+ "Endless Paths" multi-level dungeon: 13 levels

Project Eternity raises $3,986,929 - Big Kickstarter success

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Obsidian Entertainment's upcoming classic fantasy role-playing game Project Eternity has just been successfully funded at raising $3,986,929 fan funded budget for it's development out of the initial goal of $1.1million dollars (separate PayPal donations not counted yet which means that combined amount will break $4million) making it the most funded video game on so far, breaking the existing record of Double Fine Adventure ($3,336,371 raised). This means that the game development is about to start and Obsidian have long, but hopefully rewarding path ahead of them.

But what is Project Eternity? Take a quick glance to the early details of game here.

Crowdfunding old school RPG's is like the rolling snowball that grows

Did you think that Wasteland 2 would be first and last successfully crowdfunded RPG at

Well if you did, you'd be both crazy and wrong. The snowball is rolling and growing in size. The question is when will it crash?

Currently there's already three role-playing games already - which will be made - with possibility for fourth one also. Let's see which they are:

It's no news anymore that Wasteland 2 successfully raised almost $3million dollars budget at funded by fans ("crowdfunding") to be spent by InXile Entertainment for it's development - creating successor for original Wasteland and perhaps spiritual successor for Fallout 1 & 2.

(newest audio clip of upcoming Wasteland 2's music by Mark Morgan)

With Wasteland 2's successful funding "old dogs" in PC role-playing-game business realized the demand for games like these in modern days of gaming, and opportunity for them to be funded with necessary budget, which is way smaller than most visually stunning voice acted big games today with big publishers calling the shots over game development.

The next to step in was Jordan Weisman with his team Harebrained Schemes LLC raising respectable budget of $1,836,447 for Shadowrun Returns, a successor for original Snes/Sega Shadowrun game and table-top RPG of the same name. Cliffhanger Productions then saw opportunity to raise funds for seperate entry called Shadowrun Online, which will feature more action paced tactical online game - and is not to be mixed with Weisman's true RPG. Shadowrun Online raised $558,863.

(First look into game graphics of Shadowrun Returns - blends 2D and 3D)

So now we have post-apocalyptic RPG and futuristic Blade Runner'ish Sci-Fi RPG funded and in development. What else would 80's/90's role-playing game fanatic want?

Well a classic pure fantasy RPG of course! In a D&D inspired fantasy setting. Which brings us Project Eternity by Chris Avellone and Obsidian Entertainment! The game's funding is about 4 hours to be ended and is already at almost $3,7 million with every big goal reached like 2nd big city.

While I've understood that Project Eternity does not use directly and AD&D or D&D settings, it should be pretty close to them by general feel and setting. One could probably see it as spiritual successor for games like Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale. Just pure party-based fantasy RPG.

(First look into Project Eternity - early shot resembles Baldur's Gate and uses enhanced Infinity Engine)

And if this was not enough, Brenda Brathwaite (worked on Wizardry series) and Tom Hall (Anachronox, Commander Keen, Doom etc.) are also asking for funding for their 1st person party based sci-fi / fantasy blend RPG "Shaker" with 19 days to go with the funding goal yet unreached..

Crowdfunding seems to bring big expectations to the old school RPG fanatics with whopping four more or less classic style rpg's possibly on the way soon. It may well be more than there's been in years. But crowdfunding also sets customer in sort of a bad spot for paying for a product that hasn't even been started, a year or more beforehand. Will the InXile, Harebrained Schemes, and Obsidian answer the call of hungry fans is left to be seen (and Tom Hall & Brathwaite project in case it gets funded).