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What is meaning of a "Let's Play"-video?

Saturday, 24 November 2012

("Lets Play" Realms of Arkania II: Star Trail)

Let's Play or Lets Play Together-videos do not stand for adult-movies (bad joke). Instead the term is  commonly used about videos where people record their own video game playing clips preferably hosted with voiced commentary. They can be either play-throughs or shorter clips. Most common place to find Lets-Play-videos is Youtube search.

Some of the best hosts of the videos do their job really well, and it's interesting to see them play through different classic games, especially role-playing games such as Fallouts, Might & Magics and so on. Whole play-throughs with commentary are also good place to find tips and tricks, and new solutions to the quests that you didn't think of before.


("Lets Play" Might And Magic VI: Mandate of Heaven)

About a year ago I did quite bit of a work collecting video links of Lets-play videos and play-throughs to one big excel file. More accurately those are computer role-playing and adventure games as I find these videos most entertaining to watch. The excel I compiled was quite huge, and I then converted the whole file with it's links into HTML readable table format. You can browse it by release year, alpabetic, genre, rating. The list might have some links broken, but it still has a lot of "meat" in it. If you like videos like this, be sure to check it out!

Perhaps in future I'll update it a bit with new additions and correct some broken links if I find some. Perhaps there should be one for NES games too...

Enjoy...!

You can find that full list of links here: The Gamers' Dungeon - Let's Play Video archive

-www.thegamersdungeon.com




The Gamers Dungeon got new look and Friday Kickstarter games brain fart

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Past days I've been experimenting with lighter and whiter color concept for The Gamers Dungeon blog. Now the layout is ready. Hope you enjoy it more than the previous dark one. I feel it's more readable this time around.

I've been following kickstarter game-projects lately and it seems that "money doesn't grow on trees" after all for those attempting crowd-funding option. After success stories shared by InXile Etertainment (Wasteland 2), Harebrained Schemes (Shadowrun Returns), and Obsidian Entertainment (Project Eternity) -- the pace seems to be slowing down! At least for RPG's.

Those projects were first cRPG attempts to kick in and succeeded with decently fine concept, presentation, and big names behind them. Actually succeeding is bit lame term in comparison. The "big first three" mentioned above were major successes raising several times amount of their initial goal. Now the bucket seems to be full for year 2012 and getting another cRPG funded gets harder than before. Only hugely successful crowd-funded game since then seems to be Star Citizen, the ambitious flight-sim by Chris Roberts, with ever-growing fan base. Also Shadowgate's re-make is close making it with three days to go and $109,000 out of $120,000 collected -- I'm sure it'll pull that money out somehow. However the rest of the, what we could call "major game attempts", aren't doing so well...

However I don't think that it's the kickstarter itself that's losing the appeal, but rather next projects after initial first ones requiring more carefully planned marketing strategy in kickstarter / indiegogo.com with more descriptive presentation and more things to show about upcoming game than what first attempts. Half-hearted attempts seem to fail, which is good, but also some attempts that are bound to be good, but funding-process has been started too early without much to show until it's already too late.

Kickstarter at least on computer-role-playing side of things has been the perfect opportunity to kick big budget game-making companies more accurately their mass-appeal-game requiring publishers to the nuts, and show that there is still audience who requires in-depth stories, deep character customisation, and varying game play instead of millions spent on animated cut-scenes and voice acting. This in my opinion hasn't changed. But requirements to get millions by crowd-funding have crawled up by big margin, at least so it seems. Just look at the following games, which some had/have potential while others were quite lack luster and failed to match their goal -- still raising quite a bit money with totally lack luster campaign (like Shaker by Tom Hall):

Failures: 
-Antharion ($13,810/$15,000, re-launch on Nov 30th)
-Ars Magicka ($92,848/$290,000)
-Shaker by Tom Hall and Brenda Brathwaite ($249,015/$1,000,000)

On-going but struggling: 
-Elite: Dangerous (£548,610/£1,250,000)
-Grimoire by Cleve M. Blakemore ($6,800/$250,000, will come out despite end-result)
-Sui Generis (£77,000/£150,000)
-Thorvalla by Guido Henkel (Realms of Arkania) and Neil Hallford (Might & Magic), ($34,000/$1,000,000)

Made it but just barely: 
-Hero-U by Corey Cole ($409,150/$400,000)

Also I'd like to remind all game freaks out there that you have still opportunity to Guest Write for The Gamers Dungeon if you've something interesting to share, or a game review of your own! Just remember to review the rules of guest-posting at this article.

-www.thegamersdungeon.com




Chris Roberts' space sim Star Citizen ends up breaking over $6,200,000 in donations

Monday, 19 November 2012

Crowdfunding stage for Chris Robers and his team developing upcoming hugely ambitious space sim Star Citizen has ended with huge success. The project has raised over $6,2million dollars of crowdfunding money with all donation channels combined that they used - kickstarter.com and their own RSI website donations.

This means that Star Citizen steals the crown from Project Eternity being most funded computer game ever through crowdfunding method. Project Eternity still holds the crown for being most funded computer game ever this far on kickstarter.com holding the first place with $3,986,292 dollars in comparison with Star Citizen's kickstarter part of the funding $2,134,374 dollars.

Raising over $6,2 million for Star Citizen funding budget means, along great success, that Chris Roberts' ambitious Wing Commander/Privateer-style hybrid space sim achieves few more big "stretch goals" set in the funding making it even bigger than before. In the end few more things added to the final product will be:

$6,000,000 million dollars stretch goals:
-Star Citizen will improve on Privateer (originally 70 unique star systems), with 100 star systems to explore on launch day
-Bengal carrier-type space ship is unlocked for persistent universe play (free exploration)
-Full orchestrated music for Star Citizen/Squadron 42 soundtrack
-First Squadron 42 mission disk, Behind Enemy Lines, available for free to all backers upon release. A 16-mission campaign in style of The Secret Missions (Wing Commander expansion)

Read more about future plans in official Website

-www.thegamersdungeon.com


Chris Roberts' ambitious upcoming space sim - what is Star Citizen (2014-2015, PC)?

Sunday, 18 November 2012



Chris Roberts' upcoming very ambitious space sim Star Citizen has made space sim fanatics drool impatiently after the project still in early stages of development. While David Braben's open sandbox style space sim "Elite" is doing pretty well in kickstarter, being very ambitious project on it's own right, Roberts throws in some heat promising to do much more things within the same game than Elite - and they've just crushed $5million barrier in crowdfunding donations (with kickstarter and RSI website donations combined). This will steal the crown from Project Eternity being highest crowdfunded game this far (although Project Eternity will still hold the crown on highest kickstarter.com funded game).

Problems with Star Citizen may raise however, because the game promises to do and be such a vast amount of things at the same time, that quality might suffer while Elite might do the old-school Privateer-like free exploration better without trying to be something for everyone.. but lets not judge the game too early. On the paper Star Citizen sounds phenomenal space sim, perhaps most ambitious project yet in PC gaming space sim history..

Chris Roberts is video game designer, programmer, film director and producer. He has previously worked with company called Origin as a producer for space sim classics Wing Commander I, II, III, and IV as well as being involved with spin-off Wing Commander: Privateer with more open-ended game world rather than mission-by-mission campaigns. Other than that he was also heavily involved with another Privateer-like open-ended space sim "Freelancer" (2003). After this Roberts took a break of making games, but now he's back..



What is Star Citizen?

Star Citizen aims to be hybrid sort of a space sim for PC (exclusive) combining gameplay of Wing Commander mission-by-mission campaigns, and Elite/Privateer-like freedom with persistent space including numerous star systems to explore as you will. Star Citizen will feature whopping 70 star systems on  lauch (increasing with later updates perhaps) matching Wing Commander: Privateer's equal amount. Not only that, but it attempts to create it as MMO-style multiplayer experience, but also to keep single-playing possible (through offline-campaigns). However emphasis is definitely on MMO side of things.

While the game seems to focus bit more into massive multiplayer side of things and highest-end graphics possible, than it's competitor Elite - the two games share pretty much similar concept in terms of what you can do in the space. Both games offer similar jobs to play as smuggler, pirate, merchant, bounty-hunter, build wealth, and go where you want. It's the presentation of different things that divides the two games.

Star Citizen's made for high-end PC's intending to crank out everything from modern computer's power - to take the graphics and whole immersion of space sims to next level. It's probably first indie-game aiming to create full "AAA"-game immersion (biggest budget games). The game will use CryEngine3 to ensure awesomely beautiful and detailed graphics not seen on current gen consoles, using about ten times more polygons per model than what the consoles now do -- perhaps even leaving next gen consoles slightly behind. Not only the game tries to combine great missions with open-ended gameplay, but also to make the space look prettier than ever before (and at least this can be confirmed by viewing early pictures and videos of the game whereas combat sequences reminds grand battles of Freespace 2).

Roberts aims to get rid of players separated between different "shards" usual in MMO's:

"-- One thing I don’t like about most MMO structures is the fragmentation of the player base between these “shards”. [...] In Star Citizen there is going to be one persistent universe server that everyone exists on. So you will never be separated from your friends, and if you want you’ll be able to join up and adventure together, you can."

One of Roberts key elements in the game is to mix persistent space and free exploration with temporary "battle instances" created when two players face each other in their route. Multiplayer in Star Citizen is like "smart matchmaking system" that keeps track of players locations, and when they hit close enough each others for example flying on the route between planet A and planet B, the server will create a new instance where the two players can actually face each others and fight or do whatever game allows them to. When they are far away from each others, they're not actually fully simulated but rather tracked by location.

In multiplayer mode there's also certain number of "slots" reserved for your friends to join in with you for a battle or protection. Roberts explains that if your friends are close enough, they can reserve a slot and warp in to join your events. However if they're further away warping most likely isn't possible.



Server does keep track what players do in the Universe, and actions may affect to economy of the Universe which is fully simulated (on how detailed way is yet unclear). For example a player discovering a jump gate first may get it named after him.

Star Citizen will aim to feature "micro updates" for the game content weekly, rather than big updates yearly or monthly. They may for example open up new star systems or add new ships. Keeping updates more frequently will keep the world more interesting and evolving.

Doing missions in the Universe may earn your citizenship status, which provides different bonuses and benefits within the world. For example certain areas have more military force where they won't allow much pirates to hang around attacking traders. Earning citizenship status may ensure you to be higher priority for military to be protected against pirates attacks in such areas. However several further star-systems from known civilizations may be less protected and more hostile environments. Not every race in the space of Star Citizen are human -- but the races are to be revealed later on.

On the single-player of Star Citizen you could play campaigns for example take a seat in military career for "Squadron 42" and complete it's 50 missions for some reputation and rewards. You could do this alone, or join up with few friends if you wanted. You could afterwards return for example to your trader career and freely explore the space with almost no limits, hunting the glory and new planets to sell on.

How free exactly the space exploration is though, is bit unclear to me at the moment. How much you can actually fly between points of interests, and how much of the "areas" are connected with "jump-gates" that warp you around?


(Docking bay - you can freely walk and explore interiors of largest ships and stations)

Flight model in the game is described as realistic yet fun to fly, with real physics working as they should in space. Every each of your ships thrusters are dynamically simulated and affect your ships movements. Ship customization will allow tactical elements depending of your style of play, is lighter more quick moving ship your thing, or do you rely on heavy shields and fire power? You can also distribute balance between power of your ships'  shields and thrusters, by sacrificing one in cost of another real-time, to attempt tactical move in combat.

Developers promise large selection of ships on and attachments with huge amount of detail, such as fully modeled 3D cockpits. Player will be able to buy from small scout-like ships to large freighters, of which an example is described as Star Wars freighter "Millenium Falcon". If you own a large freighter, you can have friends with smaller ships hang along you as your personal wing-men.

The game will feature even big space Carriers, where you can actually land into, step out of your ship and freely walk and explore the hallways of the Carrier with it's actual staff included within. For top traders making a lot of money there's possibility to buy even bigger things than ships:


“-- We’re going to let you have the ability to buy some real estate, whether it’s your own little penthouse on one of the planets, or your private club in the back of the bars to invite your friends to, or an asteroid base somewhere. All these things obviously cost a lot of money. (Chris Roberts, Rock Paper Shotgun interview)”





All this information about Star Citizen and what it aims to be sounds hugely glamorous and insanely ambitious. One may wonder though can they implement both segments, campaigns & missions, and freely explorable working living and breathing space, without suffering in quality of the content as this will be a major task. If they have to cut off from either area, where will the emphasis lie between those two? Can ambitious game such as this succeed in it's all aspects with given budget (around $5mil + private investions)?

The game is made with modding community in mind states Roberts, so modding will be made easy for fans to create their own mods which are possible to be ran on private servers. Multiplayer alpha build of some sort with limited gameplay could come out early as after 1 year of development, while persistent open world alpha/beta is set for 18 months after development, and full game around 2 years after development -- perhaps more (late 2014-2015).

Read more from Star Citizen website.

-www.thegamersdungeon.com







Guido Henkel's cRPG Thorvalla kickstarter going live monday - ready in 18 months if funded


(Thorvalla cancelled, read more)


Guido Henkel (Realms of Arkania, Planescape Torment) and his team G3studios with help of Neill Halford (Might and Magic III: Isles of Terra) are setting their "Thorvalla" kickstarter live and ready to go tomorrow, monday (can't pledge before it's 'live')!

Since Thorvalla kickstarter website is already up, there's few bits of new information available that we can analyze. The game is promised to be out in 18 months after production has started. That's the exact same time for development cycle than what InXile Entertainment is going for with Wasteland 2.

Quote: "Enter the world steeped in norse mythology, tribal mysticism, and sword-and-sorcery- fantasy"

Shortly, Thorvalla will be traditional (not fully old-school) computer role-playing game, influenced by the classics but re-inventing new fresh game mechanics and combat rules (no "roll dices") - from Henkel who doesn't fear breaking traditional cRPG rules boundaries yet keeping true role-playing game spirit up with interesting stories and tactical turn-based combat. The game will feature resembling civilizations of real world mythologies such as nordic origins, and tribal people of native americans. Those mythologies are then combined with classic fantasy elements and creatures. Henkel wants to present diverse world drawing influences from several mythologies to keep the game feeling fresh when exploring the world into new territories. Henkel also stated he wants to invent something new instead of using the "same old", is why he isn't using D&D or Realms of Arkania ruleset for the game system in the first place.

Thorvalla is set to use top-down perspective, although it's yet undecided how exactly are they going to execute this. Fully top-down perspective, or perhaps isometric perspective with 2D rendered backgrounds but 3D rendered characters combination. Even full 3D with fixed third person camera isn't yet locked out of the options. This will be decided on pre-production phase after G3studios has experimented a bit with the options which feels the best.

The game world's look and feel will lean bit more dark themes "like Planescape: Torment", but not quite as dark. However, it will feature adult themes and issues in the world. The game's story begins with you and your combat dragon sailing through the icy seas of the north seeking for adventure, when you collide with vicious storm that sinks the ship. Luckily were caught in the storm near shores of the northern lands, and find yourself alive floating to a shore after the events. By the markings in the sands you can assume that your combat dragon, friend for several years of shared journeys, is also alive and has stumbled to the shore, but something has attacked it and perhaps captured.. no further signs of your combat dragon.. you're set to find the old fella!

It's said that dragons will play quite big role in the story, and there will be plenty of them: "They're like the airforce of the game. People of Thorvalla harness dragons and ride them for battle or excursion. Making one of the ultimate bad-ass monsters of classic role-playing games a common enslaved creature is risky move - but hopefully story will set things right.

How will exploration and traveling-system work in Thorvalla? Kickstarter project page states that Thorvalla will focus on specific world areas connected by map, the game map (see picture below), that  contains several different “countries” within it's vast world. It seems quite possible that the world map and traveling would function like in first two Realms of Arkania games: Star Trail and Blades of Destiny. Probably with fast-travel movement in map-screen, where you could move between the main areas. This means that free wilderness exploration within main areas would be left out, and main areas would be connected with "fast-travel" option, but they could profit on making more detailed main areas instead with less "empty space".



Hopefully they kick in elements from the classic above mentioned games, where while fast-traveling from main area A to B in world map, you could encounter different events on your way, such as hidden areas and combat events. I’m also hoping they will add in needs for food and water like in first Arkania games, so that you’d need to stop and set a camp once in a while while fast-traveling – this could prove very interesting element if planned correctly. The main key is to prevent it feeling totally repetitive.

Thorvalla’s character system will be inspired by trading card games, in some way, but this is yet unexplained how exactly. It’s some sort of a combination of traditional RPG with turn-based combat, but “cards” do represent, supplement, and enchance players abilities. It’s slightly unclear how this works actually. Do the cards represent character abilities fully, or do they enchance and add for the characters actual numeric attributes and stats? Few things we know about character creation for sure are the mentioned amount of 8 different classes with their pros and cons, and that skills of sneaking and tracking will be in the game.

It will be interesting to see how this turns out, and I’m sure we’ll be getting better explained information soon from the developers as the campaign goes live tomorrow! We've sent little interview to Guido Henkel and hopefully he can get back to us with some answers, although he's probably so busy at the moment with the game that it mightn't be certain. But we'll see.

See kickstarter page here!


Grimoire (2013, PC) - will it be most overlooked cRPG ever?

Friday, 16 November 2012

Update: 20.2.2013: Free-to-play demo is out now. Read more info about it (as well as link) in the article.

Those things can be defined by several different ways. Depends of the viewer.



Grimoire is game by Cleve M. Blakemore, running.. not so well in terms of reaching funding goal in it's  indiegogo.com website. At this rate online sales are going to "flop". But the game will come out despite the end-result of funding at May 2013.

Originally hugely ambitious one-man-project which has been in development for seventeen years. More recently accompanied with Michael Shamgar. They both were set to make Wizardry 7 seques "Stones of Arnhem" back then before it got cancelled.

Grimoire has seen several betas over the year, if I recall correctly, there was one released even back to 1998. This game has everything for old-school rpg fanatic looking for massive cRPG: 3D step-engine, turn-based combat, full expansive party-creation, tons of maps and dungeons (~250 combined). It even has numerous puzzles.

Grimoire is developed in veins of classic era cRPGs like Might & Magic, Wizardry, Dungeon Master. Compares to and golden era cRPG in size of any aspect: skills, world, gameplay hours (which Grimoire promises around 600 hours possible). See presentation video below:



But how will "the ultimate classic retro old school fantasy role-playing game" be remembered as. Failure? Success?

The game already is so close to the finish that I'm certain we can expect it to come out, and several people have already played beta to know pretty much what to expect for real. I think that when Grimoire is finished and ready to be delivered it will prove two things:

1) Blakemore will prove that one man can success in making massive cRPG alone (well almost!) if he's totally insane -- and will write computer gaming history with one of the longest development cycles of computer games, when his massive almost totally one-man-made role-playing game is released as final product (yet probably only few will ever remember this).

2) Mainstream and most of the gaming world won't care. Mainstream media wouldn't care about old school cRPG anyway, but how about computer role-playing community generally? At the moment indiegogo.com campaign for Grimoire has ran for 33 days achieving only $6,528 out of $250,000 goal.

That's pretty badly in terms of sales, well, at least comparing to other "old school" category cRPGs that were running crowdfunding campaigns lately. Or should we say "flop" -- unless something happens to the pace and gamers start pledging with much more rapid pace than so far. Right now it seems unlikely. The pace of funding has slowed down recently, and it wasn't very good to begin with.

Recent crowdfunded games aimed for computer role-playing audience such as: Wasteland 2, Project Eternity, and Shadowrun Returns each raised millions. It may make some difference that they used kickstarter.com instead of indiegogo.com, which may be bit more popular service. Of course they had popular faces working behind projects, certainly more known to the public than Blakemore, who yet has his own merits. But the Grimoire's indiegogo campaign has showed a lot potential, and it has everything on the table - almost ready product certain to please the audience, yet it's not getting much pledges (read: Pre-orders)?

(Chart by Blakemore showing Grimoire's merits in comparison to few other classic cRPGs)


Tom Hall and Brenda Brathwaite's "old school rpg" project with terrible kickstarter.com presentation FAILED and was cancelled with $244,932 budged reached out of $1,000,000.

That's almost Grimoire's whole budget, with poor campaign. It sort of pains to see that almost ready game with great concept and seventeen years of one man's work is running bad with funding, while campaign that only repeats the word "old school" without much information about the actual upcoming game and it's mechanics acquires almost $250,000 ("down the toilet").

Grimoire's current funding have been $6,528 in 33 days. But has slowed down recently with only $928 funded within past 16 days! At this rate it will most likely reach only about 5-8% of it's goal of $250,000. I would call it a flop in sales.

Nevertheless the game WILL come out in May 2013, so cRPG veterans who actually bothered to try the game will most likely appreciate Blakemore's efforts. Will Grimoire be "Grim Fandango" of the indie-cRPGs? Loved by the audience who played it, praised as classic amongst computer role-playing games by hard-core role-players, but be overlooked by mainstream and less hardcore cRPG audience?

Will golden baby's flight be overlooked by everyone except few chosen ones?


Carmageddon: Reincarnation (2013, PC) will bring Max Damage back and make streets bloody again

Well it's not completely new announcement, but since I've not written about this yet - and some people might've totally missed the fact that "Carmageddon: Reincarnation" was successfully funded in June at kickstarter.com under shadow of bigger budget "Wasteland 2" and "Shadowrun Returns" in April - lets present the game! Carmageddon: Reincarnation raised $625,143 budget out of $400 000 goal and has been in the development ever since for PC systems. Full version should come out in February 2013.

The team behind game is "Stainless Games", who still have 5 members out of 8 in their ranks who worked with the original release, with overall team size of approximately 50 people. The original creators once lost rights to the franchise, but bought it back with over third million, successfully funded the game, and are now SET TO GO (and I'm so damned late to say that).

So what is Carmageddon?


(Do you remember this? One of my favorite game intros of all times (1997))


Original Carmageddon (1997) featured crazy opponents, spiked front-bumpers, heavy metal, hugely varying real world environments turned into killing fields, free roaming, nasty power-ups, insane arcade-like physics, and being awarded of running over people and cows with bloody death scenes.

That pretty much sums it up. The game raised quite bit a controversy in 1997 about it's encouraging way of awarding player for ruthlessly driving over (and thru) pedestrians. The game was banned in several countries like UK and Brazil, with Germany having pedestrians replaced by robots. The game got two sequels with Carmageddon 2 being respectable effort while Carmageddon TDR less respected one.




But under the surface of dark humor boasting bloody graphics original Carmageddon was also great game to play. The game was really action packed with it's hectic atmosphere, while you had time limit to complete map any way you'd like either eliminating all the opponents by crushing them with your vehicle, or racing through all the checkpoints. The 3D physics were fun, despite not being realistic at all - and were supported with most insane and fun power-ups either helping to eliminate pedestrians (electric shock, frozen pedestrians etc.), eliminating opponents, or worst of it working against your advantage. Getting "pinball mode" power-up and falling down from a cliff few seconds later wouldn't do no good for your car.

Also who wouldn't remember the main character "Max Damage", psychopathic twisted-minded driver, starring in great cut-scenes as well as in-game being "animated talking head" reacting to the events and happenings of the race.


(concept art of Reincarnation)

Carmageddon: Reincarnation promises to bring back all that. With updated graphics of course as well remakes of old cars, maps, and drivers -- as well as something new. The ratio between old and freshly new stuff is bit unknown at this point although seemingly leaning much more towards including as much classic Carmageddon stuff as possible. And I know they're focusing on crazy power-ups again since they're already discussing about them with fans.

Included is also multiplayer mode updated from old LAN parties to modern day level with easier multiplayer connection between friends. Focus in single player should still be one of the major factions though. Now also possible will be sharing your action replays in Youtube. One thing I'm not so sure about is linking in-game to Facebooks and Twitters somehow (it's function not exactly explained yet).

The team got some work to do though as with nowadays standards at least physics of the original game could use some update (but please them insane and unrealistic!) -- and hopefully they won't dumb down original gruesome dark humor at all.

...nevertheless...

Expect Max Damage roam the streets once again...! (February 2013)

Go to Carmageddon: Reincarnation website

More concept art pictures and few "very early prototype in-game pictures" of Max's car Eagle.











Elite: Dangerous (2014, PC) - upcoming sequel for classic space sim trilogy now on kickstarter

Thursday, 15 November 2012



One more big name sequel in kickstarter.com. This time not an rpg though -- David Braben and his team "Frontier Developments" aim to get their upcoming sequel for Elite trilogy funded with goal of £1,250,000, and they might just make it with £475,620 achieved this far and 49 days to go.

Original Elite was revolutionary game at it's time in the 80's featuring very early 3D graphics, phenomenal (though random) game world scope, and free exploration -- written by Braben and Ian Bell -- both studying in Cambridge University at the time. It's sequel "Frontier" made in 1993 featured whole milky way galaxy with approximately 100,000,000,000 star systems (still with mostly randomized content).

Braben & co. wants to make new "Elite: Dangerous" for PC systems in honor to the old Elite games (actually project has already been started previously with small team "Skunk-Works" now being expanded in scope if kickstarter runs successful), with same spectacular scope, and with modern day graphics updating the game's looks with two decades. In addition with possible multi-player mode. You could allow and restrict who appears to your "network" and can play within your game world in your game. It's an interesting idea to allow multiplayer mode in the game with such a huge scope of the world and free exploration. It's function is described as "seamless, lobby-less way, with rendezvous with your friends as you choose". How large amount of players multiplayer mode can hold is not yet announced though.

Other than that the game's "story" will be the same as in the classic games with starting out with small amount of money, space ship,and freedom to do as you will. Will you be a bounty-hunter, salvager, rogue, trader, or explorer? The game's probably more about the scope of it than story -- but it's fascinating idea to build your wealth way as you like in almost endless space, now with also possibility to encounter your friends and fight with or against them.



Randomization allows large scope indeed, and it has it's good and bad sides. But if you liked games like original Elite, or Privateer perhaps -- or Freelancer. You'll most likely will love random generated content with large scope and (hopefully) still a lot to do and discover -- as well as the possibility to face unexpected. The random generation process used in Elite: Dangerous is called "Procedural Content":

"Procedural generation of content is a technique where content is generated from rules. It abstracts repetitive or arbitrary elements of content creation in a very efficient way. Imagine a medieval landscape. Laying out towns, roads, castles, farm land, forests and so on can be done by a system of rules – putting castles widely spaced out on vantage points, towns near rivers but under the protection of such a castle, roads between them, then with farm land to support them all. An artist can still design the castle, the houses in the towns, but this approach greatly magnifies the content that can be created. “Frontier” did this for the star systems, and planets, and with Elite: Dangerous, we will go further."

These rules are there to give random generation more sense of executing the process -- and better end result of it. "Frontier" did use this way of processing to the star systems and planets, but "Dangerous" is promised to take it further.

And of course for those ship customization freaks there will be plenty of ships and plenty of customization: engines, weapons, equipment, paint-jobs, body kits.. etc. Just get the money first the way you like.



We've seen that hugely random generated games with great scope have had their fascination and admiring fan base so far, although none of them has been perfect -- along old Elite games, you may remember also cRPGs Elder Scrolls II: Daggerfall and it's predecessor Arena -- both respected by some and mocked by some at least in game content aspect. Random generation has always had it's problems with repetitiveness, more lackluster events, and less interesting surroundings -- although it brings it's attraction different way: Endless exploration gives game very long life-span, in case game has ways to keep exploration interesting after fifty - even hundred hours of gameplay. Now let's see how well Elite: Dangerous succeeds in generating it's hugely vast space and countless planets without being bland and uninteresting.

See their kickstarter campaign at here!










Guido Henkel is back with "Thorvalla", a newly planned cRPG soon on kickstarter.com

(Thorvalla cancelled, read more)

Guido Henkel. A name that anyone loving classic computer role-playing games should remember. Founder of the "Dragonware Games" in 1983 which eventually transformed into what we know as "Attic Entertainment Software". Henkel worked in titles such as Realms of Arkania franchise, Planescape Torment, and had even part in Fallout 2. After this he started his own company G3studios, which he has worked over a decade now making games for handheld platforms, and beside this he has written novels such as his own "Jason Dark" series.



Well he will be back making computer games if his next project gets enough support (funding). Henkel has just recently announced that he will be back making a new cRPG called "Thorvalla" (official website in the making) in case it gets funded in kickstarter.com. He has been rather quiet about more accurate details about the game yet, except that it well be a party-based computer rpg for Windows, OSX, and Linux.

What we know is that you'll be starting out bit like in Planescape Torment with one character, whereas the rest of the party is possible to be formed later on with recruitable NPC's. Game world will be all freshly written from the scratch along with the general ruleset of the game, which should be influenced by RoA and D&D rules.

The first art of the game seems influenced by the "Nordic origin" and vikings. However recent G3studios announcement article states that it won't be the whole deal about the game world. Those are the early bits of an art, but the generally game world will draw influences from several real world mythologies and civilizations, yet being high in fantasy. Yet mentioned "races" are unnamed ones resembling nordic (vikings), tribal people (native americans), and societies such as asian cultures. The fantasy side of it is described containing expansive magic system, and you'll be sure to meet classic fantasy creatures such as orcs and goblins, and much more!

Another point of interest beside Henkel and his merits is recently announced thing, that Neil Hallford will be joining in the project along Henkel. Hallford is known to be part of designing classic games such as Betrayal At Krondor, Might And Magic III: Isles of Terra, Champions of Norrath, Lords of Everquest and Dungeon Siege... Other than that he's also book author, screenwriterm and independent film director.

The game is rumored to be aiming for $1Million funding goal in comparison with Project Eternity's $1.1Million, Wasteland 2's $900 000 and Shadowrun Returns $400 000 goal. We have to remember though that each of those games topped their goal by far. This time around though there's been several projects already funded this year, so it remains to be seen do gamers still have interest to fund another one. Henkel's project sounds interesting this far though..



We did little general interview with Henkel some time ago with meaning to find some additional information to an article "Famous people of gaming industry part #1". The interview will be published shortly when "Thorvallas" kickstarter goes live (hopefully with few additional questions about "Thorvalla" itself if Henkel finds time to answer them!). Stay tuned!


Guido Henkel (interview 12.11.2012): "-- I created elven stories in
the series until I felt that I really wanted to make another
game. So, I sat down and began working on the design of a new
computer RPG, called Thorvalla. It is in its early stages still
and I’ve been pulling in some people I worked with on previous
games. We will start a Kickstarter campaign for the game shortly
to raise the funds necessary to actually develop and produce
the game, so the past weeks have seen me very busy with the
preparation for this campaign. I hope it goes well and I hope
everyone who reads this will check out the project, because I’m
really itching to make this game."


Kickstarter games round-up for November 2012 (Grimoire, Hero-U, Shadowgate re-make etc.)

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Prologue

It's time for kickstarter aka crowd-funded games round-up for November 2012. Since Wasteland 2, Project Eternity and Shadowrun Returns seems to have gotten snowball rolling on part of the crowdfunding computer games through the internet, the next months will probably be interesting ones to see several new game developers choosing their path to find their games with either kickstarter.com or indiegogo.com.

These will be interesting times for us gamers who have been waiting for computer games that deviate from the masses of big budget games with a publisher company, who often pushes developer companies into making the games for big masses with easy-to-play concepts, and shallow eye-candy looks without much depth in the actual game content.

It will be probably until late 2013, when first big crowdfunded games come out such as the "big three" mentioned in the beginning of this post, where direction of the future of the crowdfunded games will be decided.. at least partly. If the "big three" will success in the terms of quality and claim their expectations at least to certain degree, us gamers will be more fond of funding alike projects in future too. But should the first big crowdfunded games come out as a failure, it would be a major dent in trustworthiness and reliability on the part of crowdfunding.. for computer games anyway.

The November 2012 Round-Up

Now lets take a quick glance at the new crowdfundable computer game projects at indiegogo.com and kickstarter.com November 2012! There's a several of projects you may pledge for and back them up.. and yeah.. probably a couple of very worthwhile projects too. Follow the link of each game to know more about them.

Grimoire: Heralds of The Winged Exemplar (at indiegogo.com -- currently $5600 pledged of $250 000 goal with 103 days to go)




The first things first, so lets start with Grimoire. You may have heard this game mentioned even in late 90's if you're an RPG fanatic. Grim-waah -- sounds familiar? Yes, maybe? How is it possible? You may even recall playing a beta of an rpg game that was called Grimoire. Well it's possible because this game's been in the making for VERY long time - a total of seventeen years - and never fully been finished up.. until finally very soon. It will be released in May 2013. The game has already seen several playable beta versions along the years until today. The game will finally see the light of the day, whether the funding goal will be reached or not, it's coming out. But with funding goal reached it will be more polished, both on graphical and sound department. If I'm correct here development of this game was started in 1996 by one man - Cleve M. Blakemore (aka "Texas Arcane") - a quite controversial person with sharp tongue. Some even say he's a madman (if you're interested more about his mad writings than about his game, go ahead and feel free to Google up).

Nevertheless lets focus on the game. Mr. Blakemore had previously worked on several C64 games (claims to be author of 212+ published games), and was senior developer on Sir-Tech's sequel to Wizardry 7, "Stones of Arnhem" that never saw light of the day. Blakemore teamed up with Michael "Shams" Shamgar to create Grimoire bit later. Shamgar is known to be Ceo of Nocturnal Games Australia, creator of "Flowerworks" and "Ultimate Arcade" and was senior systems programmer on never-released "Stones of Arnhem".

The game is described as "ultimate classic retro old school fantasy role-playing game" which pays honor to the so called "golden era" or cRPG's such as Wizardy series, Eye Of The Beholder, Dungeon Master, Lands of Lore, Might & Magic, and numerous others. It features classic first person adventuring view, working as classic "3D step engine", with turn-based combat. The full party creation of 8 characters is provided, with numerous classes and skills.



The game's world is comparable to a classic fantasy setting, but with it's own unique lore. And the world is quite vast also. Blakemore promises around 600 hours of gameplay possible, with countless of outdoor maps and dungeon areas (247 combined),  character library, 254 monsters, 1000+ items, 144+ magic spells... all this is comparable to any of the largest cRPG's from golden era, and actually Grimoire should be one of the largest few ever.

If this wasn't enough, the gameplay will involve also puzzles from easier to challenging. The combat requires tactical planning. And the most important thing of all (alongside the climbing), you can also "ride a turtle" in the game (pretty awesome eh)!

Thegamersdungeon.com notes: My definite favorite of the November's crowdfundable games (although few other interesting ones also are included). This game is just honest pure classic cRPG with good combat, very large game world to explore, full party creation, and tactical turn-based combat. What more would a cRPG fanatic want? Cleve Blakemore -- controversial person or not -- we salute you.

This game has yet pledged criminally low amount of it's total score for a fine cRPG being in the making for 17 mad years, so go and pledge to pre-order it! Coming out May 2013.
Find out more about Grimoire: Heralds of The Winged Exemplar here

Hero-U: Rogue To Redemption (at kickstarter.com -- currently $160 000 pledged of $400 000 goal with 18 days to go)




Hero-U aims for moderately high pledging goal. The game's development is led by Corey and Lori Cole known best from Quest For Glory Franchise. It aims to be classic turn-based top-down 2D RPG with fair amount of adventuring, puzzles, and of course stories and rich character relationships included. You will play a single character who has been caught trying to be a thief, and at this point is seeking either redemption as a rogue, or career as a thief in Thieves Guild. This choice will affect the whole gameplay experience. The setting of the game looks somewhat medieval times influenced but with cartoon-like approach. Hero-U, despite it's puzzle and adventure influences, will feature full character skills and dungeon crawling part. This game ain't not going to be hack'n'slash like Diablo though, and more tactical approach on combat part of the game is also promised. Expect interesting adventure/rpg/puzzle combination.


(One of the game's drawn scenes, top-down view screenshots aren't unfortunately available yet)

Hero-U artistic style is drawing-like and cartoony. While major game is most likely going to be fully top-down 2D, the game has a lot of drawn scenes on it's art gallery, much like paintings and drawings viewed in "first person" (the type that 90's pure adventure and puzzle games used to use), one wonders whether these drawings will be used some way in mixture with top-down view? According to the developers the painted scenes will be used in "key game scenes", whatever that means exactly. The game might interest both adventure and role-playing game fanatics, while trying to bring the best of the both worlds.
Find out more about Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption here

Ars Magica (at kickstarter.com -- currently $51 000 pledged of $290 000 goal with 16 days to go)



Developed by Black Chicken Studios under license of Atlas Games, the developer aims to bring Ars Magica role-playing franchise alive for PC. Ars Magica is originally role-playing game played face-to-face live with it's own rulebook, where the group selects storyteller, who leads the game on for adventurers. The original role-playing game's first edition came out in 1987 and is now on it's 5th edition (rel.2004) which the computer game will be based to.

The setting of the game mixes medieval setting with classic fantasy including dragons and such mythical creatures, with very huge emphasis on magic and spells. In fact, you're going to play as one of the mages that belong to 13 Houses which form the ancient Order of Hermes, served by knights, warriors, peasants fighting against plagues, beasts and other wizards. The game should feature one of the most interesting and flexible magic and spellcasting systems in amongst computer role-playing games if they succeed to implement it well to the PC game.




The game will be presented in classic 2D and involves many different aspects of gameplay such as overworld-map (turn-based) where you can collect resources, train and research new spells, create magical items, take diplomatic actions and explore. While quest-gameplay will be mostly dialogue based. Combat is turn-based also, and will try to implement the original Ars Magica rules to a video game well as possible.

Thegamersdungeon.com notes: I'm not sure Black Chicken Studios presented everything so clearly in the kickstarter.com presentation (text). There's tons of features presented but it feels it's written a bit "tongue-in-cheek" manner (like many of my own articles). The presentation makes it look like the game could be very impressive, deep, and interesting, but presentation is a bit messy mostly because they have tried to sum up quite complex game system there within small space. Ars Magica looks quite promising nevertheless but sadly it doesn't look like they're gonna reach their funding goal right now...
Find out more about Ars Magica video game here

Shadowgate: The Classic Adventure Re-Imagined (at kickstarter.com -- currently $60 500 pledged of $120 000 goal with 24 days to go)




Shadowgate.. ah.. the classic point and click adventure with tons of puzzles, originally developed by ICOM Simulations for Macintosh in 1987 and later on ported for several other gaming systems like Nes. The game with hundreds of ways to die, the one of most unforgiving adventure games ever. A classic adventure/puzzle-game where you enter a warlocks castle and explore through it with death on your tail.

The creators of original Shadowgate are not re-creating the game and asking for your pledge to fund it. "The classic adventure re-imagined" is perhaps not enough to tell whole truth, since the game is not just re-imaging the game with new graphics.

Re-made Shadowgate will bring beautiful remade 2D graphics into the game and so far screenshots looks very cool. But the developers will also twist some old puzzles into a new form, delete a few old puzzles that did not quite work so well, and add some new content with whole new rooms and all new puzzles making the game bigger and more beautiful than ever before -- yet following the classic concept and staying true to the good old Shadowgate.




(In-game shots of the re-make version feature some damn fine art)

Thegamersdungeon.com notes: so far after reading the presentation and listening interviews I do not see how this could not work. The new art looks great, and polishing old puzzles while adding some new content (obviously new systems can handle larger game than those of late 80's) should not fail to make the game better than ever. Prepare to enter polished and expanded Castle Shadowgate, and get frustrated of classic (and new) puzzles once again..
Find out more about Shadowgate re-make here

Sui Generis (at kickstarter.com -- currently £3,900 pledged of £150 000 goal with 28 days to go)



Currently five man team (Bare Mettle Entertainment) who seem heavily focused on visual and technical aspect of things aims to make an "ground breaking RPG for the PC that may just change the way you think about games." The project is on very early state generally with having their graphics and physics engine coded by Madoc Evans. The game fully rotatable 3D engine.

The game takes place in dark, hostile medieval world, where is not much foot for a morals, where only the strong survive. The developers say they're putting the emphasize on exploration and participating major events rather than hack'n'slash (which was my first impression and still probably is after seeing kickstarter video). They also state that they're trying to create living and breathing world with life of it's own surrounding the player, with every creature and character having the core AI of their own. There will be no levels or leveling-up in Sui Generis, nor there will be classes. The builds will be fully be based on skills of players selection, and instead of leveling up progression will happen on raising skills up as well as thaumaturgic powers.

Thegamersdungeon.com notes: What I would had wished more of this kickstarter presentation was the actual story and game world focus of things. The guys talk about making "ground breaking RPG", but yet their presentation shows mostly game engine physics, graphics engine, cool weather effects, combat physics.. we see a warrior swinging the sword and some medieval themed buildings.. but how about the game world, plot, and the whole "role playing part" of this game?


Technical part of the game seems fine, with possibilities of creating limitless landmasses and very nice combat physics, but I'm worried that the game which states being RPG starts out with graphical and technical presentation without much clue about RPG side. How does the actual role-playing happen in this game, what will it be like? This can be hit or miss...
Find out more about Sui Generis here

Antharion (at kickstarter.com -- currently $8500 pledged of $ 15 000 goal with 16 days to go)



Anharion markets itself as classic old-school turn-based and party-based RPG with huge open-ended fantasy world to explore and experience, asking for humble sum of $15000 to be made. And that pretty much sums the game pretty game judged from it's presentation and early gameplay scenes. The game uses pseudo-isometric view with 2D sprites, and the graphics looks like taken somewhere from 16-bit console era, or mid-90's computer games like Ultima VIII, which is sort of a cool look to it - with slightly updated looks like added dynamic lightning.

Antharion is made to be sort of a spiritual successor to games like Baldur's Gate, Ultima, and original Elder Scrolls games according to the kickstarter site, and personally to me it looks mostly mixture of the two first mentioned. Free exploration, several quests, and dungeon crawling for treasures will be big part of the game. What's interesting though is the flowing turn-based party-based combat.




The world is based on high-end fantasy setting with lots of magery involved, freedom of exploration, NO LEVEL SCALING, and it contains over 100 dungeons, 20+ cities, and 50+ unique monster types, with tons of npc's to talk to. With some luck the game can still make it to it's funding goal.
Find out more about Antharion here

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