When I heard the news about the Fallout 4 trailer and then saw it, my bowels gave out. That’s right. I was so excited I shit myself. I am not proud of it, but seeing the 400 hours I put into Fallout 3 and New Vegas, this genuine and overwhelming joy was completely justified. And though I feel ashamed I crapped myself out of joy, Fallout 4 is the perfect excuse for such a moment of shame. This is a new Fallout, people. And yes, for those wondering, I am one of those Fallout fanboys who think the game is about as astounding as games can get, so if you don’t want to hear praise piled upon this series for next 20 minutes, you may want to click over and read this instead. For those sticking around, here are 6 things we (as in me and all the voices in my head) cannot wait to experience in Fallout 4.
I grew up being a huge fan of old school Final Fantasy games. In my opinion, when it came to JRPG’s, you just couldn’t top the grandeur of the FF series. And one of the greatest things about this stellar series are the summons you can call on to aid you in battle. Some are dark and evil looking, some are more feminine and graceful. Hell, one even seems like it was ripped straight from a hair metal music video. But that is what makes Final Fantasy summons so amazing. They helped level and otherwise often difficult playing field by evening the odds a little more in your favor. For those who do not know, a summon is a giant creature you can call forth from another dimension to aid you in battle. In other words, almost like giant, badass Pokemon. Here are the five greatest Final Fantasy summons (in this writer’s opinion).
Editor’s Note: This post is written by Erik Hoftun, Head of Snow Castle Studios, Producer, Earthlock: Festival of Magic.
It is quite an undertaking for a small studio like ours to take on such a big project as Earthlock. Why are we doing it? – Because the whole team really wants to make the game that we, most of all, would love to play ourselves!
So what does Earthlock offer as twists to the classic genre? For one, the combat pairing system is pretty unique. You pair fighter and protector characters, which opens up some very interesting tactical challenges in combat as well as powerful combinations. Another feature that sets Earthlock apart from other RPGs, is the crafting system where you actually grow and harvest your own ammunition!
Earthlock has a characteristic art style that is reminiscent of RPGs of past and features haunting original music that is sure to invoke memories of past adventures in the genre. What really defines the game, however, is the rich non-linear story where humor plays a major part in balancing the epic lore of a world where machines and magic intertwine. The planet Umbra stopped spinning ages ago in a cataclysmic event called ‘The Great Halt’. As long as anyone can remember, the deserts of one side have been scorched by the burning sun day and night, while the other face of the planet lies in endless darkness and ice. Both faces as well as the lush lands between hold secrets and wonders to explore.
You begin as the desert scavenger Amon and you quickly get drawn in by sinister forces plotting further disasters upon the world of Umbra. As the story progresses, your team grows into an unlikely group of characters all with their own different stories of why they join in on the adventure. The party works together to solve puzzles and win battles to save this strange and beautiful world.
Although the core team of developers is small, the extended team behind the project spans two continents and includes members with pretty impressive track records who all have come onboard primarily because they also love the game concept. Take our sound guy Jory Prum, for example, who comes with some pretty solid Pixar and Walking Dead credentials, or programmer Howard Smith with titles like Halo and CoD and Left 4 Dead under his belt.
Two years in the making, Earthlock: Festival of Magic is 60% completed and on track for release on PC, Mac and Linux in early 2015. The game was Greenlit in record time and will be available on Steam (as well as DRM-free vendors). Console versions are planned to follow.
SnowCastle has been able to finance a large part of the game already, but in order to complete it, we are also looking for crowd-funding to cover some of the remainder through our ongoing Kickstarter campaign. As one of our updates in the campaign, we announced that if we successfully reach our kickstarter goal, we will get additional funding of $200,000 from the Norwegian Film Institute. That is quite a motivation!
We would love it if you check it out the Kickstarter campaign! There you will find loads of more information about the game and the team behind it, including a great video and links to a downloadable early alpha demo – not to mention the updates with special reveals as the campaign progresses! And please chip in with a Kickstarter pledge and share the project with friends who may be charmed by the game to make sure that Earthlock reaches its funding goal!
We are also planning an AMA (Ask Me Anything) on reddit.com on March 26 at 5 PM EST (6 PM EDT / 11 PM CET) – so we invite you to drop by and participate!
Thank you to the readers for taking the time to read about our project and a big thank you goes out to Forevergeek.com for inviting me to guest blog about Earthlock! Make sure you check out the ForeverGeek Kickstarter Store!
Computer role-playing games have been among the earliest of genres to establish themselves in the games industry, but sadly also one of the most vulnerable and, perhaps, the genre that has been contorted the most over the years.
Role-playing saw a real heyday during the 80s, when games like “The Bard’s Tale,” “Phantasie,” “Ultima,” “Wasteland” and the “Wizardry” games allowed fans to explore fantasy worlds in a way they had never seen before. During the 90s, the horizon of role-playing games expanded dramatically, as new technologies evolved and technical advances allowed for bigger and more feature-rich games. During this period, games like the “Might&Magic” series, the second wave of “Wizardry” games and SSI’s “Dungeons & Dragons” adaptations, as well as our own “Realms of Arkania” games, created role-playing experiences that oftentimes tried to capture the essence of pen&paper games, but without the inherent limitations. Many of these game succeeded and went on to become timeless classics.
The result of that era was a series of games, each of which was incredibly imaginative, colorful and bold. Some games pushed the storytelling side of role-playing, while others were decidedly more technology-driven. But they all had one thing in common. They were created by people who loved the genre, most of which were intimately familiar with the way pen&paper games were played, and who had the idealism to weather whatever obstacles lay before them, in order to bring their visions to life. I know, because I’ve been there, and the “Realms of Arkania” games are testament to that.
But there was trouble on the horizon and it had been looming there for years. Throughout the 90s, role-playing games were becoming more and more niche products. While action games, simulations and certain strategy franchises raked in the millions of dollars, RPGs have always had less commercial success, despite their acclaim and were generally smiled at. “Oh, you are the guys who pretend to be wizards and stuff, right?” was something you’d hear all too often. Sales of RPGs were significantly lower than those of comparable action titles and as the industry consolidated by the mid to late-90s, many publishers – who by that time controlled and owned many of the RPG developers – decided that role-playing games were no longer a viable market. Too much risk with too little payoff. Overnight, the genre as it were literally died.
In its place we saw the rise of the action RPG. Spawned by the humungous success of Blizzard’s “Diablo,” in 1996 the word role-playing was suddenly associated with intense bloodshed and furious action as innumerable monsters crowded down on the player who tried in a frenzy to free himself from the onslaught, while trying to find the next cool weapon or piece of armor.
Story? Who needs story. Character development? Who needs it? Strength and magic points are all you’ll ever need next to your health bar. Turn-based combat? What a waste of time. My reflexes are honed and I can take down anything with my trigger finger. Non-player characters? What for? I have my friends to join me in a LAN battle.
Quite unintentionally, with one single stroke, Blizzard had become a blessing and a curse to many people in the industry. On the one hand, they turned role-playing into a viable, marketable genre again, yet at the same time, they single-handedly watered down the experience to its bare minimum. Or rather, they created an action game and gave it the caché of a role-playing game, because at its core, “Diablo” is no more than a glorified version of “Gauntlet,” a coin-up game with no role-playing affiliations whatsoever. And just like that the true roots of RPGs were all but forgotten.
Since those “fateful” days in 1996, the industry has never really found its way back to the true role-playing experience. There have been a few notable exceptions and attempts. “Planescape: Torment,” a game I produced for Interplay, was one example where we tried to at least keep the spirit of real RPGs alive, and games such as the “Baldur’s Gate” series also helped to give the current RPG flock some of the depth it had lost, but never to the same extent. In fact, Bioware was probably the most prolific torch-carrier of a bygone role-playing era, but even they had to bow to the pressure of corporate marketing departments.
Even huge role-playing hits like “Skyrim” offer very little of the true spirit of role-playing, and it appears that many players now have never played a true RPG.
That is where “Deathfire: Ruins of Nethermore” comes in. It is a new role-playing game I have been working on with my team for the past 8 months or so. The “Deathfire” development team consists of a group of game developing veterans, some of which have worked with me as far back as “Shadows over Riva” in 1995, and other games. I myself have also worked on a number of role-playing games such as “Planescape: Torment,” “Fallout 2,” “Neverwinter Nights” and others during my 30 year career in the industry.
Other members of the “Deathfire” team have been part of the “Divine Divinity” series, the “Sacred” series, “Heroes of Might&Magic 2” and many more. So all in all, we have a team of people who know how to build solid role-playing games and have the track record to back it up, and we always keep saying, “Who better to make an old-school RPG than the guys who actually made them?”
“Deathfire: Ruins of Nethermore” is a single-player, first-person RPG with turn-based combat that truly hearkens back to the roots of traditional computer RPGs. The game has features that players haven’t seen in years, features that have been all but forgotten. At the core of it all is our desire to recreate the magic of these old games, the seed that made them so timeless and memorable, and in “Deathfire” we will try to go back to the roots of it all and try to recreate the atmosphere and playful diversity you would find an a pen&paper setting, where you have a game master whose job it is to throw your party off the track all the time.
Starting with a deep character system that features over 40 different attributes and traits, as well as disadvantages, “Deathfire” also has a story that revolves around the player and his actions, as opposed to throwing him in an open world with nothing – and everything – to do, but all of it with very little consequence.
“Deathfire” on the other hand makes sure the player is at the heart of the game, that every action has an impact on the story and on the world around him. Innocent people may get killed as a result of the player’s actions, as a result of a decision he made. The entire flow of the story may be redirected, as the game features four uniquely different endings, each with variations, depending on how the player worked his way through the story.
Things such as character interaction, for example, become important where player and non-player characters have distinct personalities that create certain dynamics between them. Issues evolve that the player has to deal with and channel.
The game also feature turn-based combat that hands control back to the player, giving him the chance to strategize and to make tactical moves, instead of acting upon reflex. It is an important part of many classic role-playing games, to ensure that encounters do not turn into tedious grinding sessions, but instead are engaging and challenging parts of the game as a whole, that measure his ability to cope with increasingly difficult situations and overwhelming odds.
And at the heart of it all is the story, which makes sure the player is invested on an emotional level, and doesn’t simply chase the next quest for loot that is never really of any import.
The story centers around the disappearance of people. All around, people are vanishing. Mothers, fathers, sister, brothers, sons and sisters… only to reappear a short while later. But they have changed. They are undead. Zombies with no mind of their own.
Rumor has it that an evil Nethermancer has unearthed an ancient spell that burns people’s souls into oblivion, kills them and then raises them from the dead as mindless servants. The name of the spell? Deathfire. Banished from lore and books for centuries, the Nethermancer seems intent to use this abominable magic to build himself an army of the undead.
But are those rumors, true, or is there a lot more to these events, something far more sinister?
Now, I ask you, doesn’t that sound like something you would like to play?
An ambitious project such as this has a price, of course, and for the past 8 months we have worked on the core technologies and developed a prototype, funding it all out of our own pockets. However, as the team is growing, external funding is required to continue the project, and for that purpose we are currently running a Kickstarter campaign for “Deathfire: Ruins of Nethermore.” We are trying to raise $390,000 to continue and complete the development of the game so we can release it in late 2014, and we’ve been extremely active in the past weeks to get support from backers and players around the globe.
If what I have just described is something that gets you excited, something that makes you itch, please stop by our Kickstarter page, check out all the additional information we have and make a pledge. Help, make “Deathfire: Ruins of Nethermore” a reality.
Please do not forget to give the Forever Geek Kickstarter Store a quick look also, for great offers on previously kickstarted games and items!
“Aren’t all gamers geeky?”, you may be asking. I wouldn’t dare make such a sweeping statement, but if you consider yourself an MMO/RPG enthusiast, you’ll love MMO Attack. The name says it all, but the best part is that it has a section for free RPG! (That caught your attention, didn’t it?) Truth be told, there are tons of free online RPGs for all gamers, for all kinds of interests. Obviously, these five free online RPGs I’ll be sharing with you today are my own picks. Bias aside, I believe that those with geeky tendencies will at least give these RPGs a try. Here you go.
The Hobbit: Armies of the Third Age
The setting is ripe for war, with the Elves and Dwarves still not forgetting the enmity between them. Of course, the Orcs and Goblins are stirring up trouble as usual. Your task is to partner up with the heroes of legend in order to restore order to Middle Earth. Not an easy task, but with Gandalf on your side (not to mention his legions of animal friends), you’ll be all right.
Dungeons & Dragons Online
If you’ve spent many a sleepless night playing D&D with your friends, but for some reason can’t find company to play with you at home these days, then this is one of the best free online RPGs for you. It may very well become your best friend. From dungeons and dragons to zombies – you’ll meet all sorts of monsters in the game. And did I mention dungeons?
The Lost Titans
Can’t get enough of Greek mythology? The Lost Titans can give you your fix of Greek imagination. The game is beautiful, although you will have to fight your way through a lot of battles. But that’s one of the allures of good free online RPGs, isn’t it?
Here’s another game that caters to those who like beautiful things. Eden Eternal is the game for fantasy lovers – with a wonderful blend of visuals and magic powers. The premise is not unique in that the world (Eden) is in desperate need of peace. Your task, as the hero, is of course to bring about this peace. Oh, and if you’re into pets, you can adopt one so that you won’t be alone in your quest.
Battlestar Galactica Online
Truth be told, this game is not one of the more highly rated ones, but any BSG fan will want to give it a try. Unless you’re totally satisfied with doing your own BSG reruns at least once a year, you might want to branch out and do other BSG-related things. (I’m not talking about fantasizing about Starbuck or Apollo.) The game is all about action, and here is your chance to pretend you’re a Cylon (although I’m pretty sure any decent BSG fan does that on a regular basis).
So, whether you’re looking for some fantastical experience or some sci-fi action, there’s at least one RPG on this list that should catch your eye. The best thing about it is that you don’t have to be anti-social. You’ll have lots of other people to spend time with, albeit virtually.
About the Author
Kirk Wallace got his education at the California State University, San Mateo, with a degree in Business Administration/Marketing. He obviously loves gaming as well, and he puts together his passions by being the social marketing executive at MMO Attack. Jealous now?
Indie game fan? Check out ‘Grim Dawn’ and other Kickstarter funded RPGs on the Forevergeek Kickstarter Store
I already divulged my love for RPGs some months ago, and was pleased with the majority of your suggestions when I put out the call for decent RPGs my new big bastard, monster gaming machine could tackle. Well, the machine is a few months less new now, but it’s still a monster. I’ve tried your RPGs and enjoyed many. But now a new hunger grows. A hunger for leading armies and hordes to rain destruction down upon my enemies. A hunger for exploration and for conquering. A hunger for riches and for glory! [Read more…]
Recent demonstration of a typewriter hacked to play Zork made me nostalgic for the golden age of MUDs, text-based roleplaying games that were, and in my opinion still are, king in the world of actual roleplaying – in line after pen and paper, of course.
MUDs (or any of the other MU* designations) were in essence MMORPGs in the days before graphic integration. They were interactive stories, playable solo or in a group with elements that were conducive to actual roleplay. In a good MUD story was the focal point, with social interaction spinning off plot with a life of its own. [Read more…]
I recently had a custom PC built. It’s a monster – and I mean, it breezes through any game on the market, even the newest releases, in highest graphics modes without a single problem. This is a dream PC. (Thank you, NewEgg, for making a machine that would’ve cost thousands cost far, far less by buying individual parts.)
Now this is all very flashy and impressive with first person shooters, because FPS are pretty much what’s hot in new releases these days. So, the litmus test for a gaming machine would have to be how well it performs in FPS action. [Read more…]