Divinity: Dragon Commander
Dragon Commander Multiplayer Review
DArtagnan is our second reviewer for Dragon Commander and in his review he focused on the multiplayer part of the game.
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Divinity: Dragon Commander
Dragons with Jetpacks
Kalniel reviews Dragon Commander to find out how the different styles mix and blend while strapping on his dragon's jetpack.
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Recent info pages and articles
Poll WatchDo you Kickstart?
Yes, I've supported a bunch!
Yes, but only 1 or 2.
I'm waiting for the right project.
No! No finished product, no money!
No - but only because of my tight budget.
Elder Scrolls Online - Release Date Announced by cptbarkey
Original Sin - Post-Funding Update #49 by JonNik
Pillars of Eternity - Gameplay Teaser & Interviews by GothicGothicness
Legends Of Persia - A New ARPG by Avantenor
Forum Watchwhy anyone wants an "assault rifle" by ChienAboyeur
Gaming Windows Tablets by Lord_Brownie
Amusing coincidental moment after starting to play Deus EX: HR by pibbur who
New Divinity:OS gameplay video by Swen, Is it ready for Alpha? by greywolf00
Original Sin - Post-Funding Update #49
Larian Studios has posted a new post-funding update for Divinity: Original Sin with news the Alpha has a release date, and explains they need feedback from backers.
Divinity:Original Sin’s Alpha Dated! Input needed! Live stream!
We keep on getting the same question – when, when, when ? - and we keep on telling you – soon, very soon, very very soon. Well, no more “soons” from us – we’re ready to put a date on the alpha release, or at least a date range ;)
Next to that, this update also contains a list of recent previews from our hands-on event, a call for input for the higher level backers and an invitation to a new live twitch.tv session, this friday, and yes, just because it's friday the 13th!
When is the Alpha coming?
The date is Tuesday December 17th 2013. The date range is next week. If something goes wrong, it might be December 18th or 19th or who knows, it might even be December 16th, but rest assured that it will be next week, unless of course calamity strikes. The exact hour, well that is still to be decided.
Decision time - Live on Twitch
The decision will be made in a live twitch.tv stream on December 13th starting at 17:00 CET, 16:00 GMT, 8:00 PST, 11:00 EST. David & Swen will be playing the alpha, approve, or disapprove things, and then decide if it's ready or not.
Our Twitch.tv channel is www.twitch.tv/larianstudios
What can I expect?
You can check for yourself in this let’s play video from last Friday in which Swen reviews the state of the alpha. Contains minor spoilers, so consider yourselves warned.
We’ll be releasing a first chunk of the world, good for approximately 10 hours of play, known to the team as The Left Side Of Cyseal. (Which is pronounced by some as "Sigh Seal" while others say "See Zay-All"...)
It’s alpha – that means place holders, rude balancing, some missing features, plenty of bugs etc… But, it’s playable, and you can play quite a lot. But you might also get stuck.
Don't plan on playing this if you want a polished experience! Wait for the real thing instead! Even if you're tempted!
Also, you need to be aware that savegames will not be compatible between different versions of the alpha and at first we will limit gameplay to single player. Multiplayer will open up but at a later date.
That's a lot of disclaimers, but we know from experience that we can repeat over and over that something is not final yet still get mails from angry people yelling at us that they want us to fix their savegame because they don't want to lose their hero. For the record, we won't! :)
But, despite all the disclaimers above, we will be very appreciative if you do in fact play the alpha and give us constructive feedback. That's why we decided to spread it to all of you. The group that has played Divinity:Original so far is very limited and we're very much in need of extra opinions on what we did right & wrong and what we should fix prior to release.
Who can play the alpha?
For the moment, Kickstarter backers only. We might be opening up beta access at a later date for people who preorder, but with 20K backers, we’re sure we’ll know what to do on the short term ;)
How will I get access?
You’ll be able to redeem a Steam key via your Kickstarter account on the Larian Vault. We’ll guide you through the process once again once the alpha is actually live.
Original Sin - Preview @ Rock, Paper, Shotgun
Rock, Paper, Shotgun has posted a new hands-on preview of Divinity – Original Sin.
Preview events often involve around half an hour with a game, while carefully chaperoned through its corridors. I spent sixteen hours playing Divinity: Original Sin over two days in Belgium last week and nobody told me what I should or shouldn’t do. I spent two hours looking for a potato because I wanted to make some chips and Larian’s founder actively encouraged me in that mighty quest.
If I hadn’t had a flight to catch, I would have played for another sixteen hours over the next couple of days as well. There are more technically impressive fantasy RPGs coming out next year and there’s a great deal of work still to be done, but Larian’s latest is living up the early promise and is right near the top of my most wanted list.
Planescape: Torment - Interview @ Matt Chat
Mat Barton continues his interview with Guido Henkel talking about Planescape: Torment.
I'm back this week for one last segment with Guido Henkel. After discussing why Guido prefers the second Realms of Arkania, we get into his move to Interplay and his work on Planescape: Torment. We also discuss other projects, including his unreleased superhero MMO
Information aboutPlanescape: Torment
Original Sin - Post-Funding Update #48
Larian Studios brings news that the alpha for Divinity: Original Sin is now delayed.
A big surprise!
It’s the end of November, and we said the Divinity:Original Sin alpha was going to be out in November, so where is it?
Ah, I wish I could write that it’s out now, but sadly it’s not. We still need to sort out a couple of things, so a bit more patience will be needed. How much patience? Not that much, but still a bit. We’re working really hard to get everything done and we do expect the alpha to be out before our X-mas break, but ... well maybe you want to watch the big surprise first.
The big surprise!
It’s a surprise so we won’t spoil it with text, but watch the video as it contains some good news. We hope it makes you happy! Errmmm... if you are weak of heart, don't let the title fool you ;)
We decided on doing this a few weeks ago because we realized it would be much more beneficial to the game, but since we only decided on it, it’s going take us a bit more time to put everything in place. We are committed to getting this all sorted out before the X-mas break though and we solemnly swear to do everything we can to get it to you asap.
Backers who explicitly pledged extra for alpha/beta access can expect refunds/extra credit to be in place before X-mas too via their Larian Vault account. We hope you understand that we want to maximize the amount of people playing the game because that’s how we’ll be able to strike the best balance between all the different items, spells, skills and creatures.
We will also be reaching out to backers who need to get their items, npcs, dialogs, object combinations or looks in the game in the coming weeks as we’re finally ready to implement those so expect some mail if any of these were included in your pledge.
Original Sin - Post-Funding Update #47
Larian Studios has released has a new post-funding update for Divinity: Original Sin.
Why do RPGs take so much time to develop? And how do you try to quantify the quality of what you are making? These and other questions are things developers like ourselves often think about, but seldom agree upon. That's because the answer to these questions is very complex, and cannot be summarised easily. In this latest update, we reflect a bit on on the metier of making RPGs. And we do a shoutout! And we want you all to learn Russian! And we found back a cool movie! And you need to tell us what you think of our new font. And there's also another Larian-leak, through which it is revealed that there exists such a place as Silverglen!
First we get a look at scripting with a new video.
The implicit revelation of Silverglen
It happens from time to time, more than often in fact, that the implementation of a quest takes much more time than a designer originally anticipated. Typical reasons are the game engine not supporting everything the designer wants to do or there being much more possibilities that need to be handled than originally assumed.
In this latest update video, Bert, our resident scripting guru, explains how Björn and Mara's problems caused him multiple headaches, and how regular exercise, healthy food and a strict lifestyle helped him through this particularly difficult period in his life.
He also discloses one of our closest guarded secrets - the existence of ... Silverglen!
Next they discuss the font that was chosen.
It's that time of the year again - we need to make final decisions about our fonts! Thomas has been diligently testing out various fonts on unsuspecting bunnies (see from the archives) and tell us that the following font is good for our eyes. While judging, take into account that it is none other than Jan writing the dialogue - meaning, expect many many many lines. Let us know if it's too big, too small, too ugly, too whatever, for once decided, it's going to stay for a very very long time. (Click here for new Font)
Larian Studios - FUME!
Well it's a weird title but it's the topic of a new blog post from Swen Vincke were he gives his opinions on the game industry.
FUME, in short, is my method for measuring the quality of character development a game is going to give me, character development being the feature I care the most about in a RPG. The higher the FUME score, the more I love it and the lower the FUME score, the less likely it is to remain on my hard drive (or even be installed if I judge the FUME potential to be low)
The F in FUME stands for the Freedom of character development available.
Can you make the avatar you want to play? Or are you forced into a particular stereotype conjured by the designers of the game, who for sure will not have thought of your particular fantasy. It’s an important question, because it directly affects how immersed I will be in the game.
Freedom also reflects the degree of linearity present - you can’t have a very high Freedom value in a linear game. It also stands for the liberty that is given to you to make decisions that have some in-game consequences. If I don’t get to make at least a few decisions that affect at least a few things in your gameworld, chances are you’ll score very low on my Freedom scale with your RPG.
The original Fallouts scored quite high on my Freedom scale whereas (perhaps surprisingly) most Bioware games actually scored quite low for me, even if I did enjoy the Baldur’s Gates & Icewind Dales a lot. Sadly, most RPGs are a far cry from what I’d want to see, but there have been steps in the right direction, so I remain hopeful.
Next up is the U, whichstands for the Universe in which you develop your character.
Is it interesting? Is it diverse? Is it original? Can you have cool and fun adventures in it? Is there sufficient depth? Do you care about the game world? Is it consistent with itself? Is it the type of universe that is interesting to play in as a starting character, but also as a well-developed hero? And also, is it a place that reflects your actions? Does it change as a result of your heroic deeds? Do you make an impact? If the answer to all or most of these questions is yes, I might be tempted to play the game even if it sucks at all the other levels. I like to explore new universes. They are a projection of the complex mix of cultures that make up a game development team, and there’s often something to be learnt from them.
The M then stands for the Motivation that is given to you to develop your character.
This doesn’t always have to be the main story: Diablo for instance was a game that got its Motivation from item fever and a few cutscenes, rather than from its complex storyline. However, it’s clear that having a good storyline can be instrumental in increasing your desire to explore a game’s universe. When the Universe falls flat (as it often does), it’s very possible that I’ll continue playing if my motivation to discover what comes next is strong enough. In general I find that if both Universe and Motivation score too low, I’m not going to be interested in a game.
An interesting case here is World of Warcraft. I had 2 level 70 characters, a number which is far from impressive for a lot people, but by my standards, considering the amount of free time I have, that’s a number that’s insane. Now, I didn’t play World of Warcraft because I thought it had a good story, or because I was impressed by its universe – I only played it because I was motivated by … the other people playing it. So, anything that motivates you to keep on playing goes I guess, though my personal holy grail will remain a strong storyline that will emotionally impact me.
Finally, E stands for the quality of the Enemies against which you can develop your character.
You can interpret this very broadly. The E would probably better be replaced by an A, as what I really mean is the Antagonist(s) against which develop your character, but FUMA doesn’t sound as sexy.
Dragon Commander - Flight of the Dragon Video
Dragon Commander about creating the audio flight-model for the dragon used in combat.
Creating the audio flight-model for your jet-packed dragon in Divinity:Dragon Commander was a pretty complicated task, and you may be surprised at how much technology was required to pull it off. We certainly didn't expect it to be that complicated when we started development ;)
Original Sin - Post-Funding Update #46
Larian Studios has released an interesting post-funding update talking about DOS editor news, 10 interesting things about Orcs, and a new stats screen preview.
The impact of Kickstarter: An example
For the first time in the history of Larian, we have people who are dedicated to making character development really fun. In the past, we always had the problem that we were spread too thin, and so the design and balancing of the character development systems were done almost between the soup and the potatoes. This may surprise you, but there are many many moving systems in an RPG and when you make them with a small team, you can't afford to have too much specialisation.
But now, thanks to your generous contributions, we can afford to have a team that is focussed on balancing our combat systems and tweaking the formulas that affect character development. It's a very big improvement ;).
Part of the job of our shiny new "stats team" is playtesting and adjusting the rule set that drives things behind the scenes. You know, stuff like "will constitution affect some resistances?", "What about initiative, does stuff in your inventory affect it?" etc... But they also decide whether or not strength affects the initial opinion somebody has about the player's avatar. After many discussions, the team came up with the following set of primary and secondary stats. We also have a list of abilities, traits and talents that go with it, but we’ll leave those for another update, because we’re interested in hearing what properties you think should be associated with each of these stats.
A picture tells a thousand words, so here's that picture :) Let us know your thoughts! (Here's a bigger version)
Dragon Commander - New Patch & Players Vote Video
Larian Studios posted a new video that looks at how players choose to resolve the various political choices, and shares details of a new patch.
Divinity Dragon Commander Patch 1.0.124 Notes:
The new battle report system gives you detailed stats on your performance in combat, and the gifting system now allows you to gift units, resources and buildings to your allies, making multiplayer campaigns that more interesting.
We’ve also added a global chat system, improved the turn-based AI and added a bunch of community requests.
Here’s a list with the most important changes:
- Added Global chat
- Added battle result window with extensive combat stats and graphs
- Gifting of units/resources/buildings
- AI fixes for better expansion
- Turn left/right with keyboard
- Faster connection for UPNP devices
- Fixes to population defecting
- Fixed exploit for cards on strategy map
- Allow enable/disable of golden dragon
- Rebalanced difficulty
- Added new cursors
- Performance improvement in multiplayer with AI opponents
- Allowed remapping of keyboard shortcuts for building units/buildings and
- using skills
- Fixed custom game setting “FFA AI’s always join battle”
- Russian localization fixes to text
- Minor balancing tweaks (warlock base damage and meteor shower)
Original Sin - Live Twitch.tv Q&A
Are there systems that encourage roleplaying? Are there mechanics that will guide players to make smart in-character decisions?
Yes, every quest has multiple solutions and different solutions, not just your regular solution via a different method. At least one will be dependent on which character you’re playing. The Charm/Reason/Intimidation options will help determine which way you’re going to go – if you haven’t got the stats to intimidate somebody, then that’s not going to work.
There is no difference in dialogue options if you put character A’s intelligence high, and character B’s intelligence low, they both get the same stuff.
When will Kickstarter backers of certain tiers get to give their input on designing X and Y?First, make sure that you create an account on the Larian Vault and link it to your Kickstarter account. They’ll automatically know what rewards and such you are entitled to, and you can fill in the design X and Y things. There are some things you can fill in, there are other things that Larian still needs to get the parameters of from their design team.Will there be an organized way to post mods and new adventuresThey’re still working on the logistics of that, but yes.Can mods be released as a commercial product?Maybe. There will be come kind of agreement that will let you sell your game if you want to, but details are still up in the air. They’ll be finalized before the editor is shipped.
Original Sin - Post-Funding Update #45, Delayed
With the success of the Kickstarter this might have been expected, but Divinity Original Sin has been delayed to next year February as is explained in the latest Kickstarter update.
We are very determined to implement all the extra features gained through stretch goals the way they should be implemented, which essentially means that we want to incorporate them in the story, the world and the gameplay mechanics.
This is taking us more time than we originally thought, and so, rather than cancelling a feature or a goal, we decided to move the release of Divinity: Original Sin from this fall (as originally announced) to this winter, specifically to February 28th 2014.
We realize this may be disappointing for some people who had hoped the game would still come out this year, but really, we think you'll have a much better RPG experience when everything we wanted to put in, is actually going to be in.
For backers that have Alpha access, expect to have the rough and rugged version of Original Sin by November. Beta should be your New Year's present in January!
For more details on the reasoning, check out Swen's blog.
In our official communication, we’re explaining the delay as the result of wanting to properly integrate our stretch goals. Thanks to Kickstarter these are becoming very integral to the game, so much in fact that parts of the game were completely re-engineered to make room for them.
That last statement can be read in two ways, and both happen to be right: A) Some stretch goals were incompatible with design decisions we had already taken e.g. our character development system wasn’t robust enough to accommodate for companions, and so we had to change things more than we expected. B) Some things in the pre-Kickstarter version sucked, and we took opportunity to fix them as we were re-engineering the game world anyway.
Another reason is simply that we can. Between the funds received through Kickstarter, and the money we’re making from Dragon Commander, we have sufficient budget to invest more in our newest baby, and so we will. Our aim remains to eventually make the very big RPG that will dwarf them all, and this is just another step in that direction.
In addition there is news about the development
Deeper character creation (traits and talents) made us rethink the stats system, the inclusion of companions meant we had to have more party support, and the day and night schedules affected all the behaviours of NPCs. And even the world they live in! Because where else would these people live and sleep?
The following video has Swen & Axel explain what including the stretch goals meant for the development of the game, and features an example of how schedules for instance influenced the game world.
Then there is news about a Q&A this Friday
We can imagine a lot of you have questions because of the moving of the release date, and to answer those, we'll be doing a live QA session via the Larian Studios channel on Twitch TV tomorrow, september 27th, 17:00 CET. Join in, and you'll be able to ask David or Swen pretty much anything you want about Divinity: Original Sin via the chat channel. They'll try to answer as many questions as they can, and perhaps even show a bit of the game.
And a video from the Fan day
Larian Studios - An Important Lesson
Larian Studios Swen Vincke has posted a new update on his blog going over what he learned with Kickstater, Dragon Commander, and Original Sin.
I have these little notebooks in which I write down my thoughts. Every day I fill a couple of pages with new observations, questions and decisions. Whenever a notebook is full, I put it in a drawer, there to stay until the drawer is full at which point I empty the drawer, and put the notebooks in a box. I really don’t know why I bother with it, because I rarely read what I wrote, but I guess it helps me organise my thoughts. It also makes it look like I’m paying attention in meetings I’m not particularly interested in
If you’d take the notebook that says January 2013, you’d see that I listed as major tasks for 2013, the organising Divinity: Original Sin’s kickstarter, releasing Dragon Commander and releasing Divinity: Original Sin. At that time, I only had hopes and aspirations and I really didn’t have a clue whether or not my plans were going to work.
Taking risks is of course part of the metier of running a game development studio, and there’s only that much that you can do to cover your bets. You know certain things will go wrong, you hope more things will go right. So last night, I started thinking about how we were doing compared to what I hoped for at the start of 2013…
Baldur's Gate 2 - Still One Of The Greatest RPGs
Kotaku's "Baldur's Gate II Is Still One Of The Greatest RPGs Ever Made." I have to agree with him, and no I'm not wearing nostalgia goggles.
Thirteen years after release, Baldur's Gate II is still one of the best role-playing games of all time. No joke. If you consider yourself an RPG fan, this is a game you have to play.
"But wait," you are most likely thinking, ready to type out a comment about how lame I am. "This game is old! Surely it is unplayable today."
Aha. That is where you are wrong, my persnickety friend. With a couple of mods and a functioning graphics card, Baldur's Gate II is just as stellar now as it was back in 2000.
Information aboutBaldur's Gate 2
SP/MP: Single + MP
Planescape: Torment - One Of Dragon Age’s Big Influences?
Rock, Paper, Shotgun has a new article about Planescape: Torment, and it's influence on Dragon Age.
If you looked at the two games side-by-side, you wouldn’t necessarily know it. Dragon Age dresses in prim and proper fantasy garb while Planescape Torment slips into gnarled, otherworldly skin and acts like its magnificent eccentricity is as normal as a stroll in the park. And sure, Planescape’s personality is utterly brilliant, but it’s hardly all that defines it.
“I mean, we’re not gonna have a Modron wandering around in Dragon Age,” Laidlaw qualifies. “It won’t fit the world. But we can still look at our characters and say, ‘Are they intriguing enough? Do they offer wildly different perspectives?’”
Perhaps even more exciting, however, is the prospect of choices heavily inspired by Planescape’s exceedingly multifaceted approach. That, claims Laidlaw, is the real meat of this Dragon Age-Planescape sandwich, and he’s quite happy to offer variety and choices with real consequences – even if that means many players won’t see a fourth of the game on their first playthrough. He continues, growing ever more animated:
“The big thing Torment brought to the table was offering a lot of solutions to problems – really cool solutions. Not everything was fighting. Oftentimes being persuasive or having certain stat checks might take care of it. It was like, ‘I have a wisdom stat of 25, so let’s shortcut the entire ending.’ I really like that kind of stuff. It also did a great job of acknowledging the path you chose in the game.”
Information aboutPlanescape: Torment
Dragon Commander - Review @ EuroGamer
EuroGamer has a new review for Dragon Commander giving the game a 7/10.
Everything in Dragon Commander (aside from these bosoms) is slightly underdeveloped. Still, what Larian has created is a coherent and idiosyncratic game that's remarkably enjoyable if you're a strategy fan who wants something less po-faced than the Total War series. None of the individual elements is particularly good but, together, they form something that's a lot more entertaining than you might expect; perhaps more entertaining than it deserves to be. Avoid the boring battles and instead focus on grand strategy and gay rights, and you'll find fun, imperfection, character, lovely visuals and occasional plot surprises in this ridiculous and very colourful game.
RPGWatch Feature: Dragon Commander Multiplayer Review
DArtagnan checked out Dragon Commander as well and focussed on the multiplayer part of the game. So enjoy our second review of Dragon Commander.
Dragon Commander is self-published and it's not a game with massive production values, so don't expect Starcraft 2 or Total War here.
But I think it's fair to say that the game is attractive and it pulls of the charm I think they went for. Especially during the Raven singleplayer segment - where the characters are quirky in just the right way, without necessarily winning any voice acting awards. But I'll let Kalniel's review go into that.
The campaign map looks like a real game board, armies look like board game pieces, cards look exactly like CCG cards and all in all, I think this game nails the atmosphere it's going for and it has a tangible feel like a real board game would have.
The real-time strategy combat looks decent enough, but it's not something that will make a big impression on a lot of people. I don't particularly care for the unit models - as they're too fickle and lack personality. They remind me of the units in Supreme Commander - though not quite that indistinct. But the terrain looks good - with nice water, and we all know that water should be pretty.