All's quiet...

When you develop a concept for a website it's difficult to know how it's going to work until you try it out. Thus, I tried out my idea for a blog devoted to role-playing games, and I had a blast doing so. As I've grown more involved in the gaming community, however, I've realized there are a number of sites out there providing a similar service (RPG news and commentary).
My goal in creating a project is to provide something which is not currently provided elsewhere. RPG Blog hasn't been able to achieve that goal. Also, by its nature (being mainly a news site) it needs to be very current in order to have relevance and keep up with the big news aggregators. I'm at university and working part time and have found that this type of blog is taking up more time than I have to spare.

In the last week, as all's been running fallow here, I've been working hard on making my new project available. It's a site called Gamerpunch, and its aim is to make gaming better with tips, hacks, how tos, useful resources, and so on. That is where I will be blogging from now on and I hope to see some of you over there :).

If you want to keep track of RPG and MMORPG news, here are some sites which have helped me immeasurably in creating RPG Blog:

Worthplaying - the best gaming news source
RPG Watch - RPG news site
RPG Dot - RPG news site
MMORPG Dot - MMORPG news site

With those four sites working in tandem you will have your finger firmly on the pulse of the role-playing games industry.

Thanks again and see you around!

digg this: | posted by Natasha, 6:18 PM |

New BioShock developer diary



New gameplay footage coupled with tid bits of developer wisdom.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:37 AM |

Eternal Sonata: new trailer



The above trailer is from the second part of the game's prologue. You can watch the first part, too, though it's described as such:
Flower petals getting carried away by the gentle breeze highlight this conversation between Polka and Chopin (in Japanese).
The video above showcases the game's detailed rendering of interior spaces and a little more about the game's unique premise: it takes place within Chopin's dreams as he lies on his deathbed.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:54 AM |

Mass Effect: Xbox 360 faceplate

Via Xbox Collector comes a pic of this rare Mass Effect faceplate for the Xbox 360. It's being auctioned on eBay for the big bucks.

It's interesting that the two upcoming RPGs receiving the most hype at the moment are Fallout 3 and Mass Effect: both sci-fi titles. I'd argue that BioShock, if you include that, is science fiction too. Coincidence? Trend?

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 3:41 PM |

Mass Effect: 12 new screens


Worthplaying has 12 new screens of Mass Effect. If we needed further proof that the character models are kick ass, we've got it. The screens also showcase combat, world environments, and a bar scene.

But damn... those character models, eh?

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 12:18 PM |

Hellgate: London: 23 new screens


Worthplaying has 23 new screens of FPS/RPG Hellgate: London. It looks sort of like the latest version of DOOM with character stats and levels. If you like shooters, that certainly isn't a bad thing.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 12:07 PM |

Ultima Online: Kingdom Reborn trailer



EA Mythic's face-lift of Ultima Online promises to feature advanced visuals and all new content. What about an all new game, eh?

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:55 AM |

Fallout 3: Game Informer scans and transcript

With people hungry for detail on Fallout 3, it's no surprise that the information in the July issue of Game Informer has popped up on the web. NMA Fallout has scans and a transcript, but if you're able, I suggest you buy the magazine and tip your hat (and your wallet/purse) to Game Informer for securing this exclusive.

  • The game will retain the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. attribute system, perks and traits.
  • The game's view point will be first person or over the shoulder 3rd person, not unlike Resident Evil 4.
  • Combat will be real-time or simulated turn-based, with the ability to expend action points to pause the game and target enemies.
  • Your character will deal out (and take) locational damage, with the potential for bones to break.
  • The karma system will make its return.
  • The game is set in Washington DC and its surrounding areas.
  • You will be able to tune into a number of surviving radio stations via your Pip-Boy 3000.
  • Computers can be hacked.
The author of the article had this to say about his impressions of the game:
As longtime players and fans of both Fallout and the Elder Scrolls franchise, that one hour as we sat in rapt attention made one thing abundantly clear: This is the best of both of those franchises, without any compromises, and with enough amazing new details to excite even the most jaded or skeptical RPG enthusiast.
What do you think of the game as it looks so far?

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:09 AM |

RPG News Bullets

digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:01 AM |

MMORPG News Bullets

digg this: | posted by Natasha, 9:31 AM |

Warhammer 200k: huge response to beta



EA Mythic
has proudly reported that over 200,000 players are signed up to the Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning closed beta. Missed the boat? Snag a spot while you can. Though Warhammer is a tabletop strategy game its online iteration will a be a persistent-world RPG. [Via Joystiq]

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 1:15 PM |

Chocobo's Dungeon: first trailer



It always bothers me when I see a console virtually devoid of RPG love. That's why this Japanese trailer for Chocobo's Dungeon on the Wii warms my heart.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 12:56 PM |

Gamecrafts: Hellgate Jeep


This Hellgate: London jeep joins a rather less threatening group of Hellgate VW Caddies dedicated to promoting the game by functioning as moving billboards. Not sure how many eye balls are going to pass over the vehicle while it sits out in the desert, though. So far, the fleet consists of hatchbacks, VW Caddies and now the Jeep. What next?

[Hellgate: London fleet adds Jeep via Kotaku]

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 12:30 PM |

The Agency top-secret pre-beta sign up



Or not so top-secret anymore, considering that details of how to unlock The Agency pre-beta sign-up screen are all over the place.

Head to The Agency official site, click on the banner that says "Enter the Flash Site" and wait for it to load. When you see the logo in the top right-hand corner of the screen, click on the black bullet in the logo to leave your details and be notified about the beta.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 12:02 PM |

New Zelda: Phantom Hourglass trailers



The news that The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass for the DS would be completely stylus controlled had some gamers skeptical. Just in time to allay their fears comes several new gameplay movies showcasing the game's controls in action. You can view combat controls (above), boomerang controls and exploration controls at GameTrailers.com.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:32 AM |

Top Ten most influential roleplaying games of our time



ActionTrip
columnist Ure "Vader" Paul offers his ten most influential RPGs of all time. This is his list:

10. Fable
09. Final Fantasy Series
08. Baldur's Gate Series
07. Planescape: Torment
06. Fallout
05. Ultima series
04. Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
03. Diablo
02. The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
01. World of WarCraft

You can read his reasoning here. I've got to say, I'm really puzzled by the addition of Fable over, say, System Shock 2 or Deus Ex. I think System Shock 2 is probably more deserving of a place as 'influential' because working through the game at the moment I can see the many ways Deus Ex was inspired by SS2. I also think the Final Fantasy series is too low on the list. JRPGs are a huge market and it's hard to find a JRPG title not directly influenced by the Final Fantasy franchise.

What would your list be?

[Top Ten Most Influential RPGs of Our Time via ActionTrip]

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:13 AM |

RPG News Bullets

digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:05 AM |

MMORPG News Bullets

digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:34 AM |

Mass Effect: toad alien vacation photos

Today sees the release of four new Mass Effect screens, all of them starring our new friend on the right, Mr. Toad Alien. The screens consist of Mr. Toad Alien in various intergalactic locations and in various states of body armour. Kinda like vacation photos.

The character models for this game, as I've said before, are looking superb: both human and alien. Too superb for my video card, that's for sure. But with the game being an Xbox 360 exclusive, us PC gamers have plenty of time to save our pennies for upgrades while we wait patiently for a port.

[Via Kotaku and IGN]

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 1:32 AM |

Gamecrafts: orcs and trolls have never been so cute


World of WarCraft gamer Nicole recently put together these cute little guys, an Orc Shaman and a Troll Rogue. They took her an hour each to complete, but before you blow the dust off your grandmother's sewing machine, keep in mind that Nicole has been a self-taught seamstress since the age of 14. Don't let that stop you though: she's taking requests.

Something tells me there's a solid business plan here. 8 million subscribers... 8 million custom soft toys?

[Orc & Troll "monsters", oh my! via WoW Insider]

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 12:54 AM |

Star Wars RPG Core Rulebook, Saga Edition review

As much as I love the D20 system, it has never quite done justice to the promise of gaming in the Star Wars universe. With this year being the 30th anniversary of the Star Wars franchise, however, it seems appropriate that this is also the year Wizards of the Coast might have got it right.

According to Slashdot, the new Saga Edition core rulebook for Star Wars D20 is actually good. The rules have been revamped and clarified, and the cover is just damn cool. Cool enough that you'd leave it lying around when your girlfriend/boyfriend comes over to visit? Probably not.

[Star Wars Roleplaying Game, Saga Edition | Review @ Slashdot]

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:41 PM |

Gamecrafts: Big Daddy


Elizabeth at BioShock sub-site Cult of Rapture is showing off her hand-painted Big Daddy figurine, pictured above. No details on how we can get our hands on one yet, but it sure looks preedy.

While we're on the topic of BioShock, here are all the previews so far, plus a new gameplay video at GameSpot.Feast your eyes on a new four-and-a-half minute BioShock gameplay video at GameSpot.

As promised, here's a list of all the BioShock previews so far, peeled directly off the Cult of Rapture site. Actually, that's not all of them. Where's the Gamers With Jobs preview, eh?

GameSpot's Hands-On
Shacknews Hands-On Preview

Eurogamer First Impressions

Computer and Video Game Preview

IGN's BioShock Hands-On

Team Xbox BioShock Preview

1Up's BioShock Preview

Game Arena's BioShock Event Report

Eurogamer Interview: Big Daddy Speaks

GameDaily Preview

Game Arena: Ten Questions with BioShock's Ken Levine

MPC Atomic's BioShock Preview
Gametrailers On Location Video Preview at BioShock Press Event
Gametrailers Water Effects and Enemies Video Interview

Gamespy’s BioShock Preview

Hands-On Gamepro Preview

Worthplaying’s Preview of BioShock

Gamesradar: A Nightmare You Don’t Want To End

Firingsquad’s BioShock Preview

Under Ground Online’s Hands-On

Gamespy debriefing podcast, including some talk about BioShock


Non-English Previews
Multiplayer's Italian Preview
MeriStation's Spanish Preview
Gry Online's Polish Preview
Xbox 360 Only Dutch Hands-on
InsideGamer Dutch Preview
Gamersnet Dutch Preview
Gamert Dutch Hands-On

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 12:43 PM |

BioShock: technical art director interviewed at GameBanshee


There's a new BioShock interview over at GameBanshee. Refreshingly, this time it's not Ken Levine in the chair. Instead, it's game's technical art director, Nate Wells. It's nice to see one of the developers willing to talk about the game's RPG elements without going on the defensive:
GB: It seems as though BioShock is evolving into more of a FPS than a FPS/RPG hybrid. Does the game still have a role-playing emphasis? If so, can you tell us about some of the RPG elements you're implementing into the game?

Nate: One problem with genre definitions when it comes to games is that they bring with them a lot of preconceived notions about what constitutes a certain game. To us, the real heart of RPG is not numerical-stats and limited inventories but rather the simple principle of allowing the player to experience a game world as they see fit. It’s different for each player… We give the player the ability to define a gameplay style and be free to experiment and modify their role in Rapture.
In fact, he seems to be arguing that BioShock can still be an RPG while being a First Person Shooter. Unheard of! You know, it's good to see that not everyone at Irrational Games is towing the party line.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 12:29 PM |

The Agency: you can stop living vicariously through James Bond now

Spies. MMORPGs. Both are awesome. Both have the capacity to kill people. What happens when you combine one with the other? You get The Agency.

The central premise of the game is that you play a spy. You start off as part of your chosen agency (like a guild, I guess) but powerful players will get the opportunity to start their own super-spy organization.

Seems like it's going to have some pretty unusual RPG elements, too:
In The Agency, the clothes make the spy. You don't choose a hard class, per se. You wear outfits -- Combat, Stealth, Support, or Alias (how you'll likely earn sweet James Bondian gadgetry). The more you wear one kit, the more experience you gain. That translates into leveling up, unlocking more skills and gear.
The Agency is coming to the PC and PS3, release date TBA.

[Interested? Read the preview at 1UP.]

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 12:09 PM |

Pirates of the Burning Sea: putting the Arr in MMOArrPG


Swashbuckling MMOArrPG Pirates of the Burning Sea has a treasure chest of screenshots stowed over at MMORPG.com - 222 screenshots, in fact, presumably captured by players duking it out in the exclusive beta version of the game.

The game's arrival on your sandy shores is TBA 2007. Let's hope this is one Pirates of the... title we can actually enjoy.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:54 AM |

Music4Games interviews Jeremy Soule

For years, Jeremy Soule has been the composer of choice for RPG developers. He's got some pretty illustrious titles under his belt, including TES IV: Oblivion, TES III: Morrowind, Dungeon Seige & Dungeon Seige II, and Knights of the Old Republic I & II.

Jayson Napolitano of Music4Games.net caught up with Jeremy recently and has done the work of transcribing the audio interview here. It's long and full of goodies for anyone who admires Jeremy's work or has aspirations of working in video game music.

I'd have to say my favourite Soule soundtrack is Morrowind, though there were some nice moments in KotoR, too. What's yours?

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:43 AM |

City of Heroes/Villains: new world event



In Issue 10 of City of Heroes/Villains, the Rikti have returned in vast numbers. It falls to the gifted denizens of Paragon City to band together and deal with this threat.
The first missions in the Rikti War Zone are for characters level 35+. The characters meet a new contact, Levantera, who introduces them to the U.N. security force, Vanguard. They’ll also meet Borea, who sends them on several repeatable missions in the zone. From there, characters meet contact Serpent Drummer, Gaussian, and also talk to the Dark Watcher and learn one of the darkest secrets of Paragon City.

The Rikti Co-Op Task Force is available for both Heroes and Villains. It is for 6 to 8 players, level 45 – 50. The mission is given out by Lady Grey, leader of the Vanguard. Co-operative missions create a new layer of depth and story as heroes and villains work toward a common goal.
Worthplaying has seven images of the invasion and further details concerning the circumstances of the attack. Heroes, it's time to put your underpants outside your lycra and rise to the challenge.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:28 AM |

Shores of Evendim released

The LotRO content expansion Shores of Evendim is live and the studious little elves at LotRO Vault have catalogued all the new content at their Patch Tree.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:15 AM |

RPG News Bullets

(Sources: RPG Dot, EuroGamer, IGN PSP, Destructoid)

digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:59 AM |

MMORPG News Bullets

Sources: Worthplaying, GameZone, RPG Dot, MMORPG Dot, RPG Vault, Ten Ton Hammer, WarCry.

digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:09 AM |

BioWare MMORPG arriving in 2009

BioWare makes an announcement about its use of complex event processing. By the end of the announcement, we're expecting a BioWare MMORPG in 2009.
... BioWare has not announced the name or described the nature of its online game, but Dalton said it will be launched in 2009. Dalton said his firm wants to do more than match the state of the art represented by such online games as World of Warcraft. He expects the complex event processing built into his firm's game to allow richer role playing and interactions between players.

... Its 2009 release of an online game will be its first foray into what's known as the massively multiplayer online role playing game. Bioware reported revenues of $17.5 million in 2003 before it was taken private and stopped reporting revenues. Part of its MMORP game development is underway in Edmonton, Canada, and part at its labs in Austin, Texas, Dalton said.
According to EGM magazine BioWare opened a new studio in April dedicated to producing an MMORPG rumoured to be set in the Knights of the Old Republic universe. I'd wait for an announcement before getting excited about another addition to the KotoR franchise, but let's face it, whatever it is, a BioWare MMORPG is probably going to be good.

Note: updates are going to be a bit late today as I've got an exam (which I really should be studying for right now). Some of you might have gone to bed by that point, so I apologize. Things will be back to normal tomorrow.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:14 AM |

It's what all the cool kids are playing


With the release of the PC Overlord demo today, I'm hoping someone keeps track of downloads by PC users compared with downloads by Xbox 360 users. This would determine once and for all the answer to a timeless question: which group has a greater inclination towards the joys of evil despotism, as a whole? That is, if Google isn't already tabulating results as we speak...

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 1:46 PM |

Lair: unable to make sarcastic comments (except maybe about the name)


Worthplaying has 13 new screens of Lair (or Rise of Lair in Japan) for the PS3. The game looks really nice, the dragons are fearsome, and the premise is one fantasy staple (the Dragon Rider) which has yet to be explored effectively in a game.

Unfortunately, Lair isn't actually an RPG. Nope, it's not even an Action-RPG. It's just Action. Should I be covering it on RPG Blog? Probably not. But I will, because it's an excuse to make posts accompanied by pretty pictures of dragons, which, let's face it, is the reason you come here.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 1:24 PM |

When not to publish an interview

I think I've finally worked out what an Action-RPG is. I mean, the term's not exactly self-explanatory.

What does that make all other RPGs then? Role-playing games without any action?

The conclusion I've come to is that they're role-playing games in 3rd person POV with lots of (non-turn based) fighting. This puts me at ease. It's quite distressing to have at least 14 Action-RPGs announced each day, and not to know, exactly, what an Action-RPG is.

The latest genre offering is Avencast: Rise of the Mage, and three developers from ClockStone spoke to RPG Vault about the game's selling points. When I say 'spoke', I mean 'e-mailed'. With a PR guy standing over their shoulder. The answers, coupled with penetrating questions and commentary from the interviewer, make for an informative read. From the introduction:
ClockStone tells us about enemies, magic, items, quests and various other elements of its upcoming action RPG.
This tells us straight away that Avencast will have enemies, magic, items and quests. This is all pretty exciting as I love it when RPGs do that stuff.
Jonric: How are you treating weapons, armor and items in general? Should we expect a lot to find and collect?

Michael Schiestl:
Treasure looting, as players might expect from Diablo and the like, will also play an important role in Avencast. There will be plenty of equipment to find in the world, including rare, magically enhanced and unique items.
This is great. This sets Avencast apart from all the other RPGs in which finding equipment and loot was not featured.

The second page gets more intimate and personal: the questions we really want to ask the developers, the answers we crave. "What's your favorite color?" followed by "What's your favorite band/group?", both answered with heart-warming honesty.

You come looking for information on Avencast, you leave knowing that Matthias Hilke likes "everything except R&B." It's no small wonder that IGN is a gaming media behemoth.

[Avencast: Rise of the Mage interview @ RPG Vault]

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 12:12 PM |

A very KotoR Christmas? I don't think so.

Ah, CVG and Knights of the Old Republic franchise rumours. In April, they told us BioWare were making a KotoR MMO. Now, their latest speculative offering (via Official Xbox Magazine) is KotoR 3 by Christmas, or, more generously, 2008.

A Christmas release would fall two months after highly anticipated space RPG Mass Effect arrives on the Xbox 360. The very same platform CVG has its rumoured KotoR 3 slated for.

Of course, the article doesn't mention the release of Mass Effect in any way affecting the likelihood of this rumour being true. I don't think you'd find anyone in the games industry who thinks it'd be smart for KotoR 3 to arrive when people are still working their way through "that other space RPG"... on the same platform.

There are other reasons why there being any truth to this rumour is highly unlikely, and I'm sure any of us could list them. What struck me most about this story was the kind of games journalism exhibited: the reporting of sensational, unlikely rumours without any kind of accompanying evaluation on behalf of the writer. It's just lazy, but worst of all, it's starting to characterize a large portion of what internet games journalism is.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:22 AM |

Today's RPG News Bullets

digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:11 AM |

Today's MMORPG News Bullets

digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:05 AM |

Collector's Crate #1



Collector's Crate will be a semi-regular feature on collecting role-playing games, retro/obscure RPGs, and role-playing memorabilia. Before we dive in, though, I'd like to know the shape of your role-playing game collection. If you're willing to share, that is (via the comments in this post).

If you've got a particular collection you think is impressive then take a photo and send it my way. It doesn't need to be as kick-ass as the Ultima collection above, but it should be at least a little bit awesome. Chances are it'll be included in the next Collector's Crate feature, and then you'll be famous on the internet, etc.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:53 PM |

This Week's Highlights

The best posts from another week at RPG Blog:

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:44 PM |

Gamecrafts: computer gets steamy

Feast your eyes on this steampunk inspired keyboard and monitor setup. It's the work of the aptly named Hieronymus Isambard "Jake" von Slatt of Steampunk Workshop.

Now all we need to do is load up Arcanum and dissolve into a pool of steampunk RPG bliss.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:14 AM |

BioShock: Big Daddy Speaks

Eurogamer has done a post-preview interview with Ken Levine. It's been a while since I've seen someone receive such adoring treatment from the gaming media, indicating that expecations for BioShock are sky high.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:01 AM |

Today's News Bullets

digg this: | posted by Natasha, 9:30 AM |

Why BioShock is a role-playing game


Ken Levine is BioShock's creative director, and BioShock is his baby. He's adamant that the game he is creating is not, in any way an RPG. In fact, he's wont to hammer this point home at every available opportunity. Here's a snippet of the GamersWithJobs preview in which he does just that:
These plasmids let you modify and slowly build your character in a way not-dissimilar to an RPG. But don't tell Ken that. "This is not an RPG," he demands. "It's not about stats. This is about huge amounts of dynamic exciting player expression ... thousands of ways to exploit the environment, take control of things and use the world to your advantage." He's passionate about this to the point of hyperbole and hand-waving.
Hit the jump with me to learn why I believe Ken Levine is wrong »Before we talk about whether something is or isn't a role-playing game, we need to establish an understanding of what a role-playing game is. The simplest definition would be a literal reading of the title: a game in which you play a role, but this is true of all games. In Half Life, you play the role of Gordon Freeman, but Half Life is not a role-playing game. There's something missing from this definition.

What seperates role-playing games from other genres is that in them, you have the ability to shape the role you have been given.

While inventory screens, attribute scores, dialogue trees and level advancement are all common features of many games in the role-playing genre, they are not the genre itself. They are tools game developers use to make it easier for you to play a role of your choosing (within certain parameters), but they are merely means to an end: role-playing. They are not what the genre is.

With that in mind, I believe there's plenty of evidence to suggest Bioshock is a role-playing game. Yes, it's a first-person shooter too, but those genres are not mutually exclusive. A game in first-person viewpoint, in which you shoot at stuff, is not an obstacle to role-playing. Ken Levine's most acclaimed gaming title, System Shock 2, is proof of this.

Why BioShock is a role-playing game

Plasmids (Adam): a substance you find through-out the game world that allow you to change and add to your character's abilities. You can choose whether or not to use the plasmids you find, and in what combination you use them. In this example from the 1UP.com preview, the plasmid functions just like a scroll which allows you to learn a new spell, or like the augmentations in Deus Ex.
You explore a bit and come across your first power-up from a broken vending machine. As you use it to alter your body, you earn your first power, the "Electro Bolt," which allows you to fire a blue lightning bolt from your hand.
Tonics: consumable substances which permanently improve your attributes, increasing your maximum health, adding new skills, and reducing the damage you take from attacks. Another way in which you can shape your character. Here's a quote about tonics from the Team Xbox preview:
Later, I found another machine that sold us Physical and Combat tonics, which can permanently improve your attributes. The Physical tonics basically increase your health level or give you powers like "hack and heal," which converts power from hacked machines into health. The Combat tonics, on the other hand, help you during battle by offering stuff like Armored Body, which reduces the amount of damage that you take.
Weapon modding: throughout the game you are able to equip different types of ammo and change the way your weapons function with weapon mods. This seems comparable to the weapon modding system in Deus Ex, or Diablo II's socket system.

Items: As you explore the game-world you'll encounter a number of items you can use to role-play your character. You can smoke compulsively, drink every bottle of alcohol you find, indulge your sweet tooth, and so on. From the 1UP.com preview:
First aid kits -- sure, those make sense. But the game gives you cigarettes, vodka, merlot, pep bars, creme-filled cakes, and all kinds of bonuses if you want them. Sometimes these will hurt/help your health, and sometimes they will hurt/help your EVE (your juice to use on powers like the Electro Bolt), but notably some can impact both sides -- drinking merlot boosts your health but hurts your EVE.
Money: enemy corpses can be searched for money. It is up to you how you spend it.

Player choice: at various points throughout the game you are given the choice between killing a Little Sister and harvesting the Adam she's collected, or restoring her to the little girl she once was.

In the words of Ken himself: "Depending on who you follow, your character grows differently, you play the game differently." Without spoiling game details, one person urges you to kill the Little Sisters, the other urges you to save them. How you play your character will have a direct impact on both the story and your character's abilities.

Multiple solutions: Many previews have highlighted the fact that charging into each encounter with guns blazing is a sure-fire way to get your character killed. You have a number of options: hacking turrets and sentry bots to soften up your enemies, using your plasmid abilities to electrify or send enemies up in flames, using telekenisis to hurl objects at your enemies, dominate the minds of Splicers in order to hurl them into battle with Big Daddies, and so on.

It seems entirely possible to play through the game specialising in particular modes of combat and customizing your installed plasmids and weapons to compliment your style of play. While there is no game-mechanic to select a character class, it seems entirely possible to create a class for your character via your own gameplay choices.

* * *

In the face of so many significant and deep role-playing game elements, all of which are integral to the core gameplay, it seems unreasonable that Ken Levine is so passionately adamant that BioShock is not an RPG/Shooter. I think Julian Murdoch of GamersWithJobs offers the best explanation for this aversion to the use of the words BioShock and RPG in the same sentence:
2KGames, Irrational-the-company's owner and publisher of BioShock, has mixed feelings about the game's place in genre-space. Early on, the press pigeonholed BioShock as a "hybrid RPG/Shooter." This scared the crap out of them, and for understandable reasons -- shooters sell, especially pretty shooters. And in a pre-Oblivion world, there was little evidence that a flashy RPG designed for both the PC and Xbox had a shot. So they've established an inviolable PR hook -- it's a kick-ass shooter.
It is ironic, then, that many of the things Ken Levine believes to be changing, nay, revolutionizing, the FPS genre, and the game elements many previewers are raving about, are elements which allow you to shape your character. Role-playing elements.

When it comes to BioShock, I think we should start giving role-playing games credit where credit is due. If the game encourages you to play a role, offers you choices in the creation of that role, then it is a role-playing game. It can be other things too - in this case, an FPS. But the options you have for shaping your character in BioShock are too considerable to ignore: from shaping stats and abilities (via plasmids and tonics) to shaping personality (via the Little Sisters moral choice), it is the role-playing in BioShock which will make it a great game.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 1:04 PM |

NWN 2: Mask of the Betrayer interview

Firing Squad spoke to Obsidian Entertainment's lead designer, Kevin Saunders, about the upcoming Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer expansion pack.

The interview hints at an innovative feature which will influence both roleplay and combat, whilst being vague enough that it's difficult to guess what such a feature could be.
FiringSquad: What other new features will the expansion pack have?

Kevin Saunders
: There's one major gameplay system that we've developed with Wizards of the Coast. It's not something from D&D, but it's D&D flavored. This new feature has both combat and conversation implications and is intimately tied into the story and characters. We'll be releasing more information in the near future.
[Read the Kevin Saunders @ Firing Squad]

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 12:14 PM |

Fallout 3: the story so far...


GameDaily has a short and sweet overview of Fallout 3's development so far, spanning from Interplay's death to the recent trailer release.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:28 AM |

Two Final Fantasy remakes for the PSP

Today has brought the announcement that Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy II are set to hit the PSP on June 26. This is Square Enix's celebration of the Final Fantasy franchise's 20th birthday. I can think of a better way to celebrate: a new game, maybe?

And remember kids, these games are not remakes, they're remastered from the originals. Worthplaying has 38 screens and a write-up of the new features. Remastered, in this case, means the same games with a new camera angle and 16:9 presentation. Do the graphics look updated to you?

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:44 AM |

Oh what could have been: Diablo for the GameBoy

Past and Present Online has screenshots and a picture of the development cartridge, though it seems like the server's overloaded at the moment. Above is gameplay footage of Diablo for the Nintendo GameBoy.

And to think my child self was stuck playing Donkey Kong when I could have been killing skeletons and what not.

[Spotted at Joystiq]

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:44 AM |

Assassin's Creed: look forward to "rpg elements" in November


Via 1UP.com: Assassin's Creed is set to arrive on PS3, Xbox 360 and PC this November.
The game is lugging around the 'Action' tag with a few extra elements. CVG asked the game's producer, Jade Raymond, about this last November:
Does the game include RPG elements where you can improve the Assassin's abilities?

Jade Raymond: Yes. One of our designers is a massive RPG fan and one of our goals was to achieve the satisfaction of levelling-up. A lot of really cool rewards spring from our RPG elements. You start out the game as a Master Assassin with all of your abilities, and at the end of the first mission your rank is stripped away. And then you spend the rest of the game completing missions and trying to regain your previous standing with the Assassin clan. The RPG elements are very much tied into the story.
I find it interesting that Ubisoft Montreal has said its aim with Assassin's Creed is to "revolutionize the action genre." How? By adding RPG elements, it seems. There should be a club for all the game developers trying to revolutionize the action genre by adding RPG elements. So they can all join it.

Dry observations aside, I am a sucker for games which offer the promise of compelling sword-fights. I've yet to play one which delivered, but hey, here's to hoping.

Woo Woo.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:26 AM |

Dungeon Maker: release date, screens, trailer, goblin room

The premise of Dungeon Maker: Hunting Ground [PSP] is kinda strange. You're a 'dungeon designer' who's moved to a new town, purchased many acres of land, and aims to build a dungeon so grand that monsters will flood to it. Monsters which can then be killed for loot. By you.

The idea that large groups of carnivorous monsters choose to live in dungeons in which there's no real source of food that doesn't involve a life and death battle to acquire has always been a staple of the RPG genre, yet is somewhat hard to swallow. This game takes that to a whole new level.

On the other hand, the idea of building a dungeon and then exploring it does seem kinda neat.

You can watch the trailer here, then take a look at these screenshots.

Dungeon Maker: Hunting Ground will hit shelves in North America on July the 19th.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:01 AM |

Hellgate: London: movie showcasing all 6 classes



A new Hellgate: London movie showcasing all six classes has been dug up from a Korean site and hosted at Filefront for the enjoyment of the masses.

[Spotted at RPG Watch]

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 9:50 AM |

Today's News Bullets

digg this: | posted by Natasha, 9:36 AM |

Communist Zombie MMORPG attack

The Three Hundred project is Sean Howard's attempt at coming up with 300 completely unique game ideas in 300 days. I posted previously about Sean's idea for the smallest RPG ever, but I like today's idea even better: game mechanic #030, Communist Zombie Mud.

It's not literally communist, but it does turn the current model of MMORPGs on its head. Rather than hoarding items and experience for your own advancement, you quest to better the chances of your community against the threatening zombie hordes.
The basic premise is simple. You play as a survivor after a zombie holocaust. When your character dies, you must create another one. There is advancement, both on a character scale (the longer you play a single character, the better he gets - to a small degree) and on a player scale (you can earn advancements that exist between characters). You can only create one character at a time, and to play another character means killing that one off. Each character you can create belongs in an archetype (ie policeman, doctor, farmer, biker, etc) that has specific advantages and disadvantages. Playing the game will unlock further archetypes to play as.

To combat rampant individualism, the idea is that you cannot keep any items between gameplay sessions. That's right. Individually, you do not accumulate anything. If you log off, you will drop everything on the ground. The next time you log in, you start with nothing. Instead, you are able to donate your items to various outposts in the world.
The full write-up is much more detailed and explains how players would be encouraged to play co-operatively. I encourage you to read, or skim it, it here.

With the power and prevalence of guilds in MMORPGs it seems as if players do have a strong urge to play co-operatively. I'm not sure how the loss of items would be justified in the story. Perhaps if you log off with items in your inventory you automatically return to town, and you're searched upon entry for items, which are collected and distributed automatically. Therefore, it's in your interest to distribute your items manually so that you can build relationships with certain outposts and impress everyone.

There's plenty to chew on here. What do you think? Could an MMORPG where you quest for the good of the community, not just the good of your character, work?

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:10 PM |

Dungeon Hero: an 'authentic' dungeon crawler?


Gamecock Media group announced today that Firefly Studio's Dungeon Hero will hack 'n slash its way to the PC and Xbox 360 somewhere near the beginning of 2009.

So, why are the developers calling it an 'authentic' dungeon crawler?
The first dungeon-based game to realistically depict underground life, Dungeon Hero promises all the danger, intrigue and daily routine of an actual subterranean community. Combining HD graphics with incredibly detailed environments completely immerses players in their newfound surroundings, complete with goblin cheese merchants, jailed troll miners and helpful imps just looking for peace.
Sounds like it could be either unique and immersive, or ridiculously unbelievable. Either way, this looks to be an RPG to watch. Or, you know, you could just let me keep an eye on it for you.

Read the whole press release after the jump »Gamecock Media Group And Firefly Studios Bringing "Dungeon Hero" To PC And Xbox 360TM

World's First Authentic Dungeon Crawler Set For Early 2009

Cockpit, Austin, Texas - June 7, 2007 - Today Gamecock Media Group announced Firefly Studios' Dungeon Hero will be releasing on the PC and Xbox 360™ video game and entertainment system from Microsoft. The first dungeon-based game to realistically depict underground life, Dungeon Hero promises all the danger, intrigue and daily routine of an actual subterranean community. Combining HD graphics with incredibly detailed environments completely immerses players in their newfound surroundings, complete with goblin cheese merchants, jailed troll miners and helpful imps just looking for peace.

"Dungeon Hero sets itself apart from every dungeon game that has come before it," said Rick Stults, Console Chief for Gamecock Media Group. "We love the realism that the game portrays, the living breathing dungeon aspect is something unique that hasn't been done anywhere before and that's the key to the innovation we're looking to promote."

Dungeon Hero provides players with a fresh take on the classic dungeon based game. The in-game world is a totally functional, living, breathing community in every way. Eat, sleep, chat, socialize, trade and travel as you would in any civilized place - after all dungeon creatures are people too! Fierce adrenaline pumping close quarters combat against a multitude of enemies drives the player deep into their heroic role. The battle system is intense with savage encounters that will leave enemies wondering where they went wrong. Dark times call for one to stand against many, will you be the one strong enough to become the Hero of the Dungeon?

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 1:13 PM |

WoW: Uber monsters get Uber-er


Via Wired, Game | Life:
World of Warcraft v2.0.1 is barely over two weeks old, but some guilds have already seen fit to trample all over the new raid content introduced in the massive update. Case in point: European guild Nihlium downing uber boss Illidan just yesterday, with Curse following hot on their heels.

As a response, Blizzard is going to up the difficulty level through what is perhaps the most tried and true method available: making it hurt more when the internet monsters bite you. According to Blizzard designer Daelo, the decision to tweak the affected encounters was based on feedback from guilds already progressing through the newly-introduced raid content. Said Daelo, in a post on WoW's official raids and dungeons forum.
This will really only affect members of big guilds, and in my view, it's a wise move. All those legendary creatures seem to be falling a little too easily these days (making them seem somewhat less legendary), and while the guilds in question are probably more than peeved, I think they'll eventually appreciate the new challenge.

Thoughts from some of you WoW players?

[Read Blizzard Makes Internet Monsters Harder to Kill @ Wired, Game | Life]

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 12:51 PM |

Hellgate: London: huge pre-alpha preview


Flux over at IncGamer's Hellgate: London portal attended this year's HGL Community Day and returned with lots of neat images and much to say about the game. Many thousands of words, in fact.

The preview is in four parts and incredibly detailed, so much so that casual observers of the game's progress might be intimidated. Those of you who're eagerly awaiting this title will probably read the whole thing and love it. Those who aren't willing to commit to such a big read might prefer to read a summary of Flux's impression of the game:

  • He constantly compares it to Diablo II, meaning it probably plays a bit like a first-person version of that game, except set in the future. With demons and guns.
  • Though he does emphasise that it's not as much of a slaughter-fest as Diablo II.
  • The graphics are awesome, the sound effects are good, the music is just OK.
Interested? Read Flux's Mega Preview.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:55 AM |

Today's News Bullets

digg this: | posted by Natasha, 9:58 AM |

City of Heroes... the MMOvie



From Sci Fi Wire:
Transformers producer Tom DeSanto has secured the film rights to NCsoft and Cryptic Studio's video game City of Heroes, Variety reported.

The plan is to adapt the massively multiplayer online role-playing game into a live-action feature and then transition it to television in some form, the trade paper reported.

The movie revolves around a group of superheroes who live in Paragon City and must team up in order to fight an invasion of aliens known as the Rikti.
City of Heroes is a good movie title, so it has that in its favor. On the other hand, it's a film adaptation of a video game, therefore it's pretty much guaranteed to suck. In fact, I've never seen a film based on a video game that wasn't awful. Can anyone recommend me something?

I'm curious. Let's imagine, for a moment, you're a big-time Hollywood producer. This shouldn't be difficult because you all play MMOs and live vicariously through elves, so a Hollywood producer shouldn't be too much of a jump. You're able to take one RPG and make it into a movie. What would you choose?

I'm going to be predictable and say Deus Ex. You?

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:55 PM |

Hellgate: London associates itself with garish vehicle, will probably not increase sales

I don't know who did it. I don't know who thought of the idea. There are more photos, if you'd like to see the Hellgate: London Volkswagon Caddy from four different angles.

I am all for RPG-themed cars. Youbetcha. However, the Need for Speed Underground player in me looks at this creation and thinks... Surely flames on a black background would look better than flame on red? And the wheels... you're not going to leave them like that, are you?

At least get some Spinners happening, guys.

[Spotted at Kotaku]

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 10:40 PM |

World of Darkness MMO: please sir, can I have some more (information)?

EVE Online developer CCP and White Wolf Publishing merged last year. Soon after they did so, they announced a World of Darkness MMO which was to begin development.

We've heard little to nothing since then. Eurogamer recently interviewed Magnus Bergsson (Marketing Director for CCP) who had this to say:
Speaking of a release date, Bergsson said, "We don't know yet. We're not really hiding any information about it, we just don't know yet. The actual design and exactly how it's going to be is being created right now, so when we actually know all of that we can guestimate how long it's going to take. These games typically take four to five years to make. I don't think this is going to be any different."
The good news: they're working on it. The bad news: we've got a long time to wait.

For the uninitiated, the World of Darkness is the setting in which Vampire: The Masquerade, Bloodlines took place. It's mature, gritty, dark, modern, and most of all, frightening.

Does the prospect of an MMORPG in which you get to play a vampire sound as good to you as it does to me?

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 3:46 PM |

Stealing your internets

Sometimes I like to prove I'm not the only blogger on the web talking about RPGs.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 2:59 PM |

BioShock: previews, box art, hype level to the max


You can view huge high-quality versions of both the Xbox 360 and Games for Windows box art at the Cult of Rapture (though the Games for Windows art is exactly the same as the above box art, except it says, um, Games for Windows).

Irrational Games' creative director Ken Levine has answered reader questions over at 1Up. Here's some of the interview:
At the last GDC, Warren Spector said, "Games are not about their stories...story is just a context for player action and player choice." What are your thoughts on this?

KL: I don't think there's a fair statement, just "Games are not..." or "are..." about something. What makes games awesome is games are what they are, and if you can make it work, that's great. I've never been a guy -- it's funny -- a guy who's known for my story stuff. I've never been a guy who loves story in games like I'm the kind of guy who skips all the cut-scenes and I really try to make our storytelling as direct and as concise as possible. BioShock doesn't have long cut-scenes; BioShock doesn't have long periods where the player's not interactive. That's just not the way we do it, and so, I dig it on that side. I also think it's important to give the player a sense of purpose and a sense of context for what he's doing and I think a lot of the BioShock storytelling is [done] just by looking around the world.

Hooked Gamers has its own preview of the game, and they're not the first to express some quiet reservations. Coverage has been positive, but it seems as if the level of hype among fans isn't quite matched by those who've been able to preview the game.

I think Ken Levine saying "I've never been a guy who loves story in games," is food for thought. I'm not saying I think BioShock is going to fall below expectations, but I'd hesitate to treat a game like a masterpiece before it has even been released.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 1:20 PM |

Folklore: 18 new screens



Worthplaying has 18 new screens of Folklore for the PS3. I'm a big fan of high fantasy, and as such, I really like the look of this game. It's full of vibrant colour, wierd monsters and strange locales.

Heck, if I had a PS3, I think I'd buy it.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 1:10 PM |

Eye of the North: Dungeon trailer, screens



Eye of the North is the first expansion pack for MMORPG Guild Wars. The expansion promises some immersive new dungeons, showcased in the trailer above and in 7 new screens over at Worthplaying.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 1:02 PM |

Overlord: 2 new trailers





The first is Overlord's 'Gnarl' trailer and the second is the first in a series of 'Six Minion Commandments'. Like a lot of RPGs, Overlord places much roleplay emphasis on morality. The game's morals are unique, however, in that your choices range from being bad to being really bad. The game is set to hit the PC and Xbox 360 sometime in the future.

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digg this: | posted by Natasha, 12:47 PM |

Today's News Bullets

digg this: | posted by Natasha, 11:59 AM |

about the author

Natasha is a political science student, a gamer, a writer, an armchair philosopher, and a geek. Her first cRPG was Castle of the Winds.

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