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Messages - HobGoblin42

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News & Announcements / Sound Design #1: Details are everything
« on: December 24, 2017, Sunday, 04:58 pm »
Discussions about coinage and spending have been moved here

Gameplay Discussion / Coinage and Wealth
« on: December 24, 2017, Sunday, 04:49 pm »
This material is published under the OGL
The most common coin is the gold piece (gp). A gold piece is worth 10 silver pieces. Each silver piece is worth 10 copper pieces (cp). In addition to copper, silver, and gold coins, there are also platinum pieces (pp), which are each worth 10 gp.

The standard coin weighs about a third of an ounce (fifty to the pound).
CoinShortWeightCommon names
Platinumpp11010010000.02 lb.
Goldgp1/101101000.02 lb.
Silversp1/1001/101100.02 lb.
Coppercp1/10001/1001/1010.02 lb.

Source: D&D Wiki - Wealth and Money

Character and Combat System (SRD 3.5e) / let's discuss about the classes
« on: December 24, 2017, Sunday, 03:20 pm »
But since we plan to evolve this game over the next 10 or so years, I am sure at some point, we will see new character classes

When you say evolve the game, do you just mean the mechanics or the whole game including plot and quests? What I mean is, will it be the same game, just updated, in 10 years, or a completely new game based on the evolved system, with the old game still available to play?

If it's the latter I'm imagining something like Neverwinter Nights, with the 'game' as a module running in an evolving engine.

Evolving the whole game must be a large task, as every time you added something you'd have to playtest extensively to make sure you haven't broken or hopelessly unbalanced something.

Yes, our approach is more like Neverwinter Nights: Our RPG framework (that will be spotlighted in future blog posts in details) is separated from the game
 world and its campaign. But whenever the framework sees some improvements, the game can make us of it, if wanted, or exclude it due to balancing reasons.
But in practice, almost every framework improvement can be applied without hassle and beside that, many new features simply don't influence existing game content because it hasn't be used there (e.g. new monster, items, NPC features, classes, feats, etc.)

News & Announcements / Source of Inspiration #3: Wizardry
« on: December 24, 2017, Sunday, 01:08 pm »
Whenever the conversation touches upon old-school computer roleplaying games, the subject turns to just how difficult those games were. With that in mind, I think it is time to talk about Wizardry, the legendary RPG series developed by Sir-Tech. THOSE games were hard to beat! Seriously hard! Similarly to the Ultima games, most of our team's first contact was not with the first Wizardry game, but rather with later entries in the series, typically, starting with Wizardry IV: The Return of Werdna.

Bane of the Cosmic ForgeIt may sound strange, but the very first thing that comes to mind when remembering Wizardry IV is its copy protection. The game allowed you to play through the entire first dungeon but then would ask you for a series of digits from a list that was included in the box. The fact that the list was printed on red paper made it virtually impossible to photocopy. (Remember, this was long before color copiers or the Internet.) It is a strange thing to remember, altogether, but it stuck for some reason.

If Ultima gave us a world to explore and Pool of Radiance gave us tactical, turn-based combat, the AD&D ruleset and the sense of wonder brought across through strange NPC encounters, Wizardry gave us the satisfying sense of accomplishment for surviving every single step of the way!

Wizardry IV, in particular, had an extremely cool story setup that was very easy to understand. You started on level 10 of a dungeon and had to make it to the top level to escape. On each level, you would have to find a pentagram to restore a part of your former power. That was it. But good luck!

Combat in Wizardry 6What they didn't tell you was that there were monsters in that dungeon that could kill you with a single blow. They also did not tell you that you needed expert mapping skills to carefully map every step you took. Without it, you were hopelessly lost in no time at all. Did you just have a round of bad luck rolling the digital dice and miss a few hits? Too bad for you… end of the game! Yes, it was that hard.

Because Wizardry IV was never released on the Commodore C64, Atari ST or Amiga, few of us had actually played it. The Apple II on which it ran simply wasn’t a very popular computer in Germany. But it has always been one of those legendary games the older, nerdy gamers talked about. People you would meet at the fantasy store. The one you bought your AD&D stuff at. And according to them, all the other computer RPGs were merely kids stuff. And there was some truth to it.

With that in mind, the Wizardry games most of us had actual hands-on experience were David W. Bradley's Wizardry V: Heart of the Maelstrom or Wizardry VI: Bane of the Cosmic Forge. The reason is simple. These games were finally available for the C64 and Amiga, respectively. And it was at this time that we got indoctrinated to the difficulty level of a Wizardry game because either of them was hard. Really hard. If you hear people talk about Demons or Dark Souls these days, this is where that true feeling of accomplishment came from. The fear that each step might be your last, and the satisfaction when, at long last, you made it past your previous point-of-defeat.

In future blog posts, we'll revisit the Wizardry Series, to be more precise, Wizardry VII - Crusaders of the Dark Savant, in regards to advanced/prestige character classes.

But for now, we wish you Merry Christmas and happy holidays!

Goto Blog Post

News & Announcements / Source of Inspiration #2: Ultima IV
« on: December 23, 2017, Saturday, 11:46 pm »
Ultima IVChronologically speaking, to say our sources of inspiration begin with the SSI Gold Box games is actually a bit off. It may have something to do with the fact that most of us are not old enough that we actually entered the world of computer RPGs with games that came before Pool of Radiance. But as a matter of fact, by 1988, when the Gold Box series first commenced, Ultima was already on its fifth sequel with Ultima V: Warriors of Destiny.

Ultima IV Start ScreenIn all honesty, most of our team members never actually spent much time playing the original Ultima Trilogy but that’s not altogether detrimental. The one thing the Ultima series is most remembered for is its unique approach to character generation. This system, which presented the player with a series of questions forcing them to make difficult moral choices, was originally introduced in 1985 with the release of Ultima IV: Quest of the Avatar.

Aside from the memorable character generation, what made the Ultima series stand out in our memories was the exploration of a larger world. In Pool of Radiance, you played most of the game in first-person perspective. In Ultima, on the other hand, you spent most of your time traveling the world, navigating with a cloth map that was included in the box. So many times, your party would leave a city with only the vaguest of directions, as where to find the next dungeon. And so, you travelled east in search of that dungeon’s entrance. Finding the location itself became a quest.

Many of the game features mentioned in the introduction of our “Sources of Inspiration” post, may actually have started with Ultima. Ultima IV may have been the first party based RPG where you created only a single character and then hired other heroes to join your party, as you went along. These members were actually pre-defined characters with their very own names and backstories. Remember guys like Iolo and Dupre? And there certainly would not be a Minsc to remember, without the groundwork laid out by Richard Garriot more than a decade earlier.

But as we mentioned before, the path of a single hero, surrounded by pre-defined companions joining the adventure, is not all that interesting to us, particularly not in respect to how we shaped Realms Beyond. What really made a lasting impression on us are the memories we made exploring Britannia.

With every new Ultima game, you would return to that same world of Britannia—but decades, if not centuries, would have passed. Whenever you entered a city in Ultima V you would instantly be taken back to the events that occurred in that very location while you played Ultima IV. You could even catch up with locals on what happened in the area since your last visit, and as a player, you simply could not wait to explore more of the places that were both familiar and unknown. There was a sense of persistence to the world of Britannia that no other game had at the time.

It is this kind of persistence that we wanted to feature in our own game. While this may not be instantly evident when you first play the game, as you explore the world of Realms Beyond you will soon find that once an entirely different world existed, before it was overrun by forces of evil due to a global cataclysm. There is a vast history, there are lost cultures, forgotten people and the ruins of previous civilizations. They all hint at the former glory this world once held and it creates a sense of persistence in its very own way. The player’s adventures will become part of the lore and history of the world going forward.
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News & Announcements / Source of Inspiration #1: SSI AD&D
« on: December 23, 2017, Saturday, 11:45 pm »
Pool of Radiance

SSI’s Gold Box games, Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds may just be the single-most influential games for Realms Beyond. It may not be immediately evident since Realms Beyond looks a lot more like some  Baldur’s Gate or Temple of Elemental Evil variant with its top-down view. But once you dig deeper, you’ll notice that there are, in fact, a good number of features hearkening back to the Gold Box Series, such as the creation of not only a single character but that of an entire party. You will have to set aside some time to do this and chances are that after playing the game for a few of hours, you might want to go back and roll new characters. Perhaps you simply want to try something different to see how it feels, since there are so many options. Or maybe you figured out a few mechanics that work really well for you and you want to exploit them to the max by creating characters that take full advantage of these mechanics.

Character creation

There is another factor that comes into play when you allow the player to create their own party. Modern RPGs typically revolve around the fate of a single character, even if the game features an entire party. Dragon Age: Inquisition instantly comes to mind, along with its inherent focus on a central, player-controlled figure. Pool of Radiance was very different in that regard. Rather than focusing on cutscenes and dialogues, the game was much more about exploring the game world and changing its fate.

Kobold massacreAnd then, of course, there was the turn-based combat. It was your party of six against a dozen Kobolds. Moving your fighters, or tanks as you’d call them nowadays, to the front in order to protect your weaker magic users was standard practice then. In today’s RPGs, these magic users would be seen as nothing more than damage dealers but in classic computer RPGs, they had so many more options and were not simply relegated to picking the most powerful combat spell. They had plenty of spells that were just as useful outside of combat. As the combat progressed, one round at a time, you often would have to keep your fingers crossed, hoping that the kobolds miss. You would pray that your heroes would survive the round so that your magic users could nurse them back to health with a spell and fight another round. In other instances, you might want to cast a spell on one of the orcs and watch as it puts all the others around him to sleep—or better yet, burns them to a crisp. And occasionally, you may have to watch as your spell completely fizzles out.

Combat screenThe thing with the combat in these games was that with the AD&D system in place, one or two successful hits could be absolutely deadly. You always hoped that with the roll of a digital die your luck may win out, and with it the tide of the battle. If Lady Luck kissed you just this one time, you might kill one or two opponents during this turn and at the end of the day still have a chance to win, right?

Grid-based movementBeside its engaging combat, Pool of Radiance had a lot more to offer, though. There was always a sense of wonder that accompanied your every step, a possible surprise around every corner. Back then, every encounter seemed relevant and gave you the impression that it truly mattered.

Without the Internet, it wasn’t possible to verify the ravings of another player in the schoolyard. There was simply no way to be a 100% certain whether the claim was true or just some kind of hare-brained nonsense. Naturally, the other kid would cite magazines as sources for the revelation, or perhaps the knowledge of a bigger brother. Without the ability to research the facts easily, these games were always shrouded in some kind of undiscovered mystique. The gypsy you met yesterday… the one who offered to tell you your fortune… and you didn’t like it much? Well, in these games, there was always a good chance that the next day someone would tell you that that particular encounter had actually made all your combats in that area of the game so much harder. Maybe that’s why you were attacked by all those goblins after leaving her shop? And you best not have touched that switch in the dungeon… or did you? Aww… shucks!

But the most rewarding element of these games may have been the ability to import your adventurers from Pool of Radiance (those that made it through the adventure, that is…) into Curse of the Azure Bonds. Bringing across your entire party was like writing your own epic adventure story as your heroes continued to grow stronger and stronger. It created a sense of accomplishment and attachment that is somehow lost in today’s games altogether.

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News & Announcements / Combat System #1: Turn-based, RTwP and the Open Game License
« on: December 23, 2017, Saturday, 11:30 pm »
Ouch, looks like the Sorcerer already got cut! Though, I suppose, some other classes I don't care about also got the axe.

Actually, we shifted some features from the Sorcerer to the Wizard class. One example: in our implementation, the Wizard doesn't need to memorize specific spells when resting, but simply regains his/her pool for each spell level. That means, you don't need to decide what spell you want use in advance, but at the time of casting it, e.g. during a combat.

So, resting is still required but the choice what spell to use will be more flexible and can be adapted to the actual situation. And this modification to the Wizard effectively renders the Sorcerer class more or less redundant.

Character and Combat System (SRD 3.5e) / let's discuss about the classes
« on: December 22, 2017, Friday, 10:23 pm »
What is the planned level scope for this adventure? I think of prestige classes as an option available to advanced characters.

Not sure yet, but I think level 10-12 could be good range to unlock advanced/prestige classes for a character.

The initial release of the game will likely allow a character advancement up to level 15 but that's not final yet.

Character and Combat System (SRD 3.5e) / let's discuss about the classes
« on: December 22, 2017, Friday, 08:16 pm »
According to the concept arts, some are dual wielding, It's confirmed or just to serve the illustration?

Of course, the Barbarian class will have Dual Wielding (as well as the Rogue).

Character and Combat System (SRD 3.5e) / let's discuss about the classes
« on: December 22, 2017, Friday, 08:12 pm »
Prestige Classes?

Yeah, possible prestige classes are: Arcane Archer, Arcane Trickster, Archmage, Assassin, Blackguard, Cerebremancer, Dragon Disciple, Duelist, Dwarven Defender, Eldritch Knight, Elocater, Hierophant, Horizon Walker, Loremaster, Metamind, Mystic Theurge, Psion Uncarnate, Psionic Fist, Pyrokineticist, Shadowdancer, Slayer, Thaumaturgist, Thrallherd, War Mind.

But we want to combine those with elements of the advanced classes from Wizardry 7, which probably had the best character class system ever (Bishop !)

See also D&D Wiki

Character and Combat System (SRD 3.5e) / let's discuss about the classes
« on: December 22, 2017, Friday, 03:09 pm »
Hey AbounI,

good to meet you again  :salute:

Right now, those eight classes are definitely part of the initial game release:

Under consideration are currently the Bard, the Monk and various other candidates such as the Psion. But each of those additional classes comes with some drawback, e.g. the Monk would require a lot of high quality martial combat animations , the Bard has some redundancies, etc.

For now,  firstly and foremostly, we need to complete and polish the eight base classes and the related prestige classes. Especially the Rogue has some massive features, such as stealth and lockpicking, that require a lot of attention and development efforts.

So, right now, we can't promise any additional class on top of those eight for the first release of the game. But since we plan to evolve this game over the next 10 or so years, I am sure at some point, we will see new character classes - implemented by us or by other users (our RPG framework will allow that).

Probably, it would be a good idea to correct that text on our webpage now  :lol:

Gameplay Discussion / A few questions
« on: December 21, 2017, Thursday, 02:02 pm »
wrote: Lord_Darkmoon
1. A feature I am missing in many games nowadays and which adds a lot to gameplay and immersion is the option to move objects around like in Ultima 7. This made the world feel alive and there could have been secret items hidden underneath objects. Will Realms Beyond offer this feature? Will we be able to move objects/items around in the world?
Generally, you can pick up and drop items as you know it from Ultima VII. But in contrast to Ultima, the items in RB always try to "snap" to pre-defined anchor points on objects such as bookshelves, tables, chairs,  etc.

This is necessary because we don't describe our world through physical methods as Skyrim or Witcher do.

Of course, we will use item picking/dropping/placement for puzzles such as putting ingredients into a bowl, returning an item to its original place, etc.

This screenshot illustrates the technique quite well:

wrote: Lord_Darkmoon
2. Will NPCs have schedules? Sleep at night, get up in the morning, sit down for breakfast, walk to their shop, work, go to a pub in the evening and go home to sleep?
Yes, believable NPC behaviour including daily schedule is one of the most crucial elements if you want deliver a believable fantasy world. Every villager should have their home, a job, a family and favorite pub to hang out. And again, Ultima VI and VII are our paradigms regarding this aspect.

wrote: Lord_Darkmoon
3. The game will offer a world map on which we travel. Will this map be very detailed with animals roaming around? Birds flying by, clouds drifting by? Will be able to encounter NPCs like merchants or enemies on the overland map? And will we be able to discover secret areas during our travels?
Visually, the world map will be a mixture between the first Ultimas until Ultima VI (where the worldmap disappeared) and Civilization games. You will see monster raid parties, merchants, special characters and other adventurer groups. And if you see allied or neutral troups engaging their enemies, you can decide to  join the battle.  Imagine a militia defending their village against a Goblin raid party, join the battle and your help will be rewarded as soon as you enter the town next time.
The player can always decide to enter the detailed level on each hexagon field on the worldmap, some are unique maps, some are pre-generated generic landscape map but with some unique locations inside (such as creeps, a travelling merchant, etc.)

This screenshot is taken out of the Pre-Alpha version, the graphics are more or less placeholders, but it illustrates the concept of the world map:

News & Announcements / Sound Design #1: Details are everything
« on: December 21, 2017, Thursday, 03:23 am »
To fork into some different territory and cover more aspects of Realms Beyond, we have prepared a few blog posts about game design and technology. To start things off, let’s have a look at the sound design.

It’s an obvious thing: Atmosphere is not only a visual thing, and it's not only created by gameplay. There are many more factors at play, so many, in fact, that it’s hard to even count them. Atmosphere is what you get when you put all the components of a game together and everything fits. Often overlooked, but without a doubt, one of the key elements to create an engaging sense of atmosphere is the sound design. Imagine, if you will, an RPG without driving combat themes, or an epic main theme. It would feel like a movie with the TV muted. Distant, remote… But not only the music is of importance, sound effects and atmospheric sounds are every bit as important. It's all in the details.

Realm of Arkania InventoryBut what are those sonic details? Let’s pick one and discuss. If you look back at games like the original Realms of Arkania trilogy (Das Schwarze Auge: Die Nordland-Trilogie) you’ll find that a great deal of detail went into those games, the likes of which you won't find in games nowadays anymore—which is really a shame. Just take the inventory, for example. There's even special, unique sound effect playing when you put some new leather gloves on one of your characters. Even the most minute details were carefully designed and considered.

Unfortunately, over the years, sound design in roleplaying games has changed—and not all for the better. While sound effects may be better produced these days, with a lot of oompf and high in-your-face impact, consider for a moment what happens these days when you put some new clothes on a character? Right. There's a generic little bling-bling sound and that's probably it. In some cases, it’s a rather atmospheric sound effect, but in most cases, you will that it is a nondescript something without real character or representation of the action.

That's not to say that this is inherently bad. It works in many games but it doesn't create atmosphere. It's just there to fill the silent void. Back in the days, you had a plethora of different sounds. Not for every item, but at least for different item classes. For swords, for leather gloves, for steel gloves, for helmets, and so on. You heard short, unobtrusive sounds that told you: Alright, you just put on a heavy armor. And you could tell from the sound effect alone.

Realms Beyond ItemsIt is details like those, things that don't make a huge difference in the game as a whole, but add a little special attention to things that we want to achieve in Realms Beyond. Naturally, not every item in the game will have its own sound effect (with over 2000 items in the game, that would be an exorbitant number of sounds), but there will be a great many small sounds for several item classes. If you change from a dagger to a heavy sword, you’ll hear the Shing! of steel. Putting on leather gloves will play a different sound than putting on brass gauntlets. You get the drift.

Many people—and game designers—do not realize just how much impact such a small detail can have on the overall atmosphere of a game. But once it's there and you get used to it, you will find playing a modern RPG with its generic sound effects, strangely out of place. Because you expect more. You expect atmospheric details and a generic, soft Whooosh! or click just won't do it any longer.
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News & Announcements / World Building #1: The Regions of the World
« on: December 20, 2017, Wednesday, 06:39 pm »
The world of Realms Beyond will offer various climate zones, regions and locations below and above the surface. To give you a first look at this variety, we have created just a few examples of very different settings our game will take place in. Please keep in mind, that the visuals you see in these video clips are not in their final but in pre-alpha stage. Naturally, the camera path in these videos covers only a small portion of the respective game levels.

Aside from the visuals, the music in these snippets will also give you an idea how our in-game music will try to underscore the mood of these scenarios.
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News & Announcements / First Screenshots
« on: December 20, 2017, Wednesday, 05:56 pm »
In this post, we would like to present you with the first screenshot gallery with images that we have taken directly from the pre-alpha version of the game. We should point out, however, that parts of the engine and visuals are still work in progress.

As you can see, our isometric engine is optimized to display a lot of items on the screen at the same time, without suffering any performance hits. This has been achieved by combining pre-rendered 2D shapes with 3D meshes. By using dynamic real-time lighting on all these elements, the implementation of things, such as different times of day, are easily possible and have become quite important for our world simulation as a whole.

There is another interesting aspect that you may find intriguing. Each one of the small items you can see in these screenshots, including small plants and the mushrooms, are actual in-game items, which means you can pick them up, harvest them, trade them, sell them or loot them.

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