All posts by Daniel Wilks
Borderlands 2

By on August 26, 2013 at 4:06 pm

I recently had a chance to sit down with Anthony Burch, writer of Borderlands 2 and the less manic half of brilliant web series, Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’? and chat about what it takes to write comedy in games. Whilst my interview was by no means as entertaining as Tim’s impromptu D&D game, it did bring to light some of the problems with writing comedy for games in general and RPGs in particular.

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Mass Effect 3

By on August 12, 2013 at 12:30 pm

As has been made abundantly clear by my numerous columns centred around the games, I’m immensely fond of the Mass Effect trilogy. I unashamedly love the games and the characters that inhabit it. Whilst I wasn’t spurred into a cupcake baking internet frenzy by the ending, I did find it a little disappointing — but not for the reasons that were claimed by the majority of those who complained about the ending. I thought the final choices were fine, by and large.

What I had a problem with was how the mythology surrounding the invasion of life-destroying, sentient machine bugs was left awkwardly resolved, as though the mythology had not been set until the final line of the trilogy was written.

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By on May 6, 2013 at 1:55 pm

With Metro: Last Light due out shortly, I’ve been playing some Metro 2033 to refresh my memory when it comes both to Artyom’s story and the mechanics of the game. Before anyone chimes in to say that Metro isn’t an RPG — yes, thankyou. I already know that. I’m using the game as an illustration of something that I wished RPGs did, and that’s give currency some kind of real meaning within the game.

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Van Helsins

By on April 22, 2013 at 8:38 am

Following on from my last column, in which I looked at some of the most interesting looking RPGs on Kickstarter at the time, I thought I’d take a look at some of the most interesting Indie RPGs that are either in development or have been recently released. I’m a huge fan of the epic AAA-RPG and all the attendant production values and sense of scale that are usually attached to them, but there’s a special something that a small and dedicated team of true believers can bring to the table.

Indie RPGs might lack the polish of some of their higher budgeted brethren, but many of them are packed with some unique style, substance and character that would often be deemed too risky for a big budget title.

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By on April 8, 2013 at 11:57 am

April is turning out to be quite the slow month for retail releases, RPG and otherwise. It’s not a total dead zone as it has often been in the past, with a few AAA titles being released during the month as well as a few smaller games. The lack of boxed copies isn’t really going to effect how much of an impact gaming has on my wallet, however, as once again a number of interesting projects have made their way to Kickstarter, all but demanding that I give them all of my available cash in anticipation of a finished product somewhere down the line when I will inevitably not have enough time to fully enjoy them.

Unlike the last number of projects I backed, such as Torment: Tides of Numenera or Shroud of the Avatar: Forsaken Virtues, the new batch of interesting games aren’t asking for huge amounts of money and aren’t set to break any records for the most funded game on Kickstarter. This doesn’t stop them from being every bit as interesting.

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Path of Exile

By on March 25, 2013 at 11:22 am

In real life, I’m a planner. I think through everything, weighing up the pros and cons of any given situation before committing myself. I’m not exactly spontaneous, if you get my drift — I’m more a “measure seventeen times, cut once” kind of person.

When it comes to games, however, I’m far more likely to adopt a “suck it and see” kind of mentality, jumping in with both feet, doing what seems fun and damning the consequences. Sometimes this works well — there is fun to be had with randomised characters that force you to play differently from how you normally would, and there are rarely any game breaking problems by casually misusing a couple of stat or skill points in most RPGs.

After spending a week or so with the beta of Grinding Gear Games action RPG Path of Exile however, my opinion of taking a haphazard approach to character design has changed rather drastically.

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Torment: Tides of Numenera

By on March 11, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Something that has become readily apparent over the last six or so month is that crowdfunding has become both the salvation and the refuge of “risky” gaming ventures. I use the term risky advisedly, hence the inverted commas. I don’t mean risky in terms of hard to achieve or of dubious legality, but rather those projects that are deemed too risky for major publishers to want to touch.

Games that aren’t either the first part in a leveragable franchise, or belong to a long standing and popular series, games that can’t be advertised in the most basic, brotastic terms with wonderful hyperbole and flashy screenshots boasting all of the pixels. These “risky” projects are the ones that get a handful of fans frothing at the mouth and get some games journos waxing lyrical about how they are the future of gaming.

Whilst I’m not quite ready to go that far, the resurgence of smaller, more personal and for me at least, far more interesting RPG projects rarely fails to put a smile on my face.

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Planescape: Torment

By on February 26, 2013 at 9:36 am

In a discussion about game stories I was having a few weeks ago with some game-writer friends of mine, the subject turned, as it inevitably tends to do, to Planescape: Torment. We all agreed, as we inevitably do, that the game features one of the best, if not the best narratives in gaming — but an interesting comment was made that forced me to start replaying the game for the first time in a number of years, and re-examine my opinion.

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The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt

By on February 11, 2013 at 6:26 pm

As you could probably guess, I’m spectacularly excited by the prospect of The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt — despite its somewhat cumbersome title. I’m excited by the idea of it being an open world game with a landmass a little bigger than that featured in Skyrim, and I’m eagerly awaiting the conclusion to the ongoing story of Geralt’s death, rebirth and amnesia, and why the hell The Wild Hunt keep sticking their bony faces into the White Wolf’s life.

More than anything else in the announcement (and Game Informer’s first look that accompanied it) the thing that made me happiest about the announcement of The Witcher 3 was the fact that it is the final game in the series. The end of the line. The last.

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By on January 28, 2013 at 3:58 pm

January/February is usually a really slow time for releases, with few AAA titles hitting shelves before March and even fewer of them being RPGs. In recent years the number of early year releases has noticeably grown, with numerous publishers pushing pre-Christmas release dates a little so that there is some space between major releases. Unfortunately that hasn’t really lead to more RPGs being released in this slot. In the place of releases, however, seems to have come a heap of interesting news and controversy. Let’s take a look at some of that, shall we?

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Skyrim vs Mass Effect

By on January 14, 2013 at 4:29 pm

I loved Mass Effect 3. I thought it was a great way to end a wonderful story and I spent as much time as possible savouring the final journey of Shepard and the crew of the Normandy, completing every side quest, every conversational strand and following every interpersonal relationship to its ultimate limit.

Likewise I loved Skyrim, albeit for other reasons. The story wasn’t particularly great but the sense of place was superb, with the rewards for exploration being constantly surprising and tangible. Over 180 or so hours I explored every inch of the world, investigating every cave, climbing every mountain and opening every door, portcullis and chest I came across.

The thing is, however, that I have had absolutely no impetus to play any of the DLC for either title, though admittedly for quite different reasons.

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The Dark Eye: Demonicon

By on November 19, 2012 at 3:08 pm

If, by some outside chance, the world makes it through 21/12/2012 in the same manner we have made it through the untold number of other apocalypses that have been prophesied over the last two thousand years, 2013 is shaping up to be a great year for PC RPGs. We’ve got another Dragon Age on the horizon, South Park: The Stick of Truth, Neverwinter,  and successful Kickstarter backed games like Grim Dawn, Shadowrun Returns and Wasteland 2 – but there are a number of smaller, interesting games set to hit shelves and Steam throughout next year. I’ve picked a handful I’m especially interested in.

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Borderlands 2

By on November 5, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I’ve played what could politely be referred to as an “obscene” amount of Borderlands 2 since I first got sent it for review. According to Steam, I’ve put in 152 hours so far. That’s more time than I put into most games before moving on to the next thing. I only played Diablo III for about 40 hours before I got sick of the grind, and only made it to 149 hours in Skyrim after a year, three different playthroughs, and some DLC all combined. What is it then about Borderlands 2 that is keeping me playing long after I’ve hit level cap with two characters?

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Project: Eternity

By on October 22, 2012 at 2:45 pm

To many backers, myself included, Project Eternity is something of a dream project; a veritable super-group of RPG developers, including Chris Avellone (Planescape: Torment), Tim Cain (Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura) and Josh Sawyer (Icewind Dale II) teaming up to create an old-school epic. By the end of the campaign, just shy of 74,000 people backed the project on Kickstarter, with another undisclosed number contributing through Paypal, After asking for $1.1 million to make the game, Obsidian Entertainment raked in over $4 million, making the project the most strongly backed Kickstarter game campaign so far, and increasing the size and scope of the game far beyond the original parameters.

With only a single screenshot of the game existing, it’s far too early to speak about the game itself, but the amount of money raised, the way the stretch goals for the campaign were structured and some of the comments on both the Kickstarter and on gaming forums say some very interesting things not only about Project Eternity but also about the industry and community as a whole.

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By on October 8, 2012 at 3:37 pm

When it comes to playable characters I have a very definite type. I don’t mean blonde or brunette, lithe or curvy. I mean the type of characters I choose to play or create usually fall into one very certain set of parameters, personality types and skills. It doesn’t matter if the game is a turn based strategy RPG, an old-school isometric, real time/turn based, action RPG or FPS hybrid, I usually choose to play exactly the same kind of character. Or at least I did, up until about a week ago — when I discovered that stepping outside your comfort zone once in a while really freshens things up.

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Torchlight II

By on September 24, 2012 at 5:41 pm

My eyes are gritty and I’m not regulating my body temperature too well. It’s a sure sign that I haven’t slept enough in a while. As an insomniac I’m used to the sore eyes and fatigue sweats, but today there are some lovely extra symptoms nagging me. My lower back is killing me, and depending on which way I hold my neck I get a stabbing pain in the back of my head. I haven’t felt this way in over a decade, since days passed unnoticed outside as I was first playing Diablo II. I have all the warning signs of loot fatigue and it doesn’t look as though it will be getting better any time soon.

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