Hey Everyone, It’s Tuesday: Saying Goodbye to Ryan Davis, and Thank-you to Giantbomb.

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“Hey everyone it’s Tuuuesday!”

It’s strange to say that a website has changed your life. In more ways than one, the crew behind Giant Bomb have shaped the direction of my life profoundly. Tomorrow, I leave for a three week trek though Iceland, a trip that in many ways was sparked by Patrick Klepek’s stories of his own trip to Reykjavik; I recently changed my degree after being inspired by the video production work done by Vinny Caravella and Drew Scanlon; Jeff Gerstmann’s enthusiasm and criticism for videogames has kept me interested in the medium, even in times where I felt my interest in them waning; Brad Shoemaker introduced me to the strange, terrifying microbes and insects of the world; and for five years of my life, I, like thousands of others, waited each and every week to hear a funny, exuberant, sincere, and just plain awesome man named Ryan Davis assure us that it was, in fact, Tuesday.

And, like numerous others have said, today I cried over the loss of one of the closest friends I never met.

I can’t imagine what Ryan’s friends, family, and colleagues are going through. While I never had the pleasure of knowing him personally, I did get to spend a few hours each week listening or watching Ryan speak, and it was always a joy. He was someone I respected immensely. To have Ryan be a part of your life personally must have been something truly special, and I am sincerely sorry for the loss his family and friends are facing. If by any chance any of the Giant Bomb crew or extended family are reading this, I feel I speak for all fans of Ryan and of Giantbomb when I say we all loved that big duder and we are all with you in this difficult time. To Jeff, Brad, Patrick, Vinny, Drew, Dave, Matt, Alex, Alexis, and any and all past/current members of Giant Bomb, I hope you know that your work has touched so many of us in ways we can never fully express, and we are all so grateful of how much effort you put into the content you create for us. No other site, podcast, or community is quite like Giant Bomb, and we are sincerely thankful for what you do.

I hope Ryan knew that too.

Pour one out.

-Brendan

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Return of the Old School RPG Part THREE!? — Richard Garriott and Shadowrun Returns

Shroud of the Avatar

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There is probably one name more synonymous with old school role playing games than any other: Richard Garriott. He pioneered the idea of games as worlds, crafted the earliest CRPGs with the Ultima series, and sparked the MMO genre with Ultima Online. Hell, he even was the first guy to sell a game in a box. He’s a pretty important dude, in RPGs or just gaming in general.

Admittedly, I haven’t played nearly as much Ultima as I probably should have. In fact, other than a few brief hours with a couple of the games, the series is pretty foreign to me. For me, names like Chris Avellone, Feargus Urquhart, or even Todd Howard carry more weight when attached to an RPG project.

Nonetheless, in the world of RPGs, when Richard Garriott speaks, people listen. Today, he called down from the mountain tops, announcing his own crowd funding campaign for a new multiplayer RPG, Shroud of the Avatar. The game seems to be a split online/offline game, and promises classes character creation, meaningful narrative choices, a fully interactive world, innovative PVP, and player-run homesteads and real estate. It sounds quite ambitious, and I hope the final product encapsulates all of Sir British’s ideas. You can check out more about the game on the Kickstarter here. While I may not be quite as excited by this news as many others are sure to be, it does drive home this idea that RPGs are really coming back; if Richard Garriott is making a medieval role playing game, then the future must be bright.

Check out the Kickstarer here.

 Shadowrun Returns

While Garriot’s Shroud of the Avatar and inXile’s Torment: Tides of Numenera are in the early stages of development, some of these Kickstarter role playing games are finally beginning to show some real progress.

One game in particular is Harebrained Scheme’s Shadowrun Returns. Shadowrun is another series I have little experience with — I never played the original RPG, nor the online FPS that was released a few years ago. However, Shadowrun Returns looks to be a promising game. The developers have released a new gameplay video showing off some alpha footage of the new game along with some commentary. The art style looks great, and the tactical combat seems fun — very reminiscent of the original Fallout games. Plus the setting is awesome (cyberpunk elves? Street samurai? Sold). Peep the video below. I highly recommend it; I’m not sure how this game has flown under my radar for so long, but it is now among a growing list of exciting RPG projects coming in the next few months/years.

You can check out more Shadowrun Returns here.

RPGs seems to be a growing topic of conversation here on Power Cords. While I’m really excited about that, I’m also going to try to get some other topics/voices going again too. At any rate, you can be sure that if anything important occurs in the world of RPGs, I’ll have something to say about it.

The return of the Old School RPG part 2 — Torment: Tides of Numenera

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Perhaps one of the single most exciting videogame announcements of the past several years occurred a few weeks ago. A spiritual sequel to one of the greatest games ever made, Planescape: Torment, will be appearing in the form of a new, isometric CRPG called Torment: Tides of Numenera.

Today, inXile — the development team behind Torment, as well as the upcoming Wasteland 2 — launched their Kickstarter campaign, aiming to fund $900,000 over the next 30 days, surpassed its goal in under six hours, and at this time has raised over $1.5 million from 28,173 backers, myself included. Obviously, as an RPG fan I am ecstatic; as a Planescape: Torment fan, I am thrilled. To hear that the development team features many of those who worked on the original game, and that they are working hard to create and world and story full of depth, drama and truly mature philosophical questions is not only reassuring, it’s exciting. It’s even been endorsed by Chris Avellone, director of Planescape: Torment, himself.

Here’s a brief excerpt of the game’s story from the Kickstarter page:

You are the Last Castoff, the final link in the chain of the lives of the being they call the Changing God. He once was a man who discovered a way to use the relics of the ancients to cheat death and skip across the face of centuries in a succession of bodies. But he never knew that his bodies lived on as his consciousness fled, a new consciousness arising in each. Now he has awakened an age-old enemy, the Angel of Entropy, and his days of change are gone as the Angel hunts him and all his works. That includes… you.

That sounds awesome.

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I’ve written in the past about my love for various RPGs, as well as my excitement that the genre is making a comeback in a big way. By that I don’t mean in terms of games like Mass Effect or Skyrim selling extremely well and being fantastic games, but also in the fact that classic styles of role playing games are making a comeback thanks to the like of Kickstarter. Obsidian’s Project Eternity, and inXile’s Wasteland 2 and now Torment: Tides of Numenera are exactly the kinds of games I want to be playing. Sure, I’m excited for the PS4; I’m happy the Thief series is returning; and yes I love the idea of Assassin Creed IV’s open-world pirate adventure; but Torment: Tides of Numenera is bar-none the single most exciting game-related announcement this year (now, if Dark Soul II had been announced this year instead of last year, it might have been a closer call).

Thanks to these successful Kickstarter projects, I’m getting the opportunity to play (and by extension, help create) exactly the kinds of videogames that I want to exist. Of course, this is taking it on faith that these games will be good, or even come out in the first place. But even if they fail to live up to our expectations, the fact is that these projects give me hope that videogames aren’t on the verge of some sort of massive collapse — or worse,  water-down homogenization — and are instead evolving and splintering into sub-communities much like other artistic and entertainment mediums. That’s a future I can get excited for.

Check out inXile’s Kickstarter page for the game here. And while you’re at it, you might as well go buy the original Planescape: Torment for cheap on gog.com because it’s a great game.

Let’s talk about the Dark Souls 2 trailer.

In a huge surprise at last night’s 10th annual Spike Video game Awards, it was revealed that Dark Souls 2  is on the horizon. The announcement came by way of CGI trailer giving a VERY brief glimpse at the world and scenario of the next Dark Souls.  

Let’s take a look at some of the elements of the announcement trailer*:

  • The sole line of dialogue is spoken by a disembodied narrator. He says, “You are of the undead. Forever without hope. Forever without light.” From that, it’s fairly obvious the basic idea of the previous game remains, meaning we’ll be taking control of another deceased Knight, presumably on some quest to save the realm and/or prevent going hollow.
  • The Knight seems fairly distraught (he must not have played the original Dark Souls). It certainly conveys a sense of gloom and despair, which is exactly what I want from a Souls game. But it also makes me wonder if the player-character will have more emotional depth this time around…
  • The Knight is seen interacting with a cloaked female character atop a cliff, over looking an ominous castle. She hands him a feather, and the entire interaction seems rather weighty and emotional. Perhaps the story of Dark Souls 2 will be a deeper and more personal tale of woe and misery?
  • Forests, dungeons, snowy mountain tops, and bursting volcanoes all make an appearance. They all have a slightly different look and feel to them than the original Dark Souls, leading me to believe this may take place in another part of the Dark Souls world besides Lordran. There’s a more ancient and primal feel to some of the areas shown in the trailer, but it’s probably just due to the pre-rendered nature of the video. The in-game environments may be entirely different.

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  • There are strange, masked assassins/warriors. Their masks are peculiar — all white with a tear drop dripping from one eye. The rest of their garb looks like dark crimson, and they all attack (and kill) the Knight. I’m very interested in who these mysterious attackers are, and what story implications they will present.
  • There’s also a one-eyed dragon which seems to keep cropping up, until the Knight finally faces off against the beast in the final moment of the trailer… wherein he is of course incinerated by the monster’s flames. Dark Souls had plenty of deadly enemies and bosses, but the sinister permanence of both the dragon and the masked assassins makes me wonder yet again if there will be a more present narrative in Dark Souls than what was found in Dark Souls.
  • That enormous, ominous castle seems to be some sort of goal for the Knight, and seems to be strongly hinted at being a bad place to hang out around.
  • Finally, the Knight (who, I should point out is not wearing any armor or using any weapons found in the previous game) dies a few times in the trailer; not surprising at all, really. But what is surprising is a lack of bonfires shown in the trailer. You’d assume that what may be the single most iconic element of Dark Souls would make an appearance here. It may be nothing, and they may have done it to avoid giving anything away during the announcement trailer, but it could also mean bonfires may not be present in Dark Souls II. Perhaps that feather has something to do with it…

Anyway, yeah; Dark Soul II! As previously mentioned, the game will be coming the PC/360/PS3 (hopefully meaning better PC optimization) but no clear release date is known. My guess? Fall 2013. There’s a pretty sweet article up on Forbes with some great quotes from FromSoftware’s development team and lead designers. Suffice it to say, they aren’t pulling any punches with the gameplay. I gotta say though, as much as I’m excited to get a new Souls adventure, can you imagine if that was gameplay being shown? I almost wish the game was a next-gen title to accompany the new consoles, because I would love for the next Dark Souls to look like that. But hey, beggars can’t be choosers, amirite?

I’m gonna go watch the trailer again.

*I cannot find the trailer in full HD; when I do, this post will be updated. 

Shootin’ the Shit – November 2, 2012

Where the hell were we this week? So much happened, so many big pieces of news hit the internet. But we weren’t here. It’s possible we were just busy with Halloween stuff.. or perhaps there are other forces at work and secret plans being hatched… hmmm….

We weren’t completely silent though; we had an awesome new Halloween-themed episode of The Low Down featuring Casper, the friendly ghost! And I reported on my weekly gaming with this week’s Gaming Journal entry. But that’s not all that happened on the internet this week…

Things I Read

Obviously, first and foremost: Disney bought Lucasfilm, and the entire Lucas empire(Skywalker Sound, Light and Magic, LucasArts), for like a gajillion dollars; with the aquisition came the news that an entirely new trilogy — episodes VII, VIII, IX — were on the way, with Episode VII scheduled to hit sometime in 2015. Included in this annoucement was the news the George Lucas would be only filling an advisory position.  The internet went fucking NUTS over this news; People’s reactions have ranged from ecstatic  to scared, to pissed, to totally ambivalent because ho my god, Star Wars is old news. Personally, I’m kinda interested in three news movies. I like Star Wars, I dig the fiction and the universe, and I I’m excited to see what some new minds could do with the property. We’ve got no word on what to expect from this trilogy-trilogy, and probably won’t for a while. I wonder if it will be anything as good as KOTOR, though…

I read a bunch of Halo 4 reviews. I’m really looking forward to the game, and the universal praise is both reassuring and exciting.

Early PS4 dev kits have reportedly hit developers this week. Word is, Sony is insisting on calling the system “Orbis” instead of the somewhat obvios “Playstation 4.” I’ve already talked about my feelings on a new console generation, but between this, Microsoft “Durango” devkits being leaked a few months ago, and the Wii-U hitting in just a couple weeks, we might as well start getting excited for this new round of hardware.

Things I Watched

I watched the finale for the Halo: Forward unto Dawn live-action series. It was awesome. Watch the whole series here, and peep the finale below.

Speaking of Halo, the latest episode of Red vs Blue ONCE AGAIN knocks it out of the park. What’s gonna happen next? What do Church and Carolina have planned?

Converge, who released one of the best albums of the year last month, gave us a tour of one of the most disgusting venue bathrooms ever.

I watched a baby do kung fu and kill his stuffed dragon.

Awesome games that came out this week

The big one is Assassin’s Creed 3 — The reviews have been decent-to-good, and seeing as how I’ve only been marginally interested in the series before, I’m probably gonna hold off on this one until next year. Still, if Assassin’s Creed is your jam, pick it up!

Painkiller HD Painkiller is the modern-day DOOM. Guns, monsters, and non-stop action —  no more, no less. It’s over the top, and insane, exactly my kind of shooter (unless it’s Halo or Half-Life, of course).

Misc

There isn’t really all that much more to report on. Like I said, some big news but we’re nearing that part of the year where announcements slow down, games start coming out non-stop, and we start thinking about year-end lists, and our plans for next year. And my oh my, what plans we have…

See you next week dudes!

 

Shootin’ The Shit with Power Cords EIC Brendan!

Hey guys,

So last week was a bit slow. Nonetheless, we had a new episode of The Low Down, talked about some Halo 4 news (of course), and reviewed the first volume of the awesome comic series Orc Stain. This week, we’ll be sure to make up for for the slowness of the past month or so. To kick it off and get some good content flowing, here’s a bunch of quick thoughts that didn’t (or haven’t yet to) get full posts:

Gaming: 

I know I’m super late to the party, but damn, I really hope the rumors on Half Life 3 pan out. Can you imagine: a game set in the Half Life universe with the design and gameplay sensibilities derived from The Elder Scrolls, but with the polish and impeccable design we’ve come to expect from Valve. Might just be the best game ever made. I’ve got plenty more to say on the subject, so keep an eye out for that.

Dishonored looks freakin’ rad, and I’m really glad it’s getting good reviews. Definitely on my need-to-play list for this holiday season.

This video gave me goose bumps so hard I almost cried. Seriously, do we need any more proof that gaming is not only part of the mainstream, but a legitimate creative medium now?

A year later, I’m still playing Dark Souls. Mostly, it’s because the holiday reviews season is beginning and I’ll (hopefully) be playing tons of good games in the coming weeks and months and therefore want to finally knock this one out, but damn is Dark Souls great. It’s also worth noting that Dark Souls was our very first review, published almost a year ago.

Site news:

Speaking of which, we’re just a couple weeks shy of our 1 year anniversary. It’s hard to believe that it was over a year ago I was juggling the idea of starting a blog with my friends, and seeing how much we’ve done in 12 short months makes me excited to see where we’ll be in another 12.

Good news: we’ll be recording new episodes of the Power Cast this weekend! I’m planning and hoping we’ll get a few done so we can have a few to release in the coming weeks and keep you loyal readers and listeners entertained. We’re still not 100% ready to be recording full-time, but if recent event are any indication, we will be very soon.

We also recently published a new page that’s all about the Power Cords team. Go check it out and get to know us a little better. There’s also a link for any of you interested in writing for us!

Misc.:

The latest episode of Red Versus Blue is awesome. I can’t believe there’s only one more episode left this season…

I’ve been rather busy writing album reviews for Beardrock.com. You can read all my reviews here. It’s a pretty permanent gig, so stay tuned there to read more reviews from me in the future, and just check out the site — it’s really rad, and there’s a ton of great writers talking about good music and I’m super excited to be a part of it.

Aaannnd that’s kinda it for me. Hopefully you guys found some of these blurbs interesting. Let me know if you guys like this sort of thing in the comments (you know who you are). I might mess around with the format and make this a regular thing, we’ll see. Things change ’round these parts all the time, so who knows. Anyway, have a week!

Excelsior!

The Flood is back in Halo 4; 343i confirms the game is complete.

Well, sort of. A brand new Flood-themed multiplayer mode for Halo 4 was unveiled today, and it looks pretty interesting.

Sounding like a new iteration of the popular multiplayer mode Infection, this new Flood Mode will pit 10 players — 8 Spartans and 2 original Flood — against each other, with the Flood working to infect the other players. It’s not clear if this will replace Living Dead entirely, or just be a new take on it, but either way I’m glad to know that at least some form of this classic mode will be appearing.

However, this does beg the question: will we see the Flood in single player? At this point, it seems pretty certain we won’t. Still, it’s enough to make one wonder. For what it’s worth, I sincerely hope no Flood will creep into Halo 4’s (increasingly more mysterious and exciting sounding) campaign — the Flood got to be annoying and uninteresting to fight in the original trilogy, and their absence from Halo: Reach was one of the better aspects of the campaign. But if they do, at least they look pretty slick, and who knows, maybe 343i will surprise us all and make the Flood cool again.

On a side note, it was also confirmed that the game is officially complete, and is now entering the final stages of production and certification. It almost here…

Anyway! Stay tuned to Power Cords for our thoughts on any and all Halo 4 news that shows up in the next few weeks. If it wasn’t apparent already, we’re pretty excited about this game.