Morning Caffeinated! -- Torchlight 2, Neverwinter, and the power of music

By John Keefer, Sep 12, 2012 8:40am PDT

Good morning, Shack. We'll kick the morning off right with an "I was wrong." I had speculated in yesterday's column that the new Obsidian game teased on their site was Dungeon Siege 4 based on the icon of a dragon eating its tail surrounding the number four. But it was indeed a countdown timer Obsidian is using to prepare for an announcement sometime on Friday. Speculation now revolves around a new IP, based on some Xs and dots embedded in the source of the page. No more guessing for me, but if I do turn out to be right, I will gloat later.

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Steve attended PAX Prime for Shacknews earlier this month and came back with some really interesting previews for Torchlight 2 and Neverwinter. While I never played the original Torchlight, I have been following the sequel closely because of all the Chatty buzz about it. While Diablo 3 has gotten more buzz, there are those that seem adamant that Runic's action-RPG will be a better game all around. The developer said the game has been done for awhile, but it was making sure all the pieces fit together nicely (hopefully a better version of "polish mode"). Of course, the added time gives that certain other RPG time to lose some momentum.

Neverwinter is another game I have been watching, mainly because of my fascination with Forgotten Realms and the old BioWare RPGs. Developer Cryptic Studios is planning to allow users to generate their own content, giving players tools to change existing monsters and even build their own story. I remember toying with the Aurora toolset in the original Neverwinter Nights, trying to recreate an online experience of some of my favorite Dungeons & Dragons campaigns I DM'd back in the day. The tools seemed a tad complicated for a programming novice such as myself, but I finally did get a short scenario working. It sucked and I gave up. Hopefully, Cryptic's tools won't be quite so ... uh ... cryptic.

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The Planetary Annihilation Kickstarter is winding down and it looks like they have enough momentum to make it to the Galactic War goal of $1.8 million. They also unveiled the the $2 million stretch goal of a full orchestral score, but I doubt that will happen. It's a shame, too, because the original Jeremy Soule music for Total Annihilation was so fantastic that it really added to the battles and mood of the game. I know Howard Mostrom is on top of the music for Uber, and has a good feel for what Soule did (based on what I heard in their Kickstarter video), but nothing beats a full orchestra. Oh, and +sing would have been a nice little perk.

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Valve has revealed the first 10 titles to get on Steam via Greenlight, each having gotten sufficient fan approval to earn prime real estate in the online store. Black Mesa is among the selections, an appropriate choice given the subject matter and buzz surrounding the long-awaited game. The game was already going to be popular, but it will be interesting to to see how much better it will do with the added visibility when it hits this week. Good luck and congratulations to the creative teams.

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Random bits & Quick hits: I know you love Weekend Confirmed, but if you haven;t checked out the Gamers After Life podcast, please do so. It's got that certain je ne sais quoi that Shackers should find appealing ... Andrew is really down on Resident Evil 6. I don't think I've ever seen him so frustrated and disappointed by a game ... You have to give BioWare credit for trying to keep the content churning in Star Wars: The Old Republic. I know they have too much invested to let it drop, but every six weeks for major content is pretty ambitious. Not sure it will be enough to staunch the flow of players abandoning ship, though.

Flashback: I have a lot of fond memories Dungeons & Dragons, including my level 7 Barbarian needing to roll a 100 to survive a 90-foot plunge into a shallow moat from the top of a keep (AND SUCCEEDING). What D&D-based computer game recreated the enjoyment of the pen-and-paper experience best for you?

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