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CRPG Difficulty

Jeff Vogel of Spiderweb Software has posted some Three Rules for Difficulty in RPGs, which has some great thoughts and advice for would-be CRPG designers. I enjoyed it mostly because of the obvious passion and emotion Jeff has for this stuff--his reactions to those who "ragequit" over a difficult fight are touching, to say the least.

Heck, maybe I should try to get him on the show.

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Matt Chat 89: Interview with Brian Fargo

Welcome back, Matt Chatters! This episode features the first part of my interview with Brian Fargo, founder of Interplay and CEO of inXile Entertainment. I was able to sit down with him for an hour and talk about everything from the original Demon's Forge (a 1981 adventure game for Apple II) to Hunted: The Demon's Forge (the upcoming action game). We also talk about the origins of Bard's Tale, the impact of Wizardry, the humor of Battlechess, and much more.

Download the audio here (also available on iTunes).

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Might and Magic I vs. Dragon Age

Might & MagicMight & MagicRampant Coyote has a great blog post up that compares Dragon Age: Origins and Might & Magic Book One: Secret of the Inner Sanctum. Which is the more compelling? Well, it's no surprise to many of us that the Coyote prefers the latter game, but the interesting thing is why. Here's what he comes up with:

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Matt Reviews Deus Ex

This week, I look at the cult classic Deus Ex, one of the best first-person shooter hybrids. Designed by Warren Spector and funded by John Romero's Ion Storm, Deus Ex remains the top choice of countless enthusiasts of the franchise.

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Legerdemain: A Tale Fraught with Peril and Wonder

Legerdemain: Zork Meets Nethack!LegerdemainMy friend Alex Aguila recently notified me about a wonderful indie project that combines interactive fiction with roguelikes--it's Zork meets Nethack! You can read all about it at, where there are many screenshots and the chance to buy a the game with a lovely cluebook for $20--300 pages! This looks really, really good. Check it out and let me know what you think!

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Matt Reviews The Bard's Tale

Hi, guys. Do you remember The Bard's Tale, the epic 1985 role-playing game by Michael Cranford? You should! In any case, perhaps this video will show you why you should care about this classic.

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Tim Cain Interview on Fallout (Part I)

Here's the first part of my interview with Tim Cain, producer of Fallout and many other classic CRPGs. What's fun is that Tim talks about the importance of the Atari 800 (Atariwriter, anyone?), Dungeons & Dragons, GURPS, and of course the origins of Fallout. There's still plenty left to come (the actual interview was over an hour).

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Matt Barton interviews Chis Avellone of Obsidian Entertainment

Here's the first part of a new multi-part series of video interviews with Chris Avellone, Creative Director of Obsidian Entertainment and lead designer of Planescape:Torment. In this first installment, Chris tells us about his gaming background, which is deeply rooted in pen and paper role-playing.

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What role-playing games had the most impact on you?

I was browsing the excellent Tales of the Rampant Coyote blog and was pleasantly surprised to find a great mention of my book on a post called Game Design: How CRPGs Warped My Brain, Part 1. After complimenting my book, R.C. goes on to mention the role-playing games that made the most impact on his design philosophy. Here's a snippet from the Temple of Apshai blurb:

The thing that stuck with me from that game is that while a picture may be worth a thousand words, sometimes those words in text descriptions can evoke thoughts, feelings, and understanding that a picture alone cannot convey – even with the best of modern graphics.

How true! I also remember enjoying the entries in the printed journal that accompanied Pool of Radiance and other goldbox games. It was so much fun when the game referred to you an entry; it was always worth taking the time to read it and gave the game a more authentic D&D like feeling. What CRPGs have "warped your brain?" Here's a brief list of my personal favorites and what they taught me.

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Co-Op Parenting? Fable 3's "Baby Making"

Wow--now this really sounds interesting. Apparently Fable 3 will let co-op players have sex and eventually have children. Details seem scarce, and some are already thinking back to the seeds and trees thing from Molyneux. Even if it doesn't work out, though, I think we can all see the potential of something like this.

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