Breath of the Dragon announced

Breath of the Dragon
Urthvas Williamson writes in to tell me about Breath of the Dragon, a strategy RPG he’s developing with procedural world generation and highly deterministic–some might even say spartan–mechanics.

The plot premise:

Bandits are scheming to topple the foundations of human society from within. There are rumors that the Orcs, who have not been seen in a century, are now being seen, with strange technological items that make them fearsome in combat. Who is supplying the Orcs, who is encouraging the bandits in their delusions of grandeur? You begin as a lone adventurer, a newly-escaped prisoner of the Bandit Camp. Just one person in a big world, what could you possibly do to change the course of events? But perhaps you can band together with some like-minded people and become a force of your own…

Now, about those mechanics. I’ll let Williamson explain them in his own words:

Breath of the Dragon is a procedurally-generated tactics RPG where your decisions matter more than in most games. We avoid crutches like ever-increasing hitpoints and attack power. As your characters level up, each new ability is a discrete new action, and these actions produce combinatoric results. This combinatoric power is how your party really gets stronger.

We work carefully to take Looking-Glass-style emergence, and a Binding of Issac-ish feeling of an ever-growing world full of tons of stuff, but we keep these things in a very crisp container. All actions are discrete, and there is no randomness in combat. Your characters have 4 hit points, even as they become very powerful! This crispness amplifies the importance of your decisions.

You can see how it looks in action in the game’s trailer:

In theory, I ought to enjoy this game quite a lot, as it plays to a lot of my own design sensibilities. My only concern is about the game’s graphical presentation. I can forgive crudeness (I mean, I did play and enjoy His Dark Majesty)–but I find the stylistic inconsistency among the character sprites a bit jarring. I haven’t received any response from Williamson about whether he intends to make any changes there. Luckily, the developer tells me that “the visuals are going to be completely replaced. Everything you see is temporary graphics! The focus right now is on getting the gameplay right.”

Breath of the Dragon is being created for Windows, Mac, Linux, and unspecified “upcoming console platforms.” The game is planned for release near the end of 2014.

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