It’s Friday and that means it’s time for another edition of The Week in RPGs, your weekly breakdown of all things roleplaying games. This week we’re talking Girls Make Games, new extended gameplay video for Dragon Age: Inquisition, Mass Effect 4, Dark Souls 2’s first DLC, Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel invading Borderlands 2, and even a new Final Fantasy game.
As we open things up, let’s take a moment to reflect on the state, and history, of the games industry. Game development, by and large, is a bit of a boy’s club. That’s not at all surprising given how male dominated the gaming community has been over the years. Times are changing – women make up to 46% of all gamers according to a 2013 ESA study – but the industry still faces challenges recruiting and keeping female designers. That same study pegs women at a mere 12% of employees in the game industry. I share this to underscore just how important the work of the organization in our first story truly is, both to expand the promote equality but also in expanding the boundaries of game design. So, without ado…
Girls Make Games, a program of “international summer camps, workshops, and game jams” designed to encourage young girls to explore video game design, is turning to Kickstarter to fund the release of this year’s grand prize winner, The Hole Story. The game was put together by a team of seven talented ladies ranging in age from 10 to 16 dubbing themselves Team Negative. The top-down RPG about “a girl and her trusty shovel” was created in just three weeks and pitched to a panel of industry veterans including Tim Schafer, Kellee Santiago, Shazia Makhdumi, and Tracy Fullerton. It is scheduled for release in November on the Google Play store. If you haven’t yet, give the game a look and consider helping these aspiring young ladies. Pledges of $200 or more also provide scholarship funding for future participants.
Hey, remember that 16 minutes of Dragon Age: Inquisition footage we linked you to last week? Bioware released another 14 minutes for your viewing pleasure, this time continuing the adventure into Redcliffe Castle and finishing out the E3 demo. This video shows even more of the strategic side to combat where players can pause time, survey the battlefield, and assign commands. Just like last time, I remain enamored at the character interactions and the little conversations that characters have with one another as you adventure through the world.
Looking back through the press materials has resulted in a troubling observation, however. Bioware is highlighting the mage almost to the exclusion of the melee classes. Could it be because they are less impressive? After watching these videos, I think that answer might be yes. Take a look at the warrior here. Now compare that to the mage here. Notice anything? It’s like comparing a New York City fireworks show to some B-roll of prisoners breaking rocks. Now, I’m not saying warriors will be any less fun to play but wow do they have less flare.
Speaking of Bioware…
From the team that brought you CONCEPTUAL PROTOTYPE, Bioware is proud to present… CUSTOMER SURVEY. That’s right, storied game firm wants your feedback to direct the future of Mass Effect 4. If you’re inclined toward survey taking, the company would just love to know what games you’ve been playing lately. Also how important you find things leveling up, combat, comparing against your friends, min-maxing, and exploration. For some strange reason they also want to know how you feel about cosplay because Captain Shepard Halloween masks that’s why. Or something like that.
Members of the team will also be attending San Diego Comic-Con to discuss “what it’s like to expand on a well-established and beloved video game franchise” and to “share their experiences in shaping the next Mass Effect game.” It should be good because they really can’t give us less than that first trailer.
Darks Souls 2 fans have some new eye-candy to oogle over. Total Xbox unveiled a number of new screenshots for the upcoming DLC pack, Crown of the Sunken King, which feature a good many bloodstains, ghosts, and holy crap that’s a big snake. Ophidiophobes need not apply. Everyone else can enjoy the screens on our game page.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel is getting some promotional content in Borderlands 2. Beginning today, monsters in the game now have a rare chance at dropping character skins for the soon-to-be-released game. Gearbox also plans to release these skins as Shift codes throughout July and August beginning today. This is a good way to pretend you’re playing a new game before you actually buy a new game. Imagination!
The Shroud of the Avatar team sent out its 81st update. In anticipation of Update 8 going live later this month, the note leans heavily on player versus player content. PKers will be happy to know that, based on community member feedback, open PVP can now be toggled on for player-owned towns. Because nothing says RPG like being stabbed in your herb garden. Somebody needs to think of the peas here.
Last but not least, Square Enix has released a teaser site for a new mobile entry in the Final Fantasy series entitled Final Fantasy: Record Keeper. In the game, players will take on the role of Deci, a history student studying key moments in the Final Fantasy mythos. Through Deci, players will be able to experience dungeons set in the franchise’s numbered entries, unlocking main characters to join your party as you continue through each world. It certainly seems more interesting than last year’s All the Bravest. The game will be free to play and release in Japan later this year for iOS and Android devices.
And that, my friends, is your week in RPGs. Join the discussion in the comments below!
Christopher Coke / Chris has been an RPG fan for as long as he has played video games. This week, you can find him taking his second tour of The Witcher 2 and eyeing a long overdue play-through of Mass Effect 3. Follow him on Twitter: @GameByNight.
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