BetaDwarf's launch of Forced, its co-operative action brawler of critical acclaim, established a sound foundation for the indie studio. It's easy to get trapped in the role of perpetually attempting to recreate the success of previous launches – we've all seen it – and BetaDwarf is working hard to avoid becoming “type-cast” as a maker of co-op arcade-brawlers. But it's risky to build a new IP – so BetaDwarf's taken a rare, but logical path: Build upon the franchise IP with a deviation from the core genre mechanics, netting a new type of game with familiar characters.

Forced: Showdown gameplay takes the primordial composition of “Forced” to build upon the playful, action-driven arena mechanics, but switches a few ingredients. For one, co-operartive play is gone; Showdown is all about single-player arena-crawling. Cards have also been added – like playing cards in a CCG, but simplified. Cards are dealt (and can be mulliganed) at the beginning of each major arena match, adding ancillary mechanics that deepen the pool of strategies. Companions, another add-on, have effectively replaced Spirit Mentor Balfus and add a more brute-force means of supporting the player.

We'll have a full review of Showdown online shortly, but for now, we're giving away twenty keys for the game. We're also handing-out two mechanical keyboards, five jerseys, and five 'swag bags,' thanks to supporting system integrator iBUYPOWER (makers of the Revolt 2 SFF PC).

Blizzard's Diablo II, the year 2000's best dungeon crawler, has once again been resurrected from the brink of incompatibility. The game just received patch 1.14a, making Diablo II one of the longest-supported video game titles in history, with on-and-off patching for sixteen years; in 2011, Blizzard pushed patch 1.13 for expanded OS & hardware support.

A developer post on the official Blizzard forums (posted by “Classic”) indicates official support for OSX Mac operating systems. Somewhat surprisingly, Blizzard also pointed toward updated cheat-detection and hack-prevention systems. In the official post, Blizzard wrote:

Sword Coast Legends is a newly-released D&D cRPG that has entrenched itself deeply within Wizards of the Coast territory, all the way down to adoption of the 5th edition core ruleset. For those of us who haven't yet dug our way out of the insurmountable pile of 3.5 books, the ruleset may be unfamiliar, but it's still D&D.

We've previously covered Sword Coast Legends, with our first round of coverage from GDC – near the game's unveil – and the most recent at PAX Prime. Until recently, our only hands-on sessions with the game were as players, with one limited on-the-fly DM session. This DM session dropped me in to a premade dungeon crawl with my staff (“with,” not “against,” because we're playing co-operatively to enable a good experience); my role here was limited to staying one step ahead of the players, trying to plant mobs and traps according to current challenge. I did not get to look at the actual DM toolkit – the utilities used for making longer campaigns and custom modules – until the last two weeks.

This time, I spent about eight hours building a fully fleshed-out module, complete with back-story, multiple levels, and custom quests. The objective was to give my old D&D group a run that'd remind us of the tabletop days.

Every indie game or developer has a fascinating story behind its upbringing. Some developers move from large studios to have more control over their work, and sometimes a pair of college roommates team up to do something constructive with the time they spent cutting class.

legendofdungeon-2

For Alix Stolzer and Calvin Goble, games were clearly a part of their lives, and they decided to do whatever it took to turn their passion into a product -- even if it meant living in a treehouse.

That’s right.

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