Episode 014 – Divinity 2: Ego Draconis review


First thing’s first: our podcast host shut down recently. I had to change the Feedburner RSS feed, so if anyone wakes up and finds a lot of doubles in their iTunes, don’t bother re-downloading them. The only new content is this here Divinity 2: Ego Draconis review.

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Four months in the works–four months! I know, I know, it took me forever. But it was CDV’s fault for being so generous and sending me a brand spankin’ new review copy. I just couldn’t play it for a few hours and pass judgment. The end result is a twenty-two minute review.


– Zeus

Published in: on April 13, 2010 at 7:32 pm  Comments (1)  

Upcoming Divinity II – Ego Draconis Preview

The folks behind Divinity II – Ego Draconis were kind enough to send us a preview copy (it’s in the mail). We’ll have a special preview coming soon, and in the meantime, you can use the button below to pre-order at Gamespot to get the following exclusive goodiekins:

  • Blood Echelon Armor – Sturdy as granite and shaped to intimidate, Blood Echelon armors set new standards in the art of war.
  • Blood Echelon Weapon – The Claymore, the Frontline Slayers’ weapon of choice, this mighty blade cleaves armor like it were mere flesh.

Thus combining two things I love–blood and weapons.

Published in: on December 19, 2009 at 1:26 am  Leave a Comment  

Appologies for the Delay

Anyone subscribing to this podcast should have already heard that we have been having a few problems recently, causing a big gap between episodes here. Thanks for bearing with us, it’s over with this week.

Published in: on September 21, 2009 at 10:37 am  Comments (3)  

Episode 013 – Game Arts

After a month of catastrophic hardware failures and dealing with the headaches of organizing a tri-coastal recording session, we once again bring in Susan Richardson to join in on a discussion of the games of Game Arts.

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In a world where everyone else is sending mopey teens from destroyed villages out to save the world, it’s nice having a company to send pre-teens out to explore the world just for its own sake in Lunar and Grandia.

– Jake

Published in: on August 21, 2009 at 5:29 am  Comments (1)  

Episode 012 – Authoring RPGs

Guest host Jonathan Drain returns in part two of the podcast to discuss authorship in roleplaying games.

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Topics include Chekhov’s gun, how (and whether) a writer should Hide The Gun, and how both concepts affect RPG storylines. We also discuss puzzle design: which should come first, the Key or the Door? In other words, should the player be allowed to find the solution before they find the problem? It’s no surprise that our conclusion draws from famous fantasy tropes. Finally there’s exposition in sci-fi and fantasy worlds, or how to introduce gamers to a unique world without having characters robotically spout common knowledge for the player’s benefit.

All these questions answered — or not — and much, much more!

Thanks again to JD, the man who put the “D” in d20source.com. Jake will return next week, along with Susan, when we feature Game Arts, the Grandia and Lunar series.

– Zeus

Published in: on August 13, 2009 at 8:29 pm  Comments (2)  

Episode 011 – How Dungeons & Dragons Influenced Video Games

Jake’s hard drive crashed, so Jonathan Drain of D20 Source joins us to talk about Dungeons & Dragons, how it influenced video games, and vise versa. (The 4th version of D&D took inspiration from MMORPGs, not to mention a certain well known FPS series.)

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Mostly we just ramble on about this and that, including my personal 2008 Game of the Year, Mount & Blade, an Action/RPG/Strategy game which reminds JD of a LARP and me of those D&D strongholds which high level Fighters are supposed to build. We even touch a bit on that classic question, What Is An RPG? (previously covered in our first episode), because there’s no point in beating a dead horse — unless it’s a dead RPG horse, in which case you gain some experience.

Many thanks to Jonathan, who’ll be returning again next week in part two of the two-part episode, titled: Episode 11: Part Two — Episode 12.

We’re… still working on the title.

– Zeus

Published in: on August 7, 2009 at 7:22 am  Comments (6)  


Due to scheduling conflicts, we weren’t able to record a podcast for you this week. Sorry guys! We’ll be back August 6th, better than ever. Until then, keep your nose to the grindstone, talk to everyone twice, and save now, save often.

– Zeus

Published in: on July 31, 2009 at 6:33 am  Leave a Comment  

Episode 010 – Zero Player Games

This week we look at the surprising number of RPGs which will play themselves, while you half-pay attention and potentially do some multi-tasking.

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Highlights of course include the ever-popular Progress Quest, but we also dedicate a large portion of the show to how the creators of Legends of Zork need to burn in the fires of the abyss. Plus the surprising fact that a fair number of games which play themselves somehow manage to be intimidatingly difficult.

As always, feel free to send mail to leveluppodcast@live.com and share with us the secrets of the universe. Or whatever else is on your mind.

– Jake

Published in: on July 24, 2009 at 9:30 am  Comments (2)  

Episode 009 – The Games of Enix

Today we look back at the games of Enix, specifically those that fell between the birth of the SNES and the sweaty embrace of Square-Enix. (We’re saving Dragon Quest/Warrior games for their own podcast.)

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If Enix had an golden age, at least here in America, it was undoubtedly between 1991’s Actraiser and the tragically unloved comedy RPG Robotrek (1995).These were the salad days, when one could walk down to the local video store and pick up a new Enix RPG seemingly every week. Much will be said about Quintet, Enix’s star developer at the time, and their unofficial trilogy, Soul Blazer, Illusion of Gaia, and the JP/EU-only Terranigma.

Alas, all good things must come to an end. Enix “pulled a Wonka” and mysteriously closed their doors to US customers (for reasons we discuss in the ‘cast).

– Zeus


Published in: on July 18, 2009 at 1:47 am  Comments (2)  

Episode 008 – Cheesy Tricks and Exploits

This week we discuss the various weird tricks some of us have been known to use to gain an edge in RPGs both new and old. These range from the practical in-game tricks the developers expect you to work out, like power leveling sites, to exploiting huge bugs, like the oddly ubiquitous item cloning cheat.

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We also get sidetracked onto a huge number of crazy tangents, getting into pen and paper D&D, fan-driven MMO downgrading, and the odd bit of philosophy that the same thing that makes you a clever player in a difficult game makes an easy game horribly flawed.

Anything you’d like us to respond to next week? E-mail us at leveluppodcast@live.com

– Jake

Published in: on July 10, 2009 at 5:20 am  Comments (1)  

Episode 007 – Bethesda Softworks

This week we discuss Bethesda Softworks, makers of The Elder Scrolls series and Fallout 3. While Square Enix has mastered the interactive novel, Bethesda is the undisputed king of wide open spaces, allowing players to do whatever they want. Beginning with Arena, we cover The Elder Scrolls series, Morrowind, Oblivion, even a little Daggerfall. Then at the end, Jake covers Fallout 3.

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The most surprising thing about Bethesda games is, well, you’d think with all that acreage covered there’d be less to do than other, linear games (like Grand Theft Auto’s non-interactive storefronts and zombie pedestrians). Quite the contrary! Bethesda titles crammed with goodies to pick up and pocket (read: steal). Every home is loaded with interactive knickknacks, every remote farm teeming with some subterranean Elder God to discover or another, every stretch of forest is peppered with darting wildlife and Elven ruins.

Whether you love Bethesda-style games or hate them, there’s one thing you can’t deny: Those guys have one hell of a set design team

– Zeus

P.S. The Elder Scrolls: Arena is freeware. Enjoy.

Edit (2009-07-10): Daggerfall is now freeware. Huzzah!

Published in: on July 3, 2009 at 12:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Episode 006 – RPG Sidekicks

Having finished our overview of RPG sub-genres, or at the very least, taking a break before devoting shows to rogue-likes, LoRD-clones, dating sims and so forth. Instead, this week we focus on some of our favorite side characters from a whole slew of games. What do we mean by that? All those charming individuals who join your party, often for no good reason, and provide a whole lot more entertainment than the main protagonist and their precious plot progressing scenes.

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Only now, having recorded and posting the show do I realize I failed to ramble on at how I love Ziggy from Xenosaga, and his self-contained grim cyberpunk plot, not really fitting in with anything else.

– Jake

Published in: on June 25, 2009 at 9:54 pm  Leave a Comment  

Episode 005 – Strategy and Tactical RPGs

Ahoy! This week we cover Strategy and Tactical RPGs. These roleplaying games have much in common with tabletop war games. Rather than bash the Attack or Item command, a player must first consider things like terrain, line of fire and fragging a team mate by accident before making a move.

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The list of games is long: Final Fantasy Tactics, Rebelstar Tactical Command (from the makers of X-Com), Shining Force, Kartia, the free open source Battle of Wesnoth, Disgaea, even the controversial new team-based title Demigod, which I fully believe is the best RPG deathmatch since Nox.

– Zeus

P.S. Sorry it’s a day late, next week we’ll be back to our regularly scheduled Thursday episode.

Published in: on June 19, 2009 at 9:21 pm  Comments (1)  

Episode 004 – MMORPGs Part 2

Continuing our discussion of MMORPGs, this week we try to accentuate the positive, exchanging amusing MMO anecdotes, and offering suggestions both for players looking for games to try, and for MMO developers wanting to make it big. There’s also a bit of a sidetrack about a licensed game which really needs to spring into existence one of these days. Any big budget studios want to humor me on this one?

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We also answer our first piece of listener mail. Keep sending those in to leveluppodcast@live.com

– Jake

Published in: on June 11, 2009 at 11:19 pm  Comments (3)  

Episode 003 – MMORPGs Part 1

Our third episode is about MMORPGs — and apropos of everything, it is both massive and multiplayer. We invited our old pal and RPGamer alumna Silkenray to discuss everything from Runescape to Dungeon Runners, from Star Wars: Galaxies to Puzzle Pirates, and yeah, even the obligatory World of Warcraft.

We had so much fun chatting that it ran double the length of a usual episode, so we lopped in two, saving scrumptious leftovers for another day.

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A dire warning to hardcore fans of the genre: We are, none of us, terribly into these games, making our experiences somewhat ironic and on the fringe. However, this was no pity party, not even a paltry pittance — we share good times, as well as bad, from thrown voices to Star Wars lapdances, and even puzzled out ways to revive the MMO real estate market.


Published in: on June 5, 2009 at 1:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Episode 002 – PC Vs. Console

This week, we discuss the difference between the PC style of RPG development favored in the west, with the console style more common in Japan. The various strengths and weaknesses of each are covered, and we take a look at how Rogue-likes are universal.

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Thanks to Fancy New Recording Techniques, this week is free of strange lag-time. While all new crazy hiccups sprang up, they were easily defeated, and their dire warrens fully clensed by the fires of the editing process.

Until next time,


Published in: on May 28, 2009 at 8:47 pm  Comments (1)  

Episode 001 – What is an RPG?

In the premiere episode of Level Up, Jake and Zeus discuss the essential elements of video roleplaying games. If stats and experience systems are a must, then is Zelda less — or more — of an RPG than Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas? And what about Diablo — the heck’s with that?

Listen to the podcast, and find out!

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Please bare in mind that while this wasn’t the most disastrous maiden voyage in history, we had our share of problems. There’s a faint echo at the beginning, and later on we were cursed with one thousand years of lag. So if one of us cuts off the other, it was only by accident.

The podcast has been patched together like a golem scarecrow; it will serve us well, for now, but not without a hint of resentment in its black button eyes. Next week we’re going to try a new technique. The quality should increase by tenfold, or however many times you can fold a ten.

Until next time,

– Zeus

Published in: on May 21, 2009 at 11:54 pm  Comments (1)