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Disco Elysium – Press Roundup 2018

Hello everyone!

This week I’m here to do a round up of the amazing year we have had so far. It’s been a whirlwind of working hard & travelling round the world and we still have a few months left! We’ll be sharing some of the press we have received and most importantly what people thought of Disco Elysium.

We most recently returned from Birmingham in the UK after spending 4 days at EGX showing off the game. While we were there Writer Argo Tuulik & Lead Writer & Designer Robert Kurvitz took part in a panel “What happens when you’re aiming to create the best RPG of all time?” hosted by Alex Wiltshire. If you didn’t manage to catch it at EGX, or live on Twitch you can find a Youtube video below. Let us know what you think!

We also just wanted to say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to check out Disco Elysium. To everyone who writes about it, talks about it, shares all the articles about it, we couldn’t do this without your support. Keep cheering us on to the finish line!

EGX 2018
Birmingham UK


Panel – “What happens when you’re aiming to create the best RPG of all time.”

The Mirror
“Everything has a surreal dream-like quality to it, from the strange – often darkly hilarious – conversations with NPCs (and in your own head) to the evocative hand crafted oil painting art style”

Eurogamer
“ I eventually left the kids to get on with the business of chucking rocks at the penis of a corpse hanging from a tree.”

Rock Paper Shotgun
“It’s possible, and I know it is because I played with three different builds, to have entirely different playthroughs, and follow entirely different routes through the game.”

Kotaku
“The game promises that the case you’re solving is open-ended, and can be solved “however you choose.” It’s an intriguing prospect, but the setting and characters alone have me interested enough as it is.”

IndieGame Website
“How deep this dark, dystopian rabbit hole goes is yet to be seen, but if the demo is anything to go by then this could be something extraordinarily special. Maybe things will become a lot clearer once the hangover wears off.”

eTeknix 
“ I wish I could’ve played the game a little longer because on the surface it seemed exceptionally interesting. With several systems running the game though (and it becoming highly popular when the doors opened) this might definitely be one to keep an eye on.”

 

PAX West
Seattle


Ars Technica
“Giving any game or demo a PAX West “best of show” designation is pretty misleading, especially when many of this expo’s best games have debuted at previous events. But if you push me to pick a personal PAX West favorite, in terms of newness and surprise, that honor indisputably goes to Disco Elysium.”

Destructoid
“Disco Elysium is the deepest hangover simulator I’ve ever seen.”

PC Gamer
“Your skills talk to you in Disco Elysium, an inventive RPG that keeps impressing.”

Rock Paper Shotgun
“10 PC games we’re still looking forward to in 2018.”

Operation Rainfall
“It seems like one of the most direct conversions of a tabletop RPG system to a video game that isn’t just a D&D game, with a lot of open-endedness to explore or play through it however you see fit.”

 

PAX East
Boston


Telegraph
“The not-quite-real world is a fascinating looking setting, while a deep script and player choice could serve up one of the sleeper hits of the year.”

Electric Sistahood
“The story and mystery that Disco Elysium is itching to deliver may be one of the most original takes on the RPG genre just yet!”

PC Gamer
“Solve the case or go crazy trying in isometric RPG Disco Elysium.”

GamesRadar
“Best games of PAX East 2018”

Marooners Rock
“The fact that Disco Elysium caused me to forget I was at PAX East 2018 for close to an hour is the reason I granted it a Writer’s Choice Award and a nomination for Best Indie Game of the show!” 

 

EGX Rezzed
London


Eurogamer
“Best Games from the Rezzed 2018 Showfloor.”

Rock Paper Shotgun Podcast
“The weird, wild and wonderful of EGX Rezzed.”

Rock Paper Shotgun
“Disco Elysium RPG Details- An Interview with Robert Kurvitz”

PC Gamer
“The Future of CRPG’s.” 

PC Gamer
“Disco Elysium is shaping up to be the most original RPG of the year.”

A Most Agreeable Pastime
“Disco Elysium is quite fantastically ambitious.”

Indie-credible
“Disco Elysium is genuinely brilliant! The stunning oil painting artwork, dark corrupted world and excellently written conversation skill emphasis have got me very excited to play the game when it gets a full release.”

We were also delighted to have the pleasure of appearing in MCV’s May Issue, the June Issues of Edge & PC Gamer and GamesTM’s 200 Issue Special.
We still have a couple more shows to attend, that we’ll be announcing soon, so watch this space.

But what about the release date?

So many of you have been asking us if we have a release date, either online or in person at shows. We don’t have a date for you just yet but I promise we’re working hard on a new trailer and a big announcement to go along with it. We know you are all excited about when you can finally get your hands on Disco Elysium, we hope that it will be worth the wait.

Until next time!

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Meet the skills: Motorics

Motorics (MOT) covers your peripheral nervous system, your five senses, and your vestibular system. It’s our take on the classic Dexterity and Perception stats, but not only. Motorics also has an added mental aspect – your street smarts, the ability to think on your feet and maintain a poker face in stressful situations.

Above all, the Motorics skills make you cool.

And, unlike the other skill sets, they don’t come at a huge cost. Put too many points into Physique and it turns you into a violent animal – something like Marv from Sin City. Overdo Psyche and you’re Dale Cooper on MDMA. Too much Intellect turns you a Holmesian pedant. The twist with Motorics is – there is no such twist. Ultra high levels of the Motorics skills surprise you with expanded functionality. It’s the stabilizing element of your build, the binding agent.

A high Motorics cop is one smart, streetwise operator, closest to the classic Detective archetype: your Johnny Dollar or Sonny Crockett. It’s also the flashiest attribute animation-wise, and definitely the best-dressed.

Which is not to say that the Motorics skills make you perfect. You may come off as jumpy or high strung. A bit of a cokehead, even. But, honestly, that’s nothing compared to the trouble you can get into with the other three.

Let’s have a look at what these six desperados can do for you.

HAND / EYE COORDINATION

 

H/E, as we shorten it, makes you fire that gun. Makes you fire it good. The more H/E you have, the more precise your aim. And, be it a Villiers 9mm, a Kiejl Armistice, or a banged up old Liljeqist in your hand, you’re going to want to be very precise, because bad, bad, very bad things will happen if you aren’t.

Not only is H/E for aiming, or throwing – it’s also for catching. You’d be surprised how useful that is. Your partner just threw you the keys to your patrol vehicle. It’s a cool moment, but Benny Shitfingers drops them in the sewage. Vehicle inoperable. Mob boss flips a coin in your direction: here’s a tip rent-a-cop. Blam, he pokes your eye out with it.

It’s incredibly uncool to not catch things.

Oh and remember when I said it’s for using firearms? Well, the twist here is: it also analyzes them. Pick up a gun and H/E will tell you things about it: weight, calibre, reliable range. Good to have in a murder investigation if firearms are involved. And they always are. Revachol is a very gunny place.

REACTION SPEED

 

Reaction Speed also gets a little gunny. Lets you dodge incoming gunfire. It’s the yang to H/E’s yin. The anti-gun. Your danger sense. Your dodge skill.

On the mental side of things, it’s also your mental alacrity and street smarts. It helps you dodge snipes of the verbal sort: quick jabs and cheap shots, dramatic moves people try to pull on you. Reaction Speed is an alarm system.

Overdo levelling this one and you’ll develop that jumpiness I mentioned. Surely a small price to pay for not being, you know, dead. Or standing there with your mouth agape, trying to come up with a cool comeback after the she’s already gone.

If you want to build a mental powerhouse, max up on INT Skills like Logic, Conceptualization and Visual Calculus, then throw Reaction Speed in there too. They’ll call you Johnny Big-Brain now! It’s possible to be very intelligent without it, but it’s a slow, studious intellect. Reaction Speed gives you smarts.

I’s perhaps the quintessential hardboiled detective skill in the game…

PERCEPTION

 

…second only to Perception. This one’s a giant. It’s the magnifying glass in your hand that allows you to see the drop of blood in the fish tank. The keen ear that catches the sound of breathing under the floorboards. Perception governs your sight, smell, taste, and hearing.

Because it’s so all-encompassing, it’s better to say what it doesn’t do. Perception does not read tells and body language (that’s Composure, another Motorics skill). And it doesn’t detect microscopic details with your fingertips (that’s Interfacing, another one). But you’re still going to want to put a few points into this one, believe me. And, yes, it does yield clues too. A lot of clues. Even too many, perhaps? A high Perception cop is going to be drowning in little notes about the things they saw, heard, or smelled – some of them extraneous, or even misleading.

But still, be careful – too little of this one and you’ll be on an experimental playthrough of Disco Elysium: The Adventures of Johnny Blind.

Perception does all sorts of nice things outside of dialogue too, affecting how you interact with the game’s ultra-detailed art. It detects hidden containers for you to loot, and reveals hidden objects in the world – footprints on the floor, for example. Then you can use Visual Calculus (an Intellect skill) to read their size, make and so on – another example of Intellect and Motorics having great synergy for a classic detective build.

Also, expect to find hidden areas: secret rooms, doors, and rooftop paths in the city of Revachol.

The city’s also littered with these little green orbs you can click on; classic “question mark” moments that provide quick observations like: “someone left the stove on,” “water’s dripping from this tap.” Some of these orbs are only visible to higher Perception characters. You can use these hidden, golden orbs to question people: “You just renovated, but the tap’s leaking?” This is one more way environmental exploration (crime scene analysis) and questioning people (interrogations) are connected in Disco Elysium.

Finally, there are certain Thought Cabinet projects that allow you to auto-succeed, say, all hearing-type Perception checks. So there are workarounds for a low Motorics character who wants to play the “blind saxophone player” cop. (Please don’t. Also, there are no saxophones in Elysium.)

SAVOIR FAIRE

 

Savoir Faire is all about style, subterfuge, flair. Even sexiness to a certain extent. It’s our combined Acrobatics and Sneaking skill, with an added zest of verbal flare every now and then. The full package for a slippery roguish detective. You’re basically a ninja-cop, or what our worldbuilding calls a Sambo artist. (Sambo, short for Samaran Boxing, is a communist martial art from Sapurmat Ulan.)

You may also be… a bit of a douchebag, to be honest.

A police detective who sneaks out of conversations and pulls acrobatic moves can come off as an exhibitionist. The other Motorics skills affect your personality in surprisingly (for the Metric system) agreeable ways, but this one’s a wild card.

On the other hand, it’s extremely useful for sneaking into places. It lets you interact with the game’s environment in some pretty flashy ways, where our combat system blends into an acrobatics system for jumping, climbing, etc.

The twist here — and the importance of this cannot be overstated — is that Savoir Faire also lets you dance.

COMPOSURE

 

Composure is your poker face. The Motorics firewall for your inner turmoil. And also its reverse – your ability to read other people’s body language and tells – to see beneath their facade.

Composure and Perception go well together, making for an ultra-vigilant cop. Composure and the Psyche skill Volition are a good combination for a man of steel who never cracks under pressure. And you’ll be under a lot of pressure in Disco Elysium. Or, if you want to be the expert in reading people, combining Composure with another Psyche skill, Empathy, gives you X-Ray vision into people’s mental states.

If Savoir Faire sexes you up in a slightly douchey way, Composure does the stomach-in, shoulders-back type thing. A trustworthy sexiness. Great posture.

The big twist here is that very high Composure becomes your fashion sense. First of all, it criticises other people’s sartorial choices – not only are they sweating and obviously hiding something, they also have a lame floral shirt. Second, it lets you push your fashion sense on them. Make your partner wear a stupid orange pilot cap. You look too cool for others to not trust your advice.

INTERFACING

 

Interfacing is the final piece of the puzzle as your fine motor skills. Digital dexterity. Fingerworks. Oh boy, does this one do a lot of things — it basically does all the rest: takes notes and helps with handwriting analysis; interprets electrical circuitry; instructs you on how to use a simple blue button; runs your hands across the gear shaft of a motor-carriage; disentangles a Stereo 8 tape from a hawthorn tree, patches it up, and plays it at night on your short stint as a tape-jockey; runs diagnostics on a motor lorry; picks locks; does a great massage; finds microscopic tears in body cavities…

In some extreme cases (very high Interfacing needed), you can even perform what we call a phenomenological transfer: put your hands on the steering levers (motor-cars in Elysium do not use wheels) of a Coupris Kineema and know precisely what its mileage is, how it was treated by its last owner, and what road it was last driven on.

Interfacing is one of those rare skills in the Metric system that sometimes borders on the extraphysical. Extraphysical is what we call the realistically supernatural. The real deal. Reality-breaking. Interfacing’s extraphysical effects are much, much more subtle than those of the Physique skill Shivers, which puts you in touch you with the city of Revachol, but they’re there, connecting you to machinery, electrical circuits, and, most curiously, radiowaves.

You see, in Disco Elysium you can circuit-bend into radiocomputers. These machines have on-air processing. Large prime number stations criss-cross the air. Advanced tape computers use arrays of antennas to sieve through their calculations to perform advanced calculus on site: to run programmes and communicate between the remote corners of the world. There’s a Ream A24 Prefect console somewhere down there, in a hidden basement – or a church, who can say? – that you can use to circuit-bend into remote units. Access personal information, read love letters, learn ancient secrets.

Tape computation has existed in this world for hundreds of years. Who knows what you’ll find…

Oh, what’s that, mom? What am I doing? I’m playing a seventies-style cop with a handlebar moustache who frequency-hacks into ancient radio stations. It’s not basic dungeons and dragons.

That’s all for Metric, the system that powers character creation in Disco Elysium. We hope you’ve enjoyed these posts and have gotten some interesting ideas for your build.

Next time we’ll talk about the Thought Cabinet, where you develop character traits for your cop, giving your skills new and strange sideeffects.

After that we’ll finally be ready to talk about the Elysium setting – its technology, geopolitics, schools of thought, and culture.

Till then.

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Combat in Disco Elysium

Now that we have a flashy screenshot to illustrate it, let’s talk about combat in Disco Elysium.


1. There are only a handful of instances of it. These are half-scripted, pseudo turn-based, set piece combat encounters. They are not cheap to animate and program. They come along as the pace and style of your investigation dictates. When you get cocky. When you push a violent angle. When you don’t move fast enough. When you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time. This is the narrative logic of a cop thriller, or a hardboiled novel, not a war game.

But they will come along (although only one of the encounters is entirely unavoidable).

2. There are tactical choices to be made. Let’s take the screenshot as an example. The entire scene is one nerve-racking tumble of choices. These bad dudes are trying to get to what’s behind you. (Spoiler territory – not shown in the screenshot). Do you try to talk them down, try a peaceful angle? Or shoot first? As you deplete topics, the conversation will return you to this hub. Taking the shot may have gotten easier if you lulled them into a sense of security – or harder if you’ve been tricked. Your skills will advise you, guide you. But are they right? Maybe they’re just scared?

And that’s only the foreplay. When you do decide to shoot, you do so by clicking on that Hand/Eye Coordination red check. (If it’s your attack of choice of course – what’s available depends on your weapons: more on that later).

What follows is what we writers call a whirl. Think of it as a pseudo-turn. First you either hit or miss with that Villiers 9mm. The resulting havoc will play out in cool and insanely budget-consuming animations. The opposing force will then try to retaliate. At that point the screen will freeze into a time-stop. During this time-stop you take in your immediate surroundings and consult your skills. This is the titular whirl, since you’re constantly directed back to a hub of choices. You may gain tactical information from your surroundings. See what your partner is doing. All the while you’re confronted with a Reaction Speed red check to dodge the incoming enemy fire. That active check becomes harder or easier depending on your skills guidance via passive checks: Visual Calculus has drawn your attention to the angle of attack, Half Light has gotten scared and wants you to run!

Once you click on that red check, you either get shot or dodge the bullet, and enter another whirl.

Using these whirls we can (painstakingly) build any custom combat encounter, and give it the detail and skill-focused storytelling we’re going for.

3. As demonstrated, there are dice rolls, with percentages. A ton of them. We use active dice rolls of the red check variant, where both the negative and positive outcomes are played out. The stars of the show here are: Hand / Eye Coordination, Physical Instrument, and Reaction Speed, but others feature too. And as always, you can buff these rolls with the Electrochemistry system, by carrying a bottle and a ciggie into combat, bad cop style.

4. Your items decide what you can do. No gun – no shooty, etc. They also provide old fashioned bonuses and penalties to the active checks you’re rolling. Wearing a heavy armour makes dodging that shot harder. Having a better gun makes hitting that shot easier. A sports visor keeps the sun from your eye and makes you more likely to get that Visual Calculus tip during the second whirl.

And not only that – thoughts in your thought cabinet may also contribute. These mercenaries are wearing a strange new type of ceramic armour. Research it – for weaknesses! – and that Hand/Eye Coordination gets one of those massive bonuses game devs like to talk about.

5. It’s not all number crunching, it’s also about style. You’re going to want to have a high Pain Threshold character for a combat encounter, just to get painfully immersive information about your body breaking down, in exquisite, spleen rupturing detail. It’s like Nabokov said: dying is fun. (Only it’s really not). Or max out on Shivers and see what this muzzle flash looks like from the perspective of the wind; hear it echo down the street. And you can still use Rhetoric, Drama, Authority etc too — you don’t have to stop talking the opponents down, or taunting them, or relaying information to your squadmate, because the “battle grid” came out. Dialogue options can be part of the whirls.

Okay, so to recap: each whirl begins with all actors moving in a totally unique way, animated by Eduardo Rubio, our animation lead — one hell of an animator, that guy. We use time-stops at the end of each whirl. Then there are options to consult your senses, where skills jive in. And each whirl is exited by rolling another red check that begins another animation, etc. Until the situation is resolved, or you’re dead.

Oh and:

6. If someone gets killed during all this – someone important to you or the case – they stay dead. There is no disconnection between story and combat in Disco Elysium. The results of each decision you make – or fail to make, because you were trying to be diplomatic – is played out. People die, people have their bodies broken. They remember that you tried to punch them and fell over, because you were drunk. This stuff stays with you. You sustain a wound and people say: hey, you don’t look so good officer, stop bleeding in my fishing village.

If this sounds like a lot to produce, then that’s because it is. Do not expect an encounter to await behind every corner. But I thoroughly believe this approach is, if not the future of RPGs, then an early warning of that future. Consider the possibilities: fisticuffs in a burning building, a direct artillery hit on your Station, an exchange of fire during a car crash. These are all action scenes we’ve told in the pen and paper version of the Elysium role playing system. It’s our brand of pen and paper action scene – and this set piece centred combat system is our way of getting it to you, in a video game.

The beauty of the system is — we can just as well put you in a squad based combat situation, as we can have you jumping over a chasm to get into the harbour. It’s a one-size-fits-all solution for action scenes, comprising both combat, and acrobatics / environment interactions. Both use whirls and time-stops.

It is powered by Metric, our downright vitruvian character customization that represents the human mind and body in a realistic manner, and was made possible with some pretty complicated animation programming.

Next time we’ll talk about those Motoric skills that are crucial to surviving a situation like this: