Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Age of Decadence – Public Beta Demo Available

Posted by Rampant Coyote on March 26, 2012

Iron Tower’s upcoming ancient-rome flavored turn-based RPG, Age of Decadence, has had a lot said about it over the years.

Now you can check it out yourself and see if it’s been worth the wait, and if it should be on your shopping list in the (hopefully) near future.

Here are several places to download the public beta demo and check out the beginning of the game.

I’m particularly interested in how avoiding combat seems to be the preferable option in many cases. My one battle wasn’t too difficult, but I was playing a thiefly sort who is better off not being around when violence ensues.

So what are your on the demo? What do you think? Does it live up to the hype so far?

UPDATE: I could swear that link work last night! 🙂 Link fixed.

Filed Under: Game Announcements - Comments: 17 Comments to Read

  • Bad Sector said,

    It does seem to be of high quality. At least the art assets are high quality enough. I find the setting interesting too.

    My biggest problem is with the user interface. For example, the text is way too small in 1920×1080 (although apparently they’re working on a fix for providing a text size option). Having to read stuff that spans across a 27″ monitor in tiny characters isn’t fun, especially when the game is text heavy.

    I’m not sure I like the camera controls either. I would prefer if there was an option to have the camera follow the character because I keep spamming the Z (center to character) key. There could have been a way to unlock the camera if needed.

    I have only played for the few first minutes of the game (in practice I’ve spent much more than that in the game, but more on that below) but it strikes me as very scripted. Dunno, I think I would like myself to walk towards the innkeeper, guildmaster and other characters and talk to them instead of having that done automatically. It might have been an engine limitation though – while the environments have a lot of detail, they seem to be very small in area. Having to switch/reload every couple of meters while walking around might have been a bit too painful.

    I almost like the combat. I say almost because there is a feature I didn’t like: the fact that it is very common for enemies to disarm you. While normally that wouldn’t be as bad alone, combined with the action point system and the cost for accessing the inventory makes the combat hard. I had my character lose his weapon in a combat twice – in the whole combat I basically just managed to strike a single blow! The rest of the time was spent trying to pick up my weapons from the inventory. Not very fun, really.

    Talking about inventory, I think the game is a bit buggy there. For example after I got some black leather armor from an assassin I naturally wore it. Then a couple of screens later my character was wearing some other armor that I had in my inventory!

    The initial assassin is a very hard in my opinion. I decided to make a mercenary and I spent a lot of time (and more than 10 character setups) trying to figure out how to kill him. Of course there is the option to not do that – but you know what? I’m a mercenary, I am supposed to have a background in fighting, I wasn’t some random dude with a weapon in hand pretending to be a professional killer – I am supposed to be one. For a game that was supposed to be giving you options, there doesn’t seem to be much of an option here.

    Anyway, so far this is what I’ve seen from the game. The way I presented my experience sounds negative, but I generally I liked what I saw. However it feels like a valuable but unpolished gem. It is in need for a bit of balancing (i’m not the only one who said that the battles are brutally hard – I’ve seen this mentioned in a few other places too), stability (once I had a character that I managed to keep alive, the game crashed…) and UI fixes.

    Especially the text and the inventory. How hard is to put a popup over items that tell you how an item might affect your stats? Shuffling around the inventory and having to wear to see the results is tedious.

    But I may buy it once I am in a better economic situation…

  • Yem said,

    I’ve been following it’s development for years, really looking forward to a (fantasy/different scifi) fallout-alike.

    But honestly, for me, it is almost spoiled by the teleporting around to each quest destination/in dialogue, and some of the very abrupt dialogue options. Just seems like a very strange design decision, which I found so offputting I didn’t finish the demo.

    I feel really sad that, after looking forward to this for literally years, I don’t feel like I want to support them with a purchase.

  • Kyle said,

    I won’t be supporting them, but not because of the game. Game looks great.

    The lead developer is being a jerk to people who show up on the company’s forums, and actively chasing away customers.

    Exchanges run something like this:

    New Member: “I just heard about the game. Looks cool. Played the demo and it’s neat. I think combat is too hard.”

    Developer: “Combat isn’t too hard. Go play a different game.”

    New Member: “Well, as a new player I thought I’d share my initial impression.”

    Developer: “Initial impressions don’t count. I think combat is easy. The internal beta testers, who have been playing for months, don’t think combat is too hard. Go play a different game.”

    New Member: “Well…”

    Developer: “Fuck off.”

    Game looks fun. But I prefer not to patronize places that are contemptuous of their customers.

  • RPGHeaven said,

    Yeah Vince Dweller is a bit of a douche. A jaded, bitter guy from seeing one of his favorite genres morph into slop like Mass Effect 3. Nice care bear PR people won’t be found.

    To play the devil’s advocate,

    A) His main audience is fellow bitter, angry CRPG enthusiasts like himself. He doesn’t care about making it user friendly, hand holding for the Call of Duty/Bioware crowd. You cannot make a jack of all trades character that is good at everything.

    B) His point about the combat system is if you didn’t read the help system (the giant “?” in game) about the rules of combat, or try out different tactics, your complaints are invalid because they are laid out right there for you. He’s not going to hand hold with a tutorial telling you what to press. You have to discover that yourself or use your own intuition. How refreshing!

    I just find it ironic that it plays more like Choose Your Own Adventure and how he reels agains “I win button” or “press button something awesome happens” game design, yet the skill checks in the game pretty much achieve the same thing in the end.

    Still a promising game with a unique setting.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    I just find it ironic that it plays more like Choose Your Own Adventure and how he reels agains “I win button” or “press button something awesome happens” game design, yet the skill checks in the game pretty much achieve the same thing in the end.

    I made similar discoveries with Frayed Knights, though. You start out with this high-minded ideas of what an RPG should be, and these examples from the best games of the past that you want to build upon. But when the rubber meets the road, you have to make compromises. You realize that Best Idea #1 is incompatible with Best Idea #2, and one or both of them will have to be modified to get them to work together. After many protests from the playtesters, you have to decide whether you want to stick to your guns about what is “right” or modify the game to make it something they want to play. You also find there’s a gravitational pull that keeps moving you in a particular direction even if you don’t really want to be there — because it solves so many problems at once.

    So yeah, I know how that happens. I’m not holding that part against the game. I just don’t know how they can sustain that many permutations in the plot throughout a full game.

  • Bad Sector said,

    Well, from a quick glance at the forum posts, the couple of people to whom Vince replied like this went passive-aggressive to him. Judging from his other posts, he doesn’t seem the type of guy to tolerate passive-aggressive behavior and goes fully aggressive :-P.

    It might not be the most professional behavior, but personally I don’t mind that. Indies do not have to follow the same politically correct bullshitery that big necktied company drones love to use while they say the worst behind your back.

    However most of the time he seemed to try to be helpful to people who had problems, not a jerk telling people left and right to fuck off.

    Also after reading the forums, it seems that what he says actually makes sense: you aren’t the hero there, you are far from it – basically someone who tries to survive. So don’t expect to struggle.

    I had a different mindset based on my (little) experience from other RPGs so I expected that the first fights would be easy “tutorial” fights.

    I’ll try the game again with the tips I’ve read in the forum in mind.

    (my annoyances about the UI still stand though)

  • shaf said,

    For a Torque Engine game the graphics are exceptional, the map interface requires a little work but otherwise an excellent old school type RPG with a fairly non-standard setting.

    I kept getting killed as a fighter and switched to being a loremaster using knowledge and persuasion instead of combat to solve problems.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    It’s using a newer version of the engine than I did for Frayed Knights – either TGEA, or the newest Torque 3D. I know a long time ago (before I started on Frayed Knights) they were using TGE as well.

    Anyway, either way – they did a good job with it, from what I’ve seen.

  • Kyle said,

    RPGHeaven and BadSector,
    You make fair points, but they are irrelevant to my own. (Though to be fair, I think I muddied the waters by using combat difficulty in my little dialog example above.) I think that I’d largely agree with both of you if we talked about design decisions ITS made and how fun they will and won’t be.

    RPGHeaven, the fact that he’s making a game for a very specific niche has nothing to do with my complaint. Regardless of the intended audience, he’s treating people who show interest in his game with contempt.

    He put out a beta and asked for feedback. Then he responded defensively and churlishly to folks who provided the very feedback he asked for.

    That’s surely turning off some people who make up his target audience. (me, at the very least.) Which is counter productive at the very best.

    Bad Sector, the fact that he’s not a jerk most of the time doesn’t really do it for me. If my local bookstore acted like jerks to 2% of their customers I’d stop shopping there, even though they aren’t jerks to me. Bad behavior leaves a bad taste, and I prefer to do business with people who show others a basic level of respect, instead of active contempt.

    I don’t mean to suggest that the developer should try to make everyone happy, or take every suggestion seriously. Just that telling your customers to get lost is counter productive.

  • WhineAboutGames said,

    Depending on what the complaint is, sometimes ‘play a different game’ is a valid reaction (although you can still do it politely) because the game is NEVER going to meet your needs without becoming a totally different game. In that case, it’s not telling a potential customer to get lost, it’s telling someone who is in the wrong building entirely to get lost.

    There’s “I think what you’re asking for would take too many resources to implement”, and then there’s “What you’re asking for is entirely opposed to the game’s core concept.”

  • WhineAboutGames said,

    (This isn’t me defending him as I haven’t visited the forums and haven’t played the demo yet. Just saying that in general, sometimes recognising people as NOT your customers isn’t such a bad idea.)

  • RPGHeaven said,


    As I understood it, VD is doing this as more of a pet project and not really for commercial interest. He’s supposed to be some successful marketing executive…maybe that’s why he’s taken this counter-status quo position after years of grinding that job?

    I agree with you that his attitude is crap…even mod makers making a project for free are open to feedback, but he has taken criticism before if it’s presented logically (such as improving the UI, etc.) and apparently he is in the position where he doesn’t need customers.

    I’m guessing he’s got an over-defensive position on what he perceives are complaints from “herp derp Bioware fanboys” who don’t even read the manual and he doesn’t want to spend time and resources to appease them…hence the quick and dirty solution of answering “Fuck off.” rather than get into long exchanges defending design decisions, etc. (what WhineAboutGames said)

  • Alan said,

    The download link in the article appears to be wrong.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    Fixed, thanks.

  • Kyle said,

    Guys, I think your points very validly explain the behavior I’ve complained about. They don’t excuse it, in my eye, but you haven’t claimed they do. I think you’re all spot on.

    Nevertheless, I don’t buy from people who treat customers poorly. There are lots of good indie developers out there, and I enjoy supporting them and playing their games.

    If AoD is in the position where they doesn’t need customers, then I’ll oblige. But if someone like Rampant Games is ever in a position where they don’t NEED customers, I’ll probably still consider buying their product because I get the sense of a basic respect for the customer.

  • David W said,

    Kyle, thanks for bringing up the subject – you made my own decision to stay away very easy.

    I wonder if ‘play a different game’ still applies when you have technical difficulties, for instance.

  • Cuthalion said,

    Ugh. Since when to you teach people how to play a new game by telling them to go memorize the rulebook?

    That said, everything I’ve seen of the actual game looked neat. The developer, on the other hand…