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Geneforge is a series of computer role-playing demoware video games by Jeff Vogel of Spiderweb Software released for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS systems. There are five games in the series: Geneforge, Geneforge 2, Geneforge 3, Geneforge 4: Rebellion, and Geneforge 5: Overthrow. As with all Spiderweb Software titles, graphics and sound are limited and not the main focus of the game. Instead, Vogel concentrates on creating involved and engaging plotlines (which gives the series a dedicated fanbase among fans of the "classic" RPGs of the 80's and early 90's).[ ]
Template:Copyedit-section The Geneforge storylines takes place in era resembling medieval time period, with appearances of some modern tools, such as wiring, levers and buttons, and glass. The games involve a group of mages called "Shapers," who dominate the game world due to their ability to create life as they see fit. The player character is cast as an apprentice Shaper in the first three games, as a neophyte rebel in the fourth, and as an unaligned amnesiac in the fifth. Crises in the game result from the Shapers' mistreatment of their creations while trying to ensure that their art does not wreak havoc on the world, versus the freedom of intelligent creations at the cost of said havoc. The player is left to determine what is the right thing to do, such as using mysterious skill canisters which breed arrogance in the user in return for great power.
The games are highly non-linear, with multiple goals allowing the player to join any sect, and receive one of a number of endings. There is a high degree of player influence on the game world, and the existence of multiple solutions to problems. For example, one sect may give you the quest to destroy an object, while an opposing sect will charge you with its protection.
The Geneforge is the culmination of the game world's technology; a means of genetic enhancement of living things that greatly increases their physical and magical abilities. All Geneforges thus far have taken the form of small pools of semi-living chemicals, and are used through physical contact. Using the Geneforge is generally excruciating and requires protective equipment to prevent outright fatality. In the first and fourth games, the Geneforge is usable by humans (and thus, the player), but in Geneforge 2 and 3, it could only be used by specific intelligent creations. The player's actions in the games usually lead up to the decision to either destroy the Geneforge or to ensure its use.
The games are played in an isometric view. "Real-time" adventure mode switches to a turn-based combat, reminiscent of classic RPGs such as Ultima VI. The lands are split up into small areas, which can be traveled through using a world map. Once a certain objective has been completed in an area, it can be skipped through on the world map, allowing the player to move very quickly through the land.
During combat, each character gets a certain amount of action points, which are spent moving, attacking, casting spells, and using items. Without any "blessings", the player and their allies in the "Party Roster" have 8 action points.
The characters may attack with melee weapons, such as swords and daggers, ranged weapons, such as thorn batons, wands, javelins and crystals, or magic spells. The chance of hitting an enemy is influenced by the character's attributes, such as strength, dexterity, or intelligence as well as the character's relative weapon skill or magic skill.
Equipment plays a significant part in character's performance. The quality of equipment determines the damage dealt and received by the character. The player can use magically enhanced spores, pods and rods to heal and strengthen themselves and their allies.
Creations, unable to equip or use items, are made before combat and can be used as powerful tools against the enemies. There are three types of creation - magical, who use magical poisonous projectiles; battle, who use melee; and fire, who use a mix between magical projectiles and melee.
The Geneforge series is known for its versatile skill development, demanding many strategic decisions from the player. At the beginning of the game, the player chooses what type of Shaper he wishes to play. In the first three Geneforge titles, the three available types are:
- Shapers - Strong at making creations, average at spellcasting, weak in combat.
- Guardians - Strong in combat, average at making creations, weak at spellcasting.
- Agents - Strong at spellcasting, average at combat, weak at making creations.
When the player gains a level, he or she gains several skill points, which can be spent on improving the character's abilities. Depending on the strengths and weaknesses of each type of player (Shaper, Guardian, and Agent), the skills have varying costs. The class's skills are generally exaggerated as the character levels up.
In Geneforge 4, the player starts as a member of the rebellion, and thus may play a Lifecrafter instead of a Shaper, a Warrior instead of a Guardian, and an Infiltrator instead of an Agent (same weaknesses and strengths apply). Two new classes were added:
- Shock Troopers - Strong at making creations, average at combat, weak at magic.
- Serviles - Strong at combat, average at magic, weak at making creations. (Serviles were present only as NPCs in the previous games.)
In Geneforge 5, a sixth class was added, alongside the other five current classes.
- Sorceress - Strong at magic, average at making creations, and weak at combat.
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Geneforge is the first game in a series. It was released for Macintosh on December 12, 2001 and for Windows on March 19, 2002. The game engages the player into the origins of the Shapers as well as an introduction to the series as to the Geneforge. Players assume the role of an apprentice Shaper who is cast away on an island abandoned, or barred" as the plot calls it, by the sect 200 years prior. The island contains groups of the Shapers' creations, who have formed their own ideologies regarding the sect. The player must escape after dealing with the forces at work to steal the Shaper secrets abandoned on Sucia Isle.
Geneforge 2 engages on how the tumult of the Geneforge influenced the Shapers and their creations, and takes place on an isolated mountain valley in Western Terrestia. The game engine remains essentially unchanged from the original Geneforge. Geneforge 2 offers a number of changes and additions over its predecessor. Three new creations and several new spells are available.
Geneforge 3 deals with the fallout of the previous games as the battle lines are drawn, and takes place among the Ashen Isles. The Geneforge game engine has been revamped in this sequel, debatably improving gameplay in some instances and making others more cumbersome to deal with. No new creations or spells are available, however a number of different features have been added, for instance, two NPCs (Alwan and Greta) who will join the party and a new forging system, allowing players to create powerful artifacts or enhance existing items.
Geneforge 4: Rebellion
Geneforge 4: Rebellion picks up at the height of the war, seven years later, which takes place on Eastern Terrestia. Unlike the previous three Geneforge games, the player is no longer a Shaper, and is not restricted to the original three classes. Both of player's companions from Geneforge 3 (Alwan and Greta) are now leaders of the two rival factions in the game (the Shapers and the Rebels, respectively). The player can choose from five separate rebel classes, including playing as a servile. The resolution in Geneforge 4 is considerably larger, using a bigger map and smaller icons, increasing player's overview. The graphics are improved, with better animations and cut-scenes than the previous three games. The sounds and gameplay of the game remain unchanged.
Geneforge 5: Overthrow
Geneforge 5: Overthrow is the final game in the Geneforge saga and takes place near the end of the war, about 4 years after the conclusion of Geneforge 4: Rebellion. Unlike the first four Geneforge games, you can choose between the original three classes, as well as six rebel classes. The graphics are improved in numerous aspects, with better animations and cut-scenes. The plot is more akin to that of Geneforge 2 in that there are multiple factions that the player can join, whereas in the third and fourth games, there are only two major factions.
- Jeff Vogel, creator of the series
- Spiderweb Software, Jeff Vogel's company
- Exile series by Spiderweb Software
- Avernum series by Spiderweb Software