Drakensang: The Dark Eye Hands-On

January 23, 2009 - With so much attention being focused on D&D as the most visible of the pen-and-paper roleplaying properties being licensed for video games, it's understandable that The Dark Eye, developed by Germany's Radon Labs hasn't received the attention that it deserves. THQ is hoping to correct that next month with the release of Drakensang, a new single--player RPG developed around the look, story and rules of this popular European gaming system. We recently had a chance to play through the first portion of the campaign and check things out for ourselves.
In terms of mechanics and overall flavor, Drakensang evokes the best features of many popular PC RPGs. It has the focused story line of games like Baldur's Gate, the party-based mechanics of Neverwinter Nights 2, and the depth of detail of games like those in the Elder Scrolls series. After getting familiar with the mechanics and diving into the story, it felt to us a bit like a party-based version of Morrowind, without the distraction of all those optional side quests.
After the stylized opening cinematic, players are free to choose from a wide range of character archetypes, from sneaking thieves to bold warriors to know-it-alls from the local wizard college. Within most of the archetypes, you'll even be able to pick from one of three specializations. A spellcasting archetype then might skew more towards combat or healing magic, or might even represent a dropout from the program who can use minor magic but also benefits from increased social and combat skills. Race is its own archetype, so if you're interested in playing as an elf or a dwarf, your career options are limited to the three specializations for that given class.
If you're particularly brave, you can opt for "expert" character creation where you're allowed to rebalance your character using a point system. Given the wealth of skills, proficiencies, feats and abilities, it's probably best to stick with one of the starting templates as it stands. After a few hours of play, you'll have a better idea of how different character types function in the Drakensang world and will know how to tune your character appropriately. Characters with high Courage, for instance, will have a better resistance to mental attacks and sorcery and obtain a higher level of Astral Energy for casting spells.

Art buyers find few investment masterpieces

It was only when Jussi Pylkk√§nen was climbing down from the auctioneer’s rostrum that he realised the scale of what had just happened.

Having presided over the sale of a ravishing nude by Amedeo Modigliani for $170m, it struck him that this surpassed any previous auction figure achieved for the Italian artist’s work — by a staggering $100m.

“I knew the record would be broken, but not by how much. When you get a work that suddenly makes $100m more, that is the greatest single leap,” says the global president of Christie’s.

Since that New York sale in November 2015, auction records for individual artists have continued to tumble, underlining the appetite of super-rich collectors for the most desirable works of art. The global caravan of auctions, gallery shows and art fairs, which this week pauses in London for the annual Frieze fair, rumbles on in anticipation of the next masterwork to be offered for sale.

Many of those buying high-value art argue that the money involved is less important than gaining possession of a unique object of unimpeachable beauty or artistic value (and, perhaps, the chance to stand out from the gilded crowd). The idea of art as an investment is a secondary function, if at all. “You’re supposed to buy art because you like it. It’s a terribly corny phrase, but you get a ‘dividend of pleasure’,” says Bendor Grosvenor, a broadcaster and former art dealer.