Avernum: Escape From the Pit Announced

The original Avernum was technically a revised version of Exile: Escape From the Pit, and now Spiderweb Software has decided to overhaul the game once more with Avernum: Escape From the Pit. Before you go thinking this is all a simple cash grab, though, keep in mind that they're updating the game to work on modern operating systems (including 64-bit varieties and even iOS) with higher resolution graphics and completely new content. A half dozen images from the revised version can be found in our image gallery, while the official FAQ explains their reasons for "retooling" the indie RPG classic in more detail:
Why Are You Rewriting Avernum?

The original game came out in 1999, and it is showing its age in many ways. It no longer even runs on the newest version of the Macintosh operating system, and it's starting to get very shaky on Windows 7, especially the 64-bit version. We don't want this game to disappear from the face of the earth, so a major retooling is necessary.

In addition, we want to release Avernum on the iPad, and that too requires major modifications from the ground up.

So we have two choices. Let it disappear or redo it. We love the game too much to pick the first option.

How Much Will the New Version Cost? Will There Be a Discount For Old Players?

We are planning to sell Avernum ourselves for Mac and Windows for $20. Anyone who has purchased Exile: Escape From the Pit or Avernum from us in any form (including on compilation CDs) can get the game from us for half off.

We don't know how much the iPad version will be. Because of the way iTunes works, we will be completely unable to offer any sort of special discounts for the iPad version. Apple is very strict.

Will the Story Be the Same?

Yes. The same characters and the same storyline, though there will be lots of new dialogue, locations, quests, special encounters, and stuff to explore.

Will There Still Be An Outdoors To Explore?

Absolutely. Unlike our recent all-new titles, Avernum: Escape From the Pit will have an outdoors to roam. The structure of the original game is unchanged.

Will the Graphics Be Redone?

Mostly. The interface is completely redone in the style of Avernum 6, but with many interface improvements brought over from Avadon: The Black Fortress. The character portraits are receiving a desperately overdue refurbishing. Many terrain icons from Avernum 6 are being used, but all creature and character graphics are being re-rendered.

Will the Game System Be the Same?

No. The game system has been heavily revised. It's a mix of Avernum 6 and Avadon: The Black Fortress. It is still entirely skill-based and most of the skills are the same. However, the way you train has changed. Instead of saving up skill points, each level you get to increase two skills. You will make the same number of choices to shape your character, but you will be making more of them later in the game and fewer of them earlier. We are also taking pains to make it much more difficult to create a party that is too weak to progress through the game.

The Traits system has been massively reworked. Instead of picking two traits at the beginning of the game, you can select one new beneficial trait every two levels. A lot of these traits give simple bonuses, while others (like Backstab and Swordmage) can dramatically change the way you play the game.

Will Phil Foglio's Art Still Be There?

Yes. Rescanned, larger, and freshened up.

Any New Material?

Plenty. A new, large town with a pile of quests. New hidden dungeons. New hidden characters with lots of backstory and things you can do for them. A completely new starter dungeon/tutorial.

Will There Ever Be An All-New Avernum Game With This Engine?

We have not ruled it out, but it won't happen any time soon.

When Will It Be Out?

We hope to release it for the Mac before the end of 2011 and for Windows and iPad in early 2012.
Personally, I like this sort of thing. Maybe someday I'll even end up with a "retooled" version of Baldur's Gate II to fire up on my iPad when I'm stuck in a car or an airplane for hours.