Geneforge (series)

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Geneforge Series Logo.gif
Series Logo
Genre(s) RPG
Developer(s) Spiderweb Software
Publisher(s) Spiderweb Software
Creator(s) Jeff Vogel
Platform(s) Windows, Macintosh
First release Geneforge
December 12, 2001
Latest release Geneforge 5: Overthrow
November 3, 2011

Geneforge is a series of demoware role-playing 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 because they are not the main focus of the game.

A role-playing video game is a video game genre where the player controls the actions of a character immersed in some well-defined world. Many role-playing video games have origins in tabletop role-playing games and use much of the same terminology, settings and game mechanics. Other major similarities with pen-and-paper games include developed story-telling and narrative elements, player character development, complexity, as well as replayability and immersion. The electronic medium removes the necessity for a gamemaster and increases combat resolution speed. RPGs have evolved from simple text-based console-window games into visually rich 3D experiences.

Spiderweb Software is an independent video game developer founded in 1994 by Jeff Vogel in Seattle, Washington. Its primary focus is on creating demoware games for the Apple Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, Android and the iPad. Spiderweb Software is also known for emphasizing storytelling and turn-based gameplay and using a retro style of graphics.

Microsoft Windows Computer operating system, by Microsoft

Microsoft Windows is a group of several graphical operating system families, all of which are developed, marketed, and sold by Microsoft. Each family caters to a certain sector of the computing industry. Active Windows families include Windows NT and Windows Embedded; these may encompass subfamilies, e.g. Windows Embedded Compact or Windows Server. Defunct Windows families include Windows 9x, Windows Mobile and Windows Phone.



The Geneforge storylines takes place in an era resembling the medieval time period, but with the addition of some modern innovations, such as wiring, levers and buttons, alarms, glass, and other steampunk-esque tools. 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 may breed arrogance in the user in return for increased power.

The games are highly non-linear, with multiple goals allowing the player to join any sect, and receive one of a number of different endings (the canonical ending for each game being revealed in the following one). 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

The Geneforge itself 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 colourful 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, fourth and fifth games, the Geneforge is usable by humans (and in turn, the player), but in Geneforge 2 and Geneforge 3, it could only be used by specific intelligent creations. The first three games each climax with the player's decision to either destroy the Geneforge or to ensure its use; the Geneforge is encountered near the start of the fourth and fifth games.


The games are played in a 45° axonometric 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's party to move very quickly throughout the land.

Axonometric projection

Axonometric projection is a type of orthographic projection used for creating a pictorial drawing of an object, where the lines of sight are perpendicular to the plane of projection, and the object is rotated around one or more of its axes to reveal multiple sides.


During combat mode, each character gets a certain amount of action points, which are spent moving, attacking, casting spells, and using items. Unless enhanced or affected, the player and their allies in the Party Roster will start with 8 action points.

The characters may attack with melee weapons, such as fists and blades, ranged weapons, such as thorn batons, wands, javelins, 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 or magic skills.

Melee disorganized close combat in battles fought at abnormally close range with little central control once it starts

Melee or pell-mell battle generally refers to disorganized close combat in battles fought at abnormally close range with little central control once it starts.

Magic (gaming) attribute assigned to characters within a game

Magic or mana is an attribute assigned to characters within a role-playing or video game that indicates their power to use special abilities or "spells". Magic is usually measured in magic points or mana points, shortened as MP. Different abilities will use up different amounts of MP. When the MP of a character reaches zero, the character won't be able to use special abilities until some of their MP is recovered.

Equipment plays a significant part in a 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 main classes of creations - Magical, who specialize in magical projectiles; Battle, who specialize in close combat; and Fire, who use a mix of projectiles and melee.

Character classes

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 class of Shaper to play. When the player gains a level, he/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.

Geneforge 1-3
TypeCombat SkillsMagic SkillsShaping Skills
Shaper (Lifecrafter in Geneforge 4)WeakModerateStrong
Guardian (Warrior in Geneforge 4)StrongWeakModerate
Agent (Infiltrator in Geneforge 4)ModerateStrongWeak
Geneforge 4
TypeCombat SkillsMagic SkillsShaping Skills
Shock TrooperModerateWeakStrong
Geneforge 5
TypeCombat SkillsMagic SkillsShaping Skills



Geneforge is the first game in the 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 itself. The player 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 the island, after dealing with the forces at work to steal the Shaper secrets that were abandoned on Sucia Isle long ago.

Geneforge 2

Geneforge 2 engages on how the tumult of the Geneforge influenced the Shapers and their creations, and takes place in an isolated mountain valley (revealed to be located in southwestern Terrestia in the final game). 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. In addition, the player can persuade some NPCs and unaligned monsters to join their party.

Geneforge 3

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 player's party and a new forging system, allowing the player to create powerful artifacts or enhance existing items.

Geneforge 4: Rebellion

Geneforge 4: Rebellion picks up eight years later at the height of the rebellion against the Shapers, and is set in the east of the continent of 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 the player's companions from Geneforge 3 (Alwan and Greta) have grown up and 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 the player's overview. The graphics are improved, with better animations and cut-scenes than the previous three games. The sounds and gameplay system of the game however, remain unchanged.

<i>Geneforge 3</i> 2005 video game

Geneforge 3 is the third video game in the Geneforge series of role-playing video games created by Spiderweb Software.

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. Players may choose from between the three Shaper classes, as well as the 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. The Player must choose between the five factions and decide for themselves how the saga will end.

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