Author Topic: BlueCupTools Podcats! Grundislav & ThreeOhFour! Episode 82!  (Read 122330 times)

Grundislav

  • AGS Baker
  • Mittens Lord
  • Brogan
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Grundislav worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
      Grundislav worked on a game that won an AGS Award!
Re: BlueCupTools Podcats! Grundislav & ThreeOhFour! Episode 82!
« Reply #940 on: 10 Jun 2017, 15:22 »
Episode 108

It's our 5 year podcasting anniversary! A discussion about readability and spotlighting in background composition (thanks for the suggestion Mr Underhill)
A Golden Wake
Visit my Games Page           Read my Development Blog

Ponch

  • AGS Baker
  • I'm back, baby!
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Ponch worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: BlueCupTools Podcats! Grundislav & ThreeOhFour! Episode 82!
« Reply #941 on: 11 Jun 2017, 02:15 »
Five years! Hooray! I hope they finally read the fan letter I sent them on April 7, 2017 (hint hint)! :=
*

Snarky

  • Global Moderator
  • Mittens Earl
  • Private Insultant
    • I can help with proof reading
    •  
    • I can help with translating
    •  
Re: BlueCupTools Podcats! Grundislav & ThreeOhFour! Episode 82!
« Reply #942 on: 13 Jun 2017, 21:31 »
I'm catching up on old episodes, and I find it interesting how Ben goes off when talking about timers (Episode 90), but a couple of episodes later when Francisco condemns overuse of adventure-game in-jokes and breaking the fourth wall, suddenly we shouldn't generalize or tell people not to make a game a certain way, and it's all about whether it's done well or not. :-D

Personally I lean towards Francisco's side in both arguments: I think that if it's fair and well-thought-out, there's nothing wrong with having timers in adventure games, and that there are a number of examples of games and puzzles that use them well. (In fact, Ben's favorite puzzle, Guybrush stuck underwater with the idol, is a timed puzzle: after ten minutes you die. On the other hand, I do NOT agree that it's an adventure game in-joke. It's just a slightly absurdist lateral-thinking puzzle, since the idol obviously isn't heavy enough to keep you underwater, and you picked it up before – if we want to rationalize it at all, we can say the reason Guybrush can't just drag it after him is that it's stuck in the mud.) I also don't think action sequences in adventure games are necessarily a problem – though like Ben with mazes I think I'm in a minority there, and they are admittedly rarely done well.

However, Ben's point about trying to find some more organic way to create tension and urgency is also valid. I don't think a timer should be bolted on to try to impose urgency without changing anything else in the design. If you do a timer (particularly a deadly one), it should ideally be as part of some major gameplay mechanic and central to the game.

The game that comes to mind that really convinces me that timers have a place, though, is The Longest Journey, where on a couple of occasions you're fighting monsters (I think one's a witch and one's a shark, but it's been a while) and supposedly in danger of your life. However, since the game has no deaths and there's no timer, the tension Ragnar was trying to build felt completely fake – you can just walk away from the game in the middle of the fight, get a snack, come back and they'll still be tussling without anything having changed. It's ridiculous. It doesn't matter how character-based your writing is if the gameplay undermines it, and urgency is fundamentally incompatible with just faffing about indefinitely.

Going back to genre in-jokes and breaking the fourth wall, I think that although you can do fun examples of them, they're seldom done well and there are way too many of them in too many games where they don't belong. "Don't make adventure game jokes in adventure games!" should certainly not be an absolute rule, but it's pretty good advice to most game makers. I forget: do you talk about Thimbleweed Park in one of the later episodes?

Grundislav

  • AGS Baker
  • Mittens Lord
  • Brogan
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Grundislav worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
      Grundislav worked on a game that won an AGS Award!
Re: BlueCupTools Podcats! Grundislav & ThreeOhFour! Episode 82!
« Reply #943 on: 13 Jun 2017, 22:02 »
Neither of us has yet played Thimbleweed Park, but you can be sure we'll talk about it when we do!
A Golden Wake
Visit my Games Page           Read my Development Blog

Snarky

  • Global Moderator
  • Mittens Earl
  • Private Insultant
    • I can help with proof reading
    •  
    • I can help with translating
    •  
Re: BlueCupTools Podcats! Grundislav & ThreeOhFour! Episode 82!
« Reply #944 on: 13 Jun 2017, 22:15 »
Well, as I'm sure you've heard, they patched it to add a "turn off annoying in-jokes" setting (or something like that), which I believe is even set to true by default. When you do play it, I think you should turn it off, to experience it in its full original glory. Or at least Ben should, to see if it changes his mind at all.

ThreeOhFour

  • AGS Baker
  • Wild colonial boy.
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • ThreeOhFour worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
      ThreeOhFour worked on a game that won an AGS Award!
Re: BlueCupTools Podcats! Grundislav & ThreeOhFour! Episode 82!
« Reply #945 on: 14 Jun 2017, 00:24 »
I think the main reason I was so quick to caution Francisco against designing with timers is because two of the sections that frustrated me the most in A Golden Wake (The bakery granny and the airshow bit) frustrated me because of their use of timers in a way that didn't feel very fair, so I was most likely heavily biased against them because I was speaking directly to him. It makes me think that using timers is very hard to balance well, and that basing a whole game around them would be a balancing nightmare. Even more so than usual with games.

I certainly think it's important to not generalise when it comes to timers, mazes, deaths and action sequences. I only have to think of Fate of Atlantis, which used all four of these and still feels very enjoyable to play - perhaps even because of these elements, in some cases, though I accept that many dislike parts in Atlantis - to be convinced.

What I do think is important, though, is that players be notified of this stuff so that they can save their game appropriately, or even rely on autosaves to counter them (as we use in WEG), and make it obvious that "This is why you failed". A friend had to retry that granny bakery puzzle about 20 times because he'd clicked on the right thing, but just as the timer was expiring, so he thought he'd clicked the wrong thing. He then tried every other weird combination before coming back to it, in frustration, and solving the section.

As for Thimbleweed Park, I watched someone play a little bit of it - up to the Sheriff-a-rena-a-whoo chap. I was mostly surprised that it has even more fourth wall breaking jokes than Monkey Island does. I haven't started it myself, though, because various friends of mine have had incredibly negative reactions to playing the game, especially the ending, and so I've not been in a rush to try it too much for myself. It's one of those games that seems to be quite divisive, though, as I also know several friends who've thought its brand of humour is pure genius. :smiley:
« Last Edit: 14 Jun 2017, 00:34 by ThreeOhFour »

Snarky

  • Global Moderator
  • Mittens Earl
  • Private Insultant
    • I can help with proof reading
    •  
    • I can help with translating
    •  
Re: BlueCupTools Podcats! Grundislav & ThreeOhFour! Episode 82!
« Reply #946 on: 14 Jun 2017, 07:50 »
I haven't got around to actually playing A Golden Wake myself yet (although I'm one of those 17 people who were really excited over a game about 1920s Florida land speculation), though it's definitely on my list; in my ongoing efforts to catch up on the last five or so years of adventure games, I just finished Gone Home (cool concept, wish there was a bit more story to carry it through the second half), and AGW or Technobabylon is probably my next one.

Clearly a good timer puzzle/mechanic requires careful design and implementation. And I was entirely on your side when Francisco started talking about limiting saves to avoid save-scumming. That to me smacks of taking something that isn't working, and instead of fixing it, just propping it up with another bad design decision. (Of course, in brainstorming there are bound to be some bad ideas along the way, and I didn't get the impression that it was more than a passing thought.)

I'm glad you brought up Fate of Atlantis, since that was one of the games that came to mind as a counterexample wrt action sequences. Not that the fight mechanic is all that brilliant, but I feel strongly that the inclusion of fighting (as well as car racing, flying, that mine cart-ish bit on the Atlantis drill vehicle, and other mini-games) helps to set the tone of the game. It gives it an epic feel and at least gestures towards its blockbuster movie origins. Even if you don't consider these sequences all that successful in isolation (personally I think several of them are pretty cool, and always appreciate the variety in gameplay), I think it demonstrates that the whole is sometimes greater than the sum of the parts. Conquests of the Longbow is another good example: is the target shooting a great gameplay element in its own right? Not really. But would it be a good idea to cut it and leave you with a Robin Hood game without any bow-and-arrow action? Absolutely not.

To me, Thimbleweed Park was really interesting, almost as much for the things it did wrong as for the things it did right – and there are some major entries on both sides of the ledger. I guess the split in reactions is understandable in that light, but I'm surprised at how extreme opinions are on both ends.

ThreeOhFour

  • AGS Baker
  • Wild colonial boy.
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • ThreeOhFour worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
      ThreeOhFour worked on a game that won an AGS Award!
Re: BlueCupTools Podcats! Grundislav & ThreeOhFour! Episode 82!
« Reply #947 on: 14 Jun 2017, 08:48 »
I believe Francisco has fixed the airshow puzzle in AGW somewhat, after we all complained, so hopefully you play it and think "What on earth was he grumbling about?" :cheesy:

I agree that action stuff definitely helps certain games work. Indy, Conquests of Camelot/The Longbow, Quests for Glory, Full Throttle and the like have both narratives and character that almost demand action sequences of the script. Sometimes it's okay to do clever things within the existing mechanics, such as with insult swordfighting, but actiony sequences are definitely worthwhile, too. We have things along these lines in both Technobabylon and Shardlight - to varying degrees of success, probably - and I think some of this comes down to the "adventure" part of the genre - it's fun for danger to be dangerous.

I also completely understand when players complain about the action in, well, all of those mentioned before. It's clearly not everybody's cup of tea. Nothing is. Especially limiting saves to prevent save scumming. :=

Grundislav

  • AGS Baker
  • Mittens Lord
  • Brogan
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Grundislav worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
      Grundislav worked on a game that won an AGS Award!
Re: BlueCupTools Podcats! Grundislav & ThreeOhFour! Episode 82!
« Reply #948 on: 14 Jun 2017, 15:36 »
I have fixed the airshow puzzle, but the update hasn't been pushed yet, so the only place it exists is on my hard drive and Dropbox currently.

In any case, I do believe timers are generally a bad idea, but in dangerous situations it makes sense if they're there, but generous. And yeah, limiting saves is not a good idea either.
A Golden Wake
Visit my Games Page           Read my Development Blog

Danvzare

  • The Man with No Name
    • I can help with AGS tutoring
    •  
    • I can help with play testing
    •  
    • I can help with proof reading
    •  
    • I can help with story design
    •  
    • I can help with voice acting
    •  
Re: BlueCupTools Podcats! Grundislav & ThreeOhFour! Episode 82!
« Reply #949 on: 15 Jun 2017, 11:26 »
In any case, I do believe timers are generally a bad idea, but in dangerous situations it makes sense if they're there, but generous. And yeah, limiting saves is not a good idea either.
Agreed, I think a good example of a timer done right is on Broken Sword 2, out on the docks when you knock on the door. If you don't solve the puzzle in time, you get shot in the face. It makes you feel the urgency, and you're also unlikely to fail.
A good example of a timer done wrong is on Broken Sword 1... I think we all know which one I'm talking about.

Snarky

  • Global Moderator
  • Mittens Earl
  • Private Insultant
    • I can help with proof reading
    •  
    • I can help with translating
    •  
Re: BlueCupTools Podcats! Grundislav & ThreeOhFour! Episode 82!
« Reply #950 on: 15 Jun 2017, 20:43 »
Ah hell! I wrote a long post and then my browser crashed. Oh well, here's an even longer version!

I've now caught up on the last 40 or so episodes of the podcast, and it's been weird to have your voices in my head pretty much constantly for weeks on end. Thanks for the shoutout in #108, ha ha.

Since you asked for topic suggestions, a couple of things came to mind while listening:

Community interaction: You interact with other (indie) game devs in all sorts of ways (online and at conventions, meetups...), and with the broader adventure game community through a number of different channels (the podcast, blogging, articles on various gaming sites, this forum, via Twitter...). How has that affected you and your work? Why do you do it and what do you get out of it (examples)? Are there some communication channels you consider particularly important for particular purposes? Is it possible to generalize about what the different overlapping communities you are part of are like?

On the other side, what are the drawbacks and pitfalls? Have you experienced difficulties? When is it just a waste of time? Are there some dynamics or tendencies in some communities or on some communication channels that you consider problematic or at least unhelpful? "Gamer culture" is sometimes accused of being "toxic" – and some people feel that way about the AGS Forums; do you agree at all, regarding any community you've been a part of?

How has your experience changed, for better and worse, as you've become better known? And what advice would you give to other game makers (both hobbyists and those seeking to make a career) about engaging with different communities?

Mazes: You have different opinions about them, but it would be interesting to hear a more extended analysis/critique of them, and what makes them good or bad. To me it's an interesting question in particular because there's a huge variety within what we call adventure game "mazes": Ones that are consistent and can be mapped vs. ones that just teleport you around at random and eventually spit you back out (or kill you) unless you know the trick. Ones where there's some trick or strategy to find the right path (even though you can brute-force it if you have the patience) vs. ones that are just a matter of exhaustive exploration. Ones that offer in-game automapping vs. ones that don't. Ones that offer some other gameplay mechanic within the maze vs. ones where you just have to find your way through. Ones that are procedurally generated vs. ones that are pre-designed and static. Big mazes vs. small mazes. Repetitive mazes (where you often literally cannot tell one room from another) vs. varied mazes. Mazes with a whole lot of different camera perspectives: 3rd person fixed orientation room-by-room (easy to map) vs. 3rd person varying orientation room-by-room vs. 1st person vs. top-down (local view) vs. top-down/high-camera segment-view (like in Fate of Atlantis where you can see a quarter of the map at a time, or Conquests of the Longbow in the garden maze) vs. full view of the entire thing (usually only meaningful if there's some other gameplay involved, like a chase) vs. "hidden pathways" (like the "maze of doors" that connect in unpredictable ways), vs. no doubt others I've forgotten. Then there are "deserts": large regions where you can walk anywhere but have to locate some particular place. And for mazes with clues/tricks, there are different common types: following someone, constructing some kind of compass/guide, following clues from a song/poem/headstone/recipe, noticing some subtle hint on each screen...

How do factors such as these interact to make for a good or a bad maze? And even if your maze is good, are mazes just so hated now that you can't get away with them?

When does your game world become a maze, anyway? Can you connect screens in complex ways without turning it into a maze?

Ponch

  • AGS Baker
  • I'm back, baby!
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Ponch worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: BlueCupTools Podcats! Grundislav & ThreeOhFour! Episode 82!
« Reply #951 on: 18 Jun 2017, 01:31 »
Finally got a chance to catch up with the latest CupCast and I was thrilled by the return of one of my favorite segments (not my most favorite, you know, but pretty close to the top of the list). Well done, gentlemen! :cheesy:

Also, EVERYBODY loves mazes! :=
*

Re: BlueCupTools Podcats! Grundislav & ThreeOhFour! Episode 82!
« Reply #952 on: 18 Jun 2017, 17:01 »
Woah, 5 years, congrats! Monday workout adventure game podcast it is :)

MiteWiseacreLives!

  • Hold onto your Fossils!
Re: BlueCupTools Podcats! Grundislav & ThreeOhFour! Episode 82!
« Reply #953 on: 19 Jun 2017, 03:49 »
Don't ever update that thread title, you gorgeous man! ;)

Re: BlueCupTools Podcats! Grundislav & ThreeOhFour! Episode 82!
« Reply #954 on: 21 Jun 2017, 09:31 »
Whoops, I had friended Francisco on facebook before listening to the ep. where he says he only friends people he personally knows. Sorry! I guess now I have to meet y'all in person at some point :)

Great episode. I'm just in the middle of designing some hotspot-light backgrounds where the focus is less on exploring and more on dialog, and was just pondering the level of detail that should go into it. I was initially going to keep everything really sparse so as not to distract from the conversations, but Ben highlighted some aspects that I hadn't thought about, so I made a note to at some point consider the opposite. This is what I really enjoy about the podcast - a lot of the time Ben and Francisco say exactly what I think about an issue, but sometimes it will be the flip side that hadn't occured to me. And that's one of the main reasons I love this podcast. That and the constant giggling :)

Looking forward to the next one!

Grundislav

  • AGS Baker
  • Mittens Lord
  • Brogan
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Grundislav worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
      Grundislav worked on a game that won an AGS Award!
Re: BlueCupTools Podcats! Grundislav & ThreeOhFour! Episode 82!
« Reply #955 on: 01 Jul 2017, 12:23 »
Episode 109

Jacob Janerka, creator of Paradigm, joins us to talk game design and the challenges of your first release.
« Last Edit: 20 Aug 2017, 01:29 by Grundislav »
A Golden Wake
Visit my Games Page           Read my Development Blog

Grundislav

  • AGS Baker
  • Mittens Lord
  • Brogan
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Grundislav worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
      Grundislav worked on a game that won an AGS Award!
A Golden Wake
Visit my Games Page           Read my Development Blog

Snarky

  • Global Moderator
  • Mittens Earl
  • Private Insultant
    • I can help with proof reading
    •  
    • I can help with translating
    •  
Re: BlueCupTools Podcats! Grundislav & ThreeOhFour! Episode 82!
« Reply #957 on: 09 Jul 2017, 08:49 »
Woohoo!

I've been catching up on even older episodes, including a couple where you already talked about some of the maze-things I mentioned. Also, I never realized the color of my trees was such a topic of conversation... 8-)

I got the impression from ep. 109 that Ben has now played Thimbleweed Park (but who can tell now that you don't spend an hour talking about everything you've played every episode?), so here's another topic idea based on that:

Changing a game after release. TP has had at least two major patches since its initial release that change some major elements of the gameplay experience (one reduces the number of in-jokes, one of the most common review criticisms, and another adds the ability for the different playable characters to talk to each other). Obviously patches and DLC are routine in other genres, and some AGS games have changed significantly between e.g. the MAGS version and a later release, but what does it mean for adventure game makers and players when the version that was released and reviewed initially is no longer representative of the game as it is now?

Snarky

  • Global Moderator
  • Mittens Earl
  • Private Insultant
    • I can help with proof reading
    •  
    • I can help with translating
    •  
Re: BlueCupTools Podcats! Grundislav & ThreeOhFour! Episode 82!
« Reply #958 on: 15 Aug 2017, 13:07 »
Bumpity bump...

OK, I now want dramatic readings of all my forum posts. Thanks!

Listening to an old episode (#56, I think), I noticed something relevant to my other topic suggestion. You addressed one pitfall of the AGS community: accepting the community's (freeware) standards and becoming a bit naive about what's required of a commercial release. (Vice versa, I'd argue that the rise of commercial AGS games is in danger of putting the threshold too high for newbies.)

I also had another topic idea: When to give up. You've talked about the skills needed to finish a game, you've talked about cutting stuff that isn't working, and you've occasionally mentioned games you never finished. But how do you know when it's time to walk away from a project? (Either your own projects or collaborations.)

Ponch

  • AGS Baker
  • I'm back, baby!
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    •  
    • Ponch worked on a game that was nominated for an AGS Award!
*