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This message never stopped you from playing. Come on, whether you've already made or just thought about making a videogame, you've dreamt the dream. It's not a shame, I tell you. What are dreams for if not for evoking the seemingly improbable or unobtainable? It's not worth bothering with something that provides no challenge whatsoever. It has to tax you both physically and intellectually. But being an indiegame god, is a different thing.It's not just about making a living out of videogames; countless game designers have done that. Neither is it about creating a product or a service worth being invested in. It all boils down to perceiving and producing what others have not before. Thus, by the end of your estimated time of production, you accomplish what separates the game designers from the game gods. You change the course of the entire videogame industry. Whether your concept is based upon a certain genre, bringing new, exciting, never before used/implemented elements or it single-handedly creates a new one. Regardless of which, you rise from obscurity to worldwide fame and glory (or a portion of it).You transform a hobby/passion into work.It isn't simply saying "I make money from selling videogames", it's knowing you craft hours worth of excitement and innovation (even if it's scarce or minor) for people that have trusted/invested in you. And the stories of failure may indeed be present, perhaps far more present than I want to admit (this is an article to hype you, reader), but there's no game designer that set up his/her own indie game company, that started knowing how big his/her initial dreams would get. If that wasn't true, people like Dan Marshall, Agustin Cordes, Dave Gilbert, wouldn't exist. They would still be living in their parents' house/basement, or living their daily routines as they were, before they took the boldest step.The step to attempt to give it all up to conquer even the smallest possibility of gaining enough of their yearly income, to live, play and create videogames. And how do you start doing that? Is there a specific trick to it, you ask? I'm afraid not. All you need is an idea and a way and perseverance. Bluntly put in the simplest of words, you have to try without fear of failing, dear reader.Posted @ Gnome's Lair:DualMondays: InspirationDualMondays: Boss Fights 101
Or the lack thereof. Everyone's been there. And we've all found our ways to force inspiration, even though such a thing is basically impossible. But we have found our "muses" -- techniques, people, things, trinkets etc -- to help us get there. My personal favorite is the movie "They Shoot Horses, Don't They?" For some reason that remains unknown, I've always found the title infinitely more interesting than the movie itself.When I first came across it, I'd surrounded the initial possibilities of the plot in my head with a veil of mystery and intrigue, creating my own version of what I could make out of the title. Thus, unaware of the actual story arc, I gradually started realizing the endless scenarios I could create in my head under this specific title. The bleakness and the ironic grin that goes with facing the inevitability of life's events are what I like about the very expression; the one concerning the euthanasia of horses.An innocent question to end one's innocence. Don't we sometimes have to learn to let go?Not just people, but also creative projects, as they sometimes go astray and it's hard to pursue the goals we set out to achieve through them. Even if inspiration is the main drive, the result has to be judged and justified under different parameters. Personally, it saddens me to see a project I really wanted to see, wither away. But in the same time, I am well aware that those behind it, have their reasons. They've matured and gained experience from this whole experience.The goal of reaching release stage is irrelevant when you've achieved and gained other things. Vital elements to be used in the future, in dreams that may come to exist. And that's how game designers evolve: by throwing down the pit of darkness, at the loneliest corners of their harddrives, what they consider as dead-weight. Whether it's easy to do so, or super-hard, no matter how much you've been clung to something, it won't fix the issues that revolve around it. And moving onto different things is the hardest thing to do.Personally I've abandoned a good dozen of half-started games. Yeah, I admit it. But so have you. Think about it - we all have. Whether we put work or we just thought about them for a day or two - or an hour. In the spirit of the old Sierra adventure games, we learn through countless hours of trial and error, Until we see the much desired exit/solution to the puzzle. And then we consider the entire process as a wonderful journey.Posted Gnome's Lair
I've always come to the conclusion that sometimes a story can be told in a far superior way through its setting/environment. The releases that we've come to consider as polished, have accepted this. Designers tend to painstakingly focus on the minor details, but it's no minor thing when everything breathes and expresses in its own unique ways. Adding purposefulness and reasoning behind each thing, character, behavior and action, should in fact be treated as a necessity. Enhancing each part that the game is placed in, in every possible way, is something that requires quite a bit of craftsmanship (from the perspective of the game designer); firstly because it's usually a terrible amount of work and secondly due to the chances of it being utterly ignored and/or missed by the majority of the players.Loom offers an immense depth to a magical world, even if it's pixelly.And I'm not talking exclusively about the little nods to a cultural piece of art/history. But, rather, speaking of the amount of seemingly uninteresting yet occasionally oh so relevant pieces of backstories that enrich the main plot arc, provided you're willing to spend your time exploring properly, seeking them out. It could be a library full of book titles someone spent his time writing, so that you could enjoy each entry. So that each part of the library felt worth bothering with looking for more.As well as a game designer, but mostly as a gamer, I've come to enjoy the background elements, whatever they may be, that were rather "silent". A typical TV Soap Opera, endlessly repeating tropes and cliches, a hand-drawn picture by a child, an abandoned shelter, a message on the telephone that didn't get the chance to be heard, a murder scene in a hotel room always posing the same questions. The list literally goes forever.But the strength of these small points is unique. They're not something random and pointless, like a movie scene that is only there to fill the required time set by the movie studio. In their own peculiar way, they prove that the story elements, of which they are part of, exist. Unlikely, they're not a work of fiction to comfort the needs of the storyteller, but on the contrary the conditions and the setting, make the story arc to exist out of logical order. You know, handing out more reasons to the characters than "because!" and instead combining the surrounding parameters and the basic drives of each protagonist (or antagonist) to a valid interaction with the world, simply put in the fewest of words, depth.Posted at Gnome's lair
I know the lot of you really like cool retro arcade games that sport huge, monstrous, ridiculous bosses throughout their span. But thing is almost every kind of game is taking advantage of this feature. And why wouldn't they? Boss fights in their core are overhyped, outrageous gameplay segments that decide your worth and mastery of the game. They get you tense, they make you feel good about yourself, they make you lose your cool and mind over them, as you waste countless hours of button smashing and thinking around the box in the process of overcoming the improbable odds and coming out victorious.Sometimes, it hurts.But what does a boss fight consist of? What are the main elements it requires to be classified as such? Usually boss fights take a set of moves previously used by the player as part of the gameplay and make you use them in a different way. For example, in Portal you are taught the incineration mechanism used in the final boss fight by doing so in the earlier game with the Love companion. Additionally, placing the portals to make a turret shoot missiles at itself is also introduced earlier in the game. That's the way the game designer is teaching you the elements/attacks that you will require to execute under different conditions and parameters to accompish your goal(s).But what about genres that are less action-packed? Can boss fights be equally effective across genres? The answer is simple. If done right, yes. Take the sequel to Monkey Island. Le Chuck's Revenge was published back in 1991 and happens to be a shining example. Initially helping the player construct a basic voodoo doll by categorizing the basic four items it requires into four big differentiated themes, will prove immensely helpful when the player is required to repeat the process towards the game's finale. To me, even if Guybrush is almost immune to Le Chuck's attacks, the mental stress and tension that is built during the introductory scene, helps making this boss battle one of the most memorable and stressing I've ever encountered. Does it get more soul-tearing than this?And said tension and story-driven pace is what dictates all boss fights. It's about facing the last obstacle standing in your way in order to advance the story. It's not just solely to prove your mastery of the game's mechanics; these fights drain you both physically and emotionally. It's the confrontation of two diametrically different, yet so alike, paths.This is posted at Gnome's Lair
This post also appears at Gnome's Lair, so this just a crossspost, go there and share your thoughts, I will be writing there every Monday, and will post the articles here as well. Gnome himself has kindly shared his webspace with me.Posted @ Gnome's Lair:In Greece we have a saying: "The beginning is the half of everything." I'm not sure this is in fact a proper translation, so please do excuse me in advance, if that's the case. Thing is, it sounds so much more impactful in my native language. This ancient saying by Pythagoras is something I've always kept in mind when I started work on a project. Whatever that may be, it applies for everything, videogame production included.For some reason lack of composure and motivation - common difficulties that every developer has faced - were always magically transformed into challenges. Challenges that I *had* to overcome. And I knew, thanks to this particular piece of wisdom, that if I could get by the initial hurdles, the best was yet to come. Even when I was designing the boring parts of a game or a program, I knew that all that was needed, was to actually begin work, and then I'd see it through.Recently, Mark Yohalem, member of Wormwood Studios and writer of Primordia (which I personally coded *cough* self promotion *cough*) wrote a blog post releasing information about Cloudscape. Cloudscape is a now abandoned project and Yohalem wrote a very interesting piece regarding the reasons behind said decision from his point of view. So, with that in mind, I came to solidify my thinking about abandonded projects throughout. It's not about there being enough talent on your team (regardless of team member number), but about whether someone/the team actually creates a portion of the product.To beginThe baby steps of any project shouldn't be exclusively about brainstorming over a wonderful idea. Even though it does help to keep everyone excited and hyped, brainstorming alone doesn't contribute any actual work towards the main goal - which is to deliver a finished product to the market. Endlessly coming up with new, exciting ideas is a common loop in which even the most talented teams have found themselves.Gradually the initial emotions get toned down and then everything is about creating the silliest, most dysfunctional alpha version of your dream, regardless of its countless faults. It stands to show to everyone in and out of the team, that this is doable. It's a proof of concept, it's a motivational wheel, it's to put it bluntly - the half of everything.
This is the best and most repeated word/phrase/sound/thing you'll encounter in this MAGS September entry by Emont. I caught myself grinning whenever it played or appeared in my screen, or both. The entry is a very simple game, called Man Giving Up. And it's all about that. Perhaps a philosophical approach to our everyday's loserism, or just a funny game. Your call. I do have to say there's not much to it, apparently, but the music and sound effects are a high point. The game is quite polished itself, but the sound effects and the music composed for this game are 100% spot on.So without further ado I present: MAN GIVING UP How many times can YOU give up?Choose from a variety of colourful settings and see how far you can go. You might just surprise yourself. You might find the power was inside yourself all along. Welcome to the world of MAN GIVING UP.FEATURES:* Multiple locations* Complete music soundtrack* Sounds* Colours* Pointing* ClickingDownload here
You should have realized this by now. Well, occasionally there are some news here and there. Look at the last three posts, that's prolly a first around here. So, this happened yesterday.The smart! It hurts!I've also come to realize that this blog has little presence down in Twitterland.Should we change things? Should we keep the crazy from the hip? I don't know. But if you guys want, I'd like to lurk the living heck out of some of you. I already have for a while now, but it was getting impossible to do so without an account, so I went in there. I saw some familiar faces in there, I don't know, it felt as if I've been missing a part of the scene, AGS and generally.Have I truly gone fishing?
Francisco Gonzalez's (try saying that three times in a row) latest project, "A Golden Wake" being published by Wadjet Eye Games, is available for pre-order. Dave said so!Twitter link.
You know, I could write my personal reasons and explain them, and bore the living heck out of you, or the writer could do it for me. And he has. Everything is explained by Mark Yohalem, on why the world never got to see a sequel to Primordia, even a spiritual one.So clickity here, I promise, amazing screenshots will make you want this even more.
So, Downfall, a commercial game created by Remigiusz Michalski released back in 2009, also rated with the five cups of AGS glory, is now free. I also did something with it, but I forget. It's a lovely game regardless so you should get it. Plus I believe Grim is remaking it, so it's a bold move to set the non-upgraded version up for grabs. Have I reviewed this in the past also? God, I don't remember much.FOR PLAYERS 18+ ONLY. CONTAINS DISTURBING SCENES, BAD LANGUAGE, VIOLENCE & SEXUAL REFERENCES. GET DOWNFALL FOR FREE
The typical AGS "game developer" is not a professional, but rather someone who makes games as a hobby. That's actually quite a neat thing- no pressure, no deadlines, no worries about a hostile takeover or whatever troubles the big players. But even the most carefree dabbler in the art of point and click sometimes has to throw up their hands, shout Arrgh in a most frustrated manner and drop a project for whatever reason.How could your average AGS game dev help out? Our very own Baron (already famed in song and story as the mastermind behind SWARMAGS) came up with an interesting idea and the result is Devs-Anon (formerly "Group"). The idea is simple. Sometimes all you need to maintain steam during the development of your game is someone who supports, fortifies, questions you. Or gives you a well-meant flick with a rolled paper. If there was a small group of people all working on projects, each one taking some extra time to check on someone elses project (and act as a mix between Gemini Cricket and Robocop), the result could very well be more completed games.I've registered into the Dev-Anon mostly because the concept sounds awesome, and I have a game I am a bit struggling with and I'm really just curious how the group support will play out. If you like the idea even half as much as yours truly, go check out the linked page and get a closer look.
I've come to understand something that is profound for everyone around the AGS community and generally the developing community, whether you're a coder, or a writer, or an artist, or a voice actor, or an animator, or any other job that is deemed useful in the game/product making process, that no matter how good or great you do that job, there's always space for improvement.Same goes for games.Something you could do differently, something you could improve upon, I don't know anything. At that moment, when you've delivered your quest, you are usually stricken with confidence that you did a good enough job, and that it's final, then after you revisit it, you know, stand behind and observer your labor with a more objective point of view, it is then that you realize you were completely wrong. The best way to prove myself is to find a project you've kept the first version of, and compare it with the one you released for the public. You'll probably catch yourself remembering you were quite satisfied with it back then, perhaps at that, or a later time, you thought "this is it". I mean, look at it.But the more light you shed in your project with feedback either by testers or team members, or anyone practically bothering with it, and sending you his opinion about it (If I recall correctly Vince Twelve had his mom play the game (Resonance) to see if she would be having troubles with the interface), the better your game gets. Provided you're willing to go through feedback and process it accordingly. I mean look at any AGS game out there, take for example Technobabylon, I'm sure Technocrat thought when he first released it, "this is the most I can do with this game" and now he's turned it into a bombastic super-pretty indie game, that I would be willing to pre-order so hard.I've been working on Primordia with Wormwood Studios these past few days (we're going to patch it everywhere (Steam, GOG, wherever it is available) as soon as we're done), and I've personally come across several things that bugged me now, but at the time I was okay with them. You tend to overlook faults over the rush of completing the core parts of a project. But when you look at the details, see deeper, that's what we call polish. And it needs to be done. The more time you devote applying small partially insignificant fixes and improvements to your work, the better.
You know in these days seem to be full of financial difficulties for a large percentage of the people we've surrounded ourselves with. Our family, our friends, our co-workers, our relatives, you know. People. And lately, I've come across this weird thing, something I would personally never do. Something that really saddens me. I know it's not the best topic to bother you guys with, but I really can't get it out of my head.When one lends money to another, of course he wants to see the other person bloom financially with that income boost. But what if the person uses the money to buy things he doesn't exactly need? What happens when the money you lend under terms of survival transform into luxuries? How does that make us feel? Are we not perceiving the motives, perhaps reaching wrong assumptions, or have we misjudged our friendships to begin with? Is life itself slowly getting more "real", if you will? We begin to make decisions and behave in the same way a machine would.We slowly turn our friendships into mathematical algorithms. But the step seems to be necessary. Inevitable no matter the prism of perspective under which we choose to view the core of the problem. Do we change the parameters of the friendship or do we stick to it, no matter what. Do we sacrifice more of our lives for the sake of our friends, or do we egoistically start to look for ourselves and those who benefit us?Sigh. Sometimes I feel like the robots in Primordia. Applying mathematics in logical solutions, rarely does work.
I've started watching a movie suggested to me, and then I caught myself thinking, do we develop that smug arrogant look over other people, because we've genuinely have acquired a better understanding of our tastes and thus evolved ourselves through them or are we just faking it? I mean, hating blockbuster movies is okay in my book, they all seem to be the same to me, and practically they are, but certain friends of mine fail to see that. So does my taste and cinephile phase made me a better person or did it destroy a part of my everyday life and constructed my character as that of a ..how to put it.. artistic douche? That one guy that prefers movies with a meaning or that are very artsy fartsy instead of watching Transformers 8.Okay.'I've come to notice the same behavior with several of my habits that involve art. Like music. Even though I feel like I've come to the point where I've embraced more of what was hidden to me, enjoying stuff I wouldn't have otherwise. Getting to experience more of a scene and space I thought never existed in the first place, and yet feeling dumb for missing it all this other time. But has that made me a better or a worse person? Or have my tastes narrowed when it comes to accessibility and popularity? Perhaps I'm hard to please now?Are we being elitists or are is almost everyone with inferior tastes worth smiting?
You know, I've always liked stuff and people based on an irrelevant attribute. I could like you just because we like the same movie, or because you make movie references, or because you get mine. Silly things, that's what gets me. It's the small things that form a personality that make me want to invest to that person. This is where I find myself looking back at me, saying "go for it". The weird thing is that people I like for their general behavior and personality traits, have flaws I am willing to ignore just because they like Velvet Underground for example.Now, let's talk cities. I'd like to go to Montreal some day. And this is because so many of my favorite artists and bands come from it. Arcade Fire, Of Montreal, Purity Ring, Leonard Cohen. And it's not just Montreal. I've come to embrace all the electronic music coming from french duos, cause none of them has disappointed me yet. I don't like all french duos or duos, no. French duos that make electronic music. Those are pretty dangerous assumptions when it comes to making choices. And it's in every aspect of my life. I've always clinged on to the weird and unique in my observations and reached to a conclusion. You could call all those fetishes, but I think of them as small contracts. Invisible to the eye, bound to get my heart and attention.I like the small useless things. There I admit it.
It's always nice to have a dream to the impossible. To protect it without telling everyone, to approach it with all your means and the power of your heart. To keep it as it was, non-realistic. To occasionally watch it draw itself away from you, slowly and abruptly getting shattered in front of you, unable to react. And then, you are at a crossroad. You either go against even worse odds than before, or you slowly - gradually realize the aching truth. Perhaps, you wonder, it wasn't meant to be. Perhaps you were wrong about it from the beginning, but you somehow let the excitement get the best of you.Perhaps perhaps perhaps.Where were you when we were getting high?But what if you're wrong. What if this is hardenship you're forced to overcome, and you're only being disheartened by a simple obstacle? Don't we all sometimes focus on the problem itself and not on its solution? Isn't the possibility that this could be the last obstacle to ever come between your goal, alluring to say the least? Thrilling? Doesn't it make you wonder how many times you've given up right at the end, never knowing how close you actually were? Why let your dreams be fictions of your imagination when you can give them physical presence and existence?It's always a hard place to be, right in the middle. Especially when hope is gone.
Summer. Eventually, we've come to behave in certain moods and patterns throughout our lives during those three months. Whether it's super hot, sweaty or just a bit sunnier than winter, summer affects our personalities. Usually for the better, cheering us up just by helping us reach the realization that it has come to pass. Exceptionally, it makes us gloomy, annoyed, cursing at the sun for being so bright.Nena, why are you so pretty.There are certain things that hit the spot for me, mostly everpresent during ze estate.Most prominently, asides the temperature heavily rising to unbearable levels (I do live in Greece), it's the music. Especially the presence of ukelele in songs. And what makes the "summer" feeling is ukelele covers of sweet songs.
I woke up at 7 today. I think it was 7, I didn't check thoroughly, after lots of image browsing and news reading - and admittedly some facebook lurking, I paid attention to the clock. Not sure if it's relevant to the laptop screen, but somehow I keep ignoring stuff on the corners. It's either the screen, or the operating system, or me. Before I get myself tested I will throw accussations elsewhere and find great comfort in doing so.Where am I going with this? Oh, yes, great mornings. So, at some point, I'm reading about this wonderful agser moving to New York, so I think of a feel-good song related to the city, and suddenly, after three hours, I'm a bit lost in the 80s.The cult hype behind Akira, made sure I loved it before I even saw the movie.However the feeling remains. The lingering sensation that during those mornings, nothing can bring you down - practically everything feels lovable as if it was brand new. Like being introduced to your favorite things/people all over again. And that's an experience like no other. Perhaps the best description would be that it feels like you are reading a guide to your interests written by you. Yeah, that's it.So have a wonderful morning.
EXHIBIT #7: Official Sierra & Lucas Arts Magazines (1990~1992)~ Sierra News Magazine Volume 3 Nr. 1 Spring 1990 ~~ LucasArts' The Adventurer Nr.2 Spring 1991 ~~ LucasArts' The Adventurer Nr.2 Spring 1991 ~Collage of the 3 magsI made a pdf of the Sierra News Magazine, which can be downloaded in 3 flavors:LQ10MbMQ39MbHQ132Mbby Arj0nEXHIBIT #8: LOOM (1990)Front and back cover: What's inside the box: three 3.5" floppy disks, manual, Book of Patterns with glasses, LucasFilm catalog, a cassette and a bunch of leaflets.Beautiful booklet where you could write the notes for the spells you discovered along the way. Many spells do not appear in the game though.Red glasses again serve as a copy protection.And the best thing of all. This, my friends, is the most original intro ever: a 30-minutes long audio drama! Talking about immersion, eh?You can listen to it here: http://youtu.be/z5Wj5GOiJYgBy Gribbler
EXHIBIT #6: Beneath a Steel Sky (1994)Funny story behind this one, the box was in much nicer condition but I decided it would be a grand idea to take it with me to London Super Comic Con (where Dave Gibbons was doing signings). With a copy of BASS and a nice silver sharpie in my inventory I waited in line to meet Dave, unfortunately it was only a 1 hour slot and signings closed before I could get to the front. I returned with a somewhat beaten up box and a side-quest never to be completed D:The box includes a technical manual, security manual and two copies of the intro cutscene in comic form, not sure why there's two (can anyone add some insight?) one of the comics is smaller and on rough paper whilst the other bigger and on gloss full colour.The security manual has some nice details. By Chicky
EXHIBIT #5: MONKEY ISLAND 2: LeCHUCK'S REVENGE (1991)Front and back cover: What's inside the box: five 3.5" floppy disksmanualMix 'n' Mojo Voodoo Ingredient Proportion Dial wheelLeafletScreenshot descriptions are just priceless!Just like SoMI, Monkey 2 also has a code-wheel as copy protection - this time you have to set correct proportions of voodoo ingredients.Did you know?- Guybrush can die! Just wait a few minutes and do nothing when you're suspended above the pool of acid. You'll be lowered into it.- The Amiga version of the game was nicknamed Disk Juggling Simulator because of constant disk swapping.- One of the books in the library on Phatt Island is called "The Majesty of the Sierras". You can get it from the librarian. When you look at the book Guybrush says: "Sierras? Majestic? I think not."By Gribbler
At some point, Carina, a fellow agser started a wonderful and pretty interesting discussion in the IRC channel concerning the evolution of anonymosity on the world wide web, and how it has changed things, perhaps for the worst or for the better.It's all right we told you what to dream...I found myself agreeing with her almost entirely, nodding my head, falling into deeper thoughts. Practically come to think of it, we've kind of being restricted due to the lift of anonymous usage of the various internet-related services and protocols. Restricted to behave the same way in all of them as they all connect to our real life persona one way or another, whereas we could be whatever we wanted, behave freely, and nobody would mind.I found myself surprised to see everyone mindlessly getting addicted to Facebook, posting as much of their lives as they could, for the whole world to see, when up until then, it felt silly to even give out your first name. Isn't it odd to realize we've welcomed the invasion of our privacy, confining ourselves within the walls of our real life and its limitations. And now, being anonymous is treated differently, but the need to realize what the element (of anonymosity) brought to the table is growing more and more by the day.Is internet being slowly controlled to the wishes and desires of certain people? Is it gradually being manipulated to be TV 2.0? Tacky ads, profits expands, brands everywhere, monetization values and huge growth potential, this is it.
From Arj0n's game vault comes......another museum piece did catch my eyes:EXHIBIT #4: THE BLACK CAULDRON [(1986]Front and back of the box: Information & Hits SheetsDiscs & Warranty CardThe bookAgain the bookCloseupNice mapBy Arj0n