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A certain revival of old adventure game classics has begun. With the announcements of Day of The Tentacle, all that remains is Full Throttle.Well, normally this would have been another philoshopical rambling about some topic. But today, I felt the need to bother with the much recent and wonderfully succesful Point and Click Jam. Of all the jams I watched closely or partecipated to this year, this one seemed to outpolish all of them. There were absolutely no amateur entries here. It felt like a bunch of veterans were against each other, fighting for the first spot. This may be a correct first impression, however upon closer inspection that is not exactly the case. The majority of the contestants, haven't even made an adventure game before (some I believe haven't even made a game!), so why does this not feel as amateur hour (pointing at the Pewdiepie VS Indie Jam)?Because, there's no way to pull off certain genres with half-assed efforts. Which explains the duration of this game-making competition and any other adventure game competition. Think about it! Even OROW (abbreviation stands for One Room One Week), that is about making an adventure game in one room/screen, lasts a week. For it is quite known and obvious to all developers, that you could make a platform game in a matter of hours, but as a genre, adventure games are focused on the story and atmosphere, and it's rather hard to set up pacing, flow, story arc, character design, interface, puzzles within the span of a day, let alone in a lesser time.It's a genre that begs for lots of hours of work, but also for quality in their ranks. Arguably regardless of the design of your game, polishing it, is a vital element. For adventure games in particular, it works on every little part that they consist of, making it impervious and necessary to bother with. And here I am two paragraphs in, and I'm already transforming back to Plato.Anyhow - about the Point And Click Jam.It was organized by the good people down at GameJolt, and the rules were quite simple (and a bit on the annoying side too!). In 15 days you had to make an adventure game of the point and click kind, whereas the interface was left open for developers to either make ones that have already been famous from games of the era, or construct a new one. The resolution was forced to 320x200 so that you could get that "1991 feel" and you could work on your story before the jam begun (but just the story!). The ultra annoying bit for me, was the palette restriction. To make things more challenging and closer to the Lucas Arts / Sierra Era we all loved when we were growing up, the rules stated that you had to use a certain palette (a number of colors) to make your entry.That was of course set to maintain a retro feel, along with the rule that also made clear that you're not allowed to make use of a technology further developed after 1992 or so (contemporary technologies in making the assets of your game had to be used). While, this helped created quality entries in a weird masochistic way, I found it rather unappealing. It should have at least broadened the restrictions by allowing the use of transparency, if not alpha channels on sprites.Regardless I consider the jam to be highly succesful, as through it wonderful games such as "A Fragment of Her", "Max Greene", "The Exciting Space Adventures of Greg And Linda", "Void And Meddler", "There Ain't No Sunshine", "A Cosmic Song" and others, spawned. I highly suggest checking all the entries, but these especially are worth it a tiny bit more. Wait, aren't adventure games dead? :PPosted @Gnome's Lair
Fan Service Continues"Currently, I have to admit, I'm a bit swamped with work, cause we're planning a wonderful patch for Primordia", is what I wrote a week ago to save myself from writing last week's article. Though this means I just abused this webspace for personal promotion, I promise I'm not going to reference the game on this article again. It's not even what the article is about, it's only but a spark. But, returning back to it, why would anyone bother with something released over 2 years ago? Doesn't that make you wonder? What are the reasonings behind it? Well, the answer is not logical in itself. But let's take things from the top.In anime and manga any material added or adjusted to please the audience intentionally is clarified as Fan Service. In the weird cultural differences between the Western world and the Japanese, fan service could even mean about having a long shot of a woman's body and/or generally gratuitous nudity. But it's not just about that. Prolonged scenes, extra violence, references to other shows are also deemed as fan service. But what is this term I've been throwing at your face actually about?It is about servicing the fans, if you will, providing the audience with the premise that was initially hinted at or directly promised, or somewhere in the process deeply desired. For its about giving your fanbase, regardless of size, what they want, to put it bluntly. As it has been said before, it could be fixing an annoying issue, fixing a crash, it could be adding content, adjusting previously existing content, it could be virtually anything.What helps clarify it as such, is the fact that you've went out of your own way to provide a version of the product closer to the desires of the fans. A direct nod of appreciation, to show the bondage between you and the audience. Every remake of a game, every remastered version of it, despite being approved for profit reasons is also falling under the rule of servicing the fanbase.A big example of that, are the Neon Genesis Evangelion (Shin - Seiki Evangerion) movies. Categorized as a fan service because they are created to satisfy the fans desire for a better (perhaps alternative is a better word) ending to the series. It's even stated on last addition to the saga, Evangelion 3.33, You Can (Not) Redo, that the movies have been partly if not entirely for the fan's satisfaction, as they will continue till the fourth movie gets released. The original television series first airing almost two decades ago (October, 1995), ended rather philosophically and abruptly.The finale itself, mostly abstract in its nature (containing concept drawings, unfinished sequences, real-life stills and voice-over dialogue), has being heavily criticized by critics and fans alike, who considered even the possibility that the ending was forced from budget cuts. Thus, the creators have embarked on a quest to satisfy the thirst of the fanbase (cult, would be more appropriate) for a proper closure.Fan service is a weird kind of love, nobody gets it, except the parties involved. Then again we could rule it down to explicit sexual content, but that's not what it's about. It's not logical, it's not even always good for business, it's the opposite of value-per-time-spent, but it's a wonderful thing we do, a silly anniversary to form a wonderful relationship.Posted@Gnome's Lair
Translated by David Ostman, provided by the wonderful Lasca.
Well, Ghost says it all. Stop not-taking risks, be a man. GROW THE BEARD OF MANLINESS, MAKE THAT DAMN GAME, SON!Stop crying and be a MAN.READ THIS DAMN FINE ARTICLE*If you're offended by the amount of manliness message qptain_nemo over at the AGS forums.
You know, I'll save the formalities, this an expo of sorts full of nice people from the AG crowd, conducted by Mark Lovegrove. It's amazing really, and it has begun to grow to a much bigger thing. Today's schedule includes Dave Gilbert, Theodor Waern and others. Sunday also looks out to be great (I've sent something bound to change history) There's also high chance there will be streaming of the event, so it will be nice to watch.And there's that. Not sure if it was also seen on AdventureX, but here's a fantastic trailer of Nelly Cootalot.
Frankly, everyone has been making a big fuzz about this game, so I thought, might as well give it a try. And I should have done so sooner. Even though it's a pretty small game, the puzzles themselves are quite enjoyable, helping built up tension and momentum at the right moments. After playing a bit, and as the plotline is revealing itsself, it's pretty obvious that A Date In The Park is falling under some cliches (refusing to explain which ones exactly as I will spoil the game to the readers), but the presentation of the story elements and the wonderful natural dialogues between the protagonists are masterfully executed/implemented.I'm willing to perhaps write a bigger review on this, but for now, till the majority of the community plays this, I am saying that Shaun Aitcheson made a fan out of me with this lovely game.Oh, my manners, get the game hereAnd do follow the author on twitter, he's a wonderful fellow.
Talking about TV series with my brother yesterday, the conversation took an interesting turn. "Have you played The Walking Dead video-", he said, but briefly interrupted by my nod. "This may be weird to you, but I cried at the end", he exclaimed. This created a wonderful discussion over which videogames have made us feel sentimental in the past. Anyhow, as I started to wonder, I felt a nice warm feeling recalling the games I was connected to in such emotional way.For a moment I got lost into a philosophical journey. In movies it's somewhat easier to cry and generally share or be overcome by certain sentiments/feelings, because the usual behavior we have while experiencing a story is to attempt to relate to it. But with games that's usually different, mostly because we have full (or at least the illusion of such) control over the protagonist's actions, and the protagonist in most cases serves as a vessel of ourselves.With the creation and the world-wide success of Elite, a significant change to videogames has occurred. An alteration to the rule that a score must determine the skill of the player and the player's involvement to the game must resolve around his/her attempts to get the highest score possible. With Elite we were slowly introduced to something far greater. The probability that games could "just" have a decent storyline instead of a score. And as time passed and technology progressed, it happened. The early nineties were mostly dominated by Adventure Games and RPGs, both primarily focused on gripping story arcs presenting elements such as branches, depth, setting, character development, etc.Even if the adventure game genre itself lost part of its sunlight and glory, it helped immensely in paving the way for other genres, that then were mostly focusing on excessive button mashing, to evolve. Action / First Person Shooter franchises such as Max Payne, Metal Gear Solid, System Shock, Half Life, Resident Evil disengaged from the brainless stereotype of exaggerated, rapid frenzy and reckless gameplay to a more delicate, no rather, realistic approach. As storyline became an new element in game design, cinematic elements have been introduced, converting videogames to a new form of art (even though that could be a stretch). An art we can interact with our own ways within the limits that are presented to us (visible and not).Posted @Gnome's Lair
AprilSkies is neither a guy nor a girl. April Skies is a song. So get REKT.All joking aside, Andrea Ferrara is a wondeful italian person of definite masculinity, he's not a she, he's a he. And wuv him. Cause he funny. And weird. And very into game-making.
One of the few times an AGS game is sported on cracked. So, Samaritan Paradox by our very own Andail under Screen7 is featured. On an article. About unreasonable puzzles. In videogames. It beat Castlevania II Tornado. Yay!Here's the article!!http://www.cracked.com/article_21764_5-video-game-puzzles-clearly-designed-by-hateful-people.html
If you can read swedish. According to Lasca who gracefully shared these to us, this is a list of top 30 adventure games. And below follows a review of the Samaritan Paradox.
That intro still can't be be beat, so perfect in every single way.You know, someone is cringing at the comments going like " Do you mean Final Fantasy III?", so let's settle this for once, I will call this VI, cause it happened to be the 6th game of the series. I can't remember a single game I've played for the sole reason that it had great music and I actually wanted to hear more of it. I've been influenced musically, stylistically, game-design wise, but most certainly, entirely by this installment in the series.Dissecting its nowadays considered cult introduction sequence, the very one accompanied by the most memorable tunes ever to grace a game, the attention to detail is miraculous. Slowly helping new and old players realize the setting, and applying strong and firm points of interest by playing around a typical cliche, we're slowly immersed into a world of conflicts. As technology battles magic, deeper connections are created, making it harder to pick a side. Both are justified in their unique ways, engulfing the incredibly complex cast of characters into choices and situations undesired.Final Fantasy's story alternates around the same perspectives - it's about the end of an era, as much as it is about the beginning of another one. I refuse to tell you anything about the story, dear reader, but I will tell you this: In this part of the saga called Final Fantasy, an important choice was made. A choice that every technological probability of the engine that would sport the game, would be used to its fullest potential. From the very first minutes, the proof is presented to us.Heavily utilizing Mode 7 functions and tidbits for cinematic and general purposes, even though released almost 20 years ago, the graphical quality of the game still holds up to both sentimental but also historically innovative (for the time being) standard. In case you're wondering what on earth Mode 7 graphic effects are, they're basically various graphical tricks where a two-dimensional image is taken and skewed/distorted in such way that it gives the impression of a third dimension, without that dimension however ever actually existing; thus pseudo-3D.Now, back to the topic at hand, besides the wonderful protagonist(s), there's Kefka, one of the most notorious videogame villains of all time. Terribly underrated and rather overshadowed by Sephiroth, I strongly believe the latter would a be at best a common lackey under Kefka's rule. The game's opera sequence/cinematic is also what is held most dear by its players, not only for the music but also for the unprecedented and unexpected depth and epicness it provides to the central plot as the story seamlessly peaked.It's a terrible thing that the majority of the Final Fantasy fanbase was taken over by the luscious prerendered quality of the 3D graphics and the impactful death scene of Iris by Sephiroth, ever-forgetting this masterpiece. If it wasn't for the release of FFVII, this gem would be significantly more appreciated by the mainstream (because the press is doing its best to restore its value). But those who have had the fortune to spend hours upon hours on it, know it deep in their hearts and cherish it. And perhaps secretly wish for a proper remake or a sequel.Posted @ Gnome's Lair
I've come to accept fate as it came to me, and as it also came to be. I've always wanted to be the face in front of me. Being a programmer it's really hard, especially if you refuse to be a part of game design. People will try so hard themselves to code their own thoughts and concepts. They will not do the same for anything art related (perhaps music). And with this in mind I've tried the hardest I've known to make a standard living out of my efforts. And while Cat Lady and Primordia made lots of money, I've yet to actually live the indie dream, and it's even harder to make it there. It's not a road full of petals and roses, that is certain. However I'm willing to give it one last proper effort - I've been spending this past month refusing to procrastinate. While I could say that I was given my chances, and that this was my short trip to stardom, I refuse to accept this.No.
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