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Most of the news articles here are syndicated from the unofficial AGS blog, run by forum member SSH. Visit SSH AGS Blog for full articles.

Elitism or just poor taste?

By Jim Spanos at Wed, 23 Jul 2014 04:37:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

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?

Canada, or why do I love you so much

By Jim Spanos at Wed, 16 Jul 2014 09:23:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

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.

Dreams get shattered (sometimes)

By Jim Spanos at Wed, 09 Jul 2014 16:28:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

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.

Sometimes you know

By Jim Spanos at Wed, 02 Jul 2014 13:37:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

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.

Them great mornings

By Jim Spanos at Tue, 24 Jun 2014 09:18:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

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.

Adventure Game Museum: Exhibit #7 & 8

By Jim Spanos at Mon, 16 Jun 2014 10:25:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

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

Adventure Games Museum: Exhibit #6

By Jim Spanos at Mon, 09 Jun 2014 10:21:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

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

Adventure Game Museum: Exhibit #5

By Jim Spanos at Mon, 02 Jun 2014 10:19:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

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

I am an adult, bicilotti

By Jim Spanos at Fri, 30 May 2014 03:48:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

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.

Adventure Games Museum: Exhibit #4

By Jim Spanos at Mon, 26 May 2014 09:58:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

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

They shoot horses,don't they?

By Jim Spanos at Thu, 22 May 2014 09:00:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

To get things running, I've always found the title so interesting, besides the wonderful acting by Jane Fonda, I've surrounded the movie in my head with a veil of mystery and intrigue. The hindering whispers of dead-end and inevitability throughout the simple yet catching story arcs, are totally the highlight. Life is a bit crazy after all, and sometimes it does get too real.Going a bit off-track, my mind is a bit traveling to my mom, who kind of escaped death, according to my father, this past Saturday. But she's doing well now, can't wait for her to return home.A valuable lesson to be found in realizing what's worth pursuing.Anyhow, sometimes, we have to learn to let go.Not just people, but also creative projects, as they sometimes go ashtray and it's hard to pursue the goals we set out to achieve through them. It saddens me to see a project I really want to see, get shut. But those behind it, have their reasons. They've matured and gained experience from them.Vital elements to be used in the future ones. And that's how game designers evolve, by throwing down what they consider as dead-weight, whether it's easy to do so, or super-hard. No matter how much you've clung to something, it won't fix the issues that revolve around it.Personally I've abandoned a good dozen of half-started games. 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, till we see the much desired exit.Apologies for the inconsistent rambling.

Adventure Games Museum: Exhibit #3

By Jim Spanos at Mon, 19 May 2014 09:32:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

EXHIBIT #3: THE COLONEL'S BEQUESTFront and back of the box: What's inside - lots of goodies! Four 3,5" disks, manual, Misty Acres Plantation map, magnifying glass, Laura Bow's notebook & pencil, Sierra catalogs and a registration cardBeautiful little notebook where you can write down your cluesAttention to details is staggering!Big folded plantation map so you don't get lost.Manual is not just a dull piece of how-to-play document. It contains many interesting informations, like a short biography of each of plantation guests. There's also ACT 1 in the form of a play.Back of the map is covered with the red pattern hiding a set of fingerprints. Each time you start your game you have to take Laura's magnifying glass and identify a fingerprint shown on the screen.Sierra catalogs are really fun to read all those years later. You can learn that a new Sierra blockbuster game King's Quest 5 is in the production (coming Fall 1990!), or you check out wide rooster of their games. By Gribbler

Flawless

By Jim Spanos at Thu, 15 May 2014 00:36:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

I've always loved and hated the exact same thing about the Resident Evil franchise (moreso focusing on the earlier parts of the saga). The clunky controls. Admit it, they are at best barely working to facilitate the player in his quest. I can imagine a video compilation in my head of people raging over dying from a zombie, because they panicked and the controls slow reaction mechanics did the trick.. Perhaps that thing even exists.Moving on.Jill Valentine: Resident Evil III and some other spin-offsThroughout the years and with lots of practice, I've grown accustomed and come to like that "issue". Adding to the claustrophobic, eerie atmosphere of each game with jump scares, hand-to-hand combat (mostly forced by the scarse ammo) and chasing to construct a handicap, capcom's developers shine, by creating difficulty out of thin air. But, still after all these years, it kinda makes me wonder. Has this been intentional? Or is it a flaw carefully camouflaged as a feature to trick us all?Regardless, this comes to be a settling argument, when I compare survival horror games. Even if it takes a long while to maneuver throughout the actions, I grew to be terribly fond of Resident Evil, especially Nemesis. With a fragile yet brave protagonist, Jill Valentine, against all odds, I was disappointed to see them fail to add the storyline to the countless irrelevant movies to be. I strongly believe it would be interesting to explore the character depth of Jill, perhaps with an anime series, instead of showing Jovovich's wonderful body over and over again in an action-filled cliched zombie flick sharing no similarities to the franchise.Besides the name. #Jill

Adventure Games Museum: Exhibit #2

By Jim Spanos at Mon, 12 May 2014 09:30:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

Next game is a game that started it all for me. My first adventure game. My dear dear SoMI. I didn't speak English at the time so I had to finish it with a solution. Regardless, I fell in love with the game and the genre. Right after finishing the game I restarted it to live through the experience once again. True story!EXHIBIT #3: THE SECRET OF MONKEY ISLANDFront and back cover: Excerpts from back cover: "Eye-gouging 3D graphics", (I love this one!)"Ear-pearcing reggae music""No typing - point & click interface". (haha in your face Sierra!  )"Average playing time: 30 hours. (No way!)What's inside the box: eight 5.25" floppy disks, manual, Dial-A-Pirate wheel and a bunch of leaflets.Code-wheel copy protection, in which you had to mix and match several pirate's faces and assemble their names. Almost 25 later - it still works!By Gribbler

Japan or why I want to be there at least once.

By Jim Spanos at Thu, 08 May 2014 10:42:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

This article is probably irrelevant to gaming overall, so you may want to skip this. This is a rant article, about what Japan is to me, and how it affects my life and artistic output. Empire of the Sun (1987)Somewhat, perhaps due to the fact that we got to see 80s shows where I live (Greece) when I was growing up (early 90s), I have a feeling I've conflicted and connected the whole era of synths and neon-lights and leather jackets to a nostalgic veil. The music I hear, the clothes I love to wear, the small things and yet the bigger things, feed from those emotions. Endlessly pointing towards eastern culture as they seem to get a commendable impression of that era, I've been starstruck with visiting the Empire of the Sun, perhaps being  a bit nudged by the movie as well. Though the movie itself doesn't sport anything in particular to make you feel the lust, perhaps I felt related to the main character in different ways, inexplicable ones. I used to love airplanes a whole lot back then. It was nice to feel that simple and be so sure of it. Arguably, I'm a bit confused trying to pick my own brain. This probably makes a little to no sense by now. Trying to grasp control, Japan is the 80s for me. The majestic buildings, the rotten atmosphere of decay and smug, the neon signs, the technological obsession, the late wee hours. Hard to understand, hard to explain. It's like constantly being in the edge of your youth, closer to a new fresh start, yet having lived a whole lot needing to settle down. It could be like viewing a great movie for the first time, feeling the fuzz, or listening to a miraculous song under a new spectrum of perspective. Neo-tokyo, umbrellas, lights...you simply can't go wrong. Recognizing the song in the air, when nobody does, wondering who else knows it and embraces it as much as you, yeah, that's Japan for me, perhaps the same for Stu. This was not a Haiku.P.S: Stuart, them photos you promised!

AGS Bake Sale: Return of the Jedi

By Jim Spanos at Tue, 06 May 2014 10:09:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

May the fifth be with you?Yeah...no, not a good one. But the new AGS bakesale seems yummy, and that's a pun intended. With creators Ponch, Radiant, Tzachs and Baron. So, who gets the money? The AGS Server does. So it's money for the community and you get to play games. I'm not very good when it comes to promoting things I like, so I will just copy Ghost's beautiful handwriting from his web, and pretend I wrote it.I do have to say that I love finding excuses to use the downtime label on this very blog, so, without further irrelevant stuff, Ghost's writeup on the AGS BakeSale II2034 AC 2 by PonchSome time ago Ponch made a fun little "Canada after the Apocalypse" game starring brave, cute and dangerously media-aware Mountaineer Paige. AC 2 seems to be a follow-up and once more features Paige, Canada and a load of fourth-wall shattering lines.BEER! by Radiant (of Crystal Shard)A mixture of minigames and that bubbly stuff called "liquid bread" here in Germany. From the description it sounds like a tongue-in-cheek WarioWare "microgames" affair. We all know Radiant for coming up with highly creative coding and this title may have quite a few surprises in store.Blue Lobe Inc by BaronDescribed as "game, visual novel, and interactive comic" BlueLobe is a fundraiser indy game about... some guys launching an indie game company. If the concept doesn't hook you, it's also fully voiced and it has trendy cartoon speech bubbles.That Damn Dog by tzachs (of Parking Goat)In a "playable sitcom", one frustrated man faces one annoying dog. May or may not have a laugh track!So there they are, four games ready to be yours. The minimum amount you have to pay is 1 dollar, which covers the transaction costs. But the sky is the limit- if you're feeling generous or just think the forum bill could use some of your money, just give what you like.A little extra is the "bonus content"- if you pay over the (regularly calculated) average you'll get some goodies from the authors, mostly art, wallpapers, soundtracks and whatever they saw fit to put into the mystery bonus bundle.So check out the site:http://bluecupbakesale.com/

Adventure Games Museum: Exhibit #1

By Jim Spanos at Mon, 05 May 2014 09:20:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

I was basically just gonna ramble forever about whatever was in my head, but then a marvelous topic appeared on my radar, so I'm gonna be pasting all the exhibits here once a week, every monday. The idea has initially been pitched by Gribbler, and it has gathered all kinds of wonderful attention by AGSers.Gribbler's pitch:Years ago I had an idea to write a blog called "Adventure Games Museum" where I wanted to write about adventures of the past, with photos of given game front and back cover, it's box contents, trivia and whatnot. You know, like in a display in the actual museum. I guess I wanted to show the young adventurers how the games were being released in the old days, before the age of digital distribution: no "soulless" downloadable keys, no lame DVD boxes, no pretty box covers. The blog didn't really work out. I posted 2 or 3 games and abandoned it due to lack of time. Also, it was in my native language and only about 3 or 4 people read it I thought why not make a collaborative effort out of it, right here in the forums. Oh, and I don't do this to boast about my games collection. Not AT ALL! Nooooo, sir!So, my first game is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Why? Because it belongs in a museum!EXHIBIT #1: INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADEFront and back cover:  What's inside the box - Henry Jones' diary, Hint Book, six 5,25" really floppy disks, copy protection sheet with special glasses, bunch of leaflets.Intricate spoil-proof hint system! Copy protection worked the same way so you could not xerox it.  Beautiful handwritten Henry Jones' diary which you had to consult to solve puzzles in the game. Really cool stuff!  

Follow

By Jim Spanos at Thu, 01 May 2014 01:43:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

Sometimes, you look at your past experiences, still clinged tightly to some of them, holding regret and angst, and you purposefully reach the conclusion to move on. Progressing equals the necessity to mature and grow up, or at least it should. Eventually we all strike people with elitism and arrogance levels that should be attributed to megalomaniacs and egoists.Thus it's vital to take a step back and visualize the changes, even if that means adapting to them. And adaptation is the biggest step. Half of the work, if you will. However, only doing so, let us appreciate the past days, full of hopes and dreams. Looking back to your older self, don't you want to scream heartwarming encouraging words? Things will get better, won't they?\There's always light if you look up.And this is where zealots stand, to seperate the herd. Providing gateways to a vision, and grasping heavily to it, no matter what the odds may be. And does the outcome matter? If only to the victors. And to them, the steps have already faded from being a thought/idea to an action, thus to an output. The regrets too irrelevant after all this energy focused on a single crazy vision. And such was the one Chris Jones had. The will to single -handendly create an outlet, no, a gateway to dreams. Had we tried to explain the reasoning behind the countless hours spent developing what would end up as AGS, wouldn't we all fail? Does it even matter now?  History has set such thoughts as obsolete, unremarkable and that's for the better.Even if you weren't there as something was evolving under the similar patterns of parameters as it had when it first set out its eyes for the world to see, even though the recipe has been adjusted under the principle of progress, setting course undergoing a different path, sailing for a new voyage, one can't help but feel the presence of the pioneer in the all the small things. Stepping aside, is the hardest step, but also the fundamental one, it's holding out your heart for the world to embrace.Thank you.

Send your dreams where nobody hides them

By Jim Spanos at Wed, 23 Apr 2014 23:05:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

Never quite understood the japaneseletters mania but they do look prettyI've written this piece of text over and over, trying to behave as objective as I can. Trying all the while to grasp more of the situation than the heat of the moment offers me to. I preferred to step back from my computer screen. Stepping down the attic, I unlocked the door, looked up and gazed the night sky for a while. Perhaps longer than I want to acknowledge - I do tend to daydream. Anyhow, backsliding to my desk after each break, the conclusion was always the same.  So let's talk about iceygames. Or Isiah Sweeting if you will. Somehow the idea to join an adventure game related forum persevered long enough in his mind to bother registering. Iceygames craved to transport his never-ending obsession and devotion for the japanese style rpg Final Fantasy via an adventure game engine (AGS duh!). In retrospect, I consider he'd be better off in a different engine, but that's highly irrelevant now. It's not the reasoning behind this article. So, with hopes and immaturity in his heart, he unsealed the gates of the AGS community and internet forums altogether. Today, he stands there, still heading towards to his initial target, plowing through barriers and chatters , concentrating on his art which has improved drastically. And that's phenomenal.    Does one have the right to judge and put down the methods in which a person pursues his wildest dreams no matter how unorthodox, even if the outcome is unforeseeable. Stomping over ambitions as if they were a sandwich, in ways that are hurtful, abusively exclaiming suggestions should allow noone the privilege to boast that they were right all along. Drifting on the same hype train for a extensive while, it's vital to perceive the error of your ways. It's always refreshing to see someone bloom from the ashes of loathing and alienation, exhibiting proudness albeit never vocalizing it.So here it is, the reason why this is been written.

Take it like a man or perhaps ...?

By Jim Spanos at Wed, 16 Apr 2014 23:30:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

With recent reactions over an article over at Rock Paper Shotgun concerning Moebius, I've fallen into my thoughts again, wondering where does criticism and personal views on the matter stop being useful and instead form or affect a general view that's inaccurate, subjective and hurtful to a product and the people affiliated in any way with it?There's more to videogames than just playingSometimes we find ourselves enjoying the way we construct a sentence or reference our personal interests in subtle ways, and we convert people's reactions to our particular way of writing to a graphical/comical idea of it. Slowly, gradually moving towards that direction, hoping subconsciously to re-trigger the same reactions, we've grown addicted to. At the same time, we fail to grasp the concept of a joke being overused, and we see the newcomers reaction as acceptance. In the end, a failure to realize the importance of providing your opinion/thoughts in such ways that it's helpful to others is ever-present.Of course someone should not butcher his thoughts censoring them in such way that they reflect political correctness, but he should definitely understand the importance of his work. And let's take what I did into account as an example.Some days ago I stated that I found PISS lacking a hook, and that very issue, had been troubling me from finishing the game. The fact that I was deemed unable to run a complete playthrough of that game, also made me decide to avoid writing a review about it - I just felt the need to explain the reasons behind my slacking. Haven't we all tried something and found it hard to get into, then actually do a proper effort to grasp the concept, ultimately wondering how we felt unable to see the genius at first?Personally I strive to give everything a proper chance to win me, and my thoughts on PISS are ONLY focusing on what was troubling me to get there.Videogames as a form of entertainment, also occasionally attributed artistic values, is haunted by the subjective rule. What is that you ask? Well, simply put, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It's imperative therefore to allow everyone to appreciate what we cannot, overcoming the obstacles that we faced - obstacles that rendered the product unpleasant for us, and ideal for those who appreciate differently.

Cyberpunk: Replicating the ambient perfection of neon lights and corruption.

By Jim Spanos at Fri, 11 Apr 2014 19:59:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

To me, the genre always meant exciting, new, exhilarating horizons being broadened, applying both mentally and perspective-wise a mesmerizing effect on my personal being. That is when the cyberpunk-ill medium transcends from the focus on one aspect and instead triumphantly establishes domination in every way.Portraying flawed characters and an ironic seemingly idyllic view to the future whether it's dominated by a certain political view or a technological discovery/revolution, there is a thin line between breathtaking and thought provocative to just lasers and neon lights. Though I love those things a whole lot. They may be part of a niche, narrow view of the genre, but I still hold them dear, they are elements of a greater whole, even if they appear as shallow members solely created to wow introductees.Aren't they pretty?I believe that taking any story and transforming to a Cyberpunk impression is the easier way, and the most common one. Always have I felt that to be the wrong way. While it's nice to see a plot under different glasses, perhaps adjusting its parameters differently. It works in the same way that for example a live action movie is remaked as an anime. Not a huge fan, but it's interesting enough to give it a fair chance.However creating a reality based on estimated projection values on combining factors, plowing through plot holes and physical rules to narrate a story arc that would only be done justice under those calculated, specific list of circumstances and variables, is where the genre shines. It should always be visible to us, that it's not about telling conventional stories within unconventional surroundings, but rather -  mystify the audience with the setting, engulfing the reader, in ways that he feels the primal instincts and fears in different unconventional ways, purging reality of all the veils, like...Like tears in the rain..

By the rivers of (Techno)babylon

By Jim Spanos at Sun, 06 Apr 2014 12:09:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

So, why is this AGS game keep appearing on your rss feed lately? Why is it referenced so much lately?Because, besides missing the 4th part of the series for quite a while now, it appears, according to a gamasutra interview of Dave Gilbert, the game is still being worked on. I'm quite unfamiliar with the factors affecting its current production and the goal in terms of game design and polish value currently set by the developer and the parties affiliated (which I'm also mostly unaware of).But Ben Chandler is providing artwork, yet not sure if he's drawing over or completely re-designing materials for the game. Perhaps both. I find myself accepting Dearden's choice (the developer) to enrich and re-introduce the saga. Technobabylon  is getting remaked, but I'm not sure in what way. However, since it's going commercial under Wadjet Eye Games, I'm definitely quite certain, the game will combine part one and two, perhaps even three, though the trilogy's end, wasn't really well received. Can you say pretty labs?Technobabylon revolves around the premise that people choose to accept the false sense of achievement presented in multiplayer videogames, over their actual control on their lives, slowly deteriorating physically and mentally, getting addicted equally to the phenom of drug use. Such is the protagonist of the game, but as life problems pop up, it will be impossible to get a last dose of the virtual world. The second game of the series, creates one of the most wonderfully revealed ties between two games seemingly so different in almost every aspect, that literally the rembrance of it, still takes my breath away.I do hope, the great content will be kept if not intact, at least in the same or better spirit, maintaining the consistency and surprise factor present in the freeware release of the three episodes so far. Even though, I feel this should have been out faster, I still got overly excited over the release of Technobabylon. Count one pre-order from me.

Trying hard and failing decently

By Jim Spanos at Mon, 31 Mar 2014 05:50:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

Well, I've been trying to get the mindset to actually bother with PISS beyond the first 20 minutes of gameplay, but it seems impossible. Perhaps it's the wall of texts that keep appearing in my face that prevent me from fullfilling aforementioned task. And since I've promised a weekly post, I'll have to deliver one.So the topic of this post, if you haven't giving up already, is story hooks. A hook is a plot device that interests a person in the continuation of the story or the grand reveal if such exists, by simply grasping the attention/curiosity of the reader. The same applies to videogames, some use gameplay mechanics to attract the player and keep him interested, others use more story driven mechanisms. Adventure games as a genre, usually create a hook via an introductory scene to either attach the player sentimentally with the protagonist or create an element of curiosity or some other thing I'm oblivious about.Perhaps the setting works as well. I believe my favorite hook in a medium can be attributed to Kurosawa's Rashomon. Though the delivery completely failed to satisfy my expectations, I was "chained" till the reveal/explanation. Admittedly paranormal elements rub me off horribly. I find the explanation to paranormal reasons to be the cheapest way to explain situations. It's really dangerous to create a sense of mystery and then use the oldest trick in the book, trying to fool a mature audience, only ending up fooling A-graders, if that.Blade Runner: A hook based mostly on the setting.Other entertaining examples would be Blade Runner, practically missing a hook, eventually getting to it. Several sequences, even though proven to be cult classics later, initially are viewed with prejudice. I mean showcasing technological gadjets, doesn't get the story going much anywhere. But it's fancy.I think Blade Runner works the same way that Beneath A Steel Sky does, the setting and the world are terribly interesting in their own diverse ways, spawning that explorer child into the viewer/player.In conclusion, PISS is missing a hook, and I really want to review it. I've lost my line of thought.

The Case of Tuesdays

By Jim Spanos at Tue, 25 Mar 2014 18:36:00 +0000 on The AGS blog

I was wondering a lots about stuff, and discussions from IRC have led me to actually bother writing an article, here on the blog, apologies on the slower content, but things in the community are a bit slow for my interest.So I've been spending much time working on Troll Song, mostly working around the interface fixing and adding snippets for easier implementing of future actions. Thus I came up with a small list of things to do on the game you make AFTER actually making/working on a complete game. And by complete I mean a game that has been rendered under the shower of several polish, that when someone shows you the first version of it, you say "wow, it was bad back then".Anyhow, when you've bothered working your ways around your first actual game, you learn to do things, but as most of them are a first, you end up doing several mistakes. What I've noticed whilst working on Troll Song, is that I'm transfering skills/snippets and knowledge from previous efforts/projects, thus improving my current workflow and result. Practise makes perfect, and it's no lie, it extends to game design.So the promised list follows:1) Do re-use stuff that can actually be re-used. Like that pretty cool Savegame UI, don't go porting the same characters for crying out loud, think generalization and masking. What feature of your previous game can be transfered and adopted by your new project? Then port it properly. Copy-paste won't work 100%, you'll either discover mistakes/omissions, or you'll realize it can be improved in certain ways, thus you'll enhance it. This is the utter realization, that you've evolved from the time you created that thing till today. And you should get yourself a tea for that, it's a good accomplishment.2) Split your work, give it extensibility. Always, and I mean always don't create considering this is the final version of your creation (regardless whether it's a code, a background, a character, an animation, a story element/plot). It's not. I've seen spectacular backgrounds get replaced by even more spectacular ones, and other backgrounds completely redrawn cause they couldn't work that way. You need to project into the future and replicate the same result hastily without much effort, even if the idea of you re-doing this, puts you down. And it probably does.3) Spot patterns and use them to your advantage. This is huge but do treadlightly, otherwise you'll end up having the same animation for 12.000 things. Basically translating from gibber to english, if you see an animation proving to be practically the same for some other situation, without breaking the uniqueness factor, go ahead, be courageous and use it elsewhere. If you see a code behavior being repeated make a global method/function out of it, and be a man of yourself.

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