Author Topic: The Black Hand Gang  (Read 17644 times)

Mandle

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The Black Hand Gang
« on: 14 Dec 2013, 18:58 »
THE BLACK HAND GANG



This is a project I created to bring my much-loved young readers book from my childhood, which is now out of print, back to life in the form of this game.




In this interactive book you take on the part of a rather pretentious gang of young detectives who foil the criminal plots of the baddies in true Scooby-Doo style.



I hope this game truly represents the original brilliance of its author, H.J.Press, and can bring his art and self-empowering storytelling to a new generation of young readers.

I would like to recommend this game to anyone who loves a mystery, but especially to those who would like to play along in the adventure with their own 7 - 13 year old children.

Of course, if you happen to not have children around this age, but in your heart you happen to be a 7 - 13 year old child, then you may very well enjoy this game as well...


Wow! I'm very happy (and equally shocked) that a couple of game sites have taken the time to review this game! :shocked:

LINK TO: Indiegames Review!!!

LINK TO: Digital Combat Soldiers Review!!! (same review as above)

LINK TO: PCGamer "The Best Free Games of the Week" Review!!!
« Last Edit: 17 Jan 2014, 02:19 by Mandle »

Re: The Black Hand Gang
« Reply #1 on: 14 Dec 2013, 20:35 »
Wow, I think this is a brilliant game concept, Mandle! Just tried few screens, and I like it :).

There's one important thing about the game distributive: it misses the default config file. The main problem here is that AGS setup program reads game's resolution from that file, and not from the game itself. If there's no config file, setup program will show incorrect game resolution (320x200 instead of actual 800x600), which may lead to confusion. For example, first thing I did was setting x4 scaling filter, thinking it will make game run at 1280x800, but instead it tried to run at 3200x2400 (failed, obviously).
The key parameter is "defaultres". You may fix this by manually adding this line under "[misc]" category:
Code: Text
  1. defaultres=5
  2.  

Re: The Black Hand Gang
« Reply #2 on: 14 Dec 2013, 21:39 »
Innovative preservation of the book, and probably making it even more available to a generation used to computers.

Mandle

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Re: The Black Hand Gang
« Reply #3 on: 15 Dec 2013, 01:25 »
Wow, I think this is a brilliant game concept, Mandle! Just tried few screens, and I like it :).

There's one important thing about the game distributive: it misses the default config file. The main problem here is that AGS setup program reads game's resolution from that file, and not from the game itself. If there's no config file, setup program will show incorrect game resolution (320x200 instead of actual 800x600), which may lead to confusion. For example, first thing I did was setting x4 scaling filter, thinking it will make game run at 1280x800, but instead it tried to run at 3200x2400 (failed, obviously).
The key parameter is "defaultres". You may fix this by manually adding this line under "[misc]" category:
Code: Text
  1. defaultres=5
  2.  

Whoops! Thanks for the heads-up and the kind word!

Fixed now! ;-D

Well, I'm off on holidays until January 1st...

Enjoy the game if you choose to have a try (or download for your kid(s) to occupy themselves with during the coming holidays ;) )...

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

Mandle

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Re: The Black Hand Gang
« Reply #4 on: 15 Dec 2013, 03:37 »
I found a small bug right at the end of the game with the Restart Game option.

This will not affect the play of anyone who has already downloaded the game (it's after the game is finished), but now it is fixed...

Changed Restart Game option to a simple Quit Game option which I think is more realistic anyway after somebody has just finished the whole book :-D

Re: The Black Hand Gang
« Reply #5 on: 15 Dec 2013, 10:28 »
I remember this! They had it at the library when I was little and I rented it multiple times.
Great job turning this into a computer game, I really like the typewriter font.
Fail at Floaty Rog' now!  still having to deal with what games are going through

selmiak

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Re: The Black Hand Gang
« Reply #6 on: 15 Dec 2013, 12:37 »
this is a great idea and funny to go through.

Some ideas that could have made it even better:
* Some kind of menu to directly access the different stories, like jumping to the start of the story, not every page of it. I mean, all your preservation efforts are cool, but who needs the table of content preserved when you could have a menu with clickable chapters. I think you want to give that 'reading a book' experience, but let me tell you, you can also skip pages in books.
* higher resolution scans. The
Spoiler: ShowHide
50 rupee zansibar
on the stamp was not readable to me, it looked like letters but very blurred. For the written story text the resolution is totally okay, but to not increase filesize too much and if you know your way around in photoshop or gimp maybe scan with 2 different resolutions and replace the drawn parts of the page with the higher res scan and save as 1 background. Or overlay the important parts of the drawings with highres scans ASG objects saved as lossless png while the normal background should be fine as a jpg.
* some moody music.
* When trying to load a game at the very start of the game the mouse was not activiated and so it was impossible to chose a saved game or close the savegame dialog. Just activate the mouse before or use a different mousecurser before the actual game.
« Last Edit: 12 Jan 2014, 13:57 by selmiak »

Cogliostro

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Re: The Black Hand Gang
« Reply #7 on: 16 Dec 2013, 02:00 »
Mandle,

WOW!  I have to agree, this is a wonderful way to make a book available to younger generations!  My daughter was drawn to the computer and enjoyed playing it.  Though, apparently your average twelve year old has no idea how to spell PLAID. 

Of course, now I have "The Mad Scientists Club" and "The Three Investigators" rolling around inside my head as possible game ideas.

 - Cogliostro
« Last Edit: 16 Dec 2013, 14:00 by Cogliostro »
"First things first, but not necessarily in that order." - Dr. Who

AprilSkies

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Re: The Black Hand Gang
« Reply #8 on: 16 Dec 2013, 09:44 »
WOW WOW man! Your game rocks!!!!
I love it!
It's a wonderful concept!
I'm reading (playing it) ... Slowly 'cause my english is not so good ... but I'm loving it!!!!!!!

Ghost

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Re: The Black Hand Gang
« Reply #9 on: 16 Dec 2013, 23:53 »
Gee, I read the book when I was a kid- together with a lot of Famous Five novels they shaped my idea of a world where kids solve crimes by being small enough to fit into a car trunk, and knowing about invisible ink!
Downloading. This looks charming and I like the idea a lot!

Re: The Black Hand Gang
« Reply #10 on: 17 Dec 2013, 00:10 »
Nice!  I read that book a bunch when I was a kid. Brings back memories. Now I can relive them again. Thanks!

Sinitrena

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Re: The Black Hand Gang
« Reply #11 on: 18 Dec 2013, 17:04 »
I enjoyed this a lot. Very very well done.

There are some small things that could be better:
- as selmiak already pointed out, you can't actually load the game from the start screen as the mouse is not actiavated.
- sometimes different words are possible as answers and it's great that a lot of them are recognized. But in sentences were two blank spaces are to fill and you have a correct answer for the first but not your preferred one it changes the input when you jump to the second. (for exampel, I don't remember exactly where this was, I think something about licens plates; anyway, I typed "changed" and this was acepted as correct, but then it changed it to "switched" when I jumped to the second input space) It's my personla opinion, but I think it would be better to show the users input. I hoped I explained this right. It's just a minor detail, anyway.
- more of a problem is this one question where the answer is "tire". This question does not recognize "tyre" as correct, even though this is the spelling that is used in the text on the next page. (I realize that there are different spellings for a lot of words and you prbably just forget one, which would be fine if it weren't that the text uses the missed one)
- also already pointed out: It's sometimes difficult to read the words on the pictures. Higher resolution would be great.
- different colours for "wrong" and "correct" would be good, not red for both. (I'd say red for wrong, green for correct)

But, as I said, these are rather minor nitpickings in an otherwise exellent game.
I want more games like this, please :-*

Mandle

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Re: The Black Hand Gang
« Reply #12 on: 22 Dec 2013, 09:43 »
Thanks for all the feedback guys...

I'm currently still on holidays until January 1st and will take a look at fixing the issues when I get back.

Seeyas all then!

Mandle

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Re: The Black Hand Gang
« Reply #13 on: 12 Jan 2014, 13:09 »
Well, I'm finally back from the holiday which got extended a bit due to unexpected issues...

Now I can actually reply properly in this thread instead of typing a few words at a public computer:

I remember this! They had it at the library when I was little and I rented it multiple times.
Great job turning this into a computer game, I really like the typewriter font.

Cheers for the kind words! Glad someone else had this book in their childhood. The typewriter font took a bit of searching to find just the right one with the damaged keys and all. If you liked it then that time was well spent...

this is a great idea and funny to go through.

Some ideas that could have made it even better:
1: Some kind of menu to directly access the different stories, like jumping to the start of the story, not every page of it. I mean, all your preservation efforts are cool, but who needs the table of content preserved when you could have a menu with clickable chapters. I think you want to give that 'reading a book' experience, but let me tell you, you can also skip pages in books.
2: higher resolution scans. The 50 rupee zansibar on the stamp was not readable to me, it looked like letters but very blurred. For the written story text the resolution is totally okay, but to not increase filesize too much and if you know your way around in photoshop or gimp maybe scan with 2 different resolutions and replace the drawn parts of the page with the higher res scan and save as 1 background. Or overlay the important parts of the drawings with highres scans ASG objects saved as lossless png while the normal background should be fine as a jpg.
3: some moody music.
4: When trying to load a game at the very start of the game the mouse was not activiated and so it was impossible to chose a saved game or close the savegame dialog. Just activate the mouse before or use a different mousecurser before the actual game.

Thanks for the great feedback. I have taken the liberty of numbering your points for clarity:

1: Good point, but I want the players to play through the book in the order it was intended. If a player wishes to skip ahead to a future point after they have played it then they can use the save/load feature.

2: I realized some of the clues could be a bit tricky to read, but I decided that that was part of the challenge. The sharper eyed detectives get to win more points. In your example of the Zanzibar stamp: There is a blank in the required question and then the next word is "rupee". This should give a decent hint that the required input is a number and I think most players will be able to interpret the word in the graphic as a recognizable number (Also, could you spoiler-hide the exact answer in your post if possible please?)

3: I didn't add music or sound for this project as it's a book which I feel is a silent experience (also I don't know how yet...Sound is my goal for my next project)

4: Fixed. Cheers!

Mandle,

WOW!  I have to agree, this is a wonderful way to make a book available to younger generations!  My daughter was drawn to the computer and enjoyed playing it.  Though, apparently your average twelve year old has no idea how to spell PLAID. 

Of course, now I have "The Mad Scientists Club" and "The Three Investigators" rolling around inside my head as possible game ideas.

 - Cogliostro

I'm so happy your daughter got involved in my game! (Tell her that "check" is also an acceptable answer)

And OMG! I have "The Mad Scientists Club" and many of "The Three Investigators" books in my old bookshelves back home. My personal favorite of the former was the U.F.O. prank....and I must blush to say that I have actually replicated that one in real life, on a slightly smaller scale: I got a bunch of helium balloons, stuck reflective bicycle stickers all over them, launched them from a city rooftop, and shined a high-powered halogen lamp on them for about 30 minutes until I couldn't see them anymore. It created this huge shining mass in the sky that kept changing shape because of the way the balloons were tied together. From my vantage point on the rooftop I could see a lot of people looking up and pointing LOL.

WOW WOW man! Your game rocks!!!!
I love it!
It's a wonderful concept!
I'm reading (playing it) ... Slowly 'cause my english is not so good ... but I'm loving it!!!!!!!

Thanks man...Erm...Do I know you from somewhere? :P

Gee, I read the book when I was a kid- together with a lot of Famous Five novels they shaped my idea of a world where kids solve crimes by being small enough to fit into a car trunk, and knowing about invisible ink!
Downloading. This looks charming and I like the idea a lot!

For starters: Holy Sheet! Ghost said my game looked charming! If I ever make a game half as charming as your "second chances" zombie high school girl one then I will be in heaven man...

Spoiler: ShowHide
(Along with her I'm guessing by the ending)


LMAO @ car trunk and invisible ink...My world was shaped the same way...As a kid I spent hours observing my neighbors and making up all kinds of nefarious plots they were up to while they were taking out the garbage and digging their gardens. I even found a bottle cap once which proved Mr. Henderson down the road was an alien spore carrier!

Nice!  I read that book a bunch when I was a kid. Brings back memories. Now I can relive them again. Thanks!

AWESOME!!!

I enjoyed this a lot. Very very well done.

There are some small things that could be better:
1: as selmiak already pointed out, you can't actually load the game from the start screen as the mouse is not actiavated.
2: sometimes different words are possible as answers and it's great that a lot of them are recognized. But in sentences were two blank spaces are to fill and you have a correct answer for the first but not your preferred one it changes the input when you jump to the second. (for exampel, I don't remember exactly where this was, I think something about licens plates; anyway, I typed "changed" and this was acepted as correct, but then it changed it to "switched" when I jumped to the second input space) It's my personla opinion, but I think it would be better to show the users input. I hoped I explained this right. It's just a minor detail, anyway.
3: more of a problem is this one question where the answer is "tire". This question does not recognize "tyre" as correct, even though this is the spelling that is used in the text on the next page. (I realize that there are different spellings for a lot of words and you prbably just forget one, which would be fine if it weren't that the text uses the missed one)
4: also already pointed out: It's sometimes difficult to read the words on the pictures. Higher resolution would be great.
5: different colours for "wrong" and "correct" would be good, not red for both. (I'd say red for wrong, green for correct)

But, as I said, these are rather minor nitpickings in an otherwise exellent game.
I want more games like this, please :-*

Thanks so much for the feedback. Once again I have numbered the points for ease of replying:

1: Fixed.

2: Yeah, that's because of the way I coded the text input GUIs. I found if I left the first text GUI open on the screen then when the player tries to type into the second text GUI the input ends up in both. So I had to remove the first GUI and replace with a non-interactive text line. The simplest fix was to just include the most obvious (to me) wording. I don't think I will be changing this as it would be a major coding overhaul...

3: Well caught! Fixed.

4: Some words are tricky to read but for now I'm going to just leave it up to the really sharp-eyed detectives to score those few extra points ;)

5: Very good advice! This has been applied in the new uploaded version: RED for WRONG...GREEN for CORRECT...and YELLOW for NOT BAD...Thanks!

***********************************************************************************************************************

On a further note, I'd like to thank all those who have downloaded this project of mine in these forums.

The problem is that I can't thank everyone...

Looking at the total downloads via AGS at the moment it runs about 33, but looking at my Mediafire account it has gone 520 downloads!!!

I  guess a lot of people are just sending the direct link to the Mediafire download via word-of-mouth.

This makes me as happy as a hobo on a ham-sandwich!!!

Geez...This post is loooong...

Time to get started on my next project:

A ... *GASP* ... "traditional" adventure type game 8-0

Bye for now and cheers,
Mandle.
« Last Edit: 12 Jan 2014, 13:13 by Mandle »

ThreeOhFour

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Re: The Black Hand Gang
« Reply #14 on: 12 Jan 2014, 14:40 »
With regards to your download count, the link you give here goes straight there, so it bypasses the AGS database, meaning those clicks don't get counted.

I just played this and absolutely loved it. You did an excellent job of turning a book into a game, it was very satisfying, and the book itself is obviously very nicely done. Thank you! :cheesy:

Mandle

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Re: The Black Hand Gang
« Reply #15 on: 12 Jan 2014, 14:55 »
With regards to your download count, the link you give here goes straight there, so it bypasses the AGS database, meaning those clicks don't get counted.

I just played this and absolutely loved it. You did an excellent job of turning a book into a game, it was very satisfying, and the book itself is obviously very nicely done. Thank you! :cheesy:

Ahhhhh...that explains a lot!

Cheers! I have changed the download link to go to the AGS page now instead...

Thanks for the good words on the game itself as well...Yes, the book is very nicely done...especially the illustrations...

When I look at the pictures, imagining drawing them completely by hand on paper, I just marvel at the perfection of the perspective lines and view-point the artist chose for each picture as it related to the story, and at the vision of the artist to be able to fit both cramped rooms and vast scenery perfectly within the strict boundaries of the page space limitations he was given...

The illustrations of Mr. Press could be presented as a class on how to draw rooms for games I feel...

Mandle

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Re: The Black Hand Gang
« Reply #16 on: 17 Jan 2014, 02:16 »
Wow! I'm very happy (and equally shocked) that a couple of game sites have taken the time to review this game! :shocked:

LINK TO: Indiegames Review!!!

LINK TO: Digital Combat Soldiers Review!!! (same review as above)

LINK TO: PCGamer "The Best Free Games of the Week" Review!!!

Mandle

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Re: The Black Hand Gang
« Reply #17 on: 24 Jan 2014, 13:43 »
Thank you to AGS staff for the very fair panel review.

Mandle

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Re: The Black Hand Gang
« Reply #18 on: 12 Feb 2014, 04:30 »
Found another site review of "The Black Hand Gang":

CLICK HERE

Hehe...pity I can't understand the review but it seems they gave a 90% score so not bad at all eh?

Janos Biro

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Re: The Black Hand Gang
« Reply #19 on: 14 Feb 2014, 02:46 »
What a great idea for a game! Thanks for this.
I'm willing to translate from English to Brazilian Portuguese.