Author Topic: The Occultist - Old Growth  (Read 1098 times)

The Occultist - Old Growth
« on: 23 Oct 2021, 22:58 »
Katherine O'Neill and her daughter Anna went missing in Willamette National Park near Salem, Oregon two weeks ago. As Ian James McDermott, you are lead investigator of ESPER,  a secret organization that helps stand in the gap between the darkness and the light, and right now, you may be the only one who can help...

...because you are the one they call The Occultist.

A point and click horror adventure made in Adventure Game Studio in ten days for Scream Jam 2021 on itch.io, this is the rebirth of an old series that went under the name E.S.P.E.R.. (by the way, for any of you who were around 20 years ago... I used to go by "esper" on these boards). Left click to interact, look, or move the Occultist. Right click changes interaction type between Walk To, Interact, and Examine. The bag in the bottom left corner opens your inventory, and the wrench and screwdriver in the bottom right opens the Settings panel.

All art and programming done by The Wandering Wizard Simon Kalimanus (ie. esper), sound effects from www.freesound.org, and music from https://freepd.com/.

Known bugs: One character moves slightly after they die. Right now, you cannot use one inventory item on another without a game crash, but it isn't necessary to do so. I also wasn't able to add a few of the scary elements I meant to toward the end of the game, and I haven't thoroughly playtested it yet, although BOTH endings are definitely achievable.

The game is essentially completed now, but I will be refining it a bit, and working on a number of sequels. If anyone is interested in helping, that would be spectacular!

Thanks for checking it out. You can get it here: https://dogandahalf.itch.io/the-occultist-old-growth

Enjoy!

TRIGGER WARNINGS: This game contains violence (some involving children), adult language, drug use, and an overall "occult" theme.








Re: The Occultist - Old Growth
« Reply #1 on: 24 Oct 2021, 09:42 »

Cool one, WanderingWizard! Are you planning a saga of the ESPER's?

_

Wavey Games

  • Games that wave.
Re: The Occultist - Old Growth
« Reply #2 on: 24 Oct 2021, 09:48 »
This is a good game, congratulations on releasing it!

The crashing is a bit bothersome, I tend to forget not to mix inventory items together. Also, this happened:

Spoiler: ShowHide
 I tried to look at the antidote in the inventory and the game crashed. I think I accidentally made two antidotes.


I've enjoyed the puzzles very much so far! And the mushrooms  ;)
What is Palace Cheese?
A dodge move in Romanian swordplay.

Re: The Occultist - Old Growth
« Reply #3 on: 24 Oct 2021, 17:36 »
@The Frighter: Thanks! Yup, not only do I have several games already planned out, but there are already a few out there. One of them, "The Town on the Edge of Darkness," I made with AGS 16 years ago. There was a pen and paper ESPER RPG, too, but I've tied it up into my Wizard's Tale universal RPG engine.

"The Town on the Edge of Darkness" can't be found on the internet very easily nowadays, but I recently scrounged up a copy and am going to re-release it soon.

You can check out some of the other entries on my alternate itch.io page here: https://kalimanusthewanderer.itch.io/.

The other games in the series so far are "The Thirty-First" (a Twine interactive fiction), and "Julia" (made in Bitsy). There's another interactive fiction out there made with Quest called "The Secret of Drom Bennacht," but I can't find a good working copy of it.


@Wavey Games: Thank you, and thanks for the follow. I'm going to download and try Shape Village ASAP, it looks very nice.

I'm not sure what's causing the bug with the inventory. I coded them from scratch, then realized it was messing up even worse than it is, so I copy-pasted over them with the original template coding and they're still messing up. I think it has to do with the pointer mode, but it may take some digging to find the issue. In one of the more tense scenes in the game, I accidentally missed clicking to select the amulet you start off with and that crashed it. Luckily, it doesn't keep you from being able to win the game (it just slows progress a bit), but it is annoying and I'll be working on it until I fix it... especially since I plan to do all the future ESPER games in AGS, using that template.

Also, speaking of the mushrooms... "Dr. Peter Stammerts" is actually a "cameo" by world-famous mycologist Paul Stamets. The orange hat that he wears in the game and in real life is made out of amadou, a fiber derived from Fomes fomentarius, a polypore shelf mushroom.

Thanks again to both of you for the playthrough and the feedback!


Mandle

  • NO PIXEL LEFT BEHIND!!!
    • Mandle worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Mandle worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Re: The Occultist - Old Growth
« Reply #4 on: 25 Oct 2021, 00:57 »
If you contact Crimson Wizard and describe the problem(s) with error messages included, and/or send him a copy of the in-engine build, he can almost certainly track down the issues if he has the time.

Re: The Occultist - Old Growth
« Reply #5 on: 25 Oct 2021, 01:15 »
Thanks, Mandle, I think I'll do that. I've been working at it all afternoon, I've even rewritten the code a few times... hell, I've even switched back to letting the built-in engine handle inventory clicks, and it keeps crashing. I'm going to post it in tech problems, because it seems like Crimson Wizard is always the first person to respond there anyway.

Re: The Occultist - Old Growth
« Reply #6 on: 25 Oct 2021, 15:42 »
I played this last night. Everything about it is awesome:  graphics, mood, story, etc...

I hope that the author plans to develop the game more. There are many elements and details in the game that seem like they will tie in later but then the game finishes. Btw, I played the last section again to get the "other" ending.

Aside from the inventory bug noted above, there was another bug:
Spoiler: ShowHide
When you go back to the area in front of the shed, you will see the cutscene with the girl killing her mother repeatedly


So, overall really well done. I realize it was done for a contest so perhaps there were time constraints that didn't allow for a more complete entry.

Good luck!

« Last Edit: 28 Oct 2021, 17:41 by Shadow1000 »

Re: The Occultist - Old Growth
« Reply #7 on: 29 Oct 2021, 00:57 »
Shadow1000: Thanks for playing! I do want to develop it further, especially since it's part of an ongoing series. I did only have ten days to make it, so I had to release it bugs and all, but as soon as the jam voting period is over, I already have a version with some small fixes (including returning to the scene you mentioned under a spoiler tag) to upload. I've got a thread going on here trying to figure out the inventory bug... so far, it seems to be an AGS internal error that I won't be able to fix on my own. It uses royalty-free music and sound effects, too, but I want to add my own eventually.

I'm glad so many people are pleased with the art... I really am not so pleased with it myself, and I'd like to get a better pixel artist to join my team not just to help me make future Occultist games but to revamp the art in all the previous ESPER games so I can re-release them under the title of 'The Occultist.' I have Aphantasia, so I feel like my art suffers quite a bit as a result and doesn't suit the horror aesthetic.

Re: The Occultist - Old Growth
« Reply #8 on: 29 Oct 2021, 02:38 »
Shadow1000: Thanks for playing! I do want to develop it further, especially since it's part of an ongoing series. I did only have ten days to make it, so I had to release it bugs and all, but as soon as the jam voting period is over, I already have a version with some small fixes (including returning to the scene you mentioned under a spoiler tag) to upload. I've got a thread going on here trying to figure out the inventory bug... so far, it seems to be an AGS internal error that I won't be able to fix on my own. It uses royalty-free music and sound effects, too, but I want to add my own eventually.

TEN DAYS! WOW!! As I said, there is a LOT of detail that oversteps the actual gameplay so considering how much you did in so short a time, that is amazing!

Re: The Occultist - Old Growth
« Reply #9 on: 29 Oct 2021, 03:05 »
I appreciate it!

One thing that I tend to put in all my adventure games is a mystery that the game doesn't ever tell you the solution to explicitly, but which you as a player can figure out for yourself once you have all the pieces. The whole story is kind of there, you just have to do a lot of investigation on your own. There's also some information you don't get unless you've gotten a lot of other information from other parts of the game. For example, when examining the sigil in the basement of the tower, you can examine it several (I think up to seven) times in a row, where each time Ian figures out a little more about it on his own... but he can't fully figure it out unless you've collected at least one mushroom, showed it to Dr. Stammerts, and listened to him discuss mycology enough that you've heard him discuss mycorrhizal fungal relationships.

If there's anything you want to know more about or think I may have left out, let me know and I'll either add it to the game or just let you in on the secret so you don't have to play all the way through again. Thanks again for playing and leaving your feedback. I've given up on so many of my games because I didn't get any feedback... it's hard to work passionately on a project if you feel like nobody cares, but I knew it would be different here under the sign of the Big Blue Cup!

Re: The Occultist - Old Growth
« Reply #10 on: 31 Oct 2021, 18:27 »
Well, the voting period is over, and the results are in:



Out of 224 entries, mine was ranked 9th in Story... but what's this?



There were 5 games nominated for Best Game by the host of the competition, and mine made it in that list!

Bugfixes will be coming out in a week or so, which is about the same amount of time before my next competition entry comes out... "The Occultist: Bridge Under Troubled Water" for 2021 Narrative Game Jam. I'm putting out a few of these for horror game jams since it's Halloweeney-times, just to get the word out about the series. After that, I'm going to start on my first full-length Occultist game. I have a huge number of stories to draw from, but I'm thinking it will either be one called "Home Insecurity" or a remake of The Town on the Edge of Darkness.

I'd love a composer and a pixel artist to join the team, if anyone's interested! 
« Last Edit: 31 Oct 2021, 18:29 by WanderingWizard »

Re: The Occultist - Old Growth
« Reply #11 on: 20 Nov 2021, 22:11 »
I played this tonight, and was very pleased!
Spoiler: ShowHide
If "pleased" is the word I can use about the ending I achieved...
I'll chime in with Shadow1000 and the others that the game is very atmospheric - I loved how the Tower looked from afar, towering above the woods.

Excellent use of the mycologist - learning while having fun, and at the same time as the main character learns. It also shows us that Ian is an adaptive fellow, a worthy protagonist of a series. I also liked very much how the writing suggests more than we get to know. I won't know for sure before I reach ending number 2, but it certainly seems like some mysteries are left unsolved until the next games.

I hope you add it to the main AGS database/games page as well. When you are done with your bug fixes?

Congratulations on the result from the game jam! There are too many entries in that one for me to delve heavily into it - I'm primarily interested in the adventure games.

EDIT: Got the other ending as well. Turns out
Spoiler: ShowHide
that the ending I'd got was the good one. The horror genre will do that do you! (nod)
« Last Edit: 21 Nov 2021, 06:10 by heltenjon »

Re: The Occultist - Old Growth
« Reply #12 on: 21 Nov 2021, 19:00 »
I just discovered the PNG file in the game directory with all the Esper classifications. Oh my! Just to make a case for each abbreviation will make this a long and interesting series.

Re: The Occultist - Old Growth
« Reply #13 on: 21 Nov 2021, 22:46 »
@heltenjon I'm glad you enjoyed it! Yes, the endings of all the games in the series will probably always be a bit grim, but you're right... there is a cosmic horror bent behind the whole series, and so there will normally only ever be "Bad" and "Somewhat Decent" endings rather than "Good" ones. I'd originally tried to figure out a "Slightly Better Than Decent" ending, but most of the main horror of the game hits and ramps up at the end after everything has already started hitting the fan.

There are deep mysteries to be unlocked... but not in the next game (well, yes, also in the next game, too...). I don't like handholding in storytelling, and I prefer letting the player's imagination piece it together. All of the important evidence is there for you to be able to figure out the story's background on your own, but it isn't told to you explicitly in the game.

I did try adding it to the games database... it told me it couldn't find the file location. I'm not sure where to point the directory, as it's hosted on itch.io and the download button is on a popup window, but I finally have some money and am going to be getting my own website where I can host it soon.

And yes, I'm glad someone found and mentioned the PNG. There are a lot of ESPER case files already, and there are stories and games scattered around the internet. Not all of them coincide with a set timeline, as I've been working on the ESPER series for over twenty years (and at one point I considered setting it in the 80's, because that was before we had cell phones), but starting with The Occultist series I'm going to try getting everything on track. I also keep a notebook full of ideas for future cases that currently numbers nearly a hundred.

Thanks so much for playing through and commenting. Please stay tuned, because more is on the way!

Spoiler: ShowHide

Re: The Occultist - Old Growth
« Reply #14 on: 22 Nov 2021, 02:49 »
I did try adding it to the games database... it told me it couldn't find the file location. I'm not sure where to point the directory, as it's hosted on itch.io and the download button is on a popup window, but I finally have some money and am going to be getting my own website where I can host it soon.
Simply put https://dogandahalf.itch.io/the-occultist-old-growth in the download link panel. You usually can't hotlink to host sites. They want the hits from users.  ;)

Re: The Occultist - Old Growth
« Reply #15 on: 22 Nov 2021, 15:20 »
https://www.adventuregamestudio.co.uk/site/games/game/2578-the-occultist-old-growth/

Thanks for the tip! It's on there now, my first game added to the AGS database in sixteen years! (EDIT: Fifteen, I forgot Heart of Abraxas...)