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Dr. Lutz and the Time Travel Machine
|Short game||Can be completed within 30 minutes|
|Medium length game||Takes at least 30 mins to finish|
|Full length game||As long as a Sierra / LucasArts classic|
|MAGS game||Monthly AGS competition entry|
|Non-adventure game||Using Adventure Game Studio for something else?!|
|Joke game||You know when it fits this category ;)|
|Demo||Unfinished games / commercial games|
|Training game||Games made just to try out AGS|
|Newly added games||Not yet categorised|
About this gameAre you ready to find out what happened to the dinosaurs and their extinction?
Then join Dr. Abraham Lutz in his attempt to reach that long passed Jurassic Age using one of his inventions:The time travel machine.
Our Doctor is desperately trying to prove his own theories about why the big reptiles vanished from Earth 65 million years ago and at the same time, make a fool of one of his paleontologists colleagues. And the only way to do that is going to the Jurassic and checking by himself.
Of course, getting there wont be that easy as he thought. Honouring the lasting tradition of adventure games, our old Doctor is going to need a lot of help to bring his journey to a good end.
The story will take place in different spaces and times and will grab a laugh from you here and then (well, that is what I hope) given that the Doctor has a penchant for a cynical humour.
10 people commented on this game (newest first):
If you like sci-fi, you have to try it.
It's cute and believable, simple and encouraging.
This is a game to enjoy and sets the standard for others. One can see the effort put into it.
What I would love to see is a sequel. Dr Lutz as a character could be much more developed. It's a clean spirited game too, which is excellent to see.
Thumbs up for this one.
The graphics are bright and sort of pleasant to the eyes, although anti-aliasing hasn't been used much. The graphics have clearly taken a lot of work to make, and the graphic artist has tried his best.
There is a nice kind of almost exciting 'atmosphere' about the game, most rooms sort of inspire the player to go on and continue trying, even if he's tired after so many failed attempts.
The animation is pretty excellent - all the movements that weren't even required to be there, look very realistic and add to the immersion, together with the synchronized sound.
I had fun playing this game, and of course the time travel idea is always tingling to the imagination - because with time travel, almost any kind of scenery is possible. This makes the player anticipate the next 'time zone' with great joy and wonder.
As in "I wonder, what the next time zone will be and look like".
There is a definite sense of exploration in this game, though there weren't that many locations/rooms. After being confined to only one room for so long, it's a relief to be able to actually wonder around from the basement and seeing what the rest of the house looks like (even if, or because it is a 'past' version of the house).
Some of the puzzles are pretty clever, and some of them can really give the player the proper usage of the grey matter.
When you figure some of this stuff out, you get a great sense of accomplishment. I have to confess I had to look up a couple of them, because I couldn't figure them out, no matter what. For example, the book-row-thing could be more understandable if the books formed visible rows together, instead of having two completely separate rows with a tool box in the middle. It sort of breaks the signifigance of the whole book shelf.
So now we can start on the things that could have been improved.
First, the GUI. I am glad they didn't go for the awful, default Sierra-type GUI (which is probably the worst thing anyone has ever devised), but the thing they went with, is almost as bad!
Who wants to keep clicking the right mouse button until they stumble upon the right verb (especially since right mouse button OPERATES the inventory objects etc, so if you happen to be in the wrong place and right click (to get to the right verb), instead you get some sarcastic comment and have to wait/click it through - very clumsy!))?
It's tedious, it's frustrating, and it creates all kinds of annoying possibilities. You have to make ABSOLUTELY SURE that the cursor is on "empty space" where there are no clickable things, before you start right-clicking, and even then, you might actually go past the verb you are looking for, having to start the whole cycle from the beginning!
This also creates uncertainty, because you can't clearly always see all the possible options (like in proper SCUMM you can). Is there a command to "push"? *click*click*click*click*click*click*click*click*.. hmm, probably not. How about "pull"? I didn't look! Oh well.. *click*click*click*click*...
Very, _VERY_ user-unfriendly, if not user-hostile!
Another minor complaint is that I am used to using the SCUMM the way that I pick a "safe" command, like "look at", which ENSURES that the character won't GO in the door, if I happen to click the door with it. But this game destroys this convenience completely. I tried that TWICE in a row, and ended up going through the door, until I figured out that this game doesn't respect this old rule - it actually STILL goes through the door, the friggin' command CHANGES when it comes to doors! (Or at least that happened twice in the boy's room)
Then there's the padlock-scene.
First of all, it's not only INCONSISTENT with the other code-part of the game (the safe) - why does the doctor easily open the safe without the help of the player, when he knows the code, _BUT_ can't do the same with the padlock? Could it be because the player has to figure out the animal puzzle? Well, that would make some sort of sense, I suppose.
And it wouldn't be so bad, I guess, IF the friggin' padlock-GUI wasn't _SO_UNBELIEVABLY_SLOW_. Look, I know it was a lot of work, and it's cool that you made it work, and it looks impressive in a way, the animated finger and all, but couldn't you have made it a little faster and more convenient to use? It's incredibly drawn-out and exhausting thing to have to do, especially since the finger always wants to leave the number, when you just want to keep cycling it (couldn't you AT LEAST have made two directions possible, so if you have a 3, and need a 2, you don't have to go through 4,5,6,7,8,9,0 and 1 first?), slowing it down even further.
Probably a great idea on paper, a horrible idea in practice.
As for the downsides of the graphics..
Although I like the general brightness of the graphics (I hate all that dark
and gloomy stuff, especially when it's grey and dull), there isn't many vibrant COLORS. Everything looks washed-out and pastel. What makes matters worse, there is often no CONTRAST between the colors, making everything look very FLAT.
The proper usage of shading means there is a bright spot, and a dark spot, and then some shades between them. With THESE graphics, what you have is a pastel color spot, and then a spot with a very subtle change to that pastel color, whether lighter or darker, and then a mess between them. It's like the artist wasn't satisfied with clean, clear surfaces, but wanted to add some kind of 'texture' to everything, which would be fine, if done properly, but the end result looks like everything is just messed up, unfocused, unclear, dirty and just a chaotic mess instead of a clear surface or good-looking shading. It seems like -every- surface was "shaded" this way. There's just not enough contrast in the shading, making every surface look like someone squirted a lot of oils on it and then messed it around with some watercolors, instead of 'realistic' or even 'good-looking' surfaces.
The almost complete lack of anti-aliasing also cheapens the graphics. Lucasfilm/LucasArts games knew how to use anti-aliasing, and when not to - but this game simply discards the whole idea of anti-aliasing, and lets everything look plain. With Lucasfilm/LucasArts games, it was pretty easy to figure out which was just background, and which was an usable object because of this - the objects were not anti-aliased (usually), while the background was. But this game keeps you guessing, because nothing is anti-aliased.
The graphics do look good enough to -almost- be up to the par, but with the weird messing up instad of shading, and the lack of anti-aliasing, and some odd choices as to what to make a wall look like sort of drop it below par. A shame, because with a little more effort and visual eye for graphics (compare to what Lucasfilm/LucasArts or even Sierra did), it could be excellent visual pleasure.
The puzzles - well, I am not an expert on these, it took me 6 months (in the late 80s) to complete Maniac Mansion, and a few months to complete Zak McKracken, and I needed some help with certain puzzles in Indy 3, and so on. On the other hand, DOTT was easy to complete for me (but I think it's easy for everyone - just the way I like it).
I'd rather have a LONG, easy game, than a SHORT, difficult one - just watch AVGN review of "Karate Kid" to see what I mean.
Some of the puzzles in this game, although sort of logical, are a bit odd - like that blueprint thing. It was obvious that the blue chalk is needed, but that the game doesn't give you any hint when you try to use the chalk on the paper makes it a bit difficult. So you are supposed to figure out on your own that you have to put it against the time machine and scrub it with the chalk, instead of drawing, like an intelligent human being? A bit far-fetched to figure out, but as I said, I am not an expert, so I guess it's fine.
The game could give you more hints, like .. when you feed the stuff to the rat, the game doesn't mention that with the cheese, the rat would be satisfied. The player might easily think that the rat is just a way to get rid of unnecessary objects, and that you can just keep feeding everything to it and nothing happens as a result. But, when the player finds the cheese, it's pretty obvious that it needs to be given to the rat.
There are also minor things, like typos, misspellings of words, etc., and things like the "SCREEN" and the "BEHIND THE SCREEN" are two different objects (if you want to look behind the screen, "use screen" SHOULD do the trick - it's tedious to have to find the EXACT command - it takes the fun out of exploration and adventuring). I would never have found the 'behind the screen', if I hadn't read it from the solution that you had to look there, and EVEN THEN I was puzzled for awhile as to how to do it (because I had no idea there would be a separate 'behind the screen' hotsopt).
Then there's the 'agenda'. I have bumped into this "against-vegetarianism" (although it's the healthiest, most compassionate and most human thing anyone can do/become, except for veganism) attitude before in AGS games, and I can't understand it.
Also, the "against spring water"-thing seems to be some kind of ongoing attitude in AGS games. Just look at abstauber's game "Aeronuts" for another good example of both of these things. It's not only odd, it's appalling!
Spring water is completely different from tap water, so the bottled water (that the doctor wasted on the plant instead of using tap water, which would surely have done the trick) in the game, which is supposed to have come from a spring, could _NOT_ have been bottled tap water from near a nuclear plant.
If you disagree with me (and I think many knee-jerkingly will, because they have been indoctrinated to), just try this as an experiment.
Take an 1,5 liter bottle of spring water (actual spring water).
Then take an empty 1,5 liter bottle and fill it with tap water. Make sure the you let the temperatures of both waters even out, so it will be as 'same' as possible.
Now, try drinking the whole bottle of water with one sip/gulp/attempt. I mean, drink all of that 1,5 liter of water with one go, without taking any breaks inbetween.
Do this for both bottles in a row (I know, drinking 3 liters of water sounds a bit tedious, but a human body actually functions better with lots of water in it, and it's pretty difficult to overdose on water).
Note, mark and notice any differences in your drinking experience.
Whenever I try this, I have to stop with the tap water bottle, because it just doesn't flow down smoothly - I have to keep "gulping" it, and it really starts tasting like drinking some kind of rusty chemical concoction - pretty awful.
With spring water, it's a lot like eating cotton candy - you almost don't notice the presence of the substance, except for the refreshing feeling you get, and the whole thing goes down in no time, and with no effort on your part. It just flows smoothly down your throat without any "gulping" that has to be done.
Spring water is water that is ALIVE, and this has even been proven by this planet's religion called "science". Tap water is more or less DEAD, and adding a lot of CHEMICALS (they really add a lot, you know, it's not even a secret, you can look it up) to it doesn't make it better - it makes it worse.
If you research into bioenergy, you can realize that spring water naturally has it, while tap water, after all that chemical and other processing, does not (and tap water doesn't come from springs anyway, it comes from lakes and other 'reservoirs'). I hope there are no foolish enough people to deny the existence of bioenergy - but you can think of it as the electricity that guides our muscles, that is the lifeforce in plants, the cellular electric response that our brains utilize to get everything moving and done.
So, when someone has an agenda against spring water, it just strikes to me as ignorant, indoctrinated/conditioned and odd. And it adds nothing to the gameplay or the fun.
I think political agendas and such should be kept out of adventure games. Maniac Mansion featured some slaughtered bodies of animals, but it didn't praise and worship flesh-eating, or glorify it, like this game does, when you 'look at' a sandwitch.
However, all this could be worse - much, much, worse.. so, it's not a big deal, in the end.
There are also too many red herrings or useless objects in this game - while struggling with the user-hostile GUI, the player bumps into all kinds of "junk" objects and things that only serve to distract you from what you are trying to do. What's the point of having so many objects that you can't even use or do anything with? When you are trying to find solutions, it's annoying to keep bumping into them.
The time machine and it's effects look pretty bland and uninspired/uninspiring. I mean, come on - this is a _TIME_MACHINE_! It could look like something mystical, out-of-this-world (like the one in "Blake&Mortimer" comic book), or at least "cool" (like DeLorean), or at least painstakingly animated and quirky (like in DOTT). It looks like some kind of metal workshop tool that has another metal workshop tool attached into it. It's crude and not awe-inspiring at all. The effect is so subtle that you almost don't even notice it - come on, four blinking lights and a rotating small hub (or whatever it is) - THAT was the best you could come up with?
And when the time zone changes - the sound is cool, but the effect is too instantaneous to be amazing or feel like you travelled through anything, you just switched locations in a very mundane-looking way. I am not even sure if there IS any crossfade (though I think I detected something like that happening). In my opinion, a better effect would have been to fade into white, and then fade from white to the new location.
The doctor is also amazingly FAST at deducing and immediately speaking what he thinks. It's not one millisecond into the new location until the doctor already explains where he is and where he isn't, and all that. That's _FAST_, like "ROBOTIC-FAST" (certainly not something you'd expect from a 80-year old HUMAN, or a human of ANY AGE, really!).
I mean, wouldn't it be more natural for him to at least look at the surroundings first for ONE SECOND (and preferrably more), before making deductions of what happened? It's like the player hardly has time to even see the new location and the doctor is already making statements about it! It breaks the immersion.
Then there's the robot-thing. What WAS that thing, what did it say, why did it use the word "dude", and what was the meaning of all of it? Even the doctor says he didn't understand any of it, so how is the player supposed to? I kept thinking it would later be revealed in the game, but it wasn't. Why even have something like that happen, when no one can make a sense out of it? Well, it could be some sort of an inside-joke, but inside-jokes should also leave room for non-insiders to enjoy them, and this was not enjoyable to someone who doesn't know the punchline.
In my own wild imagination, I started thinking of all kinds of scenarios, like that thing being the doctor of some near-future, and we being able to play this room again from the robot's point of view, and all that. Or at least it being some other character in the game, enabling us to know EXACTLY what that scene was about, but ..no. It doesn't happen.
The alarm-thing is not only annoying and unnecessary, but it's also illogical and buggy. If you pull the levers in the wrong order (but put them in the exact same place), the alarm won't go off. How are you supposed to figure it out? Does it state somewhere what the right combination is? No. So this is just another way to waste the player's time with tedious busywork instead of EXPLORING and ADVENTURING. Pulling levers?
That is not fun. Having to GUESS the right combination, out of dozens of possibilities? _NOT_FUN_.
Having to do it while an annoying sound is piercing through your brain?
And now we come to the ENDING.
What.. the .. fleegerschbauem? (I hope that's not a word, but I had to substitute the actual word with something more.. presentable)
Who ends a game like this? WHY? You KILL the main character, and end the game like that, on top of which, you leave the friggin' newspaper-article (with misspellings) on the screen for a really long time without the player being able to quit, skip, exit or anything, and then you just exit -FOR- the player, instead of letting the player decide when enough is enough?
I realize that even Lucasfilm/LucasArts has done a lot of really weird stuff with endings, but this is just .. wrong.
WHY would you end a game this way? It's depressing, it's horrible, it's completely pointless, and it makes the player NOT feel like he has achieved something or reached a victory, but like he has just wasted his time.
I mean, what was the POINT of getting the time machine to work, to get it oiled, to get it watered, if _ALL_ that happens after that is .. YOU DIE?
WHAT WAS THE POINT OF WASTING THE PLAYER'S TIME THIS WAY??
Besides, I really thought now the adventure was REALLY going to begin, we could see some neat, beautiful sceneries of various time zones and eras, and we could see what that robot-thing was all about, and there could be a real sense of exploration and adventure, and .. instead, we get a foot stomping us to death, and a hate speech after that. To someone the player doesn't even know.
This is on par with the Indiana Jones game from 2001, where the player has to KILL another human being to win the game. That's just wrong on so many levels.
Look, I have nothing against bringing death to adventure games, (in Maniac Mansion, you can die for doing something bad), but it shouldn't be mandatory part of the plot! Even Guybrush CAN'T DIE!
And to have the game end purposefully with the main character's DEATH? That, my friend, is some sick scheisse indeed.
So much promise, and so much of it wasted.
Oh, and the spelling errors and other either translation errors or just weird language in the game - it really can get in the player's nerves. Can't you proofread it or let someone who knows english actually read all it's text first, before you publish it?
Well, maybe I am being too harsh - this was in many ways a fun experience despite all the annoyances, and even the graphics are for the most part inspiring (with proper shading instead of just random messing of pastel colours together and slapping the result on the wall, and with actual anti-aliasing, the graphics could even become awe-inspiring), and you can see that a lot of work went into creating them.
Despite the awful, depressing and repulsive ending, the spelling errors, the awful agenda crap, and the glorifying of murdering of innocent animals, I -was- left with a sort of inspiration to do something similar with the time travel theme some day, a sort of slight excitement about the game, it's atmospheres, it's (non-realized) potential, the possibilities that the game didn't explore, etc.. the game does poke the player's imagination and say: "Hey, what would YOU have happen instead of what actually happened".
In that sense, the game is pretty good. And as an experience, I would recommend it to most people, except for the ending. The puzzles are sort of fun to solve.
If only there were more locations to EXPLORE, instead of having to do very tiny things, confined in one room until proceeding to the next room (look at DOTT for an example of how it could be done), and then being confined there (being able to explore the house is a refreshing change, but then it goes back to the confinement, when I would have expected MORE exploring than the previous scene), and if there was more ADVENTURING instead of just trying to satisfy a oil-, and waterhungry machine's needs, this could really have been something excellent.
As of now, it just stands as a promising start with lots of failures, bad decisions, spelling errors and _THE_MOST_HORRIBLE_ENDING_IN_VIDEOGAME_HISTORY_.
I want to translate your game in french.
If you agree, send me an email to this address:
and I contact you. Thank you. :)
The only minor gripes are some spelling errors in the english translation.
Its between short to medium length.
However, I've noticed some contradictions between the lines that took some points off the writing. I.e., the main character mentions on several ocasions that the game respects common sense and physics, but then is proven wrong many times during the plot. Sarcasm, I could understand, but complaining many times about the pollution in our era, only to be sorry one line later about the lack of electricity on the country side in the past, seemed not a joke, but empty, careless whining.
I have to agree about the ending - I thought it was a let-down after what was promised in the blurb.
I'd say it is a medium-length game too rather than a full-length one.
It still gets a thumbs-up and a recommendation from me.
Unfortunately what disappointed me was the ending: it was abrupt and it made the game look very short. I would prefer a little adventure during the dinosaurs era, since the charachter worked so hard to get there! (i.e. Dr. Lutz gets there only to find out that Dr. Gunnarson is already there, too).
After all that very interesting and fun gameplay I was expecting a wittier and original ending. Apart from that I had a good time playing Dr. Lutz and the TTM!