Saturday, December 26, 2009

Interview part 8 DVD : Dualnames Versus Dualnames

1) So to start with the usual, what's your favorite AGS game?

It's really a hard choice. I find Spooks to have filled my heart with joy, like no other game has. I find Barn Runner games to make me laugh so hard as none other game has. It's probably a choice between those two.

2) How does it feel like hosting the MAGS? You feel like hosting forever?

Sometimes it's a nightmare, especially if something in your personal life does come up, but it's a rather fun experience, and I'm really happy that some cool games lately, were in fact entries for the MAGS competition. Not to forget the recent breaking of a 8 entries in one competition.
As for how long will I host it..ah well, perhaps forever..:P

3) You've been working on a remake of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy for two years or so. When will the game get eventually released?

The million dollar question that is. I've trying to answer this for years, but I only know the question and not the answer. And I seriously doubt it's forty two. I am not going to let this game take forever. If at some point it does, I'll just release it as it is. I'm really satisfied with the result as it is, but there's always room for improvement.
4) It's a strong opinion that has been expressed in the forums, and people stand divided, on whether this remake has anything to offer than the original.

I doubt there has been a remake that could surpass the magic that the original offered. Take monkey island for instance. Yes, the remake was certainly cool, but I still find the original to give me the vibes. There's a difference with this remake though. Remaking a 2D game to a 2D game, means mostly improving the technical sectors of that game. Remaking a 1D game to a 2D game, means adding one more dimension to a game, therefore adding and removing stuff, which is a necessary thing to be done, so that the transition is more fluent.

I find the opinion that the remake has nothing to offer in terms of gameplay, to be a little short-minded. Certainly the original offers interactivity, but that doesn't mean the level of it, can't be reached, or capped. Even on a point and click interface, which equals to the old banging of the rocks thing. But did the original offered Music? Speech? Graphics? Not really. But that's where its magic lied. It felt like playing the book. Your imagination couldn't be restrained.

To sum up, I really love the original, and respecting it, we've put some really hard work on this remake.

5) Two times on the past, one being really recent, you've decided to halt the game, why's that? And what changed your mind to work on it again?

Well, on the first time, I sort of got this idea that my art skills were putting off people from this game, and with all the hard work done, I really found this was unfair to me and the team, therefore without being able to find an artist to help me out, I decided to halt production untill I do so find.

This caused the mob to come after me, and most importantly Ghost, to write me the kindest words ever written. Speaking of him, he's been away lately and I begin to worry..

On the second time, I found that artist, and with the round of improvements going on forever, I really felt that with that rate the game will end up vaporware. And my game was getting me down as Snake once said about his.

So I decided to stop for a while to think of things. I asked a moderator to lock the topic, and damn that caused a number of pms on my way. Thanks to those that I won't name for it doesn't matter for the rest of the world, but their help is deeply appreciated.

And so I'm back on track and very very happy with the latest changes.

6) You said that you find the games you've released so far as not enjoyable apart from Towel Day. Do you think Hitchhiker's Guide to The Galaxy Remake will end up enjoyable?

Towel Day is really my pride, because it was the only game, I've really focused on just making it worth spending time with. And it made me really happy that it got received as so.
For the 'big' game I definitely target it to be, but I really don't have an objective opinion if it really is.

Here's the trailer if you want to have a look at it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Vote Ben

Single-handed awesomeness machien Ben304 has released another gem with "!". So, in honour of the 304th game he's made this year, there's a poll so that you can pick your favourite.

Honorable Gentlemen

Its the time of year for year-top-10s and Indiegames.com pick 10 of the best indies and Time Gentlemen Please makes an Honorable Mention, if not the 10 itself.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Harry's 21st Birthday Review

Ah, the classic 21st. One last hurrah before the Terrible Twenties. Being vastly irresponsible and trying to piece together exactly what happened through the headachey next morning.
This looks to be the exact case with protagonist Tom's bessie mate Harry, with one key exception.


He's a sadistic and powerful cyberdemon inhabiting the depths of Hell. As Tom, the player must prepare everything for the party and ensure nothing goes wrong.
I always like to start a game's review with its most praiseworthy feature. It sets a good precident and doesn't put potential players off. And by far the best feature is the humour! The game's witty narrative and dialogue had myself and no doubt many other players in stitches. The ending in particular made me laugh out loud.


The game is created using the sprites from classic shooter Doom, and in many ways its main audience is the fans of the game. There are many tongue-in-cheek references packed into the game (including the shocking truth behind why there is body armour and other human-friendly assistance in the depths of hell) and playing will give the golden oldies of video gaming good things to reminisce about. It's almost like Doom was a film (I refuse to acknowledge the existence of that one with the Rock) and this game is a massive DVD extra released for the remastered edition.


Beyond that, it's a wonderfully intricate game. It verges on the easy side, but being needlessly complex would ruin the fun appeal. The comparative length (it took me roughly half an hour to complete) leaves the player wanting more - this is a praise rather than a criticism.
All in all, Harry's 21st Birthday is incredibly inventive, brilliantly original and works as a fine tribute to a classic game as well as shining in its own right. It's funny, punchy and seamless.


Final Score: 8/10

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

IGF Resonates

Indiegames have chosen their top 10 IGF 2009 picks and... Resonance is in there and all the other AGS entries get a mention, too. Awesome!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Featherweight: The Blue Cup Critic review

And so comes the first of (I hope) many contributions to the AGS blog by the Blue Cup Critic. All parties involved sat around the table and thrashed out a lucrative deal to link the two enterprises. Actually, that's not true. We exchanged a few PMs and an email was sent. I just wanted to instil a little drama.

Featherweight is set in a post-apocalyptic future and deals with Thadd, a Featherweight scout (as in small and useful for recon rather than fighting, although the boxing-savvy will have already grasped the inferrence) for the humans in the war against the machines. And for everyone who's mind immediately sprang to California's current governor, this is like Terminator but it isn't Terminator. The two plots are similar, but Featherweight has more than enough individuality and flair about it to define itself separately. This is helped by the amazing scenery; Ben Chandler (or Ben304) pulls out all the stops in immersing us in the world of Featherweight, and it gives the game a fantastic edge. Debris, burned out cars, cracked architecture and more are used to achieve the desired effect, yet are also functional to the puzzles.

But back to the story. A young female scout has been captured by the robots and Thadd, disgusted by the complacency of his partner, goes on a one-man crusade to rescue his compatriot. Using ingenuity and stealth, Thadd must brave the dangers of the robot base.

A wildly inventive plot and gorgeous and oppressive artwork are two of the main reasons this game works so well, but they're not the main positive. Featherweight is in a similar standard of difficulty to Robbing the Princess, although the puzzles are different. I found myself sympathising fully with Thadd as he cursed himself for failing to advance. Featherweight features wonderfully crafted puzzles designed in logic and cruel problem-solving. There's a massive emphasis on trial and error; it took me five tries to disable the bars to my makeshift cell before dispairingly turning to a walkthru. Even though we're only dealing with two buttons, I would have been trying combinations for days. Despite the emphasis on trial and error, the game is particularly unforgiving in terms of the latter part. Detection is rewarded by having to catch yourself up via a gruelling journey from your cell, something that extends the game but frustrates, no doubt to the intense glee of the designer.

Despite all these great things there is a criticism to make, and it is a big one. While I'm sure it's recieved mixed reviews by players, I have to admit disliking the music intently. It's suitably futuristic, but is bizarrely light-hearted and perky. I perceived Featherweight to be a particularly dark game; in this critic's humble opinion it would have been benefited so much with a grittier, more oppressive tune.

But that's just one aspect. Featherweight is an extremely well made game and creates a futuristic setting that is both original and believable. I'd recommend it more to MENSA members than casual gamers, but to both groups it's incredibly entertaining.

Final Score: 8/10

http://www.bigbluecup.com/games.php?action=detail&id=1231

Monday, December 14, 2009

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Keyword kapers

Here are some keywords that somehow lead to my blog:
  • canada zombie (Is there something Erin isn't telling us?)
  • hot bj (that's how i always search for Grundislav's games, too)
  • i got 2 2 2 push pineapple shake the tree (Black Lace fan)
  • hugh jackman (I should mention more celebs in passing!)
  • ags studio nazi (I'm not a nazi, no matter what Dualnames says about my blog work camps)
  • second face geltz sex (well, now we know why people like that game so much)
  • a got dododo push pineapple shake the three (that Black Lace fan still can't get the lyrics right)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My heart is in your eyes

Wadjet Eye have a super soaraway seasonal special on. There's 50% off some titles and Dave's donating a portion of all sales to the Get-Well Gamers Foundation charity. Also, all holiday purchasers can partake of the public beta of Puzzle Bots! Just use code "HOLIDAY" when coughing up your lucre.

Become AGS's answer to Hugh Jackman

Or perhaps you're more of a Whoopi or Alec Baldwin? Anyway, I've asked for someone to take over the AGS Awards.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Interview with a Maniac

I just noticed this poll's results, on who you guys want me to interview..
And it ends up ME?
You really want to see me ask me about HHGTG and my life as a terrible adventure game developer?

I'll think of something. In the meantime SSH was really near, and CJ almost made it. Marion and Auriond got some cool votes too! And Tolworthy too!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Interview Part 7: CJ (The Interview I Was Meant To Be!)

Trim the sails and roam the sea (J) indeed! He doesn't really answer anything, so it's rather pointless. But that's how all English folk are! Tricky and Sneaky!

1)Okay, first question coming up. Which one is your favorite AGS game?

Hah! Nice try, but that's one question I'll never answer! :=

2)How hard is it really to have a standard job, and have all those people PMing you, telling you they found a bug, making requests, asking you if you'll join Mittens this year?

As time goes by it's harder and harder to find the time to work on AGS. At the moment for example, I'm very busy with my real life and haven't had a chance to do any work on AGS for a few weeks now. So bugs get reported and start stacking up but I don't have time to fix them. And then of course the list of things to fix is quite daunting when I finally do have some spare time!

3)Where are you working in your real life? And hell, tell us a bit more about yourself and how did you end up a programmer extraordinaire?

I work as a software developer, when I'm not drinking cans of lager on street corners. One day whilst training to become a whale tamer, I accidentally wrote an "if" statement with its blood, and from then on I knew programming would be the career for me.

4)Since you are the man behind the AGS Forum, or at least the AGS part of that,I'm wondering for years, what's with the moderators (like c.leksutin) that are inactive? Why do you guys just keep em there?

c.leksutin is still there as a tribute to him, following his mysterious disappearence. Otherwise, the moderation of the forums seems to work quite well, so if it ain't broke, don't fix it!

5)There's this really weird question, but it's been bugging me for quite a while now, on the manual, on the part where you explain how to use variables, you have an example with 42.Are you a fan of Douglas Adams, or is it just a reference?

Haha, I think that's just a coincidence. Not everything in life leads back to HHGTG!

Sure, from all integers you choose to equal an integer called life to 42. That's coincidence alright. Gives the impression of coincidence better than coincidence itself.

6)Which AGS game in production are you most excited about? If any?

See my answer to question 1!!

7)What are your plans for AGS Engine (apart from stabilizing its current version). Meaning, what things should we expect?

At the moment with the amount of free time I have, it's a struggle just stabilizing the current version. So I've got no idea what any future versions might have in store!

8)So you're a guy that has built an adventure game engine, and a very succesfull one, how come you've never built a single game(at least haven't shared with the AGS folk)?

There's an old phrase, "stick to what you're good at". And I'm no good at most of the things you need to be able to do to make a game :D

9)Do you really think the forums aren't what they used to be?

They're always changing, and will never be the same as they used to be. Better or worse? People come, people go, but the forums are always there. Well, except when they're broken!

10)Ever planning on working on a game?

Never say never, I just wish I had the time!


I'm planning on inventing a time machine!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Feedburn baby burn

I'm sure you're all dying to know my feedburner stats for the site RSS feed, and here we are (from March 2009): 

  •  21,133 views of 331 items
  • 4,493 clicks back to the site on 227 items

Item Popularity

Release... but don't let go!
131
35
Video revived the Monkey Island fan
128
33
Another of those "Adventures are/aren't…
129
30
Going Postal
126
29
All about AGS
127
28
Duck and cover
122
33
What is readability anyway?
127
28
Interview Part 5: Ponch
121
34
Au-to-mated Affection
130
24
Some AGS web snippets
120
33
Fish Unbound
128
25
Interesting bits from other blogs
124
28
Polls aint what they used to be
122
29
The Gabriel Knight has a thousand eyes.…
118
32

Igor is interviwed by his blog

A self-sentient blog? Wow. Anyway, interview is here.

I wonder...


Monkey Island and Telltale fans will enjoy new release
IWWHIIWWHITOMIROTPG: The Game!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Normal service resumes

Apologies for the lack of updates... I was on my hols at Disneyland Paris with the family and forgot to ask Dual or Leon to hold the fort. Anyway, while I've been away, this fabulous postmortem of the making of Blackwell Convergence came up on Gamasutra.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Some AGS news!

JD's Adventure reviews: Awakener. A nice, long review (that's maybe longer than the game!)

Ben also gives us a sneak preview of new game Featherweight.

Davideos

Dave Gilbert's been posting up some videos of Puzzlebots and Blackwell recording sessions...

Nothing happened

Sorry for the recent lack of posts, folks. I blame Dual. Or Leon. Or maybe me. Anyway... MAGS had a whopping 9 entries this month. And the current poll has finished, definately the most voted poll I've ever had. 45 people though that there were or might be too many commerical AGS games, but a resounding 80 thought everything was peachy as it is. Apparently contoversy brings in votes, so I'll rack my brains for something contentious for the next poll!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Interview Part 6: Nikolas

1)How did you find AGS? I mean as a musician it's not the first place you'd visit on the internet.

Back in 2003/4 I was in the army (it's compulsory in Greece, as you very well know) and I had tons of time to spare. So I started trying to find older games to play on a very old computer in the camp. I found underdogs, then abandonia and finally I spotted "Cirque du Zale" by Kinoko. I fell in love with this game, based on an pretty much abandoned genre, thus I decided to visit AGS forums and attempt to contact Kinoko, in order to work on her next game (Gift of Aldora, never to be completed I think).

My very first post was greeted by Don the barbarian, who welcomed me in such a nice manner, that I decided to stick around and make the AGS forums my homepage (until today).

2)You have any favorite AGS games or any AGS games in production, you can't wait for ?(apart from Resonance :D

Resonance... DITR, ATOTK, etc... No kidding.

I think that 'The Forgotten Element' could be great, but all 3 of us have been working on different projects for a long time, so I can't tell what the future will hold for the completion of that game.

Legend of the lost lagoon, although probably not to be completed either...

Picaroon and anything by Ben, ProgZmax, Vince and others who I trust blindly!

3) From the very first moment I do recall seeing your name in these forums, it's highly weird how you've managed to work on games, that eventually ended up a huge success (Tales of Two Kingdoms, Linus Bruckman). How do you manage to select games that have success written all over them?

Why on earth is that weird? As it appears I'm capable of making the 'right' choices!

In all honesty I try to get as much information as I can before I say yes to any project, so I try to pick where I work for. I, no longer have the time to work on freeware games, sadly, but still on commercial games I've had to say no, only because there were things I would do hugely different, or the inexperience of the dev team was a problem. With a publisher these things tend to dissappear, but also the freedom in composing.

4) I'm not really into music ways the way you are, but where do you compose all that music into? A personal studio?

In the music world it's called a 'project studio'. It's exactly a studio for personal use. Recently I've managed to get a grand to build a normal studio, so now I have my own acousticaly treated space, where my monitors, amps, microphohes, computers, etc are.

But my music is 95% computer based. I use samples, since it would be impossible for indie budgets to fund a normal orchestral recording, and the computer is the heart of my studio. Only very recently I got some high quality preamps and mics, in which case I can start recording live instruments, voice, and do custom sfx. Resonance has a huge bump upwards in the quality of audio (especially the sfx).

5) We all know that you've now been hired by VinceXII to compose for Resonance, care to tell us more on what style of music should we expect or at least what you're aiming for?

It's a rather weird mix of aesthetics. The story is based on 4 different characters, so I tried to give each character their own aesthetics and motifs. It's worked so far and I have to admit that it doesn't sound disjoined!

There are orchestral tracks, dissonant tracks, electronic ones, more pop/rock oriented and even some solo piano in there...

6) From all your collaborations (even non-AGS games) is there one (if any) you could separate from the others?

Apart from Vince, with whom our love is a public secret :P ?

There is Alkis; We're good friends now and see each other as frequent as we can and our other obligations permit! I value him greatly as a person, as a writer, and as a collaborator.

Actually now that I think about it, pretty much all the people I've worked with, I've become friends. Vince, Alkis, Peeter (ATOTK), Rebecca (Kinoko), etc...

I'd also seperate a non AGS game, from a negative point of view however. The specs and whole concept seemed to be going very well, and the team even got requests from publishers, but they decided to pretty much abandon it and abandon all hope for further fame and fortune! This was one experience I try to stay away from, from thereon.

7) What's with that signature of yours (quoting a reply from Emerald to you) ? Meaning what's the story behind it.

I actually don't remember exactly what happened, but it does appear that I was being a little 'smart' to Emerald and he decided to tell me off. Instead of being frustrated and flame back, as I would normally do, I took it the light way and put the quote in my signature, so it would never go away.

8 ) How hard is to have a family and have AGS developers on your back as well, apart from your other projects...?

It used to be hard, since there was no money coming in and it was quite frustrating to try and explain to a wife and two kids, why you have to work late, talk through MSN/Skype and other details.

Recently it got a lot easier, since it became apparent that even playtesting is a part of working in games and this has been accepted, thankfully.

Now, it just feels normal. After all, since I'm no longer doing freeware games, it's a part of my daily job (my income is 90% based on composing) and there's no need for even an excuse to work... on your daily job! ;)

Definitely a very interesting interview with Nikolas..(mind the love affair with VinceXII!!)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

David and the Devil

Title: Fad Of Devil's Hash
Author:
Monkeyspank
Release date: 15 July 2001
Playtime(*): 216
Size: 620Kb



I'm a collector. I can't rest until a collection is complete. So I'm looking for all MAGS games and won't stop until I have them all. Since last weekend, after quite some digging in old forums and websites through archive.org, I found a name of a still very active AGS member. He hosted this game for a very short amount of time so I took the chance and wrote him, expecting the reply that after 8 years the many crashes and PC replacements, it wasn't possible to salvage any of the bits.

But to my surprise I received the positive message that after his digging and dusting of a huge pile of disks, he managed to find the file I was looking for. Thanks Dirk!

It's an entry of Monkeyspank, called the Fad of Devil's Hash. It's about the Devil in David Hasselhof (hence the title). It's from the second MAGS competition (July 2001) and the rules were simple (as is the game):

- One room (CRM file)
- Any number of characters or objects
- A photographic image of a famous celebrity!

A very short game but fun to play. You can find it (again) here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Release... but don't let go! - 2



A few days ago I wrote a bit about Saw, the video game. It was about the update or 'deluxe' version as Pedro calls it. I was surprised how such thing can make your game popular all of a sudden. I monitor that by the number of hits the game gets in walkthrough visits.

The original version has been on my site from February and was visited once or twice a day. But since the update has been released, it has been around 80 average. The moral: keep working on your game and keep improving. One day you'll be famous!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Trouble in fast food land.

Title: Cold Meat
Author:
Helme (Helme Burch)
Release date: 4 October 2009
Playtime(*): 3360
Size: 10.8Mb



Like horror, graveyards, dark places, death and zombies? If a thriller is something that comes to mind you're in for a surprise because this game features the most friendliest zombies you can think of. And there are no dark places (if you ignore the cooling cell) because it take place in and around a fast food restaurant.

You are playing Pete and just as you think you have the all-you-can-eat deal of your life, the place is taken over by the zombies the restaurant is built on. So it's your job to get some hamburgers on the tray. And boy what a job that is. Not only do you have to find out who is who, you must also find the place they were buried, the object they took as burial object and if that's not enough, you also must help them regain their memory.

When that's all done you finally need to get them to help you get the burgers ready and customers satisfied. Along the way, you also need to keep Mr. Klang happy and hide the fact that there are zombies around. But fear not, you get help from expected and unexpected directions.

The game has good puzzles, not really easy. Most of it is in the details. You have to look at a lot of objects and listen to a lot of conversations very carefully otherwise you might miss a clue or solution. Of course there are a number of less obvious inventory combinations which result in the use all on everything and everywhere. Less satisfying but in the end it gets the job done.

The soundtrack is of a techno-synth style and when not played too loud, it can be a nice background filler. But when you're stuck in situations, it can become annoyingly repeating.

Another minor negative point is the names Helme gave the zombies. Names like Raktin, Foltnir, Nektom and Limfor aren't everyday names and it takes a lot longer to get familiar and 'attached' to the zombies. Because you can say what you want, they are drawn in a strange, simple but cute way. You could have seen the style before in Helme's MAGS entry of August: Celtic Chaos: Cold Mead. Despite the names, you get to love these guys with their bizarre sense of humor.

Overall a nice game, available in German and English. And hurry, the food is getting cold.



Saturday, October 17, 2009

Trap your own Gilbert

Dave G's interviewed over at The Trappings

The fool returns

Title: Duzz Quest 2
Author:
Duzz (David Lloyd)
Release date: 8 October 2009
Playtime(*): 1578
Size: 37.6Mb


I'll be honest. I don't like adventure games made with photoshopped pictures, rough cutouts with non-transparent pixels on the edge and thrown together as if it was only a test to see if you can use the AGS engine. Well, so it started with DuzzQuest five years ago. Not much of a story, not much of graphics. Fun to look at and to see that Duzz can walk around in his garden. Like the author says: most images and jokes are probably lost for the public and only understandable for the insiders.

So now there's DuzzQuest 2. Again with a lot of inside information and jokes. But more story, better puzzles and way better graphics. I have to admit, I like the interface and the way the graphics were put together. I still don't appreciate the way things are animated but the images are more consistent and that helps a lot.

Again the story is about defeating Dark Fool, or actually his evil twin because the other one was killed by Duzz (actually it was Tim, I'm not sure why Duzz gets all the credits but I guess that's why you are the main character...). So on your quest to find Dark Fool's evil twin you need the help again of your friends.

There are some nice effects in this episode. There's a real shoot out with wits, not just the all you can hit one although you can try. And there's a scratch card puzzle. Not really a game but the effect is very well done. And there's a side-quest thing with Tim again with humor.

The soundtrack is good. Not boring, not overwhelming but suits the game. In hindsight, I liked the game. If you look beyond the animations, it's a good hour of fun. With some good laughs and that's what it's all about.

This rose is a hardy perennial

Hardydev blog reviews classic AGS game The Winter Rose

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Release... but don't let go!

Title: Saw Deluxe (Remake)
Author:
Pedro & Joe Carl
Release date: 13 October 2009
Playtime(*): 1292
Size: 17.9Mb

The game was originally released in 2006. But now, three years later, there's a new version. New? Well... yeah. It's not a re-release, it's not an update, it's a complete remake.

The graphics have been completely redrawn to a much higher standard than the original. And there are a lot more animations than before, although the speed could be a bit faster, or at least selected by the player. For comparison, here's the original:

The gameplay has changed a bit...a lot. And not bad at all. There's now more interaction between Allan and Carl. The main players that is.

You play with Allan and Carl, locked in a public bathroom and you need find a way out by finding clues and solving riddles. This leads to items you can use to escape. There's a line in the middle and neither of you can cross the line. In the original you could play almost half of the game with one player. Then, when you only had the choice left: either kill or cooperate, you needed some interaction between the two. Now you need to join forces straight away.

The music is similar to the original. Great for lonely nights in the dark, more horror and suspense. It certainly adds to the atmosphere. But there are also some issues that could have been changed to make it a real 'deluxe' version.

The dialogs are quite confusing. They were in the original and nothing has changed there. New lines that become available after you've learned something from your co-star are mixed with the lines you've already used. And you can't see that you've used them. So it's not clear whether you've learned something or can learn more. Normally these lines are added at the bottom of the conversation thread and that adds to the readability.

All in all, if you've played the original you should play this one. Don't worry if you still know the solution.... it's useless. Because the items, locations and interactions also have changed. So actually it's a whole new game.
Don't worry if you (still) haven't seen the movies that these games got their inspiration from, they follow their own story. And if you haven't done already, you can also play the sequel.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

AGSBox360..Almost there


Clarvalon, the guy behind XAGE, is now a step closer to the impossible. The port of AGS Runtime (Yeah AGS games), to the Xbox. He even created a PLUGIN to export your games! So, give it a check here at the topic on the forums,or directly here.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Interview Part 5: Ponch




1) So, as per usual, no wait, what kind of nickname is Ponch, and what's with that obsession with cows?

Ponch was the nickname of a character played by Erik Estrada on the late 70s / early 80s TV show “ChiPs.” It was my favorite show as a little kid. Every week it showcased car chases, horrible freeway accidents, and women in tight shirts and tiny shorts. Come to think of it, it would be a good show for adults too. No wonder dad always watched it with me. “Get in here, boy! Chips is on!” Ah, so many father and son bonding moments in front of that giant, fake wood grain covered Magnavox. (We bonded over AirWolf too. That explains the flight suits Prick and Harry wear in the included screenshot).

Cows are awesome. They give us milk and leather and delicious steak. I couldn’t get through a day without a cow.

2) You have any favorite AGS game, or an AGS game you're anxious about?

I discovered AGS thanks to Larry Vales 1 and 2. They were great adventure games in the traditional style. But what I like most about CJ’s engine and the AGS community as a whole are the incredibly diverse things people can do with the program. Regular adventure games like Ben Jordan, old school arcade games like Limey Lizard, mind bending experimental stuff like Shifter’s Box, and games made to win the heart of that special someone like the Princess Marian series. Then there are the games that are made because the creator desperately craves the riches and adulation that being a freeware gaming mogul brings, such as Barn Runner. The sexy groupies and piles of money haven’t shown up yet, but I’m not one to give up hope easily.

3) About Barn Runner, apparently it has been influenced by Blade Runner, but I recall people telling you, or something, that the game has now taken a story and life of its own. Comment on that and why did you choose Barn Runner.

Yeah, Barn Runner originally grew out of a friend’s student film made back in the early 90s. He needed an idea for a five-minute film. Luckily, I had a pencil and placemat from a taco hut. I wrote the entire script on the back, next to the maze and word scramble.

Years later, I wanted to make an action-adventure game hybrid (like Cinemaware’s Rocket Ranger). So I dug out the old VHS tape, made a bunch of notes, and eventually it became the Barn Runner story bible. It’s worth noting that it the story is now so big and convoluted that it bears no resemblance to that original short film. But that’s where it all started. So now the truth is out: Much like George Lucas, I’m living off ideas I had when I was a much younger man. I even revised and re-released Barn Runner 2 a couple of years ago. Now if I could just find some way to put some ewoks in my games…

4) People that start playing the Barn Runner games, seem to get a little confused on the chronological order of games, care to explain it, and tell us a bit about the story so far, and where is it going with the new part?

If there were one thing I could do, I would go back and correct the numbering system the series uses. (See? There’s that George Lucas influence showing itself again.) For some idiotic reason, early on I decided to place the holiday games into their own numbered list, even though they’re still part of the regular series.

If you want to play the series start to finish, then skip Barn Runner 0 (it’s based on the short film, but not part of the game’s continuity). Start with Barn Runner 1 and play straight through to Barn Runner 4, then play Cyclone Alley and Wreck the Halls, then pick up the story again with Barn Runner 5. Plus, just to complicate things, there’s a Halloween game in between the two Christmas games, but it was never released because it was lost in the hard drive crash of 2005 the forced me to start all over again on The Forever Friday. But the Halloween game is still part of continuity and, one of these days, I plan to rebuild it and release it.

Also, after you’ve played Barn Runner 5, be sure to play the soon to be released Barn Runner Anniversary Game before playing Barn Runner 6.

Like I said, it’s a confusing system and I feel terrible about it.

5) There has been a chosen date for Barn Runner Part 3: The Wild Brunch, which was February if I seem to recall, but you haven't managed to deliver it, want to explain us why? I assume personal life.

The entire Forever Friday effort has been a boondoggle from day one. I started working on it back in 2004, but lost a year’s worth of work when my brand new hard drive crashed, taking the entire game with it. I finally got back on track a couple of years ago with a much larger version of the story, but then 2009 hit and it’s been one setback after another. Too much work, not enough free time – Life in general, you know?

Keep in mind, that the original version of the Forever Friday was a two-part game like The Armageddon Eclair, and it was due in 2005. So a setback of few more months is nothing to me at this point.

Perseverance. I’m all about perseverance, baby.

6) On the site, some time ago, you said someone gave you a lot of money. Comment on that. And how much money are we talking about…?

A fan of Barn Runner contacted me out of the blue and asked if he could PayPal some money to me because he liked the games so much. I was really surprised at such a nice gesture and so I wrote about it on my site. That kicked off more donations from other fans. It was such a nice thing that it really warmed the cockles of my heart (yes, I’m so ancient that I have cockles – quite an advanced case of them, actually). After that, since I didn’t want it to seem as though Barn Runner was becoming a cash grab, I’ve tried to make a point of not mentioning it again on the site. I make enough money to keep a roof over my head, food on the table, and beer in the fridge. I don’t want people to think I’ve got my hand out, you know? Pay games are fine, and there are some good ones out there, but I’m want to keep Barn Runner a freeware series.

7) Is there any end planned for the series, if any? And would you like to tell us when is that going to happen.

The series definitely has an end. The ending of the story was one of the first things I wrote. I didn’t want to get to the end of my story and realize that I had to come up with something off the top of my head (remake of Battlestar Galactica, I’m looking at you).

As far as when it’s going to happen, it was originally scheduled for 2013 or so. But remember that according to that same schedule, the Forever Friday was supposed to be done in late 2005. By the end of 2009, I was already supposed to be prepping Barn Runner 7: Recycle My Heart for release. So who the hell knows when the story will finally be done, as told in Barn Runner 10: This Shameless Tomorrow. Like I said earlier, I’m all about the perseverance.

And what’s going to happen at the end? Even if I were to tell you, there’s still too much story left to unfold for the ending to make any sense yet. But I’ll give you some clues. Somebody comes back unexpectedly. Somebody gets thawed out. Someone has a secret admirer. Someone takes a psychedelic trip. Somebody gets a haircut. Cheese is stolen. Christmas is saved. Noriko takes a shower. The Mayor takes a bath. Debbie and Noriko both use parachutes, but not together. Prick gets a new car. And the Chief makes a terrible decision and regrets it.

Also, everyone gets naked by the end.

And not everyone will survive to see the end of the series.

8)When will the next part (3) be ready?

God only knows. Maybe January? I’m still working minimum sixty-hour workweeks. Hell, I’m writing this on my lunch break. Speaking of which, my Hot Pocket is gone and it’s time to get back to work. Thanks for giving me the chance to ramble on about my games.

Some AGS web snippets

Time for a google trawl for AGS stuff:

Shall we make a (AGS) game?

Eckyman starts making an AGS game

Asian girl gamer review Nelly Cootalot

Asian girl gamer also look at QFG2VGA

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Going Postal

What with a postal strike looming in the UK it time to go postal and read up JD's nice long review of The Postman Only Dies Once, which not only is a Reality-on-the-Norm game but was also written by none other than Dave Gilbert who some of you may have heard of.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Interview Part 4: Ben304



Nevermind the badly drawn screenshots!!

The man behind quite a few cool games this year (and we ain't done yet believe me, is now the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse(s). Yes, indeed its THE BEN 30FUR. Also known as Ben304. The guy is definitely wanting the award for short game, for he'll probably have all nominations as well.

1)Do you have a favorite AGS game?Or a non AGS game?

I have a lot of favorite AGS games. Favorite overall would probably be Reactor 09, favorite recent game would have to be Death Wore Endless Feathers. As for non AGS games, I have a ton of games I'd like to talk about, but instead of doing that and being boring I will only mention Planescape: Torment, which I only got around to finishing last year. Torment was a game that repeatedly surprised and impressed me, and really showed me that games have the potential to be a lot more interesting than they often are.

2)What's with the short games? ManBoy Vs Doctor Shock, Shoot!, Annie Android, Shifter's Box, Heed, Awakener, and probably another coming up while I ask this..

As I tell everyone when they ask this, I like short games. I consider myself very much a learner when it comes to making games, and I discover new things all the time! I consider all these games that I have made to be sketches - rough concepts or drafts of games, if you will. In order to make longer length games that I am actually satisfied with, I want to try out all these crazy ideas that I have in my head. Shorter length games allow me to test the waters, and see what works and what doesn't. It's also the reason that I don't make sequels.
3)When you first started posting artwork from a game you were working, we were all captured and excited about it. Yeah, its the "Where is Lode?" question. So where is it Ben?

Lode is on my hard drive, and hasn't been touched for ages. I do plan to release it eventually, however it had gotten to the point where I didn't enjoy working on it anymore - and when you're not enjoying your hobby, it isn't much of a hobby. Working on Lode was a fantastic learning experience for me, and I really benefited from working on it, however as a game I didn't think it was very fun, so I decided to leave it for a while and come back to it when I had a better grasp of gameplay design. And it isn't like I haven't given you other games to play while you wait!
4)You seem to have a standard team for most of your games(mostly Kaputtnik and his brother), does that affect the quality of them? And how flexible is that team?

I enjoy working with Sebastian. He has a passion for games and always tries experimenting with new ideas with each project we tackle - something which I feel is quite important. And his tunes capture the moods I try to fit into my games! He also is always suggesting things with regards to game design that I should focus on, and when I'm not being stubborn and try them out I realize he has some darn good ideas. David is someone I've only worked with a little bit, but he has that crazy Pfaller flair I've come to look for in sounds and music, and he's a swell guy as well. As for flexibility - I've never had a reason to look for anyone else to help me out, as they've been more than willing to tackle whatever I've thrown at them.

5)Long time ago, you complained on your blog, that you couldn't complete any games, now you're all into short game-making. What changed?

We all have ups and downs(edit: shhh!!!). I was disappointed at how little I got done last year, and going into this year I tried to approach it with a positive outlook and encourage myself to be productive and motivated. Game making has become my number one hobby, and I really enjoy doing it, even though I have slumps where I'm not interested in it at all. I've also been fortunate enough to have a lot of people say very nice things about my games, and if that doesn't encourage one to try harder and make even more and even better games, nothing will.
6)Are you planning on going on a ..medium length game?

I am in the process of building a longer game as we speak - and have been for a couple of months now. However, I very much consider this a long term project and I do not want to rush it and release a flawed game, so I am taking my time with it, and trying to get everything just right. This also means I will continue to work on other short projects while I am building it.
7)Which one (if any) of your games, you consider as your pride?
That's an extremely hard question to answer... and I guess I'd have to say all of them and yet none of them. Every game I make is built for a different reason, and try new things, so in a sense I love them all for the new things I learnt creating them. On the other hand, I always look back at a game and think "I could have done this so much better", so I guess you can say that I feel I have yet to reach my potential. If I have to pick one, I'd probably have to say Shifter's Box - Outside In, even though in a sense I wish I could go back in time and do it with the graphics that I produce now.
8)You don't quite attract any attention with topics on the games you're making, so I have to ask, any game you're currently working on? And care to tell us (or even show us)?

I am currently working on three projects (as well as ShattenReyze) - the long term one I mentioned earlier and two shorter ones that are more experiments than anything else, so whether I pursue them to completion remains an uncertainty. All three are science fiction stories, and the two shorter ones are a lot less lighthearted than my science fiction stories in the past, so they're really something new for me as a storyteller. As for showing you, you may have a screenshot of each (whether you choose to show all or one is up to you) - but bear in mind that all of the graphics here are still unfinished and will be polished further before any of the projects sees the light of day.

Ich bin ein Release Candidate

The curiously titled Hitler's Brain edition of AGS is out: 3.2 RC 1.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Go west, young alien bug

October's pick of the month is Fasmo 2 which you'll either love or hate but which completely escaped my notice on its release!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Steam-powered MAGS

This month's new MAGS theme is Steampunk, so if that's your cup of tea then point your difference engine's browser at the forum thread, read all about it and submit and awesome game and win!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Monday, September 28, 2009

Helme man's Minionaise

This month's MAGS (Theme: The Only One) was won by Helme's game Minor Minion. Congratulations!

Interview Part 3: Legend of Leitor's Edge

An interview with Snake, the man behind Leitor's Edge!!

1)First question is,what is your favorite AGS game?

After all these years my favorite AGS game is still Hugos House of Horrors Remake, by Spyros. There's been plenty of great games over the years, but for some reason, there's something about that game. The music drew me in and the animations I especially liked. It was a great AGS adaptation of the original, which I had not played until long after playing this one. The AGS version was completely mouse driven while the original was strictly parser based... if I'm not mistaken of course.

Spyros did an ace job on that game.


2)Snake..Does the nickname have anything to do with Metal Gear Solid?

Heh - it has nothing to do with it. The nickname is actually a real nickname that a friend of my grandfather gave to me when I was little. I'm unsure of my age at the time, probably around 8 or so. But anyway, I used to stick my tongue out at him every time he spoke to me, so he started calling me Snake. And it stuck ever since. I'm called Snake more than I am Tom. I couldn't imagine having a different forum name.

2A) You seem to be very friendly for an oldie, and I barely recall you posting on a "Forums nowadays suck" type of topic..why's that difference?

I've been around the AGS forums since, at least, late 2000, back when it was on EZBoard (I was known as SnakeEggz there). I've seen quite a few people come and go. The "spirit" of the forums haven't gone (which is why those topics are rediculous) just certain individuals and the type of conversations and debates that they would spawn. I think that's what these people are refering to when they start these topics - they miss the old days with members that are no longer around. I've never really been a big part of discussions but I've read almost all of them... sometimes posting for comedic relief if need be - not that I get many laughs, but I'll try.

Most discussions that pop up with newer members have already been hashed over 40 times before, but with different members, you see it all the time. But even though these topics have been discussed before, they are always different because there are different people sharing their different views - it's not the same people over and over again.
What I especially find funny is when somebody who was new to the forums 3 or 4 years ago, complains about how the forums have changed.

Personally, I have just as much fun on the forums now days than I did "back in the day".

3)You've been on these forums quite a long while, and from 2003 or so, people are anxiously waiting for a game of yours, The Legend of Leitor's Edge. Recently I noticed you started working on it, releasing an April fools joke. So to finally reach to a question mark, how's the situation on the game progress? Are you working on it?

Yes, we've been working on it tremendously, especially this year we've made much progress with the story. Exactly one year and a day ago, we started rewritting the story. We gave it an almost complete rewrite. A few scenes are the same and the atmosphere is untouched, so in essence, it is the same game that people are looking forward to. A couple characters, along with their storylines, were taken out simply for their absurdity. New characters and storylines took their place, and I must say, are fantastic and work flawlessly within the main story.

Game progress is still in it's planning stage as to get every wrinkle ironed out first before I go and do programming and more artwork.

Lately progress has come to a screeching hault when a little over a month ago we discovered a hole in the story. Very little progress has been made as of late. I mentioned on my website that if this doesn't work out, Leitor's Edge is finished. I'm done rewriting it.

So currently our main focus has been this one thing before we continue on. I'm sure it'll be fixed, it's not something that would require a total rewrite. It's just been very mindbending.

4)Some time ago you posted on the forums that your game is getting you down, how's that?

It all boils down to being insecure about the game itself and whether or not it'll be as good as it sounds and as good as some of these people are thinking it'll be. There's just so many games out there that are recognized and talked about years after their release. I want Leitor's Edge to join them. I want it to be one of those games that is remembered (as does anybody else with their game).
I certainly have doubts that I can deliver what I can imagine as a great game.

5)Can you tell us a bit about the story of the game?

The Legend of Leitor's Edge is a science fiction story revolving around a boy named, Seth Reece, who accidently falls through a portal that sends him through time... only for a brief period. After being returned through time, Seth is unaware that he indirectly changed, not only his life, but the lives of everyone around him, creating a parallel universe. Now, with the discovery of a means of traveling the 4th dimension, one person threatens, not only Seth ever returning home, but existance itself.

6)The gameplay at the topic was said to be similar to Choose-You-Own-Adventure Books. Comment on that.

Yes, that was the original plan. I'm not too sure how much alike it'll actually end up being since the rewrite. But there will still be options that you will be given once and again, like CYOA books, that will change specific things through the course of the game. And other things that will not be so obvious that will change outcomes here and there (where you are not given choices), depending on the way you solve a puzzle for example.
But no, it won't be as dramatic story/character-changing as CYOA books. By that I mean;
choosing to go in through the front door or try to sneak in the window won't change a character's personality or anything. A good example in a CYOA book is an example somebody gave from the forums:
This person had said that he had read a CYOA book where at the end you had two options to choose from. One option made a specific character end up being the evil character in the ending, but in the other option a total different character was the evil one. That stuff just doesn't make sense to me.

Everything that changes in Leitor's Edge will still revolve around the same story, just different paths. And of course there will be a few different endings.

7)Wondering, who's still helping you with the game? Initially many forum members were part of the team, but then some changes happened, so I've lost track.

Currently it is just Me and David Olgarsson (Rincewind is his AGS forum name). I don't know where this game would be if I was working on it alone. It certainly wouldn't be as good with out David, that's for damn sure. He's given more to this story than I can even describe. This game is no doubt, our game. Not mine. Ours. I hope to be doing possible sequels with him.

Originally, back in 2003, I was working on it alone. Then I recruited Dave. After a while Dave didn't really have much time to work with me on it so I asked him if he thought it was a good idea if I asked on the forums for new members. He agreed after a bit and was sorry that he could participate as often.
The project then ended up with two more members, Vel ("Who Wants to Live Forever?"), Yufster ("Beyond Reality"), currently known as Meowster, and Squinky (Pirate Fry 1,2,3, Demon Slayer...).
After a while this got too overwhelming for me, which David did indeed warn about prior to, with opposing ideas and just WAY too many things going on at once. David called it, "Too many chefs in the kitchen"... heh, I love that phrase.

Vel, Yufster and Squinky are great people, but I ended up telling them that I was relieving them from the project, I think not even a year later. I still feel like an ass. I should, I mean, I jumped at the idea of more people without thinking too much into it. You live you learn, I suppose.


8)Are you planning on releasing this on a certain date, or that seems highly doubtful?

There is no release date. It'll be finished when it's finished. The only thing that is certain is the updates on the SITE.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Sudoku

Nothing to do with AGS, but here's a fun animation from the BBC of Paul Merton talking nonsense about Sudoku on Just a Minute.


More here.

Interview Part 2: Resonance

So second interview and this time it's Vince Twelve (XII), the man (not just him) behind Resonance. Look down...

1)This is getting typical, but well, got to ask, what's your favorite AGS or non-AGS game?

Among AGS games, Nelly Cootalot, Gesundheit!, La Croix Pan, The Blackwell Series, Shifter's Box, Reactor 09, Cirque de Zale, and tons of others. Non-AGS games, wow, too many to count. I love the Myst Series, The Longest Journey, Silent Hill, The Dig, Portal, Braid, Armadillo Run, ummm... tons. I generally go for the more serious stories rather than zany comedies. I just love getting drawn in by immersive Sci Fi or Fantasy worlds.

2)How did you decided to start making games in the first place?

I've wanted to make games for as long as I can remember. I remember drawing huge Final Fantasy-like world maps with my friend on the floor of our fourth grade classroom. That interest led me to majoring in Computer Science, and eventually to where I am now, as a hobbyist/indie game maker. I might try the jump to a real game company some day, but for now, I'm satisfied with my business software development job, which pays the bills and feeds the kids, and my game creating hobby.

3)You've recently moved from the one side of the Atlantic to the other, and you've got a nice big family there. When do you get time to work with Resonance?

Actually, it was the Pacific! About a year ago, my wife and two year old moved from Okinawa, Japan to Omaha, Nebraska, USA. And recently we added one more kid to the family, so yeah, I keep busy. Other than the odd lunch hour, most of my Resonance development time takes place when every one else is asleep. I get a lot done on weekends, when my wife and kids are taking naps, and every night after 10 PM after everyone's in bed. I stay up most nights until 12:30 or 1 working and then get up the next morning at 6 to go to work. So I'm running myself a bit ragged, but I'm very dedicated to what I do.

4)How did you manage to gather a team full of talented people? Nikolas for the music, ProgzMax for pixel art, MashPotato, JBurger, You, Deirdra...So how?

Yeah, I absolutely love collaborating with highly-talented people, and I'm doing a damn good job of it on this project, if I do say so myself (and I do). Nikolas was the first team member. We worked together on Linus Bruckman and became good friends, so that was a no-brainer. To attract more talent to the project, I wanted to have some major work done to demonstrate my dedication and help sell the project.

So, after I had written the entire design document for the game, laying out every background, character, plot point, and puzzle (though it has changed quite a bit since then) I went looking for ProgZ on the AGS IRC channel. He was my number one pick to be the artist for Resonance, and to my surprise, he jumped right aboard! He actually had created the first concept version of Ed, the main character, within 20 minutes of me pitching the game to him!
It was a bit harder to find the backgrounder, because I didn't have anyone in mind, so I posted ads around the internet looking for artists and got several replies. I talked with ProgZ and Nik and eventually we picked Nauris Krause, who has been doing an awesome job with the backgrounds ever since! Mash, Deirdra, and JBurger all came a bit later. I asked Mash specifically if she could do some character portraits. And Deirdra and JBurger both answered some open calls that I put out on the forums and on my blog looking for writers and artists, respectively. I'm super happy with the team that I've got working on Resonance. It's a very talented, very international group of game makers!

5)I'm not sure about the rest out there, but I've really noticed a very innovative and very impressive interface. But there has been a talk whether the interface will be user friendly. Comment on that.

Who's talking about that?! :) I can guarantee that the interface will be easy to use. I tested it out on my Mom! I have previously worked as an interactivity designer focusing on usability at a giant multi-national corporation, so I've got some experience in this arena. Because of that work, I find myself always nitpicking the interfaces of other games.
I don't know that the interface will be perfect for everyone (is any interface perfect for everyone?) -- some people may not like it because it's different from most other adventure games -- but it should feel immediately familiar and natural. So hopefully it works out well!

6)From the poster and some of your posts on Twitter and XIIgames, I've seen that the story divides into four chapters (based on feelings), but I've yet to get a grasp on the plot. Want to tell us more about it?

Actually, the game has three acts. There are four playable characters, though, and that's who you see on the poster. But, yeah, the story takes place over three days, and each day makes up one act of the game. Each act is pretty different in tone and feel. Act I is the setup of the characters, setting, and plot, but keeps mixing up the gameplay to keep you on your toes. Act II opens the world up to more exploration and is more similar to standard adventure game pacing. And Act III pulls everything together and sends you spiraling towards the conclusion. Each Act has it's own set of goals and motivations, so it should keep things interesting! The plot surrounds a new discovery in the field of particle physics. Something that could be used for great good or great evil. So several different shady groups are after the research, and you have to make sure that you get it first! That's all I'm sayin'!

7)The graphics, the animation, seem all to be of high product value, so how much will this game cost?

The price point is undecided, but I can practically guarantee that it will be more than the fifteen bucks that it currently costs for a pre-order over on
Kickstarter

8)It has been previously said that AGSers don't really buy commercial games (even AGS ones), your thoughts on that? And how did you decided to go commercial?

I think that people interested in the game will buy it and people uninterested wont. I'm not too worried about sales numbers or profits, really. I started this project because I wanted to make the game of my dreams, so I've invested hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars over the last two and a half years to make sure that it got done and that it was of the highest possible quality.

I don't know if I'll break even on the project in the end, not really sure what to expect, but that was never my goal to start out with. Though, I did make the game commercial to help justify it to my wife. :P


9)When are you planning that the game will be ready?

That's the real question. When it's done. I'm hoping, (but it's only hoping) that the game will be done in 2010.

10)Final question, if you would propose a game of yours to someone, which one would that be?

I would show everybody Linus Bruckman, which I'm still super proud of three years after release. I think it's clever and unique and bizarre; all things that I love about games. It's not for everybody, definitely, but I'd like to think that people who like hard logic puzzles and brain twisters or just weird stories will enjoy it.


Thanks a lot for the interview Vince, it has been a pleasure! If you want to find out more on Resonance, go to the XII Games Website Section

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Quid pro quo

Himalaya Studios have not just got their game on Dave Gilbert's site, but they've got his games on theirs! Check out the all-new Himalaya website and shop.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Oooh, controversy

Well, following some of the recent comments on the blog, looks like some people think that too many AGS games are commercial, so the new poll asks that very question. Incisive journalism, eh?

Darn, dash and tarnation! They're down again?!

The forums seem to be down since Saturday..unless its really me. Which I doubt anyway. Ah, well, time to go fishing! If they come up, wake me. This times it seems really serious though. It's not the usual just-a-day-long maintenance thing. So guys if you hear me...

GET AGA!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Polls aint what they used to be

So, you're answers to the poll seem to conclude that 2009 isn't as good a year for adventure games as 2008 was. I'm intrigued as to why this might be. Please add your comments with any examples to this post, if you feel like discussing it!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Divine Island

Adventure Island review Enter the Story: Divine Comedy.

Hey, that's MY adventure character

A company called Infinite Ammo have released this trailer for an adventure game called Marian. Hang on a second... let me call my lawyer!

Interview Part 1: McCarthy Chronicles


I've decided to go around interviewing AGSers as a new thingy. The first one, is Calin Leafsade, the man behind the McCarthy Chronicles!

Okay, then I'm starting with the questions:

0)So general info, favorite game genre, favorite game?

I dont really have a favourite genre of game. I try to treat each game on its merits and I can name games from all different genres that I love. If I were forced to choose at gunpoint however I would probably choose "Action Adventure".

My favourite game of all time is probably still the original Deus Ex. Just due to the fantastic blend of story and RPG elements. There is no point is Deus Ex where you feel you are wandering aimlessly. You always have an objective and its not always "shoot that thing until it stops moving".

1)About you now, is Calin Leafsade your real-life name?

Calin Leafshade is indeed my real name.. I was raised by elves.
No infact my name is Steve. Calin is a persona I've had for RPGs for many many years. I often use it for things since its surprisingly never taken and I abhor usernames with numbers in.

2) Since you're really a promising newcomer, I always wondered, how did find AGS as an engine, and what is your opinion on this community?

I discovered AGS by the usual route. Namely Yahtzee.
Up until that point I believed that polish was very important when delivering a gaming experience. Graphics were key in my eye.
I knew that they didnt 'make' a game but i thought that without good graphics a modern gamer just wouldn't appreciate the story that was trying to be told.
After playing 5DAS I discovered that it's perfectly possible to create a game in the modern gaming climate that can still appeal. I was genuinely frightened when the welder comes into the bathroom. The immersion of the game had completely got to me.
To contrast this I had recently been playing Deadspace for the Xbox 360 which is billed as 'terrifying' when the fact of the matter the only thing I felt when playing that was boredom. Shambling fleshy monsters in beautiful 1080p didnt scare me as much as a guy in a welders mask 30pixels high.. go figure.

As for the community I've been surprised at how helpful it is. Everyone seems willing to help and get involved whenever possible.. which is refreshing.

3)Ever made any other games (even on other engines), besides the one you're working on?

Other games? Hmm no not really. I had dabblings in various things (mostly the half life 2 engine) but I always wanted to create something special and i simply didnt (and still dont) have the artistic skills to pull something off in the 3d domain.. If something looks bad in 3D it REALLY looks bad.
I could have finished alot of those projects but I just wouldnt have been satisfied with the result and it would have been another mediocre map in a sea of mediocre maps.

4) You seem to give a lot of work and detail on the story side, even give more attention to the voice actors than anything else, why's that?

I've always been fascinated with video games as a method of telling a story. They have something unique which books and films can't capture. The pacing is all different. For example Final Fantasy VII takes around 30 hours or something to complete.. imagine a film that long.
I think with an adventure game the story is vital. If you dont have the story then its just a series of click click puzzles.. and whats the point in that?
As for the voice acting I'm still not 100% decided.
I think my particular game would work very very well with voice acting since the dialogue is all written in a very stylised, poetic manner. People dont really talk like my characters but its supposed to feel almost like a play. Even my rooms all look like stages.
I would really like a full cast of voice actors to really hammer home the interaction between the characters and convey their personalities more effectively.
However I'm not willing to compromise on the immersion. If I cant find a full cast that fits the bill perfectly, I will leave the voice acting out altogether.

5)Do you have any favorite books or AGS games? Has any one of those sort of "marked" your life in a certain way?

Favourite books? Easy. Clockwork Orange.. if they make a clockwork orange game I would walk through fire to buy it.
As for AGS games I'm a bit of a newbie. I've played all of yahtzees offerings but havent really had time to try anything else.
I find that comedy is very pervasive in the AGS community (largely influenced I imagine by the monkey island and Lucas Arts games) and comedy is not really what I want from a game most of the time.. unless its Portal.
Have any of them marked my life? I usually leave up to music and before you ask: David Bowie, Beth Orton, Nick Drake, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley.

6)Tell me a bit more about this game, how did you come up with it, who's doing the backgrounds (I'm guessing you), and why is it in episodic format?

My game is done entirely by me. With the exception of a single sprite which Babar did.. which also happens to be the best piece of art in the whole game.
As for the 'idea' for the game i'm not really sure where it came from.
But i didnt start with a character or a plot or anything like that. I started with a mood, an atmosphere. I wanted an excuse to write ridiculously over the top and extravagant dialogue. I wanted to make a game from a poem rather than a story.. if that makes any sense. Film Noir seemed like a good way to put that into practice.
I decided to do the game in episodic format simply so that I would be able to release sooner. I didnt want to get in a rut with a feature length game and never have anythign to show for it. Plus it allows me to receive feedback on previous episodes and improve the later ones.

7)Everyone that has seen the brilliance of your dialogs, even by those screenshots and really got excited for the game, even before you posted the second really cool drawn screen, is wondering, when is this game coming out?

Ah you're too kind. As McCarthy would say:

"Answers come like bubbles on a questioning breeze, scented lightly with the sweet smell of anticipation, before busting into oblivion never to be seen again"

Basically I havent got a f**%ing clue. When it's done.

See more of the game here, and just have a cool time watching the teaser trailer.