Nataly Buchannon and the Amulet of Kings Preview

The AGS Team Challenge works. Whatever people say, that many games are not finished, that many teams fall apart, that the ratio released games/teams is far too low, I think that it can team up talented individuals, who eventually produce a great game. Yes, the keyword is eventually.

Such is this case – Sam Gray (Zooty – scripting), Davy Malay(Creed Malay – story), Jeremy Page(Darth – Art), Jarek(Music) and Ashen(scripting) teamed up for the ATC deluxe under the hilarious name of “Team Haselhoff” and they laid the foundations of one of the most promising-looking AGS games today.

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The story of AOK would remind anyone of Indiana Jones games – it involves researching an ancient artifact and a good deal of globetrotting. Only this time the lead role is female. Of course, one should not look on the plot as a rewritten “Fate of Atlantis” or “Raiders of the lost Ark”, and I am sure than once we are given more on that subject, we’ll see that Davy Malay has done a fine job in avoiding the cliché and making a compelling and gripping storyline.

Another thing that vaguely reminds me of Indiana Jones games is the background art. Although the style is not exactly the same, and the width/height ratio creates the impression that it is somewhat untraditional, some of the backgrounds team Haselhoff have released would feel at home in, say, “Fate of Atlantis” or “The Last Crusade”. Of course, my comparison to those games should not underestimate the unquestionable talent and creativity that mark the backgrounds we have seen – doubtless one of the best seen in an AGS game.   Worth mentioning here are also chicky and Neil Dnuma who have made the concepts for some backgrounds.

The character art is almost equally as good, and the animations seen in the tech demo are quite fluent.

The game will feature a fully digital soundtrack and perhaps a voiced deluxe edition once the game is released. Another possible thing is a cd version of the game, with cover art etc, for which you’ll pay only the cost of the covers and shipping.

The tech demo shows a wonderfully scripted and fully operational interface, the pinnacle of which is the wonderful conversation system – it is similar to the Discworld Noir one – basically, you can ask anyone about anything you know and anything you carry. The gameplay also promises to be entertaining, with various puzzles, despite a mild stress being put on inventory-based ones.

“Nataly Buchannon and the amulet of kings” will be a great game, I am sure of it. However, the team do not predict a release date – all they say is “When it’s done”. But once it is, it will be something big.

 

Interview with the project leader, Sam Gray

 

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Ezine: First of all, thank you for accepting our invitation to be interviewed by the AGS Ezine. Would you like to tell us something more about yourself – where you live, what you like about living there, what you do in your free time?

Sam Gray: well, I live in England, Specifically Manchester, i don’t really get a lot of free time these days, juggling college work and paid work, but during what time i get, i use the AGS IRC channel, or I work on AOK, i do also enjoy the odd bike ride or walk, but nothing too strenuous.

Ez: Do you read a lot? Would you happen to have a favourite book, and, if yes, why is it your favourite book? 

S.G: Yeesh, I do read a lot, but I don’t really have a favourite book. I am working from a series of books, called “A series of unfortunate events” by lemony snicket to write a new game, although that’s taking quite a bit of a sideline while I work on AOK, The books basically chronicle the lives of three orphans and their constant hounding by an actor intent on stealing their dead parents fortune. The atmosphere is brilliant, with each character given a decent back story whilst remaining mysterious.

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Ez: Do you have a favourite movie? Do you take inspiration for your games from movies?

S.G: Uh sure I guess, although a favourite movie is hard to pin down. I mean, every movie is different and has so much to offer in terms of inspiration. It’s the same with TV. I can watch and episode of SG1 and have a thousand idea for a game, but then Ill watch Shaun of the Dead and Have a thousand more but they’d never work together. I basically try to collect all of my ideas in a notebook and collate them all when I feel a story is ready. I have many plots on the go right now, some with art I’ve done, some that just sit in my head. 

Ez: What kind of music do you like? Do you listen to game music often?

S.G: I’m into all sorts of music, I don’t have a specific style that I listen to, although Yellowcard and My Chemical romance have been high up on my playlist lately. I do listen to game Music sometimes. The music from, the DIG is especially good arting music

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Ez: What kind of games do you play? Is adventure your favourite genre? Which are your favourite adventure games?

S.G: Adventure is by far my favourite genre, there’s so much more to and adventure game Universe that you can’t capture in any other genre. I have my lucasarts classics right on top of my PC in case i get an urge. My favourite AG has to be Grim Fandango, the story and the setting were just so fantastic its impossible not to fall in love the characters, although they were so bizarre, seemed so real to me, I just had to know more about them all the way through. That’s the way a game should be.

Ez: Now let’s talk a bit about AGS-related things. 2005 has just flown over, and this means awards are to be given soon. Which are your favourites?

S.G: That’s a tough one, there have been so many great games this year. The Great Stroke off was a work of genius, It was amazing how many cock jokes they squeezed into one game.  Plus Ben Jordan 4, I have to admit that Id never played any of them until this one. And I was just blown away.

Ez: There have been a few commercial AGS games released. Do you think that working on a game on your own, or with a small team, and then releasing it commercially can actually work?

S.G: not if you want to make a living, I mean the games I’ve seen that have expected people to pay for them have left me severely disappointed. Even Fatman, although good, was not worthy of my dollar. The best games produced with AGS have all been free; “two of a kind” is a prime example. TO my mind, the finest AGS game ever, and it didn’t cost me a penny.

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Ez: Tell us about your solo projects. Have you finished any, and what are you working on apart from AOK?

S.G: Well, i did finish one RoN game, which sucked, so ill not drag you into that. But right now? I’ve got two solo projects on the go, Miniron and SOUE. Miniron is basically a new RoN story, but due to my limited artistic talents, i decided to use a resolution of 160* 100. Which gives the game a cute look as well as making my life easier, the plot is pretty basic, But ill not go into it now… My other game, as I mentioned, is based on a series of unfortunate events. I’m working on it With Jake Hoggans (Hotspot). It’s basically and exercise to see if I can produce a decent looking game without any real skill.

Ez: What is your motivation for working on free adventure games?

S.G: I guess it started off as boredom; Id just finished playing one of my LA games and thought it’d be cool to make one of my own. So I googled it and AGS came up, I guess it sprouted from there. I just got sucked into the community and made some friends, like Chicky and Darth Mandarb, we got talking and thinking of plots and stuff. Darth and I were thrown together in the ATC challenge, and the amount of plots we threw out before choosing on our current one is incredible. Team hasselhoff has such a great creative atmosphere. It’s impossible not to want to make games.

Ez: You’ve participated in the ATC, what do you think was wrong with it, considering there were so many teams and only several games? Do you think it can be improved someway and held again in the future?

S.G: I don’t think there was anything wrong with it at all. People expect games to just get made, but this won’t happen. Some great teams came out of the ATC, as well as some great games. I think people need to review their ideas of what the ATC is for. For me, it gave me an opportunity to work with some of the most talented people in the community and start a great game.

Ez: What would you like to wish to the AGS Ezine and its readers for the new year?

S.G: Well, I hope that the readers of the Ezine will get to play AOK and some more awesome games this year, although I’m not promising anything, also, I hope that their lives are enriched and stuff.

Ez: Thanks for your time

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