Mittens 2007: Melting the Limit, by Erin Robinson

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Part One: A funny thing happened on the way from the forums

On the first day of Mittens, I was nervous. Friends had teased me about spending a week in the woods with internet strangers. My parents thought I was at a “game convention.” And perhaps most troubling, I was about to bring my boyfriend into my strange little world. Four days later, as I watched him stumble headfirst into a jacuzzi wearing a makeshift powdered wig, I knew my fears had been for nothing.

Quite simply, this was the most enjoyable vacation I’d ever had in my life. If Chris Jones were to say, “Next year we’ll be having Mittens: Antarctica,” I’d be like, “I’ll pack my snowshoes.”

Part Two: The Sunny Beaches of Canada

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I’ve lived in Canada for most of my life, but even I was surprised at how beautiful our location was. The cabin was spacious and full of delightful new-age kitsch (Snowflakes have emotions? Thanks, Dr. Emoto!). The nearby woods sheltered friendly animals and illegal fireworks alike. And, I was surprised to discover, we were a short drive away from a gorgeous sandy beach that harboured an honest-to-god shipwreck.

It was like what summer camp should have been: no supervision and freely flowing alcohol. Over the course of the week we did all sorts of things that made my inner child pee her pants: we made sandcastles, tin can phones, s’mores, forts, and bonfires. We played with bubble pipes, frisbees, horseshoes, swingsets, blocks (okay, pixels), and sparklers. Scummbuddy even organized an arts and crafts event where we turned road pylons into DOTT tentacles. I can’t say I wasn’t impressed.

After the sun went down, our primary activities were making fires, previewing adventure games, and testing the limits of the hot tub. According to cabin regulations, any more than six in the jacuzzi was too dangerous to attempt, a rule we respected for about two days. However, once one person had “melted the limit” it got easier for others to hop in. After that…well, there are pictures.

Part Three: On the Road with Tom Hanks

Anyone familiar with Canadian culture understands our loyalty to Tim Horton’s, the coffee and donut chain that spans the entire country. Maybe this is why it was especially amusing that our European guests were unable to grasp the name. Tom Thornton’s? Timmy Ho’s? Horny Tim’s? I’ll forever treasure the memory of CJ saying, “We’re going to Tom Hanks then, are we?”

Our primary means of transport was a 12-seater van, also known as the Mittenmobile, the AGS Bus, or Take Us to WalMart. BaRoN drove us everywhere without complaint, a considerable feat since we were like kids on a field trip (but with no hot chaperones). Besides the party bus, JetXL shared a rental car with a few others, and Grundislav drove the group that would soon be known as “Team Foxhump.” Without getting into the details, the name came from Kevfop’s discovery of a questionable image in a children’s colouring book. By the way, for the sake of the easily offended, do not ask what happened to a certain Bible Colouring Book we found at the cabin.

Although we spent most of our time at the cabin, we took a day trip to Niagra Falls and beautiful, shiny Toronto. Niagra Falls contains what could be the world’s only Frankenstein-themed Burger King, as well as various haunted houses, offensive t-shirt retailers, and a bit of a waterfall. Toronto time was spent at the Ontario Science Centre (or as I like to call it, “Interact with Object: The Museum”) and the CN tower. Our European friends took the $20 journey to the top of the tower, while us locals were content to watch Disco launder his shirt in a fountain.

Part Four: The Mittens are Off

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Not even a week after we said our goodbyes, it’s not enough to say that I miss everyone already. Without expecting anything but a shared love of adventure games, I was pleasantly surprised to meet a group of smart, creative and uncommonly witty people. Kevfop has proudly displayed his “Clumsy Fop” video on his Facebook page, and everywhere we go things remind us of Mittens. Now if only I could get him to stop wearing the wig…

‘Till next year,

~The Ivy~

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Drawing Inspiration

Part one. Turning books into games.

So you want to create a game with a gripping and compelling plot, but you don’t really have any ingenious ideas?

The most logical thing to do in such cases, albeit not often done, would be to turn to something previously written and transform it into a game. An option which is in most cases neglected is to turn a book into a game. To me, it is a mystery why – books, especially renowned ones, already have developed plots(unlike movies, acting and special effects can not save a book from failure), detailed descriptions and realistic characters, something you’d have to spend months on if you’re doing it by yourself. Of course, turning a book into a game is not as simple as that – you’d still have to think of how it should progress, what gameplay style you’ll use, etc, etc, etc. And if you are up for an ambitious project, you could try to create a game not based on a pulp fiction novel (“The Da Vinci Code”, “Day of the Jackal”…), but on a book with an acclaimed artistic value.

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As a matter of fact, I can only think of two games that tried that – The Dark Eye (Based on some of Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories) and Return of the Phantom (Based on Gaston Leroux’s “The Phantom of the Opera”). “The Dark Eye” did everything remarkably well which resulted in a wonderful game, whereas “Return of the Phantom” failed in some aspects and did quite well in others, which resulted in a mediocre game.

And because it is always more enlightening to analyse the worse game, we’ll take “Return of the Phantom”.

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For those of you who haven’t read it, Gaston Leroux’s “The Phantom of the Opera” is a fundamental gothic mystery that has been adapted so many times (most notably in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical), that is often mistaken for some of its adaptations and its artistic value is very underrated. The plot revolves around the mysterious “Opera ghost” who threatens to do horrendous things if his demands are not met. He is also in love with a chorus girl and his demands are linked to his love interest’s opera career advance. He hides in the cellars of the Paris Opera house because he is physically disfigured and wears a mask to conceal his hideous face.

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“Return of the Phantom” does not follow the book closely. You are in the shoes of Christine’s (the phantom’s love interest) lover, Raoul. The beginning of the game is quite well constructed and draws you to its atmosphere admirably well. This is done by doing inquiries about the phantom, reading documents etc, which is basically what Leroux does in the beginning of the novel.

Where the merits of “Return of the Phantom” begin to lack is approximately in the middle of the game. From there, the pace of the game increases – this leaves the player with a feel of dissatisfaction, not to mention the impossible to pass without a walkthrough maze.

The biggest disappointment, though, comes from the severely flattened personality of the phantom. In Gaston Leroux’s most famous work where  he fundamentally is a complex grotesque character who would do anything for love, but forgets himself at a certain point. In the game we are analyzing, he is nothing more than a villain that could have been taken from Ninja turtles, since that’s what the unmasked character looked like in the game.

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Preserving the characters’ personality is vital when you are turning a book into a game – chances are that the author is better at creating characters than you are. Anyhow, the most important thing which leads partly from the characters is the message which the book delivers. This is what separates pulp fiction from true novels, and this is what should be the borderline in the games industry, although few people have realized that.

In “The Phantom of the Opera”, as in most fundamental gothic stories, for example R.L. Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”, Leroux subtly makes us think whether we are not in some aspects like the phantom, whether we do not forget ourselves and whether we do not wear a mask not to conceal an outer hideousness, but inner. At least, that was the message for me. In “Return of the Phantom”, it has been totally lost.

If you have the artistic and musical skills, it is nice to create the graphics and music in the style of the period which the book belongs. In the case of “The Phantom of the Opera” most appropriate would have been a haunting soundtrack and a lush and somewhat creepy graphics. What we have is a soundtrack undeserving of any attention and cartoony graphics with real actors as the characters. Decide for yourself what is better.

Creating games based on books is an underrated and underused concept. Of course, not every book can be turned into an adventure game. But when you find the one that can and will be a great one, don’t miss the chance.

 

 

 

Part Two. Film Noir.

 

Another source of inspiration that, as opposed to the previous part, has been overused is film noir. However, when I say overused I don’t mean used properly. It’s basically the same with the movies that fall into that category also.

Films noir are essentially, black and white mystery movies from the middle of the last century. The most clichéd ones involve a private detective, a murder, and a femme fatale. The true films noir involve moral battles, charismatic villains, compelling background and amazing ingenious cinematographic effects.

Needless to say, we’re going to stress on the second type.

Now, if you haven’t watched “Sunset Boulevard” and “The Third Man”, you should go and watch them and then return to this article, since it might spoil some of the best movies ever made.

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Both movies start as a rather ordinary story, albeit a gripping one. In “The Third Man” no sooner has the protagonist arrived in post-WW2 Vienna, where he was invited to stay at a friend of his, than he finds out he’s been killed in an accident. In Sunset Boulevard, a struggling screenplay writer is trying to save his car from his debts and ends up at a strange yet glamourous house on Sunset Boulevard.

The absorbing background in “The third man” is post WW2 Vienna. There are remains of what has once been(and today is) an aristocratic and beautiful city. It is divided into four parts between the countries that have won the war – Britain, USA, Russia and France. However, the true authority is the black market, since that is where most people get the vital things.

In “Sunset Boulevard”, the gripping background is the past fame of the silent movie star Norma Desmond – the house which resembles Miss Havisham’s (from Dickens’s “Great Expectations”), and Norma Desmond herself, living in her own world.

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Compelling background is an achievable thing in games, and even though few creators realize it, it has been done – some examples include “The Last Express” and “Fate of Atlantis”. It should be the foundation on which you build your plot.

The charismatic villains make a difference in such movies, as in games. For example, although Harry Lime (“The Third Man”) causes innocent people to die and is a misanthrope, he is strangely appealing to the viewers, even more than the good guy. This is because he is more than a flat villain – not only is he intelligent but he also has insight on the human nature itself and human society (the now notorious cuckoo clock speech, for example). In other movies, it is hard to say who the villain is. Often the villain hides inside the protagonist, who is supposed to be the good one. Take “Sunset Boulevard”, for instance. Joe slowly but surely steps into the swamp of Norma Desmond’s luxurious life and he cannot get out at the end – he dies. Even though Norma kills him, she cannot be called a villain – she lives in her own world and does not mean to do evil. Perhaps the closest to a villain is Max, who keeps Norma out of the real world by sending her fake fan mail daily etc. It is clear that the true villain is the vice that lies inside Joe, which leads us to the next point.

The moral battle is what Joe loses, and Holly Martins wins, even twice. Once when he accepts to help to arrest Lime, though he’s known him for years and is love with his ex-lover, who wouldn’t like him to be caught, and the second time when he saves him from perhaps torture and doubtless a death sentence by shooting him (A motive also seen in John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”). Joe, nonetheless, is not as strong. He lets Norma’s money get the best of him, and even sacrifices his love for the luxurious life he has been unable to win himself.

A characteristic feature for films noir is that the protagonist is a realistic character, rarely an angel, and still, on the good side, at least before the aforementioned moral battle. If you want to say something with your games, an inner conflict is one of the best ways.

Last but not least, the cinematographic effects used to create suggestions in films noir are easily achievable in games today. Some examples include semi-open blinds, smoke, increased contrast/decreased brightness (which works especially well when in black and white). The most renowned name in that scope is doubtless Orson Welles. He invented many such effects and used them whenever he was allowed to by producers. The only movie where he was allowed to do whatever he wants, and it shows, is “Citizen Kane”. If you’d like to add similar effects to your game, you should watch the movie carefully and analyze them. Even though easily achievable nowadays, the matter where and what to put shouldn’t be underestimated too.

To be continued…

AGS Team Challenge Deluxe Special Feature by Ian Welch

“The Great Stroke-Off” review

Packed with a wad of sleazy innuendo comes this quirky little golfing adventure, from Old School Point ‘n’ Click, the winning team from this year’s AGS Team Challenge.  You play as Ned, who’s working at his Uncle’s Mini-Golf course during the summer holiday.  It’s the day of the big competetion, The Big Stroke-Off.

Let’s start by taking a look at the Graphics.  The Backgrounds are pretty, and considering it has a cartoon style, they have a very nice style to them.  There’s a problem, however, and that’s the fact that they’re so stylised and cutesy, that they’re almost devoid of detail.

As for the character art, there’s only technical issues.  They’re well drawn, with a style of they’re own and they compliment the backgrounds well, but they do sometimes have problems with their outlines act a little funky.

Musically, I can’t help but be impressed.  It’s simple yet comic melodies fit perfectly, and add a lot to the atmosphere of the game.  A novel idea is the inclusion in to game of a main stereo, pumping the music into speakers located around the golf course, allowing you to interact with it and thereby turning the music off if you so wish.

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Interfaces. These have the potential to make or break a game.  All the other parts are important, sure, but if a game’s got a lousy interface, then that’ll have a major effect on the quality of play.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t very impressed with how this game fares.  It’s a cross between the LucasArts “Words/Inventory at the Bottom” style and the Sierra “Icons Along the Top” style.  Okay, fine.  I made those titles up, but that doesn’t matter right now.  What matters is the fact that the GUI in this game seems like an undecided mish-mash of two styles, and doesn’t seem to be as well thought out as it should be.

More important than the interface, is gameplay.  Plot.  Puzzles.  How enjoyable it is to actually sit in front of the thing.  The Great Stroke-Off has a well thought out plot, some clever puzzles and lots of in-jokes and comic references.  It’s only downfall, is the humour.  Sure, everyone likes Nob Gags, but this game takes it a step too far.  It’s starts witty, but quickly ends up being feeling rather immature and forced.
All in all, I would have to recommend this game, even with it’s faults.  Keep in mind the history of it, though.  As part of the ATC, it means that it’s gone from conception to completion in just two months.

Overall Score: 65%

 

ATC Exposé.

The AGS Team Challenge.  Elite squads of five rough and tumble AGSer’s team up.  One background artist.  One spriter.  One musician.  One coder.  One writer.  Together, they’re issued the challenge of creating a full length game, in a month or two, that will beat the rest of the teams’ efforts.
In theory, this sounds like immense fun.  Reality rarely matches up to hypothetical situations, though.
Sure, it’s provided some good games.  Two of a Kind won an AGS Award at this years ceremony.  But for the most part, it’s a not as good an idea as it seems.
I, myself, competed in the last two competitions.  As did my slave driving Editor, Vel.  I’ll explain the situations i faced.

In the first ATC I entered, I was the musician.  We were all given teams by random.  Most of my team, I’d never even heard of, let alone spoke to before.  Our team started well, but soon after people were off doing other things, and we had no time to finish.  We vowed to continue making the game, even after the competition was over, but still nothing got done.
So, next time around, things got changed.  You could now form the teams yourselves, and the time frame was changed from one month to two.  I was undecided for a while, but I finally entered as a musician, again.  This time, things were off to a terrible start.  Our spriter lost his internet connection shortly before the beginning.  We thought we could carry on.  Two weeks later, with nothing really concrete, our background artist goes AWOL, too.  Needless to say, we didn’t carry on.
In my opinion, the ATC is a bad idea.  I’m grateful to Andail for organising everything, but I’d recommend we call it a day.  For one thing, making a full length game is tough.  Making a full length game that you’ve got no real passion for is tougher.  Making a full length game that you’ve got no real passion for in a short space of time and having to rely on four other people is just ridiculous.
Our Editor-in-Chief, Vel, told me I should use this piece to suggest what I think should be done to improve the ATC for next time.  In all honesty, I’d have to suggest putting it out of it’s misery.  Take it out into the field, pat it one last time and say goodbye.  Then put both barrels from a sawn-off through the back of it’s head.

AGS Awards Special Feature

It’s near 23 o’clock here; the ceremony will start any minute. I have to get up early tomorrow. But who cares, it’s the AGS awards night. If I have to get no sleep in order to watch it, so be it. Moreover, I get to give out an award this time. Grab a seat, monsieurs, and let the big night begin!

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Darty: Haha, well, Epileptic Fish is up against tough competition this year. All I can say is that I’m just happy that TOAK was nominated in the first place, and an award right now would just be a bonus. The makers of Apprentice 2, because their game was just plain awesome.

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Dave Gilbert: My expectations?  Apprentice probably will sweep the awards. All on the “Bestowers of Eternity” front is going fairly well.  Had some trouble finding background artists, but that seems to be sorted now.

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Grundislav: I expect an interesting ceremony. Most people think apprentice 2 will sweep the awards, but I think there will be some variety. Apprentice 2 will probably get best game and it may get the most awards, but not by a landslide

I think it’ll be a pretty even competition.

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Petteri: Ah, I’m actually rather excited about the awards. There were many good games last year and I’m sure the awards will go to right games!

I’d say Apprentice 2 will be the big winner. That, or Two of a Kind.

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Andail: I more or less appreciate the awards per see, but there are issues with how the election/voting is carried out as much as people like Geoffkhan & co deserve every award they can get, the system has become slightly diluted, lately. The categories have lost their individual meaning. I think a group of people with special insight in the specific fields should play through all the registered games, and then do the nominations. That way we can make sure the games are judged fairly. And for me personally? I will try to produce backgrounds. I’m discussing business with a few people right now. I won’t produce any games of my own, though, I don’t have the time. Maybe I will fund a commercial project in the future, who knows?

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About 3 hours later, the ceremony has ended, with really no surprises for me, and I have asked the winners about how they feel about their award, and some well-known people on their opinion on the awards, as neutral spectators. Time to go to bed, and leave the article for a better time…

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The balance-sheet of the night? 7 award for “Apprentice II: The Knight’s Move”. One of two for the other favourites – “Two of a kind”, “7 Days a Skeptic” and “Ben Jordan”. It’s really not a surprise, now, is it? Without a doubt, “Apprentice II” is the most professionally looking and sounding game of the year, and the real competition was for the plot awards. In my opinion, the people got a bit carried away there – sure, the plot of Apprentice II is funny, and the characters are such too, but they are no match for the mysterious stories of the Ben Jordan games, and the well-developed  characters of “Two of a kind”. Another issue of this year’s awards is that 6 or 7 games were nominated in every category, which is because people nominate their favourite(s) for everything, which is not really objective and fair. As some have proposed, there may be a jury next year deciding the nominations, and open voting then. In my opinion, that’d be a great modification of the awards, considering that the people in it have played most games released, and nominate each game for the exact category. Only time will tell, of course.

Now, for the other news that came up that night – Epileptic Fish is working on a sequel to “Two of a kind”. We do not know much about it just at the moment, except that you will play Tim and Tiffany again, that the original team will work on it, and that this time the twins will be investigating a murder. Thanks for the leak, guys! And Dart, too.

Other things that are worth mentioning are that “The Historical League of Bouncy Boxing” won the best non-adventure game award. Of course, many of us do not consider this a surprise, but last year there was quite a turn in this category. Maniac Mansion Deluxe won the best scripting award, which it fully deserves for making a 1:1 remake with the original.

Last but definitely not least, Francisco Gonzalez, known as “Grundislav”, won the lifetime achievement award, for his hard work throughout the last year. Lets not forget – he made four relatively long games in an year – something which takes most people far longer.

That, and the thoughts in the bubbles around this article is more or less everything worth mentioning from this year’s AGS Awards ceremony. All in all, it was a great experience, and I hope it will get better next year.

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Darty: It feels… awesome. I’m really glad that the AGS community liked our TOAK game. And to be honest, I did not expect the award at all, so this is a welcome surprise for me. As for the future… expect a TOAK 2, definitely. And perhaps my Hansel and Gretel game.

Dave Gilbert: I never know WHAT to expect.  “Two of a Kind” was very small time compared to behemoths like Apprentice and Ben Jordan. It was made for the ATC after all, so it was written and designed very quickly. The fact that people liked it enough to nominate it for the AGS awards was a great honor. As for the future… who knows? I’m trying to cobble together a “special edition” version of ToaK, with improved everything (music, backgrounds and sprites), as well as a semi-sequel.  There’s also “Bestowers of Eternity”, but that’s too much to get into here.

Scotch: I think we would have been surprised if ToaK won nothing at all, considering the number of nominations.  Best Gameplay was one of the best we could have been awarded.

BerserkerTails: Being a winner? Well, I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel good. Of course, it’s not about winning awards, but making great games, and I think everyone I worked with on Two of a Kind completed that task. I think I expected at least winning one award tonight, which we did, so I’m happy. I mean, it’s best not to go in with expectations, because they’ll just be crushed by a Herculean Effort. And what I’m working on right now? Well… I’m working with Dave Gilbert once again on “Bestowers of Eternity”, and you didn’t hear it from me, but we might also be working on a sequel to a certain award winning game… You play as Tim and Tiffany again… It’s a back-burner project right now, still deep in Pre-Production. I mean, it doesn’t even have a real name except ToaK2 right now! But I think you’ll probably see an official announcement about it sometime later this year. All I can say right now is that the mystery starts with a murder this time, not a theft.

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Grundislav: It feels good. I didn’t expect anything, I was a little disappointed ghormak didn’t get the best music, but I’m biased And you can expect more ben jordan cases, hopefully people will continue to play and enjoy them.

What will we be playing in 2005?

Another year is near its end, and questions like our heading pop up. Here are just a few of the most awaited games of 2005:

Quest for Glory II VGA – The remake of the sierra classic is certainly on top of many people’s lists, and that is certainly not a coincidence. It has been two years since the AGDs released the magnificent King’s Quest II VGA, and everything indicates that this remake will be even better. I can hardly wait to see the sauruses animated in beautiful VGA or to fight for glory once more. Moreover, you will be able to import your character from QfG I and transfer him/her to the third installment of the saga. The game, if rumours are to be believed, is quite close to beta stage, which most probably means that it will be released in the first quarter of the New Year. Keep your fingers crossed!

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Indiana Jones and the Fountain of Youth – Although the 2005 release of this title is highly doubtful, it is certainly worth mentioning here. Don’t grab your fedora yet though.

Shadowplay – Another game that might not be released in 2005, but again, quite worthy of mentioning. All fans of the Gabriel Knight series should watch out for this one.

The Find – We previewed this game in one of the previous issues of the AGS Ezine, and it is indeed something you should be looking forward to. I will only name the creators – Herculean effort productions, creators of the two Apprentice games.

Goldlagoon – Another title we have previewed, and it will almost certainly be out in the next year. The only thing I need to know to get me excited about this title is that the music, as the whole game, actually, is made by Petteri A. Thumbs up!

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King’s Quest III VGA – Infamous adventurers will surely not justify their name with that remake – it will be almost 1:1 to the original, it will have gorgeous VGA graphics and digital soundtrack. Quite a lot of the game is already finished, so I guess that it won’t be that long before we get to play this title.

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Bard’s Blood – Yet another Gabriel Knight-inspired and previewed in the AGS Ezine game. Dragonrose has made some changes in style and gameplay since then, but it surely will be something every adventurer would want to play

The legend of lost lagoon – What? Another lagoon game? Why yes! And this one’ll surely take you back to the pleasant memories of classic Lucas arts titles like “Monkey Island” or “Day of the tentacle”

The Ben Jordan Games – We played them this year, and still there are 6 more to come out. While not all may come out in 2005, most of them certainly will. Thumbs up!

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And those are just few of the games that will (hopefully) be out in 2005. What other goodies will it bring us? Time will only tell, and I can’t wait to find out.

Non-linearity in adventure games – the only way forward?

Objectively, what is an adventure game today? A story-driven game in which the character talks to others, picks items up and solves puzzles. The same thing it was back in 1984, when Roberta Williams created “King’s Quest I: Quest for the Crown”. Or in 1987 when Lucasfilm Games released “Maniac mansion”. Or in 1993 when “Day of the Tentacle” came out. Or in 1999 when “The Longest Journey” was released. Or in 2004,  when adventure games don’t seem to have made any progress ever since they were invented.

Of course, many of you will say that the aforementioned games brought the genre to a new level – technically, yes. But not game-wise. The graphics were shinier, the interface was better. The music became General MIDI, then digital. There was even voice acting. But apart from that, nothing has changed. Still, the concept was the same – write a story, put some puzzles in and let the character solve them in order to progress in the game. Well it’s about time that that concept should be broken and a new one should take his place.

Once asked why the adventure games don’t sell as well as they did, Jordan Mechner, creator of revolutionary games such as “Price of Persia” and “The Last Express” answered “The question isn’t why they don’t sell; it’s why they aren’t fun anymore.” Or something like that – you get the point. My answer is that, to the mass audience, such games have been done, and done to death. I consider myself a hardcore adventure fan, I’ve played all Lucasarts and Sierra titles, and I still discover more and more adventures – but they are pretty much the same to the average gamer. So, what next? What can bring adventure games back to life? Or rather, what can make them move forward? There are two ways – the first one is to make the story exceptional – as games like Gabriel Knight, King’s Quest VI and Grim Fandango already did. However, I consider the adventure games at this stage – great stories, but limited interaction, and that means that this will not push them further.  

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The only way forward is to make adventure games with immense interaction; in other words – non-linear. Let’s now take a look at the common types of non-linearity:

The first and maybe most often used method is to create a false freedom of action to the player by giving him the chance to visit 20-30 locations at once. Games like Monkey Islands used this – however, I hate being hit with a large box of puzzles on the head, and that I know that I must solve ALL of them to proceed. Not really non-linearity, do you not think?

The second type is to create optional puzzles. It was even in games of the mid-80s like early King’s Quests, but then it was more like ‘go get full score’. In my opinion, if used as in a Gabriel Knight III-type structure, it could help push the adventures one step closer to perfection.

The next type is multi-linearity. As in Fate of Atlantis, you had to make a choice, and depending on that, the puzzles were different. This gives more replay value, but less freedom of action.

Alternate solutions – something that has also been known for quite a while, but nevertheless it somehow doesn’t really get implemented into today’s adventures – can’t tell you why, come to think of it, really.

All of the above, however, cannot make a game non-linear; they just add to replay value. Now let’s take a look at what has been done that can make an adventure game really non-linear:

Adding life to the characters. Come to think of it, a character that sits on one place doesn’t seem too realistic, does it? Well apparently Jordan Mechner was thinking the same when he created “The Last Express”. In it, every character was doing something at every moment, and they talked to each other.

Adding events that depend on the character’s actions. This was also implemented in “The Last Express”, and in an overlooked game from Konami named “Shadow of Destiny”. It is a vital part of the  truly non-linear game – it actually gives the feeling that the player can weave the story himself.

Sadly, that is all that has been made to make adventures non-linear. Let me propose some ideas of my own:

Make some kind of a realistic dialogue system – not just the ‘ask menu’, but one that has moods of characters in mind, one that can change events; one that could make the player spend hours talking to the same person – the text parser seems the best way to do it, and it will need a lot of effort.

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Reduce the inventory puzzles. I know that this won’t make the game non-linear but I will say it anyway – no-one picks up the last piece of junk to use it on the keyhole. The main reason that I think they should be reduced is that they are overdone – in games considered classic inventory puzzles were 90% of the whole games.

And last but not least, make as much as possible interactive, and interactive in many ways. In the most non-linear games I have played, “The last express” and “Shadow of Destiny”, it was either a smart-cursor (yeah right) or an action button.

So, if those games that were non-linear didn’t sell why would a new one do so? Well, action games now are like adventures in mid-90s. Many, many clones and just graphical and sound improvements. Pretty much the same applies to strategy and RPG games. It is about time for the gamer to look for alternatives. And this alternatives can be adventure games. That is, if they evolve from the state in which they have been for the last 15 years and bring the genre to a new level. Whatsmore, the limitations that existed for Jordan Mechner in terms of graphics and disc space are now gone, with 3D and DVDs. I sincerely hope that there will be a game creator smart enough to understand that. If not, we can say good-bye to adventure as a genre – it will slowly, slowly fade away.

Mittens 2004 log by JetXL

DAY 1 : FRIDAY

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7:15 My dad brought me to the airport. After we looked at the
airplanes for a while, I decided to check in.
10:00 I forgot to put off my belt at the security port so I got the full grab-my-crotch, stroke-my-chest and check-out-the-colour-of-my-underwear frisk search.
10:20 Boarding
was supposed to start now, but the airplane wasn’t here yet. It was delayed so they prepared another.
11:10 Finally they began with boarding, the plane was supposed to take off at 11:20. First time I didn’t had a window seat in an airplane. Instead I sat between a fat guy and a drunk.
11:45 Take off. The drunk guy got on my nerves. Making loud sounds like; “iaiaia”, “hugm”, “pfua”. I have no idea how he got through security.
12:40 The plane just landed in Paris and taxiing to the terminal when the drunk was rolling a cigarette. I commented that the this was a non-smoking area. “Am I smoking now?!” said the drunk. I said that the airport was a non-smoking area as well. “Am I smoking now?!” he continued. Going into a discussion with a drunk can only lead into a fight so I decided to let it slide. After all, I ha
d a plane to catch. He left the plane very fast. I know for sure that he forgot his bag in the luggage compartment. Karma.
13:00 I finally walked out the airplane and I only had 15 minutes to make it to gate C 89 where my connected flight to New York was. Airport Charles de Gaulle SUCKS. It’s like a rat maze. You are forced to take a shuttle bus to go another terminal. Luckily the gate numbers started backwards. It turned out that my flight had a delay. I wouldn’t have made it if it hadn’t
had. In the gate way I had to be frisk searched again. This time not so intense but I did have to take off my shoes. This time I did have a window seat, but I had to sit next to a 4 year old for 8 hours. That kid was all right, he was pretty quiet for a 4 year old. The food was bad, the movies were bad, but the music was great. Jazz, Cuban and lounge. The kind of music that you can listen for hours when sitting down. None of that country crap. After two hours in flight the mother pushed the kid’s seat a bit back and the guy sitting behind it just freaked. Man: “This is as far as the seat goes!”. Mother: “Look, I’m no
t touching the seat”

Man: “This is as far as the fucking seat goes!”

Mother: “Don’t get violent near a 4 year old child!”

Man: “You’re using him as a shield, what bullshit!”

What’s wrong with this guy. For real, he’s getting all worked up because a little kid pushes a seat to the back. 😡
3:00 (note. flying back trough 6 time zones) New York was cloudy. Standing in line for the U.S. customs took a long time (45 min!). And the customs officer was really nice (not).
4:00 By following Dave Gilbert’s instructions I made it to the AVIS rental car centre “lounge”. I didn’t saw any other mittens folk
s and I was supposed to be late. I thought I recognised Dave but I didn’t know for sure. So I sat next to him, flashed my blue cup on my bag and waited him to make the first move because that’s the kind of guy I am.
Dave spotted my blue cup and first contact was made. We started to chat about AGS games we made, politics and mittens history. And I started to write this log. Some time passed when Dave’s cell phone rang.

AGA on the phone: “THE BRITS HAVE ARRIVED!”.

Dave: “That’s great, who are you?”.
6:30 After solving the monorail puzzle the Brits and Andail made it into the AVIS lounge. We talked about AGS games, politics and mittens history again while waiting for grundislav.

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9:00 Grundislav arrives at JFK but getting to the AVIS lounge seemed to be an impossible task for him. After waiting an hour, calling his dead cell phone and sending several mitteneers to look for him, we were at last united and ready to go. The van had seven seats. We were with 8 people plus luggage…Cosy.
10:00 Getting out of New York and even getting out of JFK was a hard task. Letting Andail ask for direction turned out to be a good idea. Really! Driving trough New York City on Liberty Way while listening to GTA music…Surreal indeed. But then we
got into a terrible traffic jam. The highway was out for repair or something. Sadly, the van didn’t had a flux compassator.
1:00 Out of the city, we went to a Burger King for some food. On the road again, we played catalogue (the people that were awake at least). The directions that Eric’s father gave to Dave was a handy walktrough.
4:00 We arrived at the cottage, thanks to the road flare. MillsJRoss, Eric (MrCollosal), and Jess(Eric’s girlfriend) we waiting for us. We did a fast introduction, made some photos, Ericexplained the toilet rules, we walked to the lake to se the sun rise and then went to bed. There were 6 beds so some of us had to share mattresses or sleep on the ground.
The cottage is spac
y. There is all this stuff on the wall. It’s like the cottage has an interdimensional link with E-bay.
DAY
2 : SATURDAY


12:00 I Woke up by the telephone sound. It turned out that netmonkey missed his flight (because he thought he was already here???). He would take another flight on Monday.
1:30 Everybody is awake and drinking black coffee (because there is no milk).
3:00 We went to the town store to get food for the coming week. Grundy got his Captain Crunshy. We also tanked gas, compared the low gas prices and m0ds bought sunglasses.
When we got back we went swimming in the lake (it’s a water reservoir for a lake). Mills and me wanted to swim to the mysterious Diarrhoea Island(tm) but Eric advised us not to. Since he’s a moderator we listened to him (for now). We build a sandcastle…and destroyed it. We talked on the beach and gave some ducks a had time. Afterwards we played some Frisbee.
9:00 We ate some kind of spaghetti. And the we talked about our upcoming games we’re working on. We couldn’t show any material because we didn’t have a computer. I went to bed at 1:00. I was tired of all the swimming. I hadn’t swam that intensively since last mittens Olympics. I don’t know how late the others went to bed but I can guess it had to be very late.
DAY
3 : SUNDAY

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8:40 I got up and took a shower. I also started to make questions for the mittens quiz. Usually m0ds does it, but I didn’t think it was fair that m0ds couldn’t play. I also brought some prizes from home.
11:00 Most people were awakening by now so we had breakfast and talked about adventure games some more. This is mittens after all.
2:00 We played Frisbee, darts, bow and arrow, badminton and volleyball. After that some of us went swimming. The rest stayed on the beach building a campfire for tonight.
7:00 We sat at the camp fire talking about our favourite 3 AGS games. Back in the cottage the toilet got clogged. And while the rest were all enjoying the campfire heat, we let poor Jess look for fire wood all by herself.
12:00 The fire died out. We went back to the cottage and watched Aqua teen hunger force on cartoon network. It’s about a hamburger, a milkshake and French fries.
DAY
4 : MONDAY


9:00 Eric’s dad fixed the toilet. Yay! I went to bed again.
1:00 We went to the local store again for more food. Dark Stalkey got his donut fix. And don’t forget the visit to Meatland. When we got back it started to rain. We stayed inside the cottage and played board games. Mills, Andail, Stalkey, AGA Dave and me played Risk. After 2 hours we declared ourselves as winner and went outside to play dodge ball. We were a bit sweaty after dodge ball mittens rules. Mills, AGA, Erik, Jess and me went swimming while the rest watched some more aqua teen hunger force.
10:00 Netmonkey arrived. He brought a laptop with him! Jess made Spanish rice and Eric’s mom did the dishes while the rest of us sat on our lazy asses (shame on us). We had dinner and a round of questions like when did we play an adventure game for the first time. After that we watched our demo’s on the laptop. Grundislav did some Cristopher Walken impressions. We went to bed at 4:00.
DAY
5 : TUESDAY


1:00 It was raining and the grass was wet. We couldn’t go outside. We played super street puzzle Alfa instead. Jess kicked our asses. We played 7 days a sceptic that netmonkey brought with him. And we did the mittens quiz that I organised. After that grundy and m0ds canoed their way to Diarrhoea Island(tm) in the rain while the rest played more super puzzle fighter II turbo (or however that sweat game was called).
7:00 We left to a bar with pool tables nearby. But there was only one pool table and some kids were using it. Not long after, we left to Saritoga, a collage town and loads of bars. We couldn’t get into any because some of us are under 21. We could enter an Irish pub, though. By letting the people with ID buy the drinks we could cheat the system.
1:30 When we came back, scummbudy was waiting for us in his jeep. He managed to get here and didn’t wait for EA to call him for a job. Inside the cottage, we discussed Eric’s idea about using more verb words in adventure games. Like punch, smell or hide. I guess it’s a good idea, but I don’t think that all our puzzle inspiration problems are solved by this.
DAY
6 : WEDNESDAY


10:00 The septic truck came by to suck all our crap away. When it stopped raining we went swimming. Eric?s dad took the water jet ski out for a spin. And we finally explored diarrhoea Island(tm) in all it’s glory. Mills and I tried to swim to the island again but we were stopped by Eric’ dad. It’s not allowed to swim far from the coast with no boat. After exploring Dave and I canoed back. The rest returned by jetski. Then we took the group photo’s.
4:00 We went to the store for the last time. Then we thought up the games for a mittens Olympics ad played them. We played darts, archery and b.b. gunshooting. Sadly it started to rain so we went inside and played super street puzzle 2 instead. No camp fire night tonight.
8:00 Some of us started on making a mittens AGS game while the rest was battling with another clogged pipe. This time it was the sink. The we talked about Grundislav’s “final puzzle” dilemma. We went to bed at 2:00. Early for a mittens night but we were leaving the next day.
DAY
7 : THURSDAY


12:00 We finished the mittens Olympics. We played hammer the nail in the tree, throw the Frisbee near the telephone pole, armwrestling and ring dodge ball. MillJRoss won the Olympics. Then we went swimming for just a while. After that, Jess and Scott (Scummbuddy) went to buy bread because the ones that we bought yesterday were mouldy. We worked further on mittens quest that now has the new title “8 days a sceptre”. We took a picture of our last supper together. And had a last round question about what we liked about this last week.
7:00 We left the cottage and said goodbye to Eric, Jess, Mills and Netmonkey. We went with the van while M0ds and Scott drove behind us in the jeep. We got lost and separated coincidence we met in a gas station. After that we drove straight to NYC. After we got lost in the city a couple times we arrived in Dave’s apartment. Small but it has everything you need.
12:00 We went to a diner that was still open at midnight, then back to Dave’s apartment to sleep.
DAY
8 : FRIDAY


9:00 We got up at 9:00 so we could see the city. Dave showed us around like a cityguide. Adam (Dark Stalkey) and I had some trouble in the metro station with our tickets. The machine gave us tickets that were expired. Mysteries of technology. We walked over time square in a hasty pace. We checked out the virgin mega store that is 3 floors deep while some rappers gave us a freestyle rap in front. Adam and A.G.A. bought two seasons of aqua teen hunger force dvd’s but we didn’t had time to stay any longer. Then we walked over the Rockefeller centre towards the Hard Rock Cafe, where we ate some expensive burgers. Chris didn’t know who Corney Love Hole was. After we ate we went to the empire state building. We wanted to go up but the waiting time was to long (1 1/2 hour). When Chris was getting ice from a Mr. Softy, I entered a comicbook shop and bought loads of stuff that I can’t buy back home.
1:00 After this we hurried back (bought some I love NY T-shirts in the process). Along the way we came across a game shop. I and Adam bought “the longest journey” while the others waited for us for 10 minutes. We planned to go to a kareoke bar but there was no more time.
3:00 We packed our bags for the last time and headed to the airport. Andail stayed in Dave’s apartment, because his flight would leave tomorrow. Once there we said goodbye to grundislav and then to the rest of the Brits. I said goodbye to Dave and Scott who would drive back to Dave’s apartment in Scott’s jeep (the van was back at AVIS). I was almost 5 hours too early and my flight wasn’t even displayed on the tv screen yet. There wasn’t one free seat in the food court so I sat near the Air France check desk. I guess I was the first to check in because the lady at the desk was suprized. I got another window seat because I was so early.
23:05 My flight had a 10 minute delay, but now we’re taking off. I’m sitting next to a smelly Chec and there is no tv. Luckily I bought both Michael Moore’s books on the airfield’s news stand. There are no seats behind me so I can lean my chair as far back as I want.
DAY
9: SATURDAY

 


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12:00 6 hours later near Paris. I realised that I was late. My connected flight to Holland began boarding 5 minutes ago and would leave at 12:35. Airport The Goulle sucks big hairy uncleaned nuts. In fact from the air the airport looks like two giant monkey testicles. It takes half an hour to go to another terminal and not 5 minutes walking like the nice lady at the desk on JFK said. After running like a madman I found out that the plane left without me. The nice (really) French customs officers gave me directions to where I could book another flight. After standing in line a French guy tried to cut in line. But when I said “Oi, get back behind me!” he made no fuzz and did it. My next flight would go at 15:10. Now I’m sitting in the smokers area in the airport. Not because I like being surrounded by smoking French people but because it’s the only place with airco. Something you take for granted in America. I hope my luggage is all right.
15:20 The plane should have left by now but there was a delay. This time there was a cleaning problem. The only time when my flights didn’t had an delay was when I missed it.
15:40 I got a window seat again. This time first class. Well, there aren’t any leather seats, but the minute I sat down they offered me orange juice in a stylish plastic mini wine glass. Later on they gave me cake and a cracker with salmon. Yes, I was living it up. Once on Amsterdam airport and waiting very long until my luggage arrived made my way to the translation. I noticed two bums disguised as travellers (they were wearing rugsacks). They had a hook and were trying to scrape money out of the receiver coinslot from the vending machine. Apparently they had built in a secret compartment that would catch up the change money instead. So if you’re ever at Schiphol airport train station, kick against the coinslot as hard as you can.
18:30 I’m in the train on my way home. It will take a while when I reach my home town. When I got there it was already dark and I had to walk with my luggage back home for 3 km or so. Now I can finish this log.

Brittens 2004 Report by Petteri Aartolahti

Thursday 24th of June – Day 0

I met up with Pessi a bit after 8PM at the airport of Joensuu. We had to take a flight from Joensuu to the airport of Helsinki-Vantaa, because our plan of going to Helsinki-Vantaa by a car didn’t work out… The airport of Helsinki-Vantaa was crowded when we arrived and we were a bit confused with that being our first time to travel by a plane.

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            We managed to check-in our baggage. After that we ate and just wandered around the terminal until we decided it was time to get some sleep. We found a peaceful looking place where to sleep, but when we actually tried to sleep, people started walking by while pushing those noisy baggage trolleys. Hmph!

 

Friday 25th of June – Day 1
I got up of the rather uncomfortable bench, only to realise it was still way too early. Oh well. I slept about 5 minutes during the whole night, but weird thing was that I wasn’t really tired. So, we bought some candy for breakfast and slowly started to get to the gates. Once in the plane we got proper breakfast and some lousy tv-programs. Seats weren’t really comfortable, but I fell asleep couple of times for a few minutes.
            After three hours we arrived Heathrow. Needless to say that Heathrow was much bigger than Helsinki-Vantaa. We got our baggage and bought chocolate bars to get some change for the bus. Now was time to found Heathrow central bus station, and after a while we got there, just in time. The bus driver was starting the engines right when we got in the bus. There was a Finnish woman in the same bus who was living in
Staines. Luckily she told us the right place to got off the bus in Staines. Without her, I don’t know where we would be now!
            We arrived
Staines bus station. As I stepped out of bus, I saw very familiar looking guy coming towards us. Hey, we just met custard! He told us that m0ds was going to pick us up and take us to the campsite. Well, time passed and eventually we learned that m0ds’ car was ”teh crap!”. Luckily custard’s mom was kind enough to take us to the campsite. Once at the campsite we started waiting for others and pitching custard’s extremely complicated tent. Finally m0ds arrived! m0ds had three tents with him so we started pitching them, and soon Magintz turned up. AGA came a bit later and I was disappointed when I learned that Scotch couldn’t go. m0ds, AGA and Pessi went to to buy some food and when they came back, Creed Malay was with them. After a while Chris Jones finally arrived! Everyone who hadn’t met him earlier had loooong handshake with him.
            We started barbecueing some burgers and hotdogs. We spent the rest of the night mostly by chatting. At 10PM Pessi and I went to bed, we were tired after spending the last night at the airport, and rest of the Britteneers moved into the ”General discussion” tent.

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Saturday 26th of June – Day 2

Most of us woke up around 9AM. According to weather forecast it was going to be rainy on saturday and so it was. I slept well and after having showers we had some cereal for breakfast. AGA got a bit paranoid when we offered cereal to him and then took out our cameras (if you don’t know why was that, check one of m0ds’ Mittens 2003 photos…). Finally mattgoble arrived. We sat for a while in the big tent and when the weather got a bit better, we walked to Staines.
            When we got to
Staines, we bought meals from McDonald’s and sat at the towncenter of Staines while eating. Creed joined us again, he had encountered some problems earlier today when some of Britteneers were buying breakfast, so he had to spend the morning in Staines. After lunch we visited some record – and computer game stores and also went to see Shrek 2. It was a really good movie. Later on we took a bus to Laleham and got back to the campsite.
            We watched demos of upcoming AGS games, Creed and I had demos and Magintz had some screenshots. Apparently my demos ate so much batteries of custard’s laptop that we couldn’t see Creed’s demos. There was a washroom in which the batteries could have been recharged, but someone was already using the socket. Also, m0ds had a folder with him that contained all kind of information about FOY, it was interesting read.

            M0ds didn’t have a quiz with him so he started working on one. Rest of us came up with few questions. Apparently I got 10 points out of 16 and I won! I got to choose first from three prizes, so I chose Lemon Demon’s latest album, custard took Broken Sword II and Creed had Full Throttle. Rest of the night we spend by chatting. There was some youngs in the tents next to us and they were having really loud party of some sort. We could have shouted”Shut the f**k up” but… Eventually we went to sleep.

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Sunday 27th of June – Day 3

Weather was really nice on sunday so it was ideal day for trip to London. I woke up at 8AM and after breakfast Chris, Magintz, Matt, Pessi and I went to London. We drove to Staines in Chris’ AGS-car-with-a-windshield-held-on-by-sticky-tape. In Staines we took a train to London.

 

[brittens6.jpg – Waiting for the train.]

 

            London was pretty much how I imagined it to be. We visited and saw many tourist traps, including, London Eye, Big Ben, National Gallery… and also went to some shops. We also travelled in the crowded tube and went arcade in which we played some games. Eventually we headed back to train station and took a train back to Staines. While in the train, it started raining.

            Back at the campsite we took some group photos and finally saw Creed’s demos. From what I saw and heard during Brittens, there are some really interesting AGS games being made. Matt, Chris and AGA had to leave. The rest of us spent the rest of the day by chatting, eating and drawing until it got late.

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Monday 28th of June – Day 4

We got up around 8AM because Creed was leaving. I had some biscuits and milk for breakfast, yummy! We then started packing our stuff so that everything was ready when we had to leave. m0ds had a nap because he wasn’t used to get up so early and the rest of us played some games on custard’s laptop. When m0ds woke up, we went to the nearby field and played a bit with football and frisbee until Pessi and I had to leave. m0ds gave us lift to Staines in which we took a bus to Heathrow.

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So, what to say? I really enjoyed being there. It was really nice experience and I learned a lot of British culture. Just remembering Matt’s and Chris’ attempts to say my name, chats in the General discussion tent and so on makes me want to go there again. Thanks to m0ds for organising the whole event, Magintz for letting me to stay in his tent and rest of the guys for attending. Hopefully I’ll meet all of you guys again!

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Does AGS have what it takes to create a fully commercial effort?

These days, with the new versions of AGS becoming more and more powerful, comes the question: “Is it powerful enough for a commercial effort?” The answer to this question cannot be concrete, but in my opinion is ‘yes’. Lets now have a brief look at what the limitations of AGS are, tech-wise:

       15000 sprites

          400 views

          40 GUIs

          300 inventory items

          150 characters

          500 interactive dialogs

          Resolution up to 800*600

          Colour depth up to 32 bit

It is obvious that hardly has any adventure game any features over these. Except the resolution, of course, but we don’t see much 2D adventure games using higher resolutions anyway – the only one I can think of is Runaway.

            The only semi-commercial game made with AGS thus far is “The adventures of Fatman”, a game that honestly, did not use all of the capabilities of AGS. However, it sold around 400 copies, a number not bad at all for an adventure that wouldn’t have been considered that good even in early 90s. But such is not the topic. The topic is whether a modern adventure like “The Black Mirror”, “Syberia” or “Runaway” can be made with AGS. Recently I played through the first one with this purpose. I examined every thing and thought how it may be done in AGS. And guess what. There is nothing that cannot be done in AGS. At times, I even had the feeling that the creators from “Unknown identity” were using the Rain/Snow plug-in! It used pre-rendered 3D backgrounds, pseudo 3D characters which were downgraded to 2D and AVIs for cutscenes with moving camera and other things that could not be done with the game’s engine.

            Now comes the other question. Is there anyone who is capable of pushing AGS to its limits? The answer to this one is without a shadow of doubt ‘yes’. The single game that will use the 800*600 resolution and the 32 bit colour depth thus far is Jimmy Jam, and I must say that it looks at almost Runaway quality, which I consider to be the maximum of 2D art. And although it will be freeware, it would surely sell. Other is the matter that graphics do not make the game and a professionalist has to take care of every component in a commercial game.

            As for profit, Mike Doak said that he made modest profit from “The adventures of Fatman”; enough to cover his expenses on the game and have some money to spend. You have to bear in mind though, that this game was not that good and received grades around 60-65% from gaming magazines. If someone makes a really good and modern game with AGS, like “The black mirror”, it would sell around 20000 copies without much advertising (maybe just posting links on forums etc). With such however, the number of copies sold could drastically increase – Runaway, for example, has sold around half a million copies to this day, bearing in mind that it has not yet been published in all countries.

            At the end of the day, if you’re looking for an engine to make your commercial game with, you can look no further – AGS is the one for you. If you and your team have the qualities needed to make a kickass game, please do!

7 dirty ways to lengthen your game without losing the player: a “Don’t do this at home” article

Introduction. Almost every time I play an amateur adventure game and finish it, I say “Was that it?” It is a common question, since most of the amateur adventure games last less than 5 hours. Here, I give you seven dirty ways to lengthen your game without losing the player.

Number one. Make the text unskippable. If you want to get really dirty, set the text speed to slow. Even slower. Anyway, your game should be worth playing if you do this.

Number two. Make the character move as a slug. As a wounded slug (a.k.a. Gilbert Goodmate). In that case, it would be nice to make double-click exits possible, but have a lot of scrolling rooms. Anyway, if you set the character’s speed to too slow, the player may get pissed off and quit the game.

Number three. Make a crappy GUI with 1001 menus or commands. Light version: 5 days a stranger, where you had to right click and select the command. Full version: Curse of enchantia or the scroll, where the GUI had more than 15 actions. For Curse of Enchantia, they were more than 30. Now this will drastically lengthen your game. Use with care.

Number four. Make a timed puzzle. But not your run-off-the-mill timed puzzle. The kind of timed puzzle that involves fooling around for 10-40 minutes until the thing the player needs appears(For example, after a player talks to someone, he tells him to get a hot dog. But only after 20 minutes of fooling around, the player finds a hot dog somewhere). Dirty, eh?

Number five. Make an illogical puzzle. I know that these have been overused, but it is a classic. If only one or so, the player will not get much frustrated solving them (…right?). The amount of illogical puzzles you can add in your game without losing the player depends on the quality of the other components.

Number six.  A really dirty one: make cool background music. This will get the player to just stand in one place without doing anything just to listen to the music. They certainly didn’t overuse these!

Number seven. Do not do a map of the region or something. Let the player travel through the beautiful lands of your game!

Conclusion. Use all of the above with care. If you just put all of them in a game, the player will almost certainly quit it after the fifth minute of gameplay, and instead of lengthening the gameplay, you will drastically shorten it. I hope I helped you with designing your game!

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