Interview with Wadjet Eye Games

Following the release of the splendid independent adventure game “Blackwell Unbound”, Dave Gilbert, Erin Robinson and Thomas Regin kindly answered the questions of the AGS Ezine regarding their work on the game and what is to come.

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Tell us more about yourselves, what you do, what you like, etc.

Dave Gilbert: I’m 31, lived in the NYC area most of my life, and design/write adventure games fulltime.

Erin Robinson: You mean outside the adventure gaming world? I like drawing comics, and I’ve been lucky enough to see my stuff in a few local publications. I guess my “real” job is finishing up my degree, and this year I’m doing an honours thesis in behavioural neuroscience. I’m also a published bead artist. They’re a lot like pixels. 😉

Thomas Regin: My name is Thomas Regin and I’m from Denmark (the small dot on the map just
above Germany). I’m male, caucasian, 31 years old and I have a wonderful girlfriend and a beautiful 7 months old daughter. I’ve performed and composed music for as long as I can remember and I’m working hard to add to my “official” list of compositional merits. So far they include some demo
work for the sample library Garritan’s Personal Orchestra, a few radio station jingles and short movies and the background music for the space simulator OrbiterSim’s Sound AddOn. And now Blackwell Unbound – which I hope won’t be my last PC-game. It’s been a life long dream of mine to compose music for PC-games and adventure games in particular, ever since I was introduced to them in my early childhood (on the Commodore 64, of course). My personal favorites include the first two Police Quest games, the Monkey Island Series, Gabriel Knight and Leisure Suit Larry 1-3. And of course the Blackwell Series!

How did you get interested in creating adventure games? Which were the ones that inspired you in particular?

Dave Gilbert: Why does any guy enter the game industry? To meet girls, of course. Aside from that, I started writing games as a way to distract myself from the aftermath of September 11th. Being a New Yorker at that time was a trying experience, and writing games for fun helped me get through it. As for inspiration, there are two games that I’ve definitely put up on a pedestal. Gabriel Knight and Discworld Noir.

“Gabriel Knight”, with its research based storytelling and interesting characters, was the first time I really fell in love with the genre. It’s very difficult to give a detailed backstory while providing good gameplay (most games have you read diaries or show cut-scene flashbacks), so I admire GK for that.
“Discworld Noir” was the first detective game where I actually felt like a real detective, sorting through clues and making connections, as opposed to just solving random arbitrary puzzles. Plus the sleek noir atmosphere – with the rain and the jazz soundtrack – made me fall in love with it.
The Blackwell series is me trying to do both GK and DN at the same time. 🙂

Erin: King’s Quest VII will always hold a special place in my heart. I first played it back in grade 4, and it was neat to see a game with two female player characters. Up until then all the women I’d seen in video games were either holding weapons or being rescued (or doing god-knows-what, in the case of Duke Nukem 3D). I used to draw little sketches of what Commander Keen would look like as a girl, that sort of thing. I think I always knew I’d make a game someday, and it was just a matter of finding the right people to work with.

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How did you join the team? Did you have any experience with AGS games before that?

Thomas: I’ve been a member at bigbluecup.com for around a year, but I’ve never really been very active. Whenever I post, threads seem to die instantly (heh!), so I try to post as little as possible and just lurk in the background instead. Basically I registered there hoping that I might find someone who needed music for a game, but it was pretty hard to get into the “circle of trust”. So I pretty much forgot about my membership until a good friend of mine (and fellow composer), Nikolas Sideris, asked me if I would like to write the music for a new game that he didn’t have the time to do. And that’s how I got in touch with Dave. Luckily Dave and I hit it off from the beginning.

Tell us a bit more about Unbound, some background information about the game itself, how did it strike you to write a prequel, not a sequel?

Dave Gilbert: The game takes place in the early 70s, and stars Lauren Blackwell instead of Rosa Blackwell. Lauren, you might remember from Legacy, was Rosa’s aunt and also bonded to Joey. Originally, the game was going to be a “real” sequel starring Rosa (Called “The Blackwell Convergence”), with occasional flashbacks starring Lauren. In the end, the game was too large and ambitious so I cut the flashbacks out. It seemed a shame to remove them entirely, so I decided to make it into a standalone game.

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How long did it take you to make Unbound? How much time a week did you put into its creation?

Dave Gilbert: It’s difficult to gauge this because it took me 4 months to design the larger game (Blackwell Convergence). I decided to make the flashback sections into a separate game in May, and from there it took four months to complete. It’s a fulltime gig for me, so I try to put at least 8 hours in per day. Some days I work more, some days I work less. Towards the end of production I was putting in 12 hours a day at least! There are also times when I concentrate entirely on marketing/sales and don’t work on the game at all, so it varies.

Erin: My part took about two months, total. The whole thing took four months but I was travelling for part of the summer. Weekly, I’d guess I was putting in about 20 hours.

Thomas: Good question and I wish I knew the answer. I guess I began the “serious” work around 3-4 weeks before the game was released and put in loads of time when inspiration hit.

What was it like working with Dave? Had you played his previous games? If yes, what did you think of them?

Erin: I’d played “The Shivah” when it was freeware and really enjoyed it. Dave has a real knack for storytelling, which I think accounts for a lot of the enjoyment in a game. I also bought “Legacy” when it came out and spent a fun evening in the world of Rosa and Joey. Dave also namedropped me in that game before I’d even really talked to him, which certified his status as “really cool guy.”

He messaged me about “Unbound” at the start of May, and I was instantly sold on the idea. At the start, the game was only going to be about five backgrounds, but Dave realized it’d be better to sell a medium-length game. I told him I was cool with the changes, then coughed and held out my hand. 😉

While I was working, Dave and I would chat over MSN like he was just another coworker in the next cubicle. We’re both slightly neurotic people with coffee habits, so we could get a lot done once the caffeine kicked in. It was a great way to work, and the best summer job I’ve had to date. Getting paid to sit in a Starbucks and do sketches? Hells yeah.

Thomas: Yes, I played Legacy which I absolutely loved. Brilliant story, graphics and gameplay! And I especially enjoyed Peter Gresser’s soundtrack, so I knew what I was up against from the beginning. But Dave’s a really cool guy to work with. He has the grand overview at all times (it seems) and he knows what he wants and was quick to let me know if my demos didn’t live up to his expectations. And that’s how I like to work: Keep writing until I hit something that suits the scene best.


How did you choose the musical direction for the Unbound soundtrack? Was Angelo Badalamenti a conscious influence? What synthesizers, instruments and software did you use? Do you have any released solo or collaborative works?

Thomas: Choosing the musical direction came quite naturally. Nikolas Sideris had already told me that Dave wanted something jazzy which initially scared me half to death, because I don’t consider jazz one of my primary strenghts. However, after watching a couple of early works in progress of the game, I began to hear, in my head, what kind of music that would work. So I sent Dave a little quick demo of how I imagined the opening scene. And he loved it! And although extended slightly, it’s that same demo that’s used for the opening scene in the game. After homing in on what Dave wanted, the rest of the tunes pretty much wrote themselves, although I had to force myself not
to write too catchy and too “dominant” tracks. It did happen a few times as the observant players probably have noticed in the bonus section.
Angelo Badalamenti was not a initially an influence. His style was not something I deliberately aimed for, but after it was brought to my attention that the opening cue was somewhat reminiscent of Badalamenti, I kept this in mind as I wrote the “late night jazz”-cues for the game. The rest is all me, I hope. I also wanted to be a little controversial, which is why I wrote a track with vocals for the end credits theme. I found that after playing the game, it was like watching a good movie, and movies often end with some kind of song as the credits roll over. So I thought about Joey’s “secret” love for Lauren and pretty much wrote a tune about it.
All the tracks were composed, arranged and mixed in Sonar 6 PE using my trusty Yamaha Motif ES7 synthesizer, EWQLSO Gold XP for the big orchestra samples, the amazing pianos from Pianoteq2.0, Session Drummer 2, EWQL Stormdrum and Garritan’s Jazz & BigBand Library for the drum sounds and finally my own vocals.
As for solo releases I don’t have any official ones yet, but it’s my goal (and dream) that one day I’ll be able to publish something entirely of my own!

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How are your solo projects going? Is there a chance that we might see Spooks 2 soon? Will it be somehow influenced by your work for Dave?

Erin: Heh…those. Yes. My priorities at the moment are my thesis and my comics, but I think I should be able to finish up “Nanobots” over Christmas break. As for the Spooks sequel “Skyward,” I’ve actually been working away at the design document in the last few weeks. I can’t get the story out of my head, so I know it’ll get done someday. I probably won’t be able to even start before next summer, unfortunately. Cross your fingers and maybe I’ll have something done in time for Mittens.

As for the “Unbound” influence, I now have a pretty good idea how long it takes me to finish a Photoshop background from scratch. Ideally, this should let me budget my time for the next game. We’ll see how that goes. 😛


What might we expect from the next installment of the Blackwell series, Blackwell Convergence – length, plot outline, price, release date? Will neo noir continue to be a major influence?

Dave Gilbert: I really liked Thomas’s noirish jazz soundtrack for Unbound, and it’s something I’d like to see continue in the future installments (especially since they will get much darker). In terms of length, Convergence is looking to a have more characters, backgrounds, and animation than anything I’ve done before, so that’s an exciting challenge. The price will be $14.99 like Legacy.
As for release date, I’ve learned the hard way not to announce an “official” release date until I know I can meet it, so I’ll hold off announcing that. 🙂 I will say that since the design document was already complete when Unbound was released and several assets had already been created, you won’t have to wait as long this time around.

What have you gained on a personal level from your work on Unbound? Will the team stay together? If not, what are your plans for the future?

Dave Gilbert: Unbound was one of those “happy accidents.” It wasn’t the game I originally intended to make, but it became a game that was great fun to work on. Erin and Thomas were so awesome it made production a “zero stress” affair. Thomas is definitely on board for the next game, although Erin is not. If Erin didn’t have that “busy college life” thing getting in the way, I’d snap her up again in a heartbeat.

Erin: I don’t think we’ll be seeing a reunion project or anything, but I’ll definitely be watching the future Wadjeteye projects closely. While wearing my team Wadjeteye trucker hat. 😀

Thomas: Since this was my first experience with a PC-game I guess I have learned a lot! To begin with, I was unsure about the whole process, but Dave made everything very easy for me. So I hope I’ll feel a bit more confident next time. Apart from this, it was all great fun and I’d do it again any day! And I love the positive feedback I’ve received for this soundtrack! Except for when my baby arrived, this has absolutely made my year!!

Dave and I are continuing where we left off a few weeks ago, so I’ve already started composing for his next installment, Convergence, which will come out somewhere in the beginning of next year. This time featuring even better music from a more confident composer (or complete crap because I’ve become too confident)! We’ll have to wait and see! 😉

Thanks for your time.

Dave Gilbert: No problem!

Erin: Thanks for making me feel famous. 😉

Thomas: Thanks to everyone who liked the game and the music and thanks to you, Vel, for setting up this interview!

Interview with Crystal Shard, creators of “A Tale of Two Kingdoms”

Lately, a game named “A Tale of Two Kingdoms” has drawn the attention of the general public. The Project leader, Radiant and three other team members kindly took the time to answer the questions of the AGS Ezine.

   Ezine: Tell us a bit more about yourselves – what you do, what you like etc.  

 

Pieter: I’m a software engineer from The Netherlands, with a full-time job, although I’ve been into game design since I was a student. I like travelling, reading books, and gaming, although by the latter I tend to mean boardgames and tabletop roleplaying, rather than computer games. Perhaps surprisingly, I don’t play computer games all that much. I am said to have a quirky sense of humor, and enjoy meeting new people, such as at the Mittens meet.

 

Nikolas: I’m Nikolas Sideris and I’m a composer and sound designer. At the moment I’m at my third year of PhD in composition and I’m also working on several computer games.

 

Fizzii: I’m an engineering/science student from Australia, and have been creating graphics since around 2002. I play the violin and enjoy reading and playing the occasional computer game. I generally like games with a storyline, although I do play The Sims a fair bit as well. 

 

Meerbat: I am a biologist who just completed his Diploma thesis in Munich, Germany, in the field of evolutionary biology and ecology. I am originally from Bulgaria, but have moved a lot in the past few years. I enjoy travelling, though it is mostly work-related in my case. I also like reading books, drawing, playing card and board games, and snorkeling.

 

Ezine: How did the idea for “A Tale of Two Kingdoms” originate?  

 

Pieter: It was inspired by a number of things, most notably a fondness for mythology and fairy tales, as well as certain classic adventure games. Having several cubic yards of fantasy novels in my house also helps.

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Ezine: How was the team assembled?  

 

Pieter: A variety of ways. For several months, I kept an eye on the thread on the AGS forum for people who offer to help, and contacted several of those for ATOTK. Several other team members approached me, asking if they could help out. And yet others were friends of existing team members, and were drawn in by them. We ended up with a very large team, by indie standards, not including nearly fifty people who offered their help at some point but turned out to be short on time, or having a style that was too different from ours.   

 

Nikolas: Radiant was constantly on the look out for members who would potentially help the creation of ATOTK. When I first joined the AGS forums, I places a sort of ad and pretty soon I was contacted by Radiant about the game. We stuck together since then (around 2 years ago).

 

Fizzii: Pieter happened to see a CoC background paintover I had posted in a forum in late 2004 and asked if I would like to join. At the time I had no idea as to the amount of work required in making a game from scratch.

 

Ezine: How did you keep in touch?  

Pieter: Mainly through our forum, although we used e-mail a lot to e.g. exchange resources. Also, we’ve planned semi-regular chat sessions, where everybody would turn up on ICQ or MSN at the same time. This proved somewhat tricky because of the time zones involved – we have team members in Europe and America as well as Australia.

 

 

Nikolas: E-mails, monthly chats, MSN. As a matter of fact, whenever one member of the team (at least the core members) travel to some place where another member is, we to strive to meet. That said, when Radiant was in London, we did meet and chat. Hope to see him again rather soon over here, and of course I would hope to see all the team here. 🙂

 

Fizzii: Chat sessions meant I had to get up at 6am since nearly everyone else lives on the other side of the world, though fortunately, I’m a bit more of a morning person (grin). I also chatted on MSN regularly with Meerbat, the portrait artist, and we worked on some art together, notably the cutscene art (and Meerbat also created some cute animal sprite art while we were discussing possible creatures to put in the ATOTK world).

 

Meerbat: Besides from the forums and the scheduled team chats, we used instant messenging a lot. It was especially helpful for sharing and showing the latest graphics, getting feedback and making the appropriate retouches.

 

 Ezine: What would you advise ambitious game developers who take up large-scale projects with big teams?  

 

Pieter: Generally I would advise them to tackle a smaller project first, because it’s hard to envision the amount of work involved otherwise, and it’s easy to run out of steam. Also, it would seem that smaller teams work more effectively than big teams.  Other than that, communication is vital. The team needs a central person who keeps in touch with everybody and roughly knows what they’re up to. Other than keeping in touch, communication includes being honest about what you can and cannot do, and encouraging feedback from everybody. If a musician doesn’t like a particular sprite, or a background artist has an idea for the story, they should tell the rest of us. All involved should be willing to consider changing and improving their work based on feedback, because if they don’t, chances are that when the games come out, players will make the same comments or complain about them.  From my experience, indie teams tend not to work well with manager-types that contribute no other skills (such as art or coding) to the collaboration, nor with people that have no clear role or task on the team and simply seem to hang around, nor with having overly many storywriters. It’s fine to get ideas and feedback from everybody, it’s not fine to have five writers and one artist.

 

Nikolas: Hmmmmm…. That IS indeed difficult. From my experience, the main thing is that the team members need to respect each other and the work they do. A project leader is a must, and Radiant has been perfect all through the past 2 1/2 years. Also, what is vital, for me at least, is to know in advance how much work is needed, deadlines, and most details for the project. It is one thing to have a deadline six months ahead and need to compose 20 minutes of music, or having a deadline, whenever and having to write however much music for a game.

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Ezine: Why a fantasy game? Don’t you think that there are quite many of those?  

 

Pieter: While there are quite many games in a fantasy setting, in the past few years there haven’t been many adventure games in that setting. Also, fantasy is a very broad genre; we’ve tried to put in things that are uncommon to fantasy, like the goblins’ code of honor, the otherwordly fairies, or the tattoo-based sorcerers with their Pact. Actually the short answer is simply that I like fantasy. I read a lot of fantasy books (Hobb, Zelazny and Erikson being my favorites, as of late) and the “oldschool” games that I like best are the fantasy games like Quest for Glory and LOOM.

 

Nikolas: Well fantasy games are out there pretty much, but I have to say that ATOTK is very much researched and well thought. Furthermore we have to agree that fantasy comes close with imagination (actually in Greek it is the same word :D) so you can never have enough imagination.

 

Ezine: How much time did it take you to finish the game, from scratch to the release of v.1.0?  

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Pieter: About two and a half years, although I should note we took a break occasionally to do something else, such as creating the adventure games META and Warthogs.

 

Ezine: How much time a week did each of you put into creating the game?  

 

Pieter: This varies wildly, because to me, inspiration comes in waves. At the lowest points, I would do nothing at all related to ATOTK for up to a month. At the highest points, I would stay up until 3 AM several nights in a row to get the work done, or spend a full weekend coding, nearly as if it were a full-time job.

 

Nikolas: Oh, that depends. I’m always working on many projects at a time. So when dedicating to the ATOTK game, I would spend more than 20 hours a week. But this would go on for 1-2 weeks time, and then I would go on to a different project, to come back to ATOTK later on.

 

Fizzii: On average, I worked a few hours a week on the graphics. Motivation wasn’t a big problem for me, though when the whole team gets tired, it becomes hard to do work as well.

 

Meerbat: The time I could set aside for working on ATOTK was highly irregular. It depended on the course load I had during the semesters, but I could actually work the least during vacations, because I didn’t have access to the right software and hardware to keep working. Of course after the original to-do list was complete at some point, work became less intensive, though in the graphics department, we spent the time going back and retouching previous work or sometimes coming up with new ideas for close-ups, cutscenes, or critters.  

 

Ezine: How long did it take to beta test the game? Were there any notable obstacles during that period?  

 

Pieter: There have been tests on various builds of the game for at least a year, although several of these are technically alpha tests. In notable obstacles, I remember a build or two that I made late at night that turned out to crash in the second room or so, forcing me to make a new build the next day, and there were a few obscure bugs that were hard to track down because we weren’t sure which room was causing them. What helped was the presence of some good debug options. Other than the standard “get all items” and “teleport” functions, this includes e.g. night mode toggle, cycling through all portraits, or playing any piece of music anywhere.

 

Nikolas: Our strive for perfection got in the way a little bit, as we were beta testing constantly the game, and were nitpicking the game for around 8-9 months now, if not more. So while the game was almost there (let’s say 97% done) we would always touch up things, thus create new bugs to be beta tested. And the game was a rather lengthy one, so beta testing it was a tedious process.

 

Fizzii: Testing a non-linear game of this scope took up a lot of free time. This was notably due to the multiple paths that could be taken, and so it was easy to miss trying out several things which players subsequently tried once the game was released. The logging function was especially useful however, since bugs could be written down in the game without having to switch windows, and a .txt file was made so that bug reports could simply be copied and pasted.

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Ezine: How was the music created? What software and synths did you Ezine: use?

 

Nikolas: Speaking for myself, because there were other composers on the game as well, I only did additional music on the game, I composed as I compose for anything else. I was give descriptions and much info about the game and scene, and I was composing to what Radiant needed. The intro music, was synced to the original intro scene, not still on the game, and was treated like writing music for film, with sync points, tempo changes etc. Software wise, I used my studio equipment. Cubase SL3, EastWest Quantum Leap symphonic orchestra Gold, and Symphonic Choirs, and my beloved sennheiser HD 600 headphones.  

 

Ezine: What about graphics? How did you manage to create such a vast amount of sprites, backgrounds and portraits with such consistency?  

 

Pieter: The vast amount is a result of perseverance through a lot of hard work. The consistency is the result of diligent touch-ups. For instance, all the room art was completed over a year ago; but during that year, most rooms were touched up several times, and some of them redone entirely. A useful way is to have two artists touch up each other’s work; this makes the end result more consistent with both sides.

 

Fizzii: I recall touching up some of my backgrounds five or so times, which was not very efficient, but necessary since my art had improved over the course of time spent working on the game.  There were not many completed sprites when I began working on them, hence, it was easier to manage consistency. A couple of friends from Infamous Adventures (KQIII remake) also helped with sprites for a while, and they created sprites with a similar ‘Sierra’ style.

 

Meerbat: Though different people did several different portraits, all portraits were animated by me. Of course there are still some style inconsistencies in the game, but we tried to make these as imperceptible to the player as possible, by having characters who interacted often (for example all the characters in the dinner scene at the beginning) made by the same artist.

 

Ezine: It’s not often that adventure games have alternate solutions to the puzzles or optional ones. What prompted you to take such a gameplay decision?  

 

Pieter: In my opinion, a game should not be a story that you follow from start to finish, but rather a world that you can explore and play around with. This implies giving the player a choice of where to go. It also implies that if a player thinks of a logical way to pass a puzzle, this shouldn’t be denied simply because the designer had another way in mind. Such alternatives are found through lots of testing, as well as not giving the testers the answers in advance. The result is that two people playing the game can have a very different experience, and this encourages them to replay the game to see the parts they’ve missed.   

 

Fizzii: At one time, Pieter went overboard with the multiple solutions, allowing for a bottle of cider to be used to extinguish a fire. As a chemistry student, I was horrified at the idea of throwing alcohol onto a flame.

 

Ezine: Do you think that non-linearity is the way forward for adventure games?  

 

Pieter: I would hope so. I’ve seen that the gaming industry tends to go the other way (for instance, compare the freedom of the original Legend of Zelda with the strict linearity of the Zelda Oracle series), but the indie market can cover for this by going the other way. However, I should note that a non-linear game is significantly harder to design, because there is so much more to account for and it’s easy to have the player end up in a dead end without knowing it.   

 

Nikolas: I would definately say so. Computer games and adventure games, should be games, not books! Of course you need to have some kind of core going on, but other than that an open world, is a must in my books. I always get bugged when I’m encoutered with a simple “You can’t do that yet”, or “you don’t know that”, although it is apparent that it is there and so on.

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Ezine: What are your plans for the future? Will the team stay together? Do you have any future projects in mind? If not, what will each of you do, game-wise?  

 

Pieter: We don’t have any concrete plans as of yet, although there are several ideas that I think are worth developing further. Given that I’ve worked with other genres than adventure games in the past, it may be a nice idea to take a look at yet another genre.

 

Nikolas: I sure hope that the team sticks together. We had great time together and the output was great, as well as the feedback for ATOTK. Other games I’m working on at the moment, including: http://www.atropos-studios.com http://www.theforgottenelement.com  

 

Fizzii: Personally, I prefer adventure games, but if the idea is original or interesting, I’m in! At the moment I am working with IA on their games, but working on multiple projects allows for more creativity and means less monotony, at least for me.

 

Meerbat: It has been an enjoyable experience to do portraits for ags games and I would like to continue that, though it sometimes becomes difficult to find the time to do it. I also like to keep an open mind and maybe experiment with other genre, besides adventures.

 

Ezine: Anything else you’d like to add?  

 

Pieter: With respect to future projects, I would like to point people to our past projects, including SubTerra the puzzle game and Leylines the turn-based strategy, both available on the crystalshard.net site. And thank you for the interview!

 

Nikolas: I huge thank you to the rest of the team, and to Radiant for contacting me in the first place, as well as keeping us together the whole time.

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

Interview with Dave Gilbert

First, tell us a bit more about yourself, what you are like, what you do for a living, what you do in your free time…

 

Bit of a broad question, but I’ll give it a whirl. I’m 28 years old. I live in New York City and love it. In my free time I try and take advantage of city life. I’m part of an improv comedy group that performs every couple of months. For my Real Job, I work in the garment center.

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Which was the first adventure game you played? And freeware one?

 

The first ever was probably the “Collosal Cave” text adventure, which I played on a LAN machine when I was very young. I thought it was the coolest thing ever. I spent hours exploring it. I never did finish that game, but it introduced me to one of adventure gaming’s biggest mysteries: just how in heck do you pronounce “xyzzy” anyway? As for freeware, I was a big text adventure junkie in college. I downloaded and played the first “Unnkulian Unventure” and was hooked.

 

When did the idea of making games first strike you?

 

I discovered the indie IF (text adventure) scene when I was in college. My favorite IF game at the time (Unnkulian Unventure) was made with an engine called TADS. so I downloaded TADS right away and started studying the manual. I eagerly attempted a few games, but with schoolwork and other activities I just never had enough time or motivation to complete anything worthwhile.

I came across AGS back in 2001 when I read about the RON series (I forget where). I checked out the site, played through the games, and developed an inkling to create one myself. I was unemployed at the time, and it seemed like a good way to keep myself occupied, so I downloaded AGS and created “The Repossessor” in a few weeks. The rest, I suppose, is history.

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The stories of your games are one of the best on the freeware scene. Have you ever thought that you could be, for example, a writer or a playwright?

 

First of all, thank you! And to answer your question, yes. As a kid, if someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would instantly say “a writer.” I spent an huge amount of my precious youth in front of my family’s clunky Apple IIC, typing random flights-of-fancy into an ancient word processor program. My interest in writing kind of waned as I got older, and for awhile I kind of gave up on that dream. AGS and the indie adventure scene is what really began inspiring me again.

 

How much time do you spend on your games?

 

If you mean actually sitting in front of the computer and physically creating the game, it varies. Many factors contribute to motivation – the weather, stress, social obligations, what have you. Although even if I’m not physically working on a game, I am usually thinking about

them. I usually carry around a small notepad that I use to jot stuff down whenever a brainstorm strikes. There’s nothing worse than coming up with that really Cool Idea and then forgetting it five minutes later.

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How long did it take you to produce “Bestowers of eternity” part I?

 

Altogether? About a year. And most of that was working out the back-story.

 

Did you do any research for it?

 

For the original? Not really. I really wanted to create a real sense of what NYC life was like, or my personal experience of it at least. I’m not sure if you can actually call that “research” or not. Rosa‘s lifestyle isn’t all that uncommon.

 

When will we see the second part? In what ways will it be different from the first one?

 

It funny you should ask that. I haven’t really formally announced it yet, but I suppose this is a good a time as any. Bestowers of Eternity is undergoing some major rehauling. The entire thing is going to be completely redone from the ground up at a professional level and, if all goes well, sold commercially. I’ve adjusted the plot quite a bit, incorporated some actual research into the backstory, and brought other folks on board to help. It’s a very daunting prospect, but I’m feel it was the right decision to make.

 

How many people are there on the BoE team?

 

As of right now, four people other than myself. I’ve worked with all of them before and know I can trust them to the ends of the Earth.

 

What graphics technology will it use? 3D characters on 2D backgrounds or? Will it use AGS?

 

I debated trying another system, but in the end decided to go back to AGS. It’s silly to re-invent the wheel. It’s going to be standard 2D graphics on 2D backgrounds, just like the original,

 

Will it include a digital music and/or voice pack?

 

You bet!

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If all goes well, how will it be distributed, and for what price?

 

If all goes well, I plan to sell it for $20 plus shipping. There are a few outlets that I’m looking into for distribution, although I haven’t chosen one yet.

 

Is working on RON games something you do as a break from serious game-making?

 

Are you saying RON isn’t serious game-making? 🙂 RON is very much a comfort zone for me. There’s a unique pleasure in creating something, unleashing it onto a virtual world, and seeing what other people do with it. I really believe in the concept – even if it has been, shall we say, a bit slow in the last year. It’s a shame that more people aren’t attracted to RON, as I think it’s a fantastic arena for creation.

 

In what ways was working in a randomly chosen team for the ATC different than working on BoE, for example?

 

The Team Challenge was probably one of the most creatively inspiring – not to mention surreal – experiences of my recent life. I had never formally “met” any of the other team members, but we all instantly hit it off. Allister, Thomas and Lisa were all so talented, so hard-working, and all around COOL people that we all inspired and motivated each other. Towards the end, it became less about winning the contest and just about going the distance. Thomas refered to the experience as a totem – a structure with separate, unique pieces that fit together perfectly. It’s an apt analogy, and it’s something you simply don’t get with solo projects.

 

In what ways do you think that the competition should change in the future?

 

Personally, I enjoyed the challenge and the experience so much I wouldn’t change a thing. I know that I was very lucky with the team I ended up with, but there’s really no way to foresee what your team members are going to be like in a contest like that.

 

What are your views on the current state of the adventure scene? Do you think they will take over again? Which ones are you looking forward to?

 

That’s a loaded question. 🙂 In a selfish way, I’m kind of happy that the adventure scene is in the state it’s in. It enables folks like you and me to step forward and share our visions with the world. It’s an opportunity we wouldn’t have had ten years ago. The adventure genre might have a small market, but it’s a very loyal one.

 

Do you have any plans for future games you’d like to share?

 

Well, I already told you about “Bestowers of Eternity.” If you have any further questions about that, feel free and ask.

 

Thanks for your time

Interview with Herculean Effort

EZINE: Tell us a bit more about yourselves – what you work/study; what you like doing etc etc.

IAN: We do most of our adventure development work during summer and winter break, especially now that Gregor is attending college, too. By the end of this spring semester I will (hopefully) have my degree in advertising. In addition to drawing, painting, writing, and designing adventure games, I enjoy weightlifting and varsity fencing.

GREG: My life could be summarized in one simple word: music. Scripting games, my other job at Herculean Effort Productions, isn’t the most fun thing I could imagine, but when it comes the making music for adventure games, I have a blast. I wish I could do the music for each and every AGS game in production, but time happens to be a barrier. Hobbies of mine include 3D graphics, learning Chinese, and voice acting.

EZINE: Which were the first adventure games that you played(both commercial and freeware)?

IAN: When my dad bought our first Pentium computer for home use about ten years ago, it came with a lot of bundled software, including several Lucasarts adventure games.

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EZINE: So I guess the first proper adventure game I played (or at least the one that influenced my memory) was the talkie version of Fate of Atlantis. Although the very next day I started on Day of the Tentacle.

GREG: Those are the first adventure games I’ve ever played, too. I also remember a few years later we got Teen Agent. Although some of the puzzles were illogical, I enjoyed it a lot.

EZINE: When did you first want to make a game yourselves?

IAN: Oh, man, a long time ago. I guess after playing the original Commander Keen series, I knew I wanted to make games. We had Autodesk Animator Pro back then, and I used to draw my games (a bit like a mock-up), and animate them like an arcade demo would run.

GREG: I think we’ve just about always wanted to make games, there just weren’t the tools available to make that possible. It was mainly the programming side on which we were lacking. I mean, we had QBASIC, but it’s hard to program a good game in it. At least, for me.

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EZINE: Which of the older adventure games are your favourite?

IAN: For its excellent quality and nostalgia factor, I’m going to have to go with DOTT. I think every once in a while, a team project just clicks, and every element harmonizes. I have yet to play a better point-and-click-adventure.

GREG: Those funny Lucasarts games are the best. I like Day of the Tentacle and Full Throttle the most.

EZINE: And of the newer ones (1997-8 onwards)?

IAN: You know, I really haven’t liked many recent adventure games. I tried The Longest Journey a little bit, but I think it lacked a certain sparkle. If Grim Fandango can qualify as a recent adventure, then it wins hands down.

GREG: I really like Monkey Island 3. It’s just about my favorite adventure game ever. Grim Fandango was also most excellent, but the interface was hard to get used to.

EZINE: How long did the first Apprentice take to finish? And the second?

IAN: I started making puzzles and backgrounds for the original Apprentice during spring 2001, but I worked very sporadically on it. It wasn’t until summertime that Gregor and I ironed it out. I had most of the plot for the second Apprentice figured out before that Christmas, and I finished all the backgrounds and started on the animation by the time I went home again for summer again. For both games, about 90% of the work got accomplished during the summer.

EZINE: How many hours per week do you spend working on your games?

GREG: When I make music, I can easily spend an entire afternoon on a single song. But no more. I have this little problem with music: it’s extremely difficult for me to make a song over several days. Sleeping and eating really breaks up my train of thought, so I can’t really continue where I left off every day. To answer your question, I probably spend about 28 hours per week on music. Same goes for scripting, except for the last few weeks, when I worked a lot harder. A lot of times I would get back from a gig or rehearsal with a band and then work on the game until 1:00 in the morning. It was pretty tiring, but I think it was worth it.

IAN: There were definitely some late nights involved, but I’d say we average a few hours per day each when we’re feeling in prime condition.

To put that into numbers, I’d say we spent a combined average time of 30 hours per week working on the games.

EZINE: Where did you come up with the idea for the Apprentice trilogy?

GREG: That was Ian’s idea. He had a really cool idea for a game, with an equally cool storyline. We knew that it’d be tough to make the whole game in one piece, so we split it up. That had a good side and bad side. The good side was that we were able to get the game out on AGS in not very much time. The bad side is that the continuity of the storyline was broken. Apprentice has a really great storyline, and splitting it up into pieces really seemed to make it look ordinary.

IAN: Believe it or not, Terry Pratchett had nothing to do with it. I’ve only played the demo of the first Discworld game, and I haven’t really read any of his books until recently. I guess I just wanted to work on a completely fanciful game world, when we took a break from the first The Find demo (which still totally sucks, don’t you dare download it). Actually, the whole idea of the wizard and the apprentice came from me drawing over the Sam and Max sprites. The game grew from there.


app4.gif EZINE: Which will come next – The Find or Apprentice II: Checkmate? When, approximately?

IAN: Definitely expect us to make The Find first. I know I left Apprentice 2 at a bit of a cliffhanger, but I need to take a break from animating Pib. We’re even debating over whether or not to make the third Apprentice high-res. We’ll probably stick with low-res just to make the series consistent, in case we ever want to release talkie versions of the three games on CD or something.

GREG: Making The Find first is going to be a good break for us anyways, and I think you guys will like the game a lot.

EZINE: Since the quality of your games is top-notch, have you been approached for a job in the gaming industry?

IAN: Wow, thanks for the compliment there. You know, maybe our games would’ve been good for the mid-nineties, but I understand they’re a bit out of date in today’s full 3D, FPS world. I would love to have a job designing games, but I doubt it will happen in this lifetime. I can’t see myself selling out to garner a mass market appeal.

GREG: I haven’t been contacted either. But then again, maybe my spam filter is getting a bit enthusiastic.

EZINE: What is your inspiration for working on freeware games?

IAN: I really want to get our name out and build a reputation, because eventually I’d like to sell a game. Once people realize that we know how to make something decent, I think selling a game will become much easier. Deep down inside, I really miss the old school feel the Lucasarts adventures give me. Ultimately, if our games give people goosebumps, we’ve succeeded.

GREG: Lucasarts stopped making the good old adventure games, so now someone else has to. Apocalyptic things could happen otherwise. My inspiration comes from memories of playing those adventure games for the first time, not knowing what was going to happen next, solving the puzzles, etc. It’s cool making games for other people knowing that’s what they’ll experience when playing our games.

EZINE: Is there a possibility that you’ll be
selling your future games?

IAN: Yes, definitely. It’s too early to give anything away, but I think we might have something big on our hands.

GREG: You know, one thing I’ve noticed when we make games, is that I never feel like I’ve got something back for the work I put in. That’s the hard part about making free games, you obviously can’t expect anything in return besides compliments. I mean, compliments are good, and I like to know that someone enjoyed playing our games, but it doesn’t make up for hours and hours of hard work. To the topic, I’d like to eventually sell games, but there’s some legal issues that need to be sorted out first. We need to research it first.

And by “research”, I don’t mean our usual definition: playing dozens of rounds of King of Fighters.

EZINE: Which adventure games are you looking forward to most(both commercial and freeware)?

IAN: As far as professional projects go, I can’t wait to play Vampyre and Psychonauts. For the amateur productions, I think The Fountain of Youth, Kinky Island (both of which I’m doing some sprite work and animation for), Roger Foodbelly, and Bad Timing will end up being awesome games.

GREG: Of the commercial games, I’m most looking forward to A Vampyre Story — it has a lot of promise. To do with the freeware games, I’m looking forward to (off the top of my head) Guard Duty and MIA.

EZINE: Thanks for your time.

“Enclosure” Review and Interview with Femo Duo Entertainment

 

Introduction. This is the first non-AGS game we review here, and belive me, it is well worth it. The creators, Femo Duo Entertainment, have obviously put a lot of effort into their creation and I will try to describe just how good the result is.

            Plot. You play Mike Goodman, a mountebank, who with his girlfriend deceive superstitious people. They have been called to the oil station “Mary” in Greenland to investigate the spirit of a dead Eskimo. What I liked about the plot is that you always think about the mystery, something that has been a definite goal of the creators. Also, you are not alone on the godforsaken station “Mary”. There are about a dozen interesting characters, each with his own motivation to be there. The plot is remarkably well written, and is definitely the best part of this great game.

            Graphics and sound. Not a lot to say here, the game was made with NAGI, an engine similar to sierra’s AGI one. This means that the graphics are 160*100 EGA (16 colors) and that the only music/sound there is comes from your favourite PC speaker (the thing that beeps when you turn the computer on). The technical part of the game is the absolute maximum you can do with these limitations, although in a game with such a great storyline and gameplay that hardly matters.

            Gameplay. The game uses the standard AGI parser, and happily it recognizes many words, synonyms etc – you really won’t have a problem expressing yourself. The puzzles are logical and diverse, something not that often seen in amateur games. The thing I like about the gameplay most, however, are the tiny things not seen in early sierra games. For example, at every 50 points, you are given access to several “did you know”s about the making of “Enclosure”. Or, if you are not familiar with a character in the room, there is a hotkey to introduce him to you with a brief info. Or, if the game sees that you are stuck, it gives you a subtle hint in order for you to proceed. I think you got the idea – the making of “Enclosure” must have been fun fun fun!

            Conclusion. “Enclosure” is one of the best freeware adventure games out there, and definitely the best AGI fan made one. I suggest you go and play it now, if you haven’t done so yet, or read the interview with the creators just below, if you have.

Tell us a bit more about yourselves.

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  [Joker] We’re a small team consisting of three people who make freeware

games for your (and our own) pleasure. We have a long history of making

Beat-m-ups, but it has been mainly Adventure games for the last two-three

years.

 

Which adventure games are among your favourites (both commercial and

freeware)?

 

– [Joker] Commercial I have to say Laura Bow – Colonel’s Bequest. That game

used to scare us to death and was a source of inspiration for ‘Enclosure’.

Then there’s Phantasmagoria: Although the critics didn’t think highly of

this game I just loved it. A nice first attempt of Sierra using life actors.

Also, there’s Leisure Suit Larry in  the Land of the Lounge Lizards; it was

the first agi-game I played and actually finished as well.

 

  [hwm] I’m fan of the early Sierra games and most of LucasArts games.

 

  [Joker] Yes, LucasArts of course! Indiana Jones & Monkey Island are great!

 

How did you come up with the idea of ‘Enclosure’?

 

– [Joker] It’s been said that we got our idea from John Carpenter’s ‘The

Thing’, but that’s not true. We were searching for a desolated location far

away from civilization with heavy weather-conditions for our story to take

place. Antarctica seemed perfect at first, but because of certain aspects

within the story we later changed the location to Greenland.

 

  From the start is was clear it was going to be a Whodunnit with a macabre

twist. There was no solid storyline yet, but I started making sceneries &

the story and its characters were made up along the way. Like mentioned in

the game the first draft wasn’t really working for us, so we rewrote the

whole story & restyled some of the characters. And changed and added alot of

things after the first version was ‘ready’. It was a lot of work, but a lot

of fun whole the way.

 

Why AGI?

 

– [Joker] Well, I simply love the retro-style of AGI & it was a real

challenge to make a horror-game with such a limitation when it comes to

resolution & palette (16 colors). And working with AGI is a lot of fun as

well as we experienced with an earlier game of ours in AGI.

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Do you think that the text parser gives freedom that point and click and

direct control cannot achieve?

 

– [hwm] In certain aspects, yes. Mainly because a text parser can give any

interaction with every single object on screen. So a text parser can be used

to give any commands, even stupid ones; the programmer can add all kinds of

responses to those actions. Point-and-click and “direct control” kinda

limits it by giving a couple of icons/keys/verbs to use in combination with

a share of objects, and for example a “kill”-command is not often included.

That being said, point-and-click and “direct control”, when properly

executed, does work in my opinion. Lucasarts proved this every time and

Sierra did so once or twice, for example with Gabriel Knight: Sins of the

Fathers.

 

Have you tried AGS?

 

– [Joker] AGS is a whole new ballgame: 256 colors, hardly any

music/sound-limitations & less memory-problems. I played numerous AGS-made

games (commercial and especially freeware), but I didn’t do any programming

in AGS (yet). I think this will surely happen in the future…

 

Do you have plans of remaking ‘Enclosure’ with AGS?

 

– [Joker] No. A sequel: maybe, but the whole idea of ‘Enclosure’ was to make

a horror-game in AGI.

 

What projects do you have currently in production?

 

– [joker] We’re not working on anything concrete right now, but we’re full

of idea’s so there’s bound to be more. We’re working on some non-adventure

games & hwm is busy starting projects he’ll eventually abandon (laughs)

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Do you think that adventures will come back on the main scene?

 

  [hwm] I think the “death of adventure games” is a little bit exaggerated.

While there are indeed less adventure games being released the last few

years, especially “traditional”  ones (by “traditional” I mean

non-FMV-puzzle-stuff), graphic-adventures were never that much part of the

main scene I think. Most of the 80’s/90’s graphic adventures were made by

either Sierra or LucasArts, when they stopped making them on a regular basis

(somewhere in 1997/1998, shortly after the FMV boom), the genre lost their

main contributors. Nevertheless, Lucasarts did release some “traditional”

adventures after this and more recently games from other developers like

Runaway, Syberia and The Longest Journey were made. The latter two having

sequels (developed). But to answer your original question: I think they

won’t be coming (back) to the main scene. The games of the future will

depend heavily on on-line possibilities and I believe adventures won’t be

able to make that switch without becoming a RPG.

 

Which do you prefer: A humorous and light-hearted game that will make you

roll on the floor laughing (like most lucas games) or a game with deep and

serious plot (like many sierra titles)?

 

– [Joker] Well, it totally depends… Sometimes I feel like a humerous game

more than a serious one and sometimes it’s the other way around.

 

  [hwm] I’ll have to go with Joker on this one.

 

How much time did ‘Enclosure’ take to make?

 
– [Joker] A year and a half at least: I think all in all the game itself

took over a year and the testing half a year: We had a very thorough tester

who was very into detail and I think that contributed to the quality of

‘Enclosure’. So, programmers out there: Listen to your testers!!

 

Thanks for your time.

 

– You’re quite welcome.

 

 

Enclosure

Creators: Femo Duo Entertainment

Download from the official website

AGS Ezine score:

90%

Interview with Rusalka Clarke

After the release of “Beyond Reality”, Yufster started working on a clo…. game inspired by “Grim Fandango”. The AGS Ezine now reveals it. Before I leave you to read the interview, I’ll say only that Misja van Laatum will make some of the graphics. And in case you don’t know he is also making the background art for “Fountain of Youth”.

Ezine: First, I thank you for accepting the invitation for the interview. Would you tell us a bit more about yourself?

Rusalka Clarke: Oh, you’re welcome, Dave. I mean, Vel. Well, I got measured today, and discovered I’m 5”7 1/2.

I weigh approximately 68 kg, and my body mass index varies from source to source

The first games I ever played (on the PC at least) were the old LucasArts adventures, the first of which was Monkey Island 1.

Ever since I’ve loved LucasArts (Until they cancelled S&M2, the bastards!) and it was Day of the Tentacle that first got me interested in the gaming industry.

Since I live in Ireland, it’s pretty far out from the rest of the world, especially the game design world.

But luckily, since my all-time favourite game designer, Tim Schafer, keeps us up to date with the Double Fine ACTION! news….

Ezine: You have an online journal. Do you have a diary in real life?

RC: Well, I used to, when I was between the age of 8 and 10. That’s because my parents forced me to.

I didn’t have much to write about. Most entries would go like this, “Got up. Went to school. Got back from school. Did Homework. Played outside. Started raining. Damn, Ireland. Played Monkey Island. I am stuck.”

But then they got bigger diaries and started making me fill out two entire pages a day, or else they’d beat me with an extension cord.

At the time I hated it, but at least it taught me one valuable skill; how to talk about nothing, non-stop.

Ezine: When did the idea of making games yourself first struck you?

RC: Right after I played Day of the Tentacle. That game was so amazing, you know. At the time especially, the graphics just seemed so awesome, and all of the voice acting (which was something new in games back then) was so brilliant.

I started trying to draw the characters out of it, and started getting the idea that I’d love to design characters for LucasArts. I was, I think, 9 or 10…

I didn’t really know HOW people got jobs in the gaming industry, but then one day I was playing… hmm… what game was it?

I think it was Fists of Fury or something… Or some Epic Megagames thing… at the end they had this thing saying how they were always looking for talented new artists or programmers.

And I drew a bunch of Dr Freds, put it in an envelope, and asked my mother to post it for me. She said she did, but I suspect she may have been lying.

(2nd double)RC: Oh wait, I totally misread that question. Making games MYSELF.

Well, all of the above and this much more: I started designing games on pieces of paper, and what they’d be like and such.

And then I found RPGmaker, but that gave me leprosy, so I moved over to AGS.

Ezine: What were your expectations about “Beyond reality” when you released it and did it fulfill them?

RC: Beyond Reality was for a school project mostly, and because I knew most of the students weren’t actually going to PLAY it, my primary concern was just to make something that could be walked through from beginning to end.

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But I also decided to release it on the AGS forums because it was, after all, a game, and I was proud of it and figured that it was gonna be awesome.

The school project involved SELLING the game, and while I was only selling it for a tiny sum of money, I didn’t want to get a lot of people from the AGS community involved because I’d have felt really guilty about not giving them money for it

And I was too lazy-assed to actually divide up all the profits and send them away to different corners of the earth.

So I tried to make this entire thing myself, and part of the time was taken up learning how to use AGS, and time just crept up on me and so it was released prematurely. Thanks to SSH and Petteri, it wasn’t THAT awful. I could have kept the AGS release until later, but I was truly sick of this game that I’d worked on all summer long, so I left it.

My expectations of it were a lot higher at the start of the project. It taught me a couple of valuable lessons.

First, never attempt a big project on your own. Because when you have people around you, helping, you won’t get sick of it, because there’s always something new to discuss or whatever, and because you won’t have this huge workload on your own shoulders all the time. And second, never, EVER agree to give people their money back if they can’t figure out how to install the game.

Ezine: So what si your new project about, plot-wise? Is it going to have a mature plot or more of a comedy one?

RC: Mature, definitely, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be funny. There’s a couple of people around the AGS forums that I particularly want to ask to write for it.

Ezine: use the opportunity given.

RC: Er… what?

Oh… yes, exactly.

There’s one particular person that I’d love to write for it, but he’s already working on Puzzle Design and the Keyboard Interface, so maybe that’s too much. He’s quite resourceful. The plot is pretty much set in stone by now.

Basically, the protaganist is this young girl who lives in an oppressed country (Eira) which is ‘owned’ by this other, Bigger, Typically Evil, Bully-style country, (Elsra)

She’s all for freedom of Eira, and she’s part of this Covert Militia

At the very start of the story, though, the town where she lives (And the Covert Militia are mostly active) is targetted. The Elsrans have the names, address and details of all the Militia leaders, and so they go in to Reno to capture them.

Ami (the protagonist) escapes, but makes it her mission to rescue the captured Leaders. Along the way she meets this young Elsran soldier, Luca, and meets up with an old friend, Cale.

At first we’re shown a really narrow perception of the Elsrans, and we can almost believe that they’re this really evil nation. We see everything from Ami’s point of view. But as the story progresses, Ami (And hopefully the players) will come to understand that Elsra isn’t such a big, evil country… the Elsrans are just as oppressed as they are.

The story takes place over a number of years, (Grim Fandango!? What?!) and all I’ll say is that she doesn’t manage to rescue the leaders, and this story involves a colony on the Moon.

I think Ami’s primary concern, as time goes on in the story, changes from freeing Eira, to freeing Elsra and Eira both. Her opinions change drastically.

Ezine: Are those names thought of randomly?

RC: Nope! The entire idea originated from the story of Michael Collins, who was a young revolutionary in Ireland around the early 1900’s. He reinvented the IRA, which as you know, is a terrorist group. Back then, though, it was thought of much differently.

Ezine: Now, why is this game of yours going to use direct control?

RC: The Point n’ Click interface with adventure games, has been tried and tested. Sure, I could go for another point and click interface, but that wouldn’t be innovative in the least, and I think innovation is one of the most exciting things about Game Design. Plus, this game will have action sequences that would benefit more from Keyboard Control, and I don’t want the player constantly switching from Keyboard to Mouse. ShatteredSponge has developed an interface that’s in primitive stages yet, but it’s better than I could have hoped for even now. And it keeps getting better. It’s easy to use, natural to control. It could be very, very good. There’s a lot of prejudice against Keyboard Control, but I think it’s great, when done correctly. The game is also influenced by RPGs, and it’s a lot more action-orientated than a game such as, say, Monkey Island or DOTT. An action-orientated game controlled by a mouse would be… what’s that word Tim uses?… ‘Manky’.

Ezine: Will “Luna” feature a music and/or voice packs?

RC: Right, here’s the thing. I would *love* Luna to have a full voice pack. There’s a heck-a-lot of Dialogue, so it would be pretty sizable, but that’s not what bothers me. I’ll only have voices, if I can find the right people.The worst thing in the world is messy voice acting. As for music; I’d love … ah, what’s that stuff they used for Pleughburger?XM?

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I love that stuff. It can sound very surreal. That said, I know nothing about music and I’ll leave that decision up to whoever is doing the music for it.

Ezine: Okay, so what do you think is the way to put adventure games to the mass gamers? Is it more console orientated ones like BS3 or old-fashioned ones with new technology like Runaway(which sold 500 000 thus far) or the black mirror?

RC: Well, that’s hard for me to judge because I haven’t played those games. But I know what I’d like to see in Adventures, certainly. The Point and Click interface was great, back in the early 90’s.But now we have the technology for way awesomer things. Every genre has to evolve, and to change, but adventures seem to have been slow to do that, and I reckon that’s one of the reasons they ‘died’. I hate saying “reckon”. Goddamn. My ideal adventure would have the freedom of Exploration of Lara Croft, (of of of of of) the atmosphere and characters and story of Grim Fandango, and the frikkin’ awesomeness of Psychonauts. Are you seeing a pattern here?

Ezine: Do you think that AGS has the potential to make a fully commercial effort?

RC: Okay, so I really did my research for Luna, I swear. I got this book, written by this guy who’d been in the industry longer than Ron Gilbert He gave the example of… and try not to laugh… this Barbie game. It had been made on one of these engines like AGS, except I believe it was quite expensive… but still nothing the home user couldn’t afford. And it had been made by a team of I think, 5 or so people. They sold thousands and thousands of units, and made a huge income, and it was a great success. It was endorsed by The Barbie Company, or whatever it’s called, in case you’re thinking it was a fan game. I think it’s called Barbies Riding Centre, but anyway. That’s a case of a fan-effort (ha ha ha) that was hugely successful.  So I think that it can definitely happen, and AGS has the potential, but I doubt it will happen.

Try not to laugh at this, either… I actually asked Tim Schafer once before about something like this. I think I asked whether this sort of thing (as in, mateur game development) would account for anything on a portfolio.If I recall correctly, his response went something like this: It does count, but not for the reasons I might think. It shows the ability to work on a team, and it shows the dedication to finish a project. The end result is secondary to all these things.He also mentioned how they’d interviewed a guy at Double Fine only yesterday, JUST BECAUSE he’d built his own 3D game engine. But that’s probably way above the skill level of any AGSers.

Ezine: Now, the last and most important question for all the community…Are you single?

RC: But in answer to your question; yes. I am. But I did have a really awkward encounter with my ex-boyfriend there last week, and he started saying how he was building this game engine, because he does programming, and how he wanted to go over to America to work in the Game Industry… And all the while I was gritting my teeth and silently wishing I’d never got him interested in Game Design… because I have this nightmare.. That we’ll end up working in Double Fine Productions together one day. Because that is just SO my luck. So in conclusion; I am single, but I especially love anybody who lives in the general San Francisco area.

RC: It was a pleasure to be interviewed by the Ezine.

Ezine: Anything else you’d like to add?

RC: Tim Schafer and Scott Campbell and Bill Tiller. SUPER AWESOME!

As you can see, “Luna” is one promising project. Lets just hope that Rusalka’s desire to copy the mood of “Grim Fandango” doesn’t spoil it. As she said, release dates cannot be predicted at this point of development. And last but not least, the AGS Ezine will be the first to publish actual in-game graphics of “Luna”.

“Monkey Island 1,5: The Secret of Mêlée Island” preview

 As you have read in the prologue, in this issue we reveal “the secret project”. And, as you have seen the cover and screenshots, it will be tremendous.

            The plot, though, remains a secret. All we know is that it will be concentrated on Mêlée Island and will take place between the first and the second games.

            The graphics are very similar to the first two Monkey Island games. The sprites and animations also. On the whole they are one of the best I’ve seen in an amateur adventure game.

            The sound will keep the original atmosphere from the famous series. The Caribbean tunes will live on again.

            The game will be out really soon. The only thing left at this point is scripting. Alas, the game will not be as long as the other monkey islands. As I’ve heard, it will be as long as Mêlée Island in the first one of the saga.

            Now I leave you to the creators of this game, Farlander, N3tgraph and Barcik.

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Ezine: Tell us a bit more about yourselves – where you live, what you like

doing…

 

Juan “Farlander” Ayala: I´m from Benidorm, Spain… I am studying for finishing the two remaining subjects of my degree in Tourism.

 

Boris – “Barcik”: I live in Rishon LeZion, Israel. My major fields are computers and physics, and I intend to follow that line in the future (if the army doesn’t interfere).

 

Jan “N3tgraph” Kuipers: I live in a tiny village in Holland called Hantum, I’m studying for programmer but things aren’t going that well so we’ll see what my profession will be eventually :P. My main hobbie is making music and listening to it.

 

Ez: Who does what in this project?

J: I am the author of storyline, ripping and making some of the art, including the original animations. Scotch helped me in some backgrounds and in some characters.

 

B: I am the programmer in this project. Everything besides Proskrito’s basic LEC template in this game is scripted by me, including all interactions, dialog etc. Besides, I have helped Nacho in co-writing the story, providing critism where it was needed. As I need to script the whole thing I occasionally come across parts I think can be improved. So I tell my opinion to Nacho, and if he agrees with me then we redo it.

 

N: I’m originally part of the team for the music and the sounds, but I once helped Farlander with some dialogs and so he crowned me to Dialog Maker and Editor. I also help with the storyline from time to time, by adding jokes which is kind of logical when making dialogs 😛

 

J: We´ve all collaborated in the jokes!

 

Ez: Which was the first adventure game you played and at what age?

 

J: Indiana Jones and the last crusade… I maybe was 12 or 13…

 

N: The first Adventure game I played was Larry 1, when I was about 9 or 10 I think, I didn’t understand much of it that time, due my bad English. But I did learn a shit load of English thanks to cartoon network and mainly adventure games. The first adventure game I played AND understood must have been the Day of the Tentacle.

 

B: As far as I remember, Leisure Suit Larry 1 was the first one for me as well. As for the age, I don’t remember.

 

Ez: Which adventure games are your favourite and why(both commercial and

freeware)?

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J: Same question as in mittens! Well… It was forbidden to say Monkey Island… Now it´s not, so… Day of the Tentacle. Hehe…

 

The graphics and the plot, jumping from the past to future and all that… Amazing. As for freeware… Pleurghburg… Need to say more? 😛

 

B: Grim Fandango is my all time favourite. This is a true master-piece of gaming, as close to inch-perfect as one get. Great characters, amazing humour, lovely story and some wonderful puzzles.

As for a freeware adventure, I agree with both my partners here. Pleurghburg is my favourite, for it’s neat puzzles and great atmosphere.

 

N: Hmmm, tough call, since I like a LOT of adventure games. I think the best adventure game would be Monkey Island 2, because being a pirate is very cool! Yarr! But MI2 would be very closely followed by Day of the Tentacle and I also loved full throttle and Sam and max and the Larry series. Freeware games, hmm, Pleurghburgh was very very good and probably the most successful free-adventure game. But I’m really looking forward to Indiana Jones and the Fountain of Youth.

 

Ez: Why exactly a “Monkey Island” fangame?

J: Well… It is what almost all the newbies want! But I PMed Barcik and explained him the storyline. It seems he liked it! I think that many people feel that there is a gap between “The secret” and “The revenge”, I really wanted to fill that.

 

N: Well I don’t think I can add much to that, since it’s Farlanders Idea, what I can say is that many many forums have people who discuss  ending theories, which is rather annoying I think… Because it always ends in fights :P. This game answers most unclear questions I think.

 

B: Nacho is holding my family at gun point.

Well, seriously, I agree with Jan and Nacho. There is an unclear gap between the first and second Monkey Island games, and this game provides our shot at what really is there.

 

Ez: What projects was each of you been involved in before this one?

J: Mmm… A Xmas eve tale… The first SCOOBAR project, a mags game. I do concept art for future projects, but nothing else.

 

B: I have initiated A Xmas Eve Tale for December X-MAGS 2002, my first game (I’ve done some plans for another one before, but I shelved it for now). I designed it, and Nacho did all the artwork. It won the 2nd place! Err… out of two that is. Well, at least I can boast with one of the hardest puzzles in AGS history. 😛

 

N: Well, I did make a tune for the XMax eve tale, for the rest I made some random tunes for varioius games, but I didn’t make anything concrete yet, so you can say this one makes me lose my virginity 😉

 

Ez: When did you start working on the project?

J: Eeer… As soon as I become an AGSer, probably in March 2003 or something…

 

B: I started around that period as well, when Nacho approached me with the idea.

 

N: I think I also started during that period, I don’t know really.

 

Ez: How many hours of work per day do you put in it?

J: The trick is to make a little everyday, maybe 1 or 2 fairly unproductive hours, with the #AGS going and all, fighting with that arse Vel 😄

 

N: Hmm not that much actually. I’m a very busy lad, but the spare time I do have I spend on AGS and my Music, I think about 4 productive hours a week

 

B: I am very much the reason this game has been progressing in crawling pace so far, but the situation has become much better recently. I am able to make much more time for it nowadays, and it comes up to about 2-3 hours of work every 2nd day.

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Ez: What is your motivation?

J:  I felt really motivated when after a deep talk with Barcik we reached to a which, in my opinion is, a good storyline. 

 

N: Monkey Island!!! I mean, come on!!

 

B: For this game, of course Monkey Island. We try to follow the original atmosphere as much as possible. For example, we try to put Ron Gilbert-style jokes in the game, so that the game will feel similar to the original.

 

Ez: What will the plot be like?

J: Well… Guybrush, Melêe Island… and Elaine discovering that she´s not actually in love with him.

 

Elaine will purpose as a condition for marrying with Guybrush something that in her opinion is impossible to accomplish, discovering the REAL SECRET of MELÊE ISLAND. Of course, nothing is impossible for Guybrush, and we will be involved into a so much complicated plot with voodoo, time travels, ghosts…

 

N: If I’d tell you that, I’d probably have to kill you!

No, we really like to keep that secret, for the surprise reaction.

 

B: The secret is that *gunshot*.

 

Ez: What encounters will Guybrush have with characters from previous games?

J:  Eeer… previous? Remember there is only one previous game! There will be some “cameos” to historical or fictional characters, such as Jack Sparrow… Let me not reveal more!

 

N: Well, you could say LeChuck plays a role in it

 

B: And some Melee Island citizens!

 

Ez: What will the main features of the game be?

J:  We´re trying to “copy” the original humour of the series, making the jokes as they originally were made… having fun ourselves!

 

N: We want to create the illusion that you are playing a game really made by LucasArts (c), so I’m looking very close to the use of words and dialogs so I can try to copy the great atmosphere that is Monkey Island.

 

B: We are focusing on puzzles mixed with humour, as the original creators did.

 

Ez: Are you not afraid that LucasArts will close your project like they did

to Scurvyliver’s “Fate of monkey island” series?

J: We want to finish a game for pleasure… The distribution is some other story, but one of the chances is to distribute it in secrecy. Of course, we hope that the game will be spread as powder between the community members before having problems.

 

B: Yes, the possibility does bother us, but this is a game we want to make. And besides, how could we be “underground” if we hadn’t done anything illegal? 😛

 

N: I am a bit concerned about that fact yes, but as Farlander said, the most important audience is the AGS community, so I think the spreading of the game will only start when most AGS members downloaded it.

 

Ez: Why did you keep the project secret for so long?

J: Fear of Lucas´ Lawyers! Hehe.. Nope… I´m tired to see Thrilling threads of BIG PROJECTS!… that are never done. We discovered the secret as soon as we noticed that we were going to finish it.

 

B: Also, we actually wanted to show something when we unveiled it.

 

N: Yeah, we wanted to see some results before the bragging ;). Although the completion of the game is far from done actually.

 

Ez: When it is due to be released?

J: Probably in the Xmas of the 2003. The luck is that Boris is Jewish, and he won´t have holidays during that days, so, he´ll be able to work hard if we´re late! 😄

 

B: Hey, there’s Hannukah!

 

N: Hard to tell, I personally hate deadlines, so there ;).

 

Ez: Do you play AGS games often?

J: Eeeer… Look! A three headed monkey!

 

B: I played a decent amount of AGS games, but I haven’t played them recently, and in truth it quite bothers me. Well, I’ll catch up when the awards arrive.

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N: I have to confess, I didn’t play that much AGS games, the big ones I did play, but the very short ones sometimes annoy me a little bit. It’s okay to create them, I’m working on small things too from time to time, but I think that there shouldn’t be that much in the Short Game list.

 

Ez: Do you consider that some AGS games can be sold as commercial titles in

stores?

J:  There is a big problem… If you make a big game with 150 rooms, with a nice storyline and music… You won´t probably have time to make “Suitable for commercial standards” graphics (I.E. Dark Ages). If you make a game with astonishing graphics.. You won´t probably have time for making it long. (I.E. Norman Cook).

 

There is not enough time to do it alone, we´re amateurs! That´s why I like group projects. But, in my opinion, if we had the resources, there is enough talent in the community, if we work together, to make the BEST MODERN ADVENTURE GAME in the world!

 

N: Heh good question. I think it’s possible to sell your game commercial like, but you can never ask more then 8 euros, because like Farlander said, we can’t cope with all the graphical techniques. You can buy Day of the Tentacle for 10 euros in stores in a city near my house. Try to sell your amateur game for 30 euros. Good luck, I’d say.

 

B: If we were to go commercial, Lucasarts’ would put a contract on us. Also, an adventure game, especially an amateur one, will probably not sell well.

 

Ez: Will adventure games ever be back to the main scene in your opinion?

J: Dark Ages… Indiana Foy… The Secret of Melêe Island, hehe…

 

N: I have to confess, that I don’t think so. Kids want multiplayer and casualities and score and clans. Adventure games don’t have those aspects, and making graphics better doesn’t work, look at FT2.

 

B: I was able to predict where the market would shift, I would be a millionaire. Unfortunately, I can’t.

 

Ez: What are your future projects?

J: I really like to work with Darth Mandarb in a pirates simulator game, but I need to know if some essential arcades can be made with AGS. If not, I´ll start “High School Quest”, a game in a “saved by the bell” atmosphere.

 

N: I want to make a game based on music, and I’ll make all you AGSsers ROCK AND ROLL freaks!!! *plays air guitar

 

B: A secret one.

 

Ez: Do you think that someday you will work as a game designer?

J:  No, honestly not. It should be some strange lucky strike, as happened with Harrison Ford for performing Han Solo in “Star Wars”…

 

Well, If George reads this… I´d really like to fix the disaster your employees have made with the Monkey Island Series.

 

N: Well, I AM studying for programmer, but I’d probably have to move to America, and that I don’t want so probably not, but hell, que sera!

 

B: I sure hope so, but there are plenty of difficulties. One is that according to my plans I will only be out of the army aged 28. L

 

Ez: Anything more you would like to add?

J: No.

 

N: Don’t forget to turn on your radio! And watch the hitlists for my name 😉

 

Yes.

 

Ez: Thanks for your time.

J: You’re welcome.

 

N: No problemo.

 

B: Ditto.

Buccaneer II Preview

The winner of August MAGS, Buccaneer, is now awaiting its sequel. Looking at the screenshots Hobbes has made, it will be one of the games that will fight for best graphics for 2004. But the thing that made Buccaneer a MAGS classic is most certainly the plot… Why don’t we hear Hobbes himself instead?

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Tell us a bit more about yourself – what you do for a living, what you like etc.

Well, I’m 21 year old guy. I finished my teacher’s education last summer, so for the past six weeks, I’ve been a member of the working class. No more classes for me to attend but the kids I teach. As this is a full-time job, it took some getting used to when I began. However, I’m enjoying it immensely, teaching all those 9-year olds what’s good (or bad) for them. 🙂

As far as my hobbies go, I love to write, play the piano, write poetry or sing. I hang out regularly with my friends; go to the movies, head on downtown, that kind of thing. And for all those people who’ve been wondering out there, yup, I’m still single. 😉
Which was the first adventure game and AGS game you played and which are your favorites?
Oooooh let me see. The first adventure game I played must’ve been Zak McCracken back on my brother’s Commodore 64. I was probably around 7 years old. I didn’t know a word of English (picked it up remarkably quick thanks to that game, though). Nevertheless, it fascinated me that you could play a game like this. Compared to the joystick-destructing Summer Games, this was a novelty.

The first AGS game I ever played was Pleurghburgh. Liked the style, although it took some getting used to, being the spoilt person I was then with all those classic commercial adventures. My favourite games include Gabriel Knight, Police Quest, Fate of Atlantis, DoTT, Monkey Island, Sam ‘n Max and Beneath a Steel Sky.

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Did you expect such positive feedback on Buccaneer?

Never. I enjoyed making the game as a little private something and of course for the MAGS competition. But mostly it was a test to see if I could actually finish an AGS project. It was also one of the few projects I ever did which flowed naturally. The dialogs popped into my head, and soon the storyline revolved itself. There was no forward planning. As such, the game was as much a surprise for me, as it was for other people. I was pleased to see they were equally charmed by the characters as I was. (And still am!)
What will the sequel be like? (How long will the gameplay be, how will the story evolve etc.)

For one thing, it will be a lot longer. I can’t say how much gameplay we’re looking at yet, since I’m continually tweaking the plot and the locations. At the moment I’m exploring the possibility for Richard to travel to another country, to broaden the scope a bit. Whether or not that makes it into the final game is debatable yet.

The story will continue roughly where the first one stopped. A few months have gone by, and Richard is facing a dangerous business rival. This rival seems hell-bent on getting Richard out of business. And, once things take a truly dangerous turn, Richard discovers things about himself that he’d rather not remember… and, of course there’s Margareth. The relationship between her and Richard was left hanging by the end of Buccaneer, so it wouldn’t be fair to simply ignore it. I’ve got quite a few surprises in store for their relationship and I’m interested to see how it all plays out.
Why so much drama in the first one?

Why not? Hah, no I realise that’s not really an answer. As I already mentioned, I didn’t plan too much for Buccaneer. Most of it was done in a manner of “what felt right at the moment”. And I’m a big sucker for drama. Be it in books or movies… any medium. I’m a big admirer of people who manage to pull it off. I’ve read writers who attempted drama and failed miserably. And then there’s the occasional writer who can truly move me to tears. Such deep bonding with a character is rare, and I treasure it immensely. Drama is, for me, one of the most driving forces to attempt in entertainment.

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Not that I presume to reach such a high level with Buccaneer, of course. I would hardly call Buccaneer a good work of fiction. As a game it did well, judging by the reactions, but if I imagined it as a book, it wouldn’t work.
Do you think that drama is inevitable for adventure games with deep plot?

I think that depends on what defines a “deep plot”. I think Day of the Tentacle has one of the most unique plots in gaming history. However, there’s hardly any drama. Not counting the scene where Laverne says goodbye to Dead Cousin Ted (or was it Fred? ;)), of course. However, strangely enough, when I think about a “deep plot”, I don’t think of DoTT. I think of Gabriel Knight. Those games were dark, mysterious, dramatic, and very, very satisfying. A deep plot to me is a very serious story that tries to tell a surprising tale. So in reaching the emotions of the player, I think drama is indeed a necessary element to bring your point across as a writer. However, I also think it’s one of the hardest things to do right, for fear of “overdoing” it.
Do you think that adventure games faded away of the market because of the lack of interest in plot in the gamers?

I’m not too sure players lost their interest in plots. For years the PC game scene was dominated by adventure games. This began to change with the release of Wolfenstein 3D. Sure, there was this EGA variety which ran on a 286 made by ID software as well, but Wolf3D was the hot topic at school. For a time 3D and adventure co-existed but clearly, the majority of people had seen enough adventure back then. 3D action games dominated the market; and still dominate them to this day. But, the interesting thing is that most action-oriented game are slowly discovering the need of a plot, of characterisation, again. We have Warcraft III which has these Avatars, 3D games which begin to feature cut-scenes again, and plots. Sure, those stories wouldn’t hold against a good novel, but slowly the gaming industry is rediscovering what it left behind almost ten years ago. Stories. Good plotting. So, I think that the interest never really left, it was only satiated for a time. And as stories become more and more important again, people will automatically rediscover the adventure game.

 

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 When can I get my hands on Buccaneer II? Yarrrrr!

Hahaha, good question. Right now I’ll have to “Yarrrrr” you back to where you came from. I’m hard at work on the graphical aspects, the plotting, the puzzles, and all that. Foz is busy composing some MIDI‘s, and I discuss these with him. As most of the graphical work and the coding has yet to be done, I’ll have to say: 2004. I’m hoping it’ll be released early in the spring, maybe sooner, but I can’t be too definite on that yet.

Do you have plans for the future projects of Unosar entertainment?

Right now: No. Handling Buccaneer II is enough work as it is. However, I was kinda busy making “Depths of Clearbay” before popular demand made me do a 180 and start working on Buccaneer II. So, once B2 is finished, I’ll probably start work on DoC in earnest. It’s going to be something completely different, a modern crime-based game set in a completely fictional city.

 And also, there’s The Strange Day. I’m thinking that I’ll probably finish that one off after that… in 320 x 200, with a DoTT like interface. However, I’ve discovered humorous stories aren’t really my strong point.

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Thanks for your time!

You’re welcome! Thanks for having me in the magazine… keep up the great work!

 

Jaap Marsman a.k.a. “Hobbes”

The Cloak Preview

The Greek AGS Community (GAC) has made many great games. One of their next releases is “The cloak”, a fantasy adventure with an old wizard as the main character. And since not much more is known for that project, I leave you with the pleasure of reading the interview with GAC (who are laconic as…as… Greeks)  and looking at the brilliant screenshots.

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Ez: Thank you for accepting the invitation. Please, tell us a bit more about yourselves – what you like, what you do for a living etc.

Danny: Hello. Thank you for your invitation! I ‘m a 3d artist but I work as a video editor in a Greek TV channel.

Spyros: I like women, football and music. I am a PC technician/Web designer/programmer

Ez: Which adventure games are your favorite (both commercial and freeware)?

Danny: I loved Grim Fandango, all 3 Indiana Jones, Loom …there are too many to say,…but mostly Lucas old games!!

Spyros: Monkey Island 1-3, Indy

Ez: Why do you think they do not sell as well as FPS or RTS?

Danny: I haven’t thought about it…but i think that the players want more action (and less thinking!)

Spyros: Because they require thinking

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Ez: Do you think they may come back to the main scene?

Danny: Maybe…but in a different form….

Spyros: Bah, No

Ez: What do you think of the idea of an AGS game being sold as a commercial title (not like “fatman adventures”, but like “runaway”, MI4…)? Is it possible?

Danny: Yes, why not! If a game made with AGS is good enough….

Spyros: Yes

Ez: How was GAC formed and who formed it?

Spyros: It was formed by me, the butcher and Helm. Then Danny joined.

Ez: What does it take from a Greek to be a GAC member?

Spyros: You must pass the 100 trials or have a beautiful sister.

How long does it take you to make a game like Norman Cooks or SOL and how many hours do you work per week?

Danny: Norman Cooks took about 3 months, 6-10 hours per day.

Spyros: 3-4 months if working 2-3 hours a day

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Ez: What is your motivation in making an adventure game?

Danny: I always wanted to be able to make an adventure game ever since I played my very first one (Indy and the last crusade, in 1987 on an ATARI ST1040.)

Now that I’m able to do so, well, for fun!

Spyros: Having fun

Ez: How do you feel about Hugo’s author closing your remake?

Spyros: I don’t blame him mine version was better :p

Ez: What is “Inferno: the tale of a rotten bustard’s status and when can we expect a final release?

Spyros: The status is “Looking for butcher”. Don’t expect it in the next few light years

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Ez: How far is “The cloak” from a demo/final release?

Danny: The demo should have been ready by now, but I had(and still have) some problems with software that I’m using…..:(

I hope that I will fix it soon!!!!

Ez: What will the plot be like?

Danny: you will find out as soon as the demo will be out.

Ez: Will it feature a speech and/or a music pack?

Danny: Music packs yes! (I think!)As for speech …probably not!

Spyros: A music pack only I think.

Ez: Will you produce a speech/music pack for your older games?

Danny: No! (Sorry)

Spyros: I have made a music pack for Book of Spells. I will release it along with the BOS complete game (the four parts merged). Now it’s in the state of beta testing.

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Ez: How the hell do you make those brilliant graphics?

Danny: My graphics are good, not brilliant! I’m far from brilliant. Igor’s are brilliant.

To answer your question, I’d say that it’s all about patience, hard work, and a tiny bit of talent (optional!!!) 🙂

Ez: Will there be something special about The Cloak’s interface?

Danny: no 🙂

Spyros: No

When will it be released and how long will its playing time be?

Danny: It’s too early to talk about release yet….but i hope somewhere in 2004.It will be a medium to long game.

What are GAC’s plans for the future?

Danny: see below…

Spyros: To finish our current projects 🙂

Will there be new members of GAC in the near future?

Spyros: If someone has a beautiful sister let me know

Danny: I hope so…

Thanks for your time.

Danny: Thank you…

Spyros: Thanks too.

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