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

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

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

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

tle1.gif

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

tle2.gif

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

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

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

7 Days a Skeptic Review

Introduction. Not so long ago, Yahtzee released a game that won 5 AGS awards, “5 days a stranger”. Almost a year later, the sequel came out. Let’s now take an in-depth look at whether it is better than its predecessor.  

Story. Almost 100 years have passed since the events in the first game.  You are Jonathan Somerset, a psychiatrist on board of the Mephistopheles, a space station of some sort. The story begins when your crew finds a floating object, which is later taken and opened. And this is when the strange things begin to happen…

The story of “7 days a skeptic” is at least for me, inferior to the one of “5 days a stranger”, even for the very fact that if you have played the first one, you know the answer to the mystery. However, there are some interesting moments, which I wouldn’t want to spoil, but are quite scary.

7d1.gif

Graphics. The graphics are in the same style as the one in “5 days”, just maybe a bit less detailed. The characters are quite well animated, and each one has its own distinctive look.

Music and sound. Here, as “5 days”, “7 days a skeptic” lacks a lot. While there are some tunes in the game that somewhat suit the mood, they are few and far between and ripped – something that’s a definite minus in my book. As for sound effects, they are there and enhance the atmosphere, though not as much as good music would have.

Gameplay. The game uses a pretty simple interface – right click on an object brigs down a menu with all available actions and inventory items. The puzzles fit the plot nicely, and, thankfully, are logical, even though a bit on the easy side. A good thing is that they are diverse and you won’t find yourself bored. There are some timed sequences too, so remember Al Lowe’s words: “Save early, save often”. The game itself is not very lengthy, don’t get fooled by its title – the whole game is maybe 70% of the length of “5 days a stranger” – you can finish it in about 3 hours.

7d2.gif

Miscellaneous. The download size is extremely small, so even those who have slow internet connections can play it in no time. The first release of the game was quite buggy, but I believe that latter ones are not.

Conclusion. While not superior to its predecessor, “7 days a skeptic”  will provide several hours of fun to fans of horror and mystery. Looking forward to Yahtzee’s next releases!

7 Days a Skeptic

Creator: Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw

Download from here

AGS Ezine Score:

70%

The Find Preview

So, what’s next from the guys at Herculean Effort? Before we get our hands on the final chapter of “Apprentice”, we will have the chance to play “The Find”, a rather unique game.

find1.gif

Most of the game’s plot is kept a secret, but from what we know is that it will have something to do with resurrecting and finding your own murderer, something seen in games like Shadow of Destiny and Discworld noir. We can surely expect great writing and wonderful plot twists from those guys.

As for graphics, we’ve already seen the magnificent work of these guys. However, this time they are turning the style around, to suit the darker and more serious atmosphere of the game. The game will use the 640*400 resolution and 32bit alpha-blended sprites,  something that has been implemented recently into AGS, but has not been used by many. The  backgrounds will be hand-drawn; the characters will be downgraded from cell-shaded sprites and will walk in 8 directions, something not that often seen in AGS games.            

 find2.gif

  Another top-notch thing in this game will be the music. The creators promise hours of music, and I smirk at the thought that it will be for a darker-themed game than Apprentice, something I personally like more. Moreover, there will be several songs recorded for the game, with vocals and everything. Need I mention that the music will be digital? And that there will be a full voice pack? Hope not. We can expect commercial quality soundtrack if you ask me.

find3.gif

The game will be also quite lengthy, featuring about 50 rooms altogether. The cutscenes will be full-screen, 3D maybe? There will also be subtitles in German and Italian for non-English speakers. To top it all, there will be day/night sequences to enhance the story. Two thumbs up for this one!

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.

app2.gif


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.

app3.gif

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.

Apprentice II: The Knight’s Move Review

 

Introduction. At last. Apprentice II is finally out, the second chapter of the trilogy by Herculean effort. I won’t tell a secret if I say that it is one of the very very best AGS Games ever made, only inferior to King’s Quest II VGA in my list(but I may be biased) So, what is it like? Where should I start? Maybe it’s best to start with the

Plot. Last time we saw Pib, the Apprentice, he was screwed and didn’t quite become a mighty magician. Now lord Ironcrow is gathering an army, and as strange as it might look, he wants Pib in it, as well as every man that is in the condition of holding a weapon. However, our hero is not quite content with becoming a soldier and wants to evade fighting – and the only way is to become a true magician. The story is a lot better than the one in the first game; it has a lot more charm and depth. Throughout your quest of evading the army you’ll meet lots of characters, each with his own story and personality.

Graphics and animation. Simply gorgeous. But lets start with the backgrounds. They are drawn in a style similar to Day of the Tentacle or Sam and Max; they have immense detail and life. I think that most of them are animated, so you don’t actually have the feeling that everything is stiff, a feeling you get from most amateur games. Characters are beautifully drawn, with great sense to detail; their appearance also reflects their personality, as should be in a rather light-hearted game. But what totally blew me away are the animations. Each character is actually doing something when you are not talking to him; if you just walk around the village you can sense the life the creators have put in it. Also, the animations are fluent and of very high quality so be sure to stop at every screen just to look at them.

app1.gif

Music and sound. Ah, the sheer magic of an orchestral soundtrack! But lets start with the sound effects first – they accompany the animations and sound quite well; I can say that they enhance the atmosphere of the game even more. Now for the ‘real meat’. The soundtrack of the game is, to put it in one word, brilliant. Every room has background music, which makes the total time of the soundtrack quite lengthy. The tunes are really catchy, and you will often find yourself humming them along and doing nothing just to hear the background music. Not only are the compositions great, but the quality is also mind-blowing. The samples sound realistic, and at times you have the feeling that the soundtrack was actually performed. It really shows the ammount of fun the musician had while working.

Gameplay. The interface is quite simple and by all means better than the one in Apprentice I. Maybe the only glitch is that the item book shows 4 items per page, but that’s easy to pass by. The puzzles are all in all, logic and not too hard, while challenging. But more important, they are interwoven with the plot really well and don’t get in the way of the story.

Miscellaneous. The game download is quite big, 45MB. However it is worth it, although it would take ages on dial-up to download. Now the biggest glitch of the game – its bugs. I got the very first release of the game, which apparently had passed alpha stage but hadn’t passed the beta one. It had some pretty annoying bugs, like crashing and dead ends, so I had to start all over. However, in the latter releases of the game this is fixed and you are not very likely to experience such problems.

Conclusion. If “Apprentice II: Knight’s move” had been released before the FMV boom as a commercial title, it would have become a classic. Now, it’s a great freeware title that will revive the memories of classic adventures like “Day of the Tentacle” or “Sam and Max”. Splendid work, guys, and looking forward to your next release!

 

 

Apprentice II: The Knight’s Move

Creators: Herculean Effort

Download from here

AGS Ezine score:

93%

Mittens 2004 log by JetXL

DAY 1 : FRIDAY

 mit1.gif


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

mit2.gif
9:00 Grundislav arrives at JFK but getting to the AVIS lounge seemed to be an impossible task for him. After waiting an hour, calling his dead cell phone and sending several mitteneers to look for him, we were at last united and ready to go. The van had seven seats. We were with 8 people plus luggage…Cosy.
10:00 Getting out of New York and even getting out of JFK was a hard task. Letting Andail ask for direction turned out to be a good idea. Really! Driving trough New York City on Liberty Way while listening to GTA music…Surreal indeed. But then we
got into a terrible traffic jam. The highway was out for repair or something. Sadly, the van didn’t had a flux compassator.
1:00 Out of the city, we went to a Burger King for some food. On the road again, we played catalogue (the people that were awake at least). The directions that Eric’s father gave to Dave was a handy walktrough.
4:00 We arrived at the cottage, thanks to the road flare. MillsJRoss, Eric (MrCollosal), and Jess(Eric’s girlfriend) we waiting for us. We did a fast introduction, made some photos, Ericexplained the toilet rules, we walked to the lake to se the sun rise and then went to bed. There were 6 beds so some of us had to share mattresses or sleep on the ground.
The cottage is spac
y. There is all this stuff on the wall. It’s like the cottage has an interdimensional link with E-bay.
DAY
2 : SATURDAY


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

mit3.gif
8:40 I got up and took a shower. I also started to make questions for the mittens quiz. Usually m0ds does it, but I didn’t think it was fair that m0ds couldn’t play. I also brought some prizes from home.
11:00 Most people were awakening by now so we had breakfast and talked about adventure games some more. This is mittens after all.
2:00 We played Frisbee, darts, bow and arrow, badminton and volleyball. After that some of us went swimming. The rest stayed on the beach building a campfire for tonight.
7:00 We sat at the camp fire talking about our favourite 3 AGS games. Back in the cottage the toilet got clogged. And while the rest were all enjoying the campfire heat, we let poor Jess look for fire wood all by herself.
12:00 The fire died out. We went back to the cottage and watched Aqua teen hunger force on cartoon network. It’s about a hamburger, a milkshake and French fries.
DAY
4 : MONDAY


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


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


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


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


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

 


mit4.gif

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