“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%

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Ben Jordan: Paranormal Investigator Cases 1 and 2 Review

Introduction. Francisco Gonzalez, one of the people who have used AGS for a long time, has recently released two games of his “Ben Jordan” series. Both are fun to play, but let’s look why in this combined review.

            Plot. You play Ben Jordan, a young man who has just graduated, decides to become a paranormal investigator, a profession that does not apply much to the tastes of his narrow-minded parents. Each game is a separate case. I have to say, however, that the case in the second game was much more interesting and well written.

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            Graphics. While not the best ever, the graphics of the two “Ben Jordan”(no I am not going to use the abbreviation) games do the job and create a pleasant impression in the player. The characters look a lot better than backgrounds, to be honest – they even have dialogue portraits. I want to point out two things that I particularly liked – the first is a character in the second game that is an obvious paint-over over Sean Connery, and the second is that the main character has 8 walkcycles – something not that often seen in AGS games.

            Music and sound. We come, in my opinion, to the best part of both games. The music is composed by Ghormak and not only is it melodious, but it is also digital, with high quality samples. So in case you are wondering, about 75% of the file you download is the compulsory digital music pack. The sound effects are good, but don’t make great impression.

            Gameplay. Here, the two “Ben Jordan” games could have been vastly improved. In the first one, the story develops to its apogee at light speed, with almost no time for the player to think about the mystery itself. In the second game, while there is a better development of the story line, the puzzles were in the way. Most of them are rather illogical and can be solved by the “trial and error” method. Good thing that there aren’t that many rooms and hotspots.

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            Conclusion. The two “Ben Jordan” games are fun to play and work perfectly to kill

a few hours. Looking forward to the next cases!

Ben Jordan: Paranormal investigator

Creator: Francisco “Grundislav” Gonzalez

Download from here

AGS Ezine score:

76%

No-action Jackson Review by Ian Welch

 

Carl Weathers, a tough, renegade cop armed only with a cheap suit and a gallon of Baby Oil..  Oh, wait..  hang on.  While it might be an interesting idea to make a game of the film, creator Britton O’Toole has opted for a far better approach to it.

You see, thankfully, No-Action Jackson bares no similarity with it’s silver screen counterpart.  For a start, it has a plot.

You play Jackson, a dorky kid with a penchant for questy-type board games.  Slackmaster, some bonkers D&D style game takes up much  of Jackson‘s life, and herein lies the plot.  Jackson has a game set up for today, only fate has decided to put a stop to his plans.  His grandparents have turned up, and his best friends have made other plans.  Jackson has to escape from his house, round up his friends and play Slackmaster, in the hopes of gaining some major experience points.

Let’s take a look at the games finer points, starting with the graphics.  They look to be influenced by Day of the Tentacle, which is never a bad thing, and these are some of the best graphics on an AGS game I’ve seen.  Sure they’re only 320×200, but they’re well drawn and they all seem to mesh together perfectly.  However, the backgrounds seem very stylised and some extra detail wouldn’t go amiss.

Sound-wise, this game’s a little on the odd side.  The effects are pretty clear, and fit well in the general scheme of things.  As for the music, it’s a different story.  Sure, they have the same kooky, off-kilter feel as the rest of the game, the problem lies in the fact that they are repetitive.  They seem to be a short piece, on an infinite loop.  If you idle on the map screen for a while, you’ll realise it.  The loops are good, don’t get me wrong, but it’d be nice if a middle eight was thrown in to prevent it becoming annoying.

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Right, on to the most important part the game play.  The puzzles are a well thought out, with no abstract logic or pixel hunting.  It’ll take a while to think of what to do, but when you finally figure it out it will make sense.  The thing that really lets this game down, is it’s bugginess.  Whilst penning this review it crashed several times.  Usually, I’d put this down to my computer being nothing more than a technologically advanced door stop, but many people have reported having the same difficulties on the AGS Forums, so it’s definitely an issue the creator needs to address.

Overall, I’d recommend this game to all that haven’t played it.  It’s clever and it’s easy on the eye.  It’s like the teacher you had a crush on as a child.  However, the game’s script needs an over haul before it can receive the much-coveted, “Iqu’s Seal of Approval”.

 

 

No-action Jackson

Creator: Cerebrit

Download from here

AGS Ezine Score:

74%

Brittens 2004 Report by Petteri Aartolahti

Thursday 24th of June – Day 0

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

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

 

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

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Saturday 26th of June – Day 2

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

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

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Sunday 27th of June – Day 3

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

 

[brittens6.jpg – Waiting for the train.]

 

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

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

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Monday 28th of June – Day 4

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

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

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