Blackwell Unbound Preview

Dave Gilbert needs no introduction – he has made some of the most enjoyable AGS games, in which he emphasised on captivating plots and profound characterisation. Lately, he has started work as a full-time game developer, and has already released two independent adventure titles – a mature rabbi mystery entitled “The Shivah” (Deluxe version), and the first installment of a modern ghost story called “The Blackwell Legacy”. Both of the titles have thus far had vast success and impressive critical acclaim. Now Dave is working on a game which is loosely connected to “The Blackwell Legacy”, although not a direct sequel.

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In “Blackwell Unbound” you play ‘aunt Lauren’, who is occasionally referred to in Legacy, and her ghost friend, Joey in their quest to relieve lost souls in the big city. And here comes the first significant difference with Dave’s previous game – you can control both characters freely, and there will be puzzles in which they will need to co-operate with each other. Dave believes the role of Joey should be more central in this game, and certain areas will be accessible only to him. Mr. Gilbert also promises that the game will be very non-linear, which will certainly add to its replay value. He will continue to concentrate on puzzles involving logical connections, rather than obscure and now obsolete inventory based obstacles. “Blackwell Unbound” is likely to be not only an enjoyable title, but an innovative one.

The graphics for the game this time are being made by Erin Robinson (known as ‘The Ivy’ on the AGS boards, creator of the splendid game “Spooks”), and hence are slightly different in style to those of Legacy. Although Dave claims that it is more simplistic, from what I’ve seen they are as pretty – but of course, it’s a matter of artistic taste. Possibly due to time restraints, there will be no character portraits this time.

This time, a musician named Thomas Regin is working on the game’s soundtrack. From what I’ve heard, it is incredibly atmospheric late-night jazz, which could have easily been composed by Angelo Badalamenti himself. Those who delight in the soft sax sounds of the “Twin Peaks – Fire Walk with Me” title theme will certainly find themselves on loved and familiar ground. The cast who will be voicing the game has already been announced, and judging from the few lines of dialogue I’ve heard, they are both talented actors and appropriate for the roles they shall give their voices to.

“Blackwell Unbound” will be released somewhere around the end of August, and Dave is someone who keeps his deadlines. The game will be available for download for as little as ten dollars, and for twice as much you’ll be able to buy the jewel case edition along with the soundtrack CD. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope Dave will once again weave an enchanting story before us.

Check out Dave’s Website:http://www.wadjeteyegames.com/

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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

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.

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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.            

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  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.

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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!

Donna: Avenger of Blood Preview

Not so often do we see stories in AGS games written by… professional writers. Yes, such is the case here. I have no choice but to leave you into Goldmund’s hands of what he has written about his forthcoming game, “Donna: Avenger of blood”.

            My real name is Blazej Dzikowski, I’m a 28-year old Polish writer. I’ve published a novel, several short stories and a number of articles in various magazines. I’ve got a Master’s degree in English Philology at the department of American Literature and currently I study at the Culture Studies Institute of Warsaw University.

I strongly believe that computer games have artistic potential, a view I explained in my MA thesis, which is known to some of the AGS forums members.

Donna: Avenger of Blood is my own exercise in this field. I’m trying to make a game which provides something more than entertainment. Nevertheless, this is my first step in the game design, and now I can see that I was unable to escape several small trivialities and some things in my game remain conventional.

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I’ve tried to write a story that isn’t another variation on the immortal subjects like “obtain the ingredients for a spell” and “defeat the evil sorceror”.

Basically, it’s a modern political-metaphysical thriller.

The main character of the game, Donna, is a vampire. By this I’ve tried to make the player realize what it is like to be an outcast, somebody hunted and deemed to be evil. It’s not like in this “Angel” series, where the main character is a vampire, but a good one, protecting humans from evil vampires. There’s no black and white in this story – although the game is in grayscale.

The subject of vampirism also enabled me to dwell on the subject of death, of how humans try to face it, or escape it. This is a subject in which I’m very interested. Donna asked a vampire, named Christian, to make her immortal, because she was always scared of death. After that, she and Christian fell in love with each other.

 

Christian is a member of some kind of mysterious organization (something like more active freemasonry) that ordered him to come on a mission to a nameless country in middle Europe. The country is deep in financial depression, and this allows a party of extreme right-wing politicians, National Conservative Reneissance, to gain power. Of course, there is a secret behind this party. Common people look for causes of their poverty and, in the sad tradition, the answers are: Jews. Foreigners. Atheists. Homosexuals.

Donna and Christian come to the country’s capital and they check in first at a seedy motel, and later on in Eldorado Hotel, which is closer to the city centre. Christian carries on his mission never explaining to Donna what the nature of this quest is.

One early morning a group of armed men break into their room. They kill Christian and shoot Donna, who falls down from the window, completely naked.

This is where the game begins.

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After escaping the chase and finding a place to hide from the sun, Donna decides to go on a quest of revenge – hence the title of the game.

She will find little friendly people and many enemies. She will discover the nature of Christian’s quest and try to fulfill it. She will enter a love relationship with a female journalist, who is trying to alarm her countrymen of dirty games in the country’s politics. She will face the mystery of the shadowroom. And she will get to know why somebody ordered to have Christian – and her – killed.

Avenger of Blood is a historical term I found in the Bible. When somebody was killed, a person from his/her family set on a quest to revenge this death and kill the murderer. The simplest form of justice. An Avenger of Blood was, of course, allowed to kill the suspected person, even if the relative’s death was caused by accident. The only way that a killer could escape the revenge was to hide in one of Cities of Refuge.

Donna borrows from several historical sources. One is, of course, the Bible. The second is the history of Ahnenerbe, which was a division of SS in Nazi Germany, occupied with studying the occult – like germanic runes, legend of atlantis, secrets of blood heritage etc.

 

The graphics consists of retouched photographs. One may think that it’s too easy to import photos as backgrounds, but as it is maybe less time-consuming than drawing your own, it’s still quite hard: I have to edit them, include necessary objects. Most backgrounds are animated. My girlfriend, Dominika, who is a photographer, helps me a lot with graphics edition and she also draws character animation frames for the game.

As character portraits are also made of retouched photos, we have quite a famous cast in this game: Donna is played by Erin O’Connor, a famous English model; we have also appearances from Noam Chomsky, dr.John Lilly, Jean Baudrillard, Michel Foucault, and Franka Potente.

I make my own music, using a Yamaha CS1x synthesizer, some edited animal samples and distorted vocals. You can download some samples from my promotional thread at agsforums.

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Please also check the trailer, available at:

http://www.astercity.net/~zuletagu/blazed/donna-trailer.zip

The GUI is very simple: Lucasgames derivative point-and-click.

8 modes: walk, pick up, use (object from inventory on another object or on a hotspot), look, operate, talk, hit and bite.

You have 2 inventories: one is items, the second one (accessible by clicking the toggle button) takes you to the “skills inventory”, including vampiric skills: charm, listen, read mind, strength. Those use up your blood, so you have to refuel every now and then.

There are some other guis, for example a computer screen, or a subway map. Also, you have to type-in several things, such as passwords, or other keywords, at some points in the game. Dialogues – just your standard multiple choice fare.

Hm… I think that’s all… and I’m 90% sure that the game will be available in the second half of 2004.

Neverquest Preview

Another rather overlooked but promising upcoming game is “Neverquest” by Jeroen Dekker.

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It is going to be a funny spoof of classic fantasy RPGs. You play Nob, a young man who has just learnt about his origin from his ex-master magician. And of course, he goes searching for gold. What? It sounds cliché? Yes it does, but it is really funny. In the demo which the AGS Ezine got its hands on, there were numerous jokes making fun of adventures, RPGs and fantasy in general. Definitely one of the funniest AGS games I’ve played.

The graphics are done in a nice low resolution, in a cartoony style quite reminiscent of early Lucasarts games, and for speech it uses sierra-like talking windows. Although the graphics aren’t the next best thing, they do fit the game quite nicely, and most importantly, there are numerous animations, which make the world of the game more immersive.

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“Neverquest” will use a MIDI soundtrack, and judging from the tunes in the small demo Jeroen has made the style of the music will be in the style of the first Quest for Glory game. There are also many sound effects in the demo, which also makes the atmosphere better.

As for gameplay, “Neverquest” will use a rather standard point and click interface, quite like Lucasarts games. And while there was no combat in the small demo, the creator said that we may expect such in the full game. On the scales, the puzzles were logical, and the interface was intuitive.

On the whole, “Neverquest” will be one of the funniest and most entertaining games when released. And speaking of release dates, it will be finished somewhere in late 2004. Another promising game to the growing list added here!

Project Katrina Preview

Project Katrina is a new fan-game in production based on the character from “Quest for Glory IV: Shadows of Darkness”. Unlike all the other fan-games, PK will not feature the Hero as the main character, but Katrina instead. For all who have not played Quest for Glory IV, I will say that Katrina is a gorgeous mysterious character, who turns out to be a vampire near the end. Without a doubt a very exquisite choice for a main character.

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What stunned me about this project though are the unbelievable graphics. The look exactly like sierra’s early 90’s ones, but just in higher resolution. The only flaw I noticed is that their version of Katrina does not look much like a mysterious vampire, but that could be ignored for now – who knows what kind of a plot will the team think of?
            Music sounds as if it was made for Quest for Glory IV. It sounds very pleasant; it will surely not bother the player, but will enhance the atmosphere.

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Now comes the ultimate question: “When will it be ready?” Unfortunately, it gets the ultimate answer “When it’s done.” But be sure to look for this game in case it gets done!

Awakening of the Sphinx preview

One of the promising, but not widely know AGS games in production is “Awakening of the Sphinx” by Andrew MacCormack. It is one of the few historically themed games, and it is set in Egypt.

The main character, General Homerheb, a low born man that has worked his way through the army, meets the vizier, who tells him that if the Pharaoh was got rid of, he’d become the regent and would give Homerheb nobility, something he would need in order to get the attention of the vizier’s daughter. The plot is very accurate historically, and the supernatural stuff that is in just seems to fit the game.

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As for graphics, they are not the best I’ve seen, but certainly not bad – the amount of effort put in the backgrounds really shows. Characters, while not that well drawn are very smoothly animated and seem to fit the artistic style of the game. On the whole, graphics are put much effort into and that really shows.

The music of the game is so far well composed, and I’ve heard some soft Egyptian rock tunes (if there is such thing). The game will hopefully feature a digital music pack and a speech pack, something that would surely make the atmosphere stronger.

The thing that I like most of this game(so far) is that it is going to have optional conversations and documents with historical facts – something very reminiscent of the Gabriel Knight games. While the average gamer will concentrate on the story and puzzles, the knowledge-loving one will spend time reading documents – this will lengthen the gameplay even more.

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“Awakening of the Sphinx” is going to be released in late 2004, but we can expect a demo within one or two months. Thumbs up!

By the Sword: Conspiracy Preview

Introduction. By the Sword: Conspiracy is going to be the second commercial adventure game made with AGS. It is sci-fi themed, set in 2197. The demo was released last month, so here are my opinions based on it.

            Plot. Lieutenant Ron Ganon is a young and prosperous astronaut, and after saving one of his crew is hibernated till returning to Earth. However, he gets woken up to see that all of the ship’s crew is dead. Put simply, he has to uncover the mystery.

            Graphics. Pre rendered 3D and poser-made characters. Nothing special compared to commercial titles, but still very good measured up to the AGS scene. In the demo there seemed to be some glitches with them, but I am sure that they will be fixed in the final release now that AGS supports 32 bit color. On the scales, the graphics add much to the game’s atmosphere.

            Sound. Here the demo should have done better. There were only two(!) music tracks and no sound effects. Of course, in the final release of BtS, there will be much more music, but I cannot judge what will it be since the demo does not feature almost any.

            Puzzl

bts.gifes. There are some pros and cons of the puzzles.  One point for is that they include selection of difficulty level at the beginning – the higher you choose it to be, the harder the puzzles are and the more things you see. Another good thing is that the puzzles are various and innovative. On the contrary, though,they are too adventuresque and distract you from the plot.  Another point against is that you need to remember too much codes. For example, you have to recall a number that a character said in the intro at the middle of the chapter, which is approximately 3 hours later, and type it in a parser box, which practically leaves the player in a dead end.

            Miscellaneous. The game will be released somewhere in 2004. It will cost around $10, which is a reasonable price. There is a downloadable demo ready, which includes chapter one of six. The preview is based on the first release of the demo, and that’s why I will not mention the bugs, I take that they have been fixed in the second release on prima vista. The game will be fairly long, considering that it took me about 5 hours to finish chapter one, so in my opinion that game would be worth its money.

 
Note: the playable demo is available here and is 18MB large.

“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 XD

 

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! XD

 

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”

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