Thursday, May 29, 2008

May MAGS madness?

Title: I'm not crazy, right? - The Cell
Author:
King_wiking
Release date: 25 may 2008
Playtime: 15 minutes
Size: 4,7Mb

An entry for the May edition of the MAGS competition with a conspiracy theme. Well, the only entry so we have a winner here! And a winner it is... or actually, can be.

You're Rolf and without knowing why, captured for five years already. But not much longer! You're going to escape. Easier said than done. But you have a secret weapon! A gift! You can 'feel' things.

The game has good, original graphics. The story is nicely build and there's an user action that you don't encounter in the average adventure game: the 'sense' action. I think it's a bit overused but it's an original addition. The whole game is a big escape-the-rooms themed hunt for the exit. But the puzzles are too easy. The clues of them are already given during the intro of each room. So it's not much of a puzzle, it's more an exercise. That makes the length of the game on the short side. A pity because the game has much potential.

The puzzles could have been extended a bit more to enhance the game play. For instance the orb could have been more interactive (let the player do the work), the picture lock could have been with inventory items (collect images and apply those to a lock-pad) and the teleport pads could have been between rooms, not just a moat of goo (first get some items or solutions/hints elsewhere before proceeding). Now it's all done for you in a textual way and that eliminates a bit of the game play.

I'm just suggesting here because I very well realize that this was a time pressured effort and under those circumstances very well done. Certainly your first game.
The extras are great, certainly in the sewer maintenance area where you can do more than you have to. Good animation and good distraction. Some very bloody animations but if you don't mind the colour red and some violence, you'll have a good time here. Well used opportunities to extend the game play.

The author already said that there might be more episodes and I hope they will be under less pressure, have a bit harder puzzles and more user interaction. But to start your series this way is not mad ... eeehhh bad...


Friday, May 23, 2008

Wee Cough

I've got a wee cough, or perhaps a week off. But anyway, no updates from me next week, although Leon may have a review.

Have a nice time! See you in June!

If you have any suggestions for June's pick of the month, add them as comments, please.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Your dream becomes.... an adventure game

Title: Feuersturm 2: Der Unheimliche Zug
Author: FireOrange
(Tobias Schmitt)
Release date: 13 may 2008
Playtime: 30 minutes
Size: 7Mb

The fourth game that was released within a week is one in German. Also the sequel to a series of many and, Andrew already predicted that, I missed the first, so, as also recommended by the author, I played that one first.

It's the same author as from the Second Moon series (published under the name das Tobi-AS) and having played these, I was pleasantly surprised.

Feuersturm is completely in the Lucas Art style, unlike Second Moon which is mostly photo manipulation, with the well known interface. With help from Loma, Raymann and
BlueGryphon, the game has decent made graphics and very good sound quality of the opening dialog. The game is completely in first person view and the navigational arrows in the screens remained, but less obvious. Improvements on all points here.

The story is based upon a dream (or maybe a nightmare) and all plays around the time of a firestorm, destroying and changing the world as we know it. You have been sleeping for 60 years and you're now looking for your brother (still). The story itself is fairly easy to understand but the fact that it's a non-native language for probably most of us makes it a bit harder. Add the fact that this is part 2 (without part 1 you wouldn't even know what was going on) and the technique of flashbacks and you're lost. At one point I didn't know who I was or where I was in the game. Furthermore is one of the first puzzles in the game a password puzzle. You need some knowledge of the language there. My tip: try this site (also without adventure games good fun) and you'll be closer to the solution.

An English translation (if there will be any) will make it easier. It doesn't take the joy away from the playing because there are a few pretty good puzzles in the game that don't need any translation. What struck me most was the fact that every action has it's unique response. Not the standard: "not now" or "you can't do that here" but good responses to your action that made the puzzles even more enjoyable and playable. The scenes aren't overcrowded with items, but also not empty to make it look like a rush-job (which this game clearly isn't).

My conclusion: if you have a reasonable German vocabulary and you like a few good puzzles to solve with good graphics and sounds, this is a game to play. And if you're stuck at some point because you don't know the meaning you can always try interglot to find out. If that doesn't help, the game might turn into a nightmare for you.

Space Race

Two competitons have just finished, both with a spacey theme. The Sprite Jam challenged people to have a spaceperson with an unusual job, and pslim won with this space-poo-catcher.


Meanwhile, in the Animation competition, the task was to animate a guy on a Trekkian-style transporter when something goes wrong. Lionmonkey won, but I preferred Twinmoon's third-placed entry which you can see here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Viking music

Well, the monster under the bed tune contest is over and Viking has won with his excellent "Under the Bed" entry. nyu01 came a close second and all the entries had good aspects to them. It was an intriguing anonymous competition and vote, which isn't usual, but seems to have been popular.

Leon makes me popular

Well, just have a shufti at the visitor rates since Leon's reviews went on the blog... a new record of 60 unique visitors and 130 page views yesterday.

3... 2... (rc)1... Blast off!

Over in the 3.02 beta thread, CJ has just put up AGS 3.02 Release Candidate 1 with quite a few fixes from the last beta, so its even better than ever! Now with added vitamins!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Looking for a puzzle?

Title: Cosmos Quest II: To Find a Sun
Author:
kinanev (Ilia Kinanev)
Release date: 12 may 2008
Playtime: 120 minutes
Size: 79Mb

To play this game, it is advised to play part 1 first.

Two years after the release of part 1, it now time for the sequel. One of the critiques of version one were the difficulty of the puzzles (illogical) and pixel hunting (objects not being very visible). And so, after having played the first one, my expectations of the sequel were very high.

Since the graphics are stunning, the sound effects and musical score are brilliant, one can only hope for a perfect game.

I can only say: I'm very disappointed! The graphics are again superb. The quality of backgrounds are really fabulous. The music that accompanies it, brings you in the right, futuristic mood. The story is very well build up, from intro to finish. It's a great atmosphere that one can get lost in for several hours. But you're rudely awoken by the devilish illogical puzzles and by the almost-not-possible-to-complete arcade games. And that hurts!

The story continues where part 1 stopped. And almost immediately the player is confronted with a puzzle that's hard to solve. The player has to make assumptions, has to try and error and needs some luck to make up for the logic. I won't spoil anything but I can only say that it wouldn't have to be that hard if only some things were explained: the abbreviations on the panel and the plates on the floor. That's all needed to make this obstacle less frustrating. And some logic: on your way you cross two plates. Why doesn't the first one have the same effect as the second? But I'm talking too much detail here.

And then there are the arcade games. I counted four (I include the run-for-your-life one) and they were all of a level that one can question. Seeing the games as standalone, they'd be of a perfect level. You need at least several tries to reach your goal. But the problem here is that I'm an adventure gamer, not arcade. In general, I don't like arcades, at least not inside an adventure game. And certainly not of this level.

I play with two different type of mice: one optical and one trackball. The first for the detailed work, the second for the comfort of use. But both were very unsuitable for the games presented here. I admit, it's all a matter of taste and what's amusing for one isn't for another. It's a matter of taste. In my case: not my cup of tea.

Now for the pixel hunting. There weren't that many objects that could be missed (although I'm 12 points short of the perfect score, so maybe these are the hidden objects..) but that's all compensated with exits. On planet Kusur you can go so many directions.... if you could only find them. You have to walk along every edge of every screen to see if there is one or more exit and even mid screen there are sections you can go and don't see (believe me, there are!). A bit more nuance, shadows of clearer footpaths could help out here. It's OK to wander around and explore, but it shouldn't become an obsession.

The sad thing about it all is, is that it's a great game. Like I said, graphics are superb. Sounds and music are nice to hear. Story is well build and told but all is overshadowed by the level of the puzzles. And that's a pity. But there's good news!

The last sentence of the game was: To be continued! So there will be a part 3! And let's hope that what wasn't learned from part 1 and returned in part 2 won't be back in part 3. But that's only for the puzzles, all the other elements are right on track!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Shoot! It's a mighty darn piece of work.

Title: Shoot, I Got Abducted!
Author: Ben304
(Ben Chandler)
Release date: 13 may 2008
Playtime: 15 minutes
Size: 1Mb

3 days. That's all it took for Ben to create this wonderful piece of work. The graphics, the music, the puzzles, the humour, the game length. It's all there and it's all balanced.

You're playing
Bob Cornhusk and are abducted by an alien. Captured in it's spaceship it's up to you to get out again. Use the objects, characters and most of all your fantasy to escape the room. It's a game for all type of adventurers, since the puzzles aren't too hard. Not the type of immediately solvable, but also not the 'I could never come up with that' type. An adventure games as it should be: explore, try, look and most of all, have fun. Because the humour in this game (I name Bessie for instance) is fantastic.

The only minor thing about the game is the language used, an Australian southern drawl, which makes that some of the dialogues can't be understood completely but that doesn't take away any of the game play. Anyway, the music, from Hillbilly style to John Denver's Take Me Home distracts you from that.

Ben wouldn't be Ben if he'd already added a fourth day to the production process and granted most of the users wishes: In the updated version the intro is skippable, you can save and load a game now and some bugs were removed.

It takes some skill to make such a game in such an amount of time. I couldn't even do it in three years. Hopefully Ben has many more days to spare.

Are you infected yet?

Finally, after I asked Leon to do reviews, someone has a proper game release or two, so this is the first of 3 reviews coming your way. Take it away, Leon...

Title: Infection - Episode 1 - The Ship
Author: WHAM
(Tomi Kahkonen)
Release date: 7 may 2008
Playtime: 30 minutes
Size: 97Mb

From someone new to the game making scene you don't know what to expect. I must say that the quality in general of the new games that were published recently by newcomers was of an extremely high standard. This one is no exception.

The game was released some time ago already but version 1 contained such bugs that it effected the game play and continuity of the story. But Tomi did a very good job in addressing the comments from several players and released an update within a week. Version 1.1 is very well playable.

Based upon the templates of Beneath A Steel Sky, the controlling is a bit strange at first. Most is done by right-clicking (mind you, the inventory is the other way around) and walking through doors is done by clicking beyond them. But after a five minutes of playing, you don't know any better and it becomes second nature.


I won't tell you the story about Owen who finds his spaceship in problems. You can read it here. I won't tell you because it's what Tomi Kahkonen does best. And it's what ranks this game amongst the best: the storytelling. The object of the game is to save your spaceship from damage caused by a lunatic who's roaming the rooms with a syringe, infecting all lifeforms he encounters. Along the way you can meet the 'dude' several times and it's up to you to get rid of him. How and where is for you to find out. Some parts have a more arcade-like impression than adventure, although the update to version 1.1 took some of the arcade style away. I'm not disappointed.

From the title page until the credits you're captured by it. The graphics are somewhat less but in this case it doesn't matter. It has a bit of a nostalgic feeling. Think of it: a story of the future with graphics from the past. What more do you want? And who cares about the graphics in this case? It's only to support the epic.

There aren't any difficult puzzles in the game, making it suitable for both beginner and experienced player. It's more an interactive storytelling where each time it's clear what's expected of the player. There are no puzzles crossing each other so you can solve one problem at a time.

The voice acting is OK, although some parts have a bit less good quality, especially Ellie's part. Apart from some of her lines, which seem to be read from script instead of acted, it's done in a convincingly way. The accent of the captain made me think of Schwarzenegger. Add some accurate sound effects, a retro sound composed by
Tony Caven and the story is complete. Well.... actually not. Because this is just the first of hopefully many more to come.



Friday, May 16, 2008

Spring has sprung, some n00bs have riz

Well, its time for another roundup of the most notable newbies since my last look. Since more than 250 people have signed up to the forums since then, please don't be offended if you're not in the list!

S

Fellow blogger S is making Witch Quest, which looks to have some pretty good artwork in it. The blog is a design journal, so can make some good reading.

The Awesome

Already an animation competition winner, is also making a game featuring a lady with a bare midriff which is never a bad thing.

ShonenAiGuy

This chap has already won a Sprite Jam, and a MAGS with A Walk in the Park, so looks like some good stuff can be forthcoming from his direction!

Ultra Magnus

Released the LazyTown game, proving that "its a piece of cake to make an AGS game". Also has waded into to the odd contraversial debate with some thoughful replies.

brokenbutterfly

Parisian, artist, girl, lurker since 2003 and French/English translator for Far Nowhere. What more could one want in a n00b?

Mr T

Coder of the fab NES Quest and member of the A Team. What more could one want in a n00b? Oh, I said that already.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Adventureconked

Sad and unpredictable news: Howard Sherman's second attempt at getting people to pay a fortune to stay in a hotel/casino has failed, like the first one did. For further insight into this tragedy, a long rant about why he's not going to do a long rant about the Four Fat Chicks and Howard's unique insight into the US economy, head over to Howard's blog. It's even funnier than he intends it to be!

Background Workshop

The latest Background Blitz has a "Workshop" special. Loominous is asking all entrants to post their reference material, their preliminary sketches, and there should be plenty of discussion. The theme is an orphanage, but its a bit more complex than that and the whole thing should be pretty educational for budding artists, so head on over and read all about it.

What lies beneath

The latest tune contest has a bunch of excellent entries for the "Monster under the bed" theme. I have to say, its a hard choice: they are all great, but if you want to vote, go to the competition thread and pick your favourite.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mayflowers

Some blooming good games have budded up so far this month (sorry, had to get the flower metaphor in to make the post title work)... here's a quick overview:

Dread McFarlane

This French pirate-themed game seems to have great praise from people who speak the lingo. Marion has based the game on her online comic characters and people have been saying that its original and funny and maybe the next Nelly Cootalot. An English translation is expected soon.

Infection Episode 1: The Ship

Mentioned a wee while ago in the last review of upcoming games, this release had some teething bugs, but by all account with those problems mainly fixed seems to be quite good. The odd bit of dodgy voice acting is offset by good storytelling and atmosphere. Good effort from WHAM: I didn't even realise that George and Andrew had got back together after all these years, following in Take That and the Spice Girls' footsteps!

Shoot, I got abducted

The people over at AdventureDevelopers have a game design competition on just now and this is Ben304's entry. Bob the Hick has been kidnapped by aliens intent on nasty probe-type stuff. Reports are that its short and sweet, with a few glitches shortly to be ironed out of the first version.

Cosmos Quest II: To find a Sun

The first part of Cosmos Quest may have passed many people by, and the second part confusingly has the same subtitle as the first. Perhaps this sun is taking longer to locate than first thought (try down the back of the sofa?) Anyway, this game has nice looking graphics with 3D-generated backgrounds. Help the Rhomulans on the Radion!

Blogplus

I've added a couple new features to the blog. Firstly, there's the translations available in the sidebar, for anyone who wants a terrible automatic translation of the blog. Secondly, you can now rate each blog post, so I know which ones you think are good, bad, or ugly. Of course, I'll probably ignore this information and keep posting what I like, but you never know.

Ivy Salad?

Castmasters Yesterday's Salad have another AGS-related podcast up, featuring an interview with Canadian Rouge-Tete Ivy. Check out the interview action here.

Monday, May 12, 2008

"A" Tale of Two Kingdoms

A bit late for me to blog it, but Just Adventure reviewed A Tale of Two Kingdoms back in April.

Life's a beach, then you submit a short story...

A new writing competition has started over in the Competitions and Activities forum. The theme is beach, and the length is 200-300 words. Entries must be in by 23rd May, so get scribbling.

I call shotgun

Well, this month I chose Charlie Foxtrot and the Galaxy of Tomorrow as the Pick of the Month. No sooner have I done this than its Completed Games thread gets bumped and Rock Paper Shotgun do a review. Coincidence? Who knows...?

Also today BaRoN, the creator of the game, sent me a thank you PM for my picking of the game. Its not necessary, but its always nice when authors do that.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

New forum record

Woo, 284 people were on the AGS forums at once today. A new record! I wonder what they were doing?

Friday, May 9, 2008

King of the Castle

Well, another Background Blitz has finished and as has happened many times before, Loominous has won (although TheJBurger did pretty well, too). Loominous also posted a great animated GIF of the drawing process which you can see here.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Dynamic Arrays

This post is about a couple of things that changed in AGS 3.0. First, the AGS_MAX_SOMETHING #defines were removed becuase CJ removed the editor/engine constraints on characters and other things. This made some modules break. Now, as I'm lazy its taken me ages to get around to a proper fix for this. One way is to use dynamic arrays, another new AGS 3.0 feature. Well, monkey_05_06 has already written up a great forum post on this issue, so I'll just link to his awesome posting. In short, you check if you're using AGS 3.0, define the AGS_MAX_WHATEVER to be blank, which declares a dynamic array instead of a fixed size, and then initialize the array to be the right size for the actual number of characters in the game (e.g. Game.CharacterCount) in game_start (surrounded by appropriate #ifdefs). Bob's your Uncle!

How to import a module in AGS 3.0


It seems that for the very new to AGS, even importing a module that someone else has made is a scary business. So, lets try and demystify it a bit. First, download the module. If it's in a zip file, you'll need to unzip it. There may be various files inside, the module proper has extension .SCM . To import the module, you need to scroll to the Scripts section of the editor hierarchy panel and right-click on the word "Scripts". Then you get a menu, where you should choose "Import script..." You are presented with a standard windows file dialog, where you can choose the module file and import it. It is added to your Scripts section and you can then read the documentation to find out how to use it. In my modules, the documentation is always in the script header, at the top.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Pixel Perfect Collision update

Way back, I made a module of a "team effort" bit of coding to provide Pixel perfect collision detection, something that AGS doesn't handle natively, due to the way that characters can usually walk behind each other, etc. Recently, mport2004 reiterated a bug that SticMann had spotted ages ago but I hadn't realised was a problem, that if a character is not "on top" of another character (and similarly with objects) then the module didn't work correctly. All to do with baselines and stuff.

Anyway, now I've fixed the module, updated the forum thread, replied to mport2004, and also added extender functions for those using AGS 3.0 or better, so the pixel perfect detection is even more perfect!

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Enough already

No sooner have I posted about "anarcho" Logan's upcoming game than a bearded accountant over at AdventureGamers reviews his magnum opus, Emily Enough.

May be released soon?

Its been a wee while since I looked at forthcoming games, so here's a few:

AGS Wars

A real-time Strategy game, this looks like a cross between Command & Conquer and Civilisation from screenshots so far.

Springtime in the Manger - Conception

Despite a title that sounds like The Producers take on the nativity story, the latest effort from anarcho (Emily Enough) is about a scientist's amazing new discovery in a dilapidated old research lab. Not many more details, but the screenshot looks great.

My Dead Husband, the Stranger

Based on the 1963 film, Charade, starring Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, this game tracks the adventures of Mel as she discovers that her recently deceased husband had all kinds of skeletons in his closet and her new friend knows more than he lets on... who can she trust? Graphics look simple and functional but music and story look very promising.

Picaroon - The Lost Years

Electroshokker's Monkey Island-inspired game is now on its 53rd name (it was originally titled "Return to Monkey Island" and has now entered the "let's not infringe copyright" phase. Graphics are looking awesome and they've got a brand new website up... lets hope this is one of those "slow but steady wins the race" productions.

Anokhron

A dark and foreboding-looking adventure set in the 19th century Paris. Luc Beaumont escapes a stranger in the narrow streets of Paris by climbing through an open window into a house he doesn't know, and instantly regrets it...

Downfall

The gruesome downfall of Joe Davis is plotted in this gory horror game. Joe's wife Lucy has gone missing and there's blood everywhere, leading to the room next door... The GIP thread is scary (and bloody!) enough in itself, but now there is also a demo available to download.

Infection

Michael Owen, not a top-flight footballer but a spaceship mechanic finds working aboard the Pelican transport vessel finds that life has got a bit... sick. Supposedly the first part of a series, but I've seen that phrase too many times to be too hopeful. Still, looks interesting from the details available.

Darksiders Part I - The Curious Case of Mark Idalo

Mark Idalo is London during the Blitz's answer to Joey Mallone (from the Blackwell series). Mark sets out to solve crime on his own, finding a case that affect both living and dead. Looks great and a great premise, too.

Point of View

The Monk's Brew has an amusing post on what adventure games look like from a non-player character's point of view. Either NPCs end up being passive in the face of our player's kleptomania or irritatingly obstructive. No wonder so many games are set in deserted places...

Friday, May 2, 2008

Ikea Walkthrough

Well, its about time someone started writing walkthroughs for the wacky adventure that is "First Life" and The Morning News has done so, providing a walkthrough of Ikea for those who are dragged their by our better halves far too often and feel our life-force and bank accounts drain away whilst doing so.

Google's adventure game

Someone has taken Google Maps's Street View and turned it into an adventure game! Interesting idea... wonder what that guy was really up to?

You DO NOT talk about Animation Competition

Which is of course the first two rules of the Animation Competition this time, where the theme is "Fight". And although I'm being pre-emptive here, I have to say that the winner will probably be the awesome last minute entry by Ryan Timothy that you can see here.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

May MAGS Mayhem

Another month, another MAGS competition and this month's theme is Conspiracy. I'm sure that the government put Klaus up to this one, but anyway, if you want to do an Oliver Stone impression, get coding and submit your own game this month.

Paranormal Saladcast

Yesterday's Salad have a Ben Jordan retrospective podcast up.With Christopher Walken!