Friday, September 26, 2008

Little Game with Big Content

Title: Little Girl In Underland
Author:
The Ivy (Erin Robinson)
Release date: 7 september 2008
Playtime: 5 minutes
Size: 7.3Mb

It's not really a game. Actually it's an interactive movie. But one with lots of humor. What else to expect from this author, who also made Nanobots and Spooks.

Always good for stunning graphics and, just like in Damsel, you can't do without the audio. No less than 10 voice actors were used to give the funny characters an even more funny voice. Again a perfect example of what audio can do to a game. Turn it off and the game isn't interesting anymore.

The story is based upon American McGee's 'Alice'. Just as evil but much funnier. It's a story we've all heard once: the girl who became very little and wandered around in a fantasy world in search of her way back. But in this case it's no fantasy world, is it? The communist regime is real (yes still) and the enemy is in everything. But it's up to Little Girl to fight it. And she will of course.

If you can spare 5 minutes, play the game. Your download will probably take longer. And if you wait long enough, after the credit roll you can unlock the bonus material.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The sound of distress

Title: Damsel
Author:
Strange Visitor Productions
Release date: 25 september 2008
Playtime: 15 minutes
Size: 57.3Mb

A prince, a woodcutter and a dragon is what's needed to get the damsel out of her doorless tower. Are they any help? Not really. On the other hand. She couldn't have done it without them. Because they make the game to what it is: a fifteen minutes of fun.

With great, nice, clean graphics this game is a must play. With not too difficult puzzles it just something to get your mind off your daily business.

The best feature of this game is the voices. Although you can download the game without the voice pack, I'd say it's not an option. Download the full version and you'll see what real voice acting can contribute to a game. Windpiper, ElaineMC and Jesse Cox did a tremendous job here to give a voice to the characters. Especially Jesse as the prince made me laugh out loud. Together with the music of TwinMoon and the animations of Pijin Pastrana the game is complete. You can tell it's not the work of newbies.

Negative points? It's short. But that's on the other hand the positive side. With the subtitle Stress on the Tress this was the first chapter of more to come. The production team announced to have enough ideas for several situations and locations for Damsel to get out of. I just can't wait. I'm always prepared to help a Damsel....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Questing with a smile

Title: Smiley's Quest
Author:
Babar
Release date: 22 september 2008
Playtime: 25 minutes
Size: 1.3Mb

Another oldie, or should I say new one? After a development time of over 5 years, the game is finally released. Not that it took that long to develop, it took that long to be found again. And then parts 1 (another part 1?) and part 2 were already released, according to the homepage of the author (although number 2 is not listed..).

After you wake up having had a nightmare, you realize it wasn't a nightmare at all or you're still dreaming and the police is at your door. So what else to do than take your money and run....

The game isn't very difficult. There are some logical puzzles in the sense that they are obvious and well hinted. When I reached the map with the car I though: not another police-quest clone... but it's not that bad. You don't have to drive for hours to find your destination and there aren't hundreds of option. Just 4 locations, close together. That saves a lot of annoyance.

What I particularly liked in the game was the switch to the house to find the meteor. A nice combination of logic, nice graphics and good navigation. Well done! Also the fact that you can choose two routes in the game, the easy way and the hard way, although you don't know which one is which when you have to choose.

The key-part combining puzzle might have been more of a challenge. The parts were quickly found and put together, the encrypted letter (very obviously hidden) could have been made more difficult encrypted to extend the game play. The trick in this case was the speed with which is was presented.

Overall it's a nice, fun, solid game that's not too difficult and has graphics that aren't messy and good to look at. Not brilliant, but nice. Not the huge download size I've seen lately, a good sense of humor (buying a car can be very easy sometimes) and several dead bodies (a good game can't do without) and resurrections. So a good start of what could become a series. Or already is..? Curious what number two will be.. eeehh, number three.. no four... oh well.....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

An island with melted cheese

Title: Nedy's Adventure
Author:
joecarl (Jose Carlos)
Release date: 18 september 2008
Playtime: 25 minutes
Size: 23.2Mb

This is an updated version of a game released in 2006.

The start of the game is very promising. A 3d leader that suggests there's a state of the art adventure coming up.... but not.

With an intro in black and only text is nothing wrong. And the scene in the plane is also ok. Apart from the fact that you need to play a multiple choice quiz with questions that have nothing to do with the story to gain a key. And the fact that you jump first and then start wearing a parachute... (?). Other than that, the dropping was well presented. But after the landing I quickly lost interest. Not that the screens are messy or the characters are moving like boulders but the story for some reason isn't presented right.

There are too much sidelines in the story that have nothing to do with the plot. Would Jose stick to the facts and tell the basics of the story it would have been great. But I hate the quizzes with or without the multiple choice and questions/riddles that don't even touch the subject we're dealing with: solving the island mystery.

I think the riddles/quizzes were introduced to extend the game play. I wouldn't have missed them if they weren't there. Other than that, the puzzles are logical and very good solvable.

The music, relaxing according to Jose, is a bit too relaxing. Be careful not to fall asleep. It has no addition to the game, just background noise. And the English grammar and typos don't add to the joy of playing. Don't get me wrong: the game is good. The basics are: graphics, story. But not the way they are presented at the moment.

Monday, September 22, 2008

A flower that needs to grow...

Title: Flower Girl
Author:
toonaholic (John Sullivan)
Release date: 17 september 2008
Playtime: 10 minutes
Size: 36.7Mb

From the start of the game I was captured by the graphics style of this cute little production. My first thought was the resemblance with another kids game: Freddi Fish. The game itself isn't much but the characters you meet along the way make up for it. You'll explore the area, which isn't big but want to know what's behind the corner: what will be the next character and what will it look like.

During the intro you'll get a good presentation of the graphics capability of the game maker. His spellings and grammar is lacking but not too bad to become annoying. The music is present but could have been made more in line with the game: more dramatic during intro, cheerful when wandering around and more serious when talking to characters. In the present form it's a nice way to get rid of the silence but doesn't really contribute.

Like said: the puzzle isn't much. Actually there isn't one. You just walk from place to place bringing items back and forth, resulting in other items. There are some hidden 'treasures' but there were some moments in the play that I couldn't quite follow. Maybe toonaholic had more in mind and didn't proceed with it (I still don't get the squirrel part) just to finish the game.

Then the size: it's a massive 36.7Mb compressed (67.2Mb uncompressed) and I wonder where that huge size comes from. The world you play in isn't that big, there isn't a great amount of animation and the music isn't that complex to eat up all those bites.

But all in all for a first one it's a polished graphics beauty but needs much more of a story and puzzle. This part is one for the kids. But I can't wait till Flower Girl grows up ...

Q 2 Review

By the magic of blogger's scheduled posts facility, here I am posting when actually at this very moment I'll be waiting for two hours in a line with my two daughters at Eurodisney for a chance to meet a lady dressed up as Sleeping Beauty.

Anyway, there was great fanfare back in August when AGDI released QFG2VGA but the reaction in the AGS forums was perhaps somewhat muted. There's a kind of historic animosity between AGDI fans and AGS fans. Anyone who doesn't drool over AGDI games can expect a mauling from fans. Al Emmo was particularly badly received, although that could entirely be down to the voice acting of the main character (see Richard Cobbett's comment on his own QFG2VGA review).

So, here's my brief review: Graphics look great, its entirely unclear what you're supposed to do or how to get anywhere in the game without looking at hints or a walkthrough. Full of mazes, very hard combat and I gave up after playing for a few hours as there seemed to be no point. Other reviewers have said that perseverance is rewarded but I don't see why I shouldn't be rewarded a bit earlier. It's a game: its supposed to be fun! They even tell you to go and play QFG1 first, despite the fact its pretty unobtainable without pirating. I also realise that I've gotten used to the awesomeness of tutorials. Most games on the web with an slightly unusual control mechanism explain themselves fully: Dave Gilbert's Blackwell games do this, too. But no help here until you get the walkthrough and manage to find the adventurer guild where you can be taught to fight. By taught I mean get stuck in an unexitable loop until you guess the right nanosecond to hit the correct one of 5 dodge buttons. Sorry folks, this is too much like hard work.

Oh, and postpone your hate mail since I won't be online for a week after this is published anyway...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Cat wins


Well, the first normal background blitz in ages has been won by cat, beating out loominous, with this pic you see here. Cat gets to choose the new theme.

How to make youself sneeze

Matt Hamill, author of AGS-phenomenon Gesundheit, has an article in the Game Developer 2008 career guide about how he made the game. Its an interesting insight to a game that didn't get a lot of coverage in the forums as it was kind of made independently of them.

Ivy on my mittens

Erin has written up another "notes of game dev" guest blog. This time she covers Le Mittens: the highest concentration of alcohol and AGS talent this year. Head over for a good read!

Video tutorial

densming has created some video tutorials for AGS. Head over to youtube and check them out if you've not yet dipped your toe in AGS game creation!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Flowers make me smile

New game Flower Girl is out and I was fascinated to see this as there was a development blog on it which seemed to die out in June so I thought the game had died too. But no, here it is! Initial comments sound like its got a few teething problems, but the graphics are unique and its well worth a look for that alone!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Lame list

Over at The Topless Robot (don't ask me!) they've published a list of the 10 lamest adventures of all time. So go over and get all offended that your favourite game is in there. And if you like Al Lowe, prepare for apoplexy (although if you like Al Lowe, you deserve what you get...)

Monday, September 15, 2008

Random AGS google trawl results

Found another blog that has the same colour scheme as mine. So they must have good taste: http://erdalion.blogspot.com/search/label/AGS

Inanimate objects

The latest Sprite Jam has inanimate objects coming to life and there some fun entries in already.

Friday, September 12, 2008

QFG21.1

AGDI have put out a few bug fixes in QFG2VGA version 1.1 and opened a contest to win some related goodies.

The magic 8-beta

So, CJ has put up a new beta that fixes a few niggles in the previous beta and has announced that the next version will probably be the first release candidate, so the release is nigh for AGS 3.1.

Call for guest articles

Well, I've got a holiday scheduled in a week, so I won't be making up-to-date posts for a while after that, but... I'd like to invite guest bloggers to fill the gaps. So anyone with a review, opinion or anything vaguely AGS-related, please email me amaccormack ate gmail dot com and I'll schedule it to pop up while I'm away.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thank Ph it's Phriday

Photoshop Phriday has returned to the competition forums and seem to be quite popular. If you have a favourite song title, pull some google image results together to represent it and enter. Or just try and guess the cryptic entries of others. I only get two of them, one of which is my own!

Have your nuts dropped?


EdLoen wins the latest Sprite Jam with his acorn-bombing squirrel. A footballing shark was second and Akatosh's cheeky Chameleon playing hide and seek came in third (and last!)

Joey and Rosa get down to earth


earth, clay, you see...

Oh well, you can see the awesome winner of Dave Gilbert's fan art competition in this picture. Full details of entries and winners are on his forums.

Twinmoon gives us some lip

Over on twinmoon's blog, there is a fab wee talking animation tutorial, so if you want your characters to do more than flap their jaws like demented goldfish, head over and check it out.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Questionable: content?


I should thing he'll be content with his "golden axe" for winning the tune contest. Congrats and we await the new theme.

Dream team game

Imagine you got all the most famous AGSers together in one place and forced them to help you with a game? Well, that's pretty much what Erin did at Mittens and the result is Little Girl in Underland, a spoof of Lewis Carrol's Alice adventures and American McGee. With Grundislav doing scripting and voice acting form almost everyone at Mittens, its overflowing with talent. It's also been entered for TIGS (The Independent Gaming Source) bootleg demakes competition, so all the best to Erin.

AGD Inundation

AGDI seem to be everywhere, not surprisingly given they finally released QFG2VGA. Richard Cobbett covers the release, as does Adventure Classic Gaming. Have a peep and enjoy.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Poll of the past month

So quite a few big games and some not-so-big came out in August, so the new poll is which you thought was best. Odds are on QFG or BJ7, but you never know...

Back to Background

Looks like the ol' Background Blitz may be returning to something approaching normality with Andail's new theme of "Biblical Scenes". Budding artists go forth and draw...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Sporty Animal

New Sprite Jam is open with the theme of animals doing sport. Can't help but think of those Coco Pops ads ...

Ben there, Won that!

Well, m0ds has announced the screen7 compo results, and Ben There Dan That is the winner, way ahead of Quest for Yrolg and Barn Runner 5 in 2nd and third place respectively. We'll have to see if the ordering is the same come the AGS Awards in January/February!

Congrats to the Zombie Cow-ers!

Ben wins the nomination

Well, just as you thought plebiscites couldn't get any more exciting, Ben Jordan wins the 2009 vote. Princess Marian had an early lead but Grundislav and Yahtzee both overtook at the end. Darn their eyes. With a darning needle.

In other news, despite pressure from Princess Marian supporters for Ben to take her on as VP, he has announced that he'll be choosing some old guy...

Hi, (Zombie) Coo!

Yesterday's Salad have presented a brief summary of all the Screen 7 game-of-the-year entrants: in classic Japanese poetry form! A total of 136 syllables of fun!

Monday, September 1, 2008

MAGS is all broken!

ProgZMax won the Retro theme of August's MAGS and chose "Broken Game" as this month's theme. Make a game that is deliberately broken in some way but make it happen in a good way. Sounds hard!

Use AGS Caerphilly

CJ updated the 3.1 beta to number 7, the "Je suis fromage" edition. It's a Mittens joke it seems that the big cheese finds amusing.