Friday, April 30, 2010

LimpingFish Interview

Well, I can exclusively now reveal who Ali wanted me to interview as his "prize" for making my awesome logo: Limping Fish! And so here we go:

So, Mr Limping Fish, you are a game maker from Ireland. Do you want to tell us a little more about yourself by way of introduction, please?

My pleasure. My name is Chris Taite. I'm 33, a Virgo, and I enjoy long lurks in the undergrowth.


Where does the limping fish name come from?

Ooh. Way back in the pre-AGS days of 1989, I sent a letter to Computer and Video Games magazine - this was when it WAS an actual magazine - and I signed it "The Limping Fish of South Dakota", which struck my thirteen year old mind as absolutely hilarious! I had stolen it from a children's book written by members of Monty Python; the title of which escapes me. Uncle somethings Book of...something. Anyway, in the book it was The Limping Catfish of South Dakota. I dropped the CAT, and LimpingFish was born! What a terrible story.


And why the bald animal/rat/pig thing in your avatar?

The hamster? I have a soft spot for hamsters (is that old Richard Gere joke still alive?). And I generally find bald animals extremely endearing. So I totally dig bald hamsters. Not too many pictures of bald hamsters exist on the internet, so when I find one I usually make an avatar out of it.


So, you've been blazing the trail on using AGS for first person games. Why do you like that style?

Two reasons. The first is that I like the 1st person perspective in general. Whatever game I'm playing, whatever genre, if it has a 1st person option, that's the one I'll play in. I like the extra sense of immersion it brings, and it helps me feel part of the game world, rather than an observer. The second (and best!) reason is that it means I don't have to create an on-screen player character, or worry about animations and such. Yay!


Do you think some games are better as 3rd person than they would as 1st person?

Oh sure. Some things just wouldn't work, and I'm not saying that all games should be 1st person. But, conversely, a well-implemented 1st person experience can do things that might be lost with (in my opinion) the sense of detachment that can happen with a 3rd person perspective. Personally, I think there's a strong case for horror-themed games to use a 1st person perspective. Many people didn't like it, but the 1st person elements of Silent Hill 4 were extremely effective for me. More so than when the game reverted to to it's usual 3rd person perspective.


How do you do the artwork for your games?

I use a 3D package called Cinema 4D to do everything related to the CG elements of my games. Modeling, textures, rendering, etc. I try to model as much of it as I can myself, but sometimes it's just handier to use some royalty-free models if suitable ones are available. Then I usually run the finished render through Photoshop to add any post-processing effects it might require. Everything else (gui, titles, etc) is also done in Photoshop.


What's the biggest problem using AGS for 1st-person games?

Well, static 1st person games are pretty easy to do with AGS straight out of the box (as it were). But the panoramic effect is only achievable with the use of a specialized module (big shout out to Steve Mcrea for his excellent modules! Use them, people!), and coordinating nodes - interconnecting panoramic views of a single location - is pretty much trail and error. But I can't really complain. AGS is a great program, and modules are a big help to the code-illiterate such as myself.


So Heartland and Unbound were reasonably well-recieved but not the highest profile: are you happy with how they turned out in themselves and the response?

I'm extremely grateful for the responses people have sent me about both games. Good and bad. Of course, the good ones are my favourite! It's really satisfying when somebody says "I really enjoyed your game. Please make more.". I'm actually surprised at some of the nice things people say about them. They're pretty short games, and there's not much to do in them, but I tried to make both of them interesting experiences, and I'm glad some people say I succeeded. So thanks to everybody who took the time to download and play them.


What can we expect to see with Mobius? More of the same, something extra?

Ah, the short game that never arrives! Mobius is where I try to tie up the story arc in a satisfying way. It's the story of Alex Roland, and how he relates to what has already happened in Heartland and Unbound. There's actually a timeline running through the three games, I just never actually stated where each game is situated on it. But I can EXCLUSIVELY reveal that Unbound takes place a number of years BEFORE Heartland, and Mobius will take place a SUBSTANTIAL number of years AFTER Heartland. Which, if you cast your mind back to Heartland and the letter Lawson finds with Alex Roland's name on it...hints at were I might be going with all this madness. And which will hopefully hide the fact that I'm making all this rubbish up as I go along, in the hope that it looks like an actual story in the end!


When will Mobius be ready?

This year. I hope. No, this year for certain. I have to finish it before it finishes me.


Have you any plans for after Mobius is released?

I do indeed. People might have seen a thread I started last year on the Games in Production forum. "The Hallow" will be my first attempt at a full-length game. Scary, 1st person, 1024/768 resolution, non-panoramic (sadly), and completely unrelated to my other games. It's a big project, but a chunk of background graphics are already finished, so I hope to have something more tangible to share in the future.


What is your favourite AGS game?

Oh wow. There are a number of titles that could vie for that position. I don't think I could narrow it down to just one. Put it this way, I'll play anything by Ben304, Yahtzee, The Ivy, ProgZmax, Vince Twelve, Grundislav...oh, man...I could go on. That's the hardest question in this interview! Ummm...PMX!


Do you play many AGS games?

An unhealthy amount.


You're part of the review panel: do you find that rewarding?

Yes. And I'm glad I could, and continue to, help out with it. It's a great bunch of people (and me), playing games, discussing what we like, and what we don't. Sometimes we might have a friendly debate over a rating or two, sometimes we might have to deal with a disgruntled author or two...


What do you think about people in general (no names!) who don't like the review they get from the panel?

Oh, that What's-his-name, and Mr. thingy-face! I hate them so-...seriously, though, people who contact us regarding ratings we awarded their games are usually cordial and completely willing to listen to what we have to say. And we've had remarkably few people complain. Most game authors are behind the concept, and understand what it is the panel is trying to do. We're not trying to stop certain games reaching an audience, and we're not just throwing our weight around. We try to offer a fair and unbiased opinion. For those few who are more vocal in their resentment towards the panel...well, it's up to them how they want to behave. If they really feel that strongly about it...so be it. Removing their games from the database is really only hurting themselves. We'd rather people DIDN'T remove their games, but, again, so be it.


You also keep a blog about AGS in the media. What got you interested in that?

I do! At agscene.blogspot.com! Plugerific! I decided to attempt to keep track of when AGS games appear in print media, because I think it's a damn fine achievement, whoever the author, whatever the game. I also think it's because I can remember a time before the internet, when print was king, and only commercial games appeared in magazines. Maybe it's nostalgia. I'm so damn old. I'm largely limited to the UK media, but people have been nice enough to share items from more far-flung shores. I'll admit it's not the most active of blogs, but I try to get stuff up on it whenever it appears.


If you could tie CJ up and force him to change one thing about AGS, what would it be?

How can you improve on perfection!? One the one hand, AGS gives us lots of freedom. On the other, it limits us in some technical ways. I suppose I'd like to see future versions (AGS 4?) take full advantage of the available resolutions, media integration, and graphical prowess that modern PCs offer. Having said that, though, AGS is a free, fully-supported program, so it's hard to feel justified in complaining.


If you could change one thing about AGS forums and related culture in general, what would it be?

I add more breasts. Anything can be improved by adding breasts. I don't think there's much I would change. The forums are a great social outlet, despite the odd hiccup, run by people who are only interested in making it as friendly and accessible a place as it currently is.


So, that's about it. All that's left for me to say is thanks to SSH and the AGS Blog for giving me this opportunity to waffle. Thanks!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Lets decide this once and for all

OK, new poll up to try and decide whether Harg is justified in his upset about the game panel reviews of his games. Please be honest and vote on what you think and whether you have played them. NB this is not a poll on whether Harg has over-reacted, but rather on whether his games are good or not.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

When I survey the wondrous AGS

Andail has set up a google-docs-based questionnaire to gauge some things about AGS. Why? No idea, but if you fancy a go, check out the thread or go direct.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Leylines

Sorry for the gap on the blog. Very busy just now!

Anyway, Radiant of ATOTK fame, has asked for beta testers for his non-AGS game Leylines. Why not try it out?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

MAGS: Vote or Die

The May MAGS needs a theme. After some public requests are made 5 nominees are chosen. Get voting!

1.Leon:
Title: No limits!
2.Ascovel:
Title: B-serious
3.ProgZmax:
Title: Complete your game (Title not a courtesy of ProgZ)
4.Dualnames:
Title:Demakes!
5.Crimson Wizard:
Title:Extreme NewbieGame Make-Over

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ancient out-of-date interview

Many years ago I did an interview with Grundislav for AdventureGamers but for various reasons it neve really got around to being published, so I thought I would fish out the exciting raw chat log from my archives and let my blog readers enjoy:

Session Start: Thu Oct 12 20:25:42 2006
Session Ident: Grundislav
Session Ident: Grundislav (grundislav@ags-C3C24B44.mia.bellsouth.net)
(SSH) oops, I see
(SSH) can you quickly repeat everything you said so far, please
(Grundislav) but I like the idea of leaving little clues and things that connect in the end
(Grundislav) from which point?
(SSH) just the stuff about the dream
(SSH) up-arrow is your friend
(Grundislav) can you skype? or is it too late?
(SSH) sorry messed up the logging
(SSH) cant really skype
(Grundislav) ah well
(Grundislav) the game starts out with Ben having another dream
(Grundislav) one that is significant in answering a question that many fans have been puzzling over
(SSH) and it will be turned into a text article anyway
(SSH) and how is progress making the game going?
(Grundislav) slowly but surely
(SSH) just begun or some way in?
(Grundislav) the past couple of weeks I've been more into it
(Grundislav) I'm pretty far along
(SSH) which bits of the game do you do first?
(SSH) i mean, the story obviously
(SSH) but after that
(Grundislav) I started working on it around january of this year, maybe earlier
(Grundislav) but not consistently
(SSH) did you start it before you redid BJ1?
(Grundislav) yes
(SSH) in fact before you finished BJ5?
(Grundislav) I got the idea to re-do BJ1 in February when I went to the Everglades
(SSH) with nacho
(Grundislav) yeah
(SSH) did you see the skunk ape?
(SSH) or find any drugs?
(Grundislav) I started on it before I released BJ5, because there was a couple of months time between when I finished the actual playable game and when I had all the music
(Grundislav) hehe no, neither
(Grundislav) but I made a lot of skunk-ape jokes
(SSH) Is there anything more to add about BJ6. I see you have no GIP thread for it...
(SSH) I can guess why
(Grundislav) but going back to your previous question, I always write a story outline before I start the game work
(Grundislav) I write down locations and potential puzzles, and then I work on backgrounds on and off
(SSH) i guess it can change a bit as you work on it
(Grundislav) yeah
(Grundislav) I write all the dialogue on the spot, and if I don't like it I go back and fine tune it later
(Grundislav) and yes, there is no GiP thread because I don't want a repeat of what happened with BJ5
*Technical glitch here*
(Grundislav) hehe it's okay
(Grundislav) I can continue now
(SSH) fabulous
* Grundislav is being logged
(SSH) and logging is on this time!
(Grundislav) hooray!
(Grundislav) so where were we?
(SSH) so, I know you won't want to commit to a release date, but what do you think are the chances of BJ6 coming out this year?
* SSH takes Grundislav's pulse
(Grundislav) sorry, I was shaving for work
(Grundislav) I would say there is a 99.9% chance that BJ6 will not be released this year
(Grundislav) I am looking towards a 2007 release date, most likely before the AGS Meetings start
(SSH) okey doke
(SSH) now, other games...
(Grundislav) hold on
(SSH) BJ1++ was your last...
(SSH) oh
(Grundislav) I wanted to add something to one of my answers
(SSH) OK
(Grundislav) about the backstory explanation
(SSH) righty ho
* SSH feels he has lost control of this interview
(Grundislav) I want to be cryptic and say that in BJ6 we learn something very important about a major character
(SSH) We don't need your steeenking backstory!
(Grundislav) hehe
(SSH) Can I ask about BJ1++ now sir?
(Grundislav) sure
(Grundislav) why the double plus sign?
(SSH) Why did you feel the need to go back and redo it?
(SSH) apart from the compass/magnet atrocity, of course...
(Grundislav) because I felt the original release was not a good entry to the series
(SSH) ++ like C++
(Grundislav) ah
(SSH) any plans to redo any others in the series?
(Grundislav) compared to the other games, it was short, with terrible graphics
(Grundislav) so after going to the actual everglades, I became inspired and decided to remake it so it would be a worthy entry
(SSH) Did you enjoy the remake?
(Grundislav) not really, I thought about re-doing the second one, but I figured it was better to finish the whole series first
(SSH) making it, I mean
(SSH) Keep redoing them until they all win awards!
(Grundislav) yes, I enjoyed it
(Grundislav) haha
(Grundislav) I don't care about awards
(SSH) I felt that the deluxe BJ1 was a great game. What do you feel was the biggest improvement?
(Grundislav) the story expansion, mostly
(Grundislav) I thought I did a better job on the graphics too
(SSH) I found the voicework very entertaining. Are you planning do do voices for future BJs?
(Grundislav) I liked that I threw in little clues from the get-go too, like if you watch the intro, the first thing Ben says is "so you want to know how a regular guy ended up half a world away, unconscious in the back seat of a car of a guy he thought he could trust but turned out to be his worst enemy"
(Grundislav) so the player says "huh?"
(Grundislav) I'm seriously considering making case 8 a talkie, so they bookend the series
(SSH) that was a big giveaway. I guess it means that either Simon or Percy are EVIL!
(Grundislav) or maybe it's someone he hasn't met yet...
(SSH) or maybe Alice.... is a MAN!
(Grundislav) MAYBE!
(Grundislav) I like it when people come up with crazy theories :)
(SSH) Have you had any fan art/fiction/etc sent to you?
(SSH) RON and Dave Gilbert have had some, I know
(Grundislav) well, I had the cover art by dan lee
(Grundislav) for bj1 deluxe
(Grundislav) and two fangames
(Grundislav) but anyone is welcome to do some if they want
(SSH) of course the games
(SSH) DUH!
(SSH) WHat did you think of the fangames?
(SSH) the duh was to myself, btw
(Grundislav) heh
(Grundislav) I thought paranormal warrior within was pretty funny
(Grundislav) and buloght's sven gordan parody/remake was also amusing
(SSH) ANything more Ben Jordany to add?
(Grundislav) thanks to the fans for being so supportive
(SSH) I'll move on to The SHivah, for which you did the voice of the detective
(Grundislav) yes
(SSH) Apart from that and BJ1+, have you done any "serious" voice acting before?
(Grundislav) not really
(Grundislav) I did a talkie of one of my RON games, but that wasn't exactly "serious"
(Grundislav) oh, there was also Fatman
(SSH) ah yes, the infamous lost scottish accent of hooky mcpegleg
(SSH) The blooper reel has some good bits in it!
(Grundislav) in the shivah?
(SSH) yes
(SSH) you getting into character, etc.
(Grundislav) ah, yes, I wish I had a private jet, I would have flown to New York and recorded the voice with Dave
(Grundislav) that would have been fun
(SSH) maybe when you sell the Ben Jordan film rights...
(Grundislav) haha
(Grundislav) maybe!
(SSH) OK, err...
(SSH) The podcast!
(Grundislav) the podQUEST!
(SSH) It's now an irregular event, but have you any plans for another one in the near future?
(Grundislav) it's a clever pun, you see
(SSH) NO?
(Grundislav) I don't, but I know Zooty is planning on doing one from Bonfirittens
(SSH) oooh, I'll be there!
(Grundislav) you can be a guest host
(SSH) I'll try and get zooty drunk first
(Grundislav) you've been on the podquest enough times to qualify for one
(SSH) I'll be driving...
(SSH) so I'll laugh at his incoherence
(SSH) Now, if you could take 1 "normal" i.e. commercial adventure game to a desert island, which would it be?
(SSH) and compilation CDs dont count...
(Grundislav) would there be a computer on the island to play it on?
(SSH) well, yes
(SSH) but no net connection
(SSH) we dont want you going blind
(SSH) so Uru Live is out
(Grundislav) going blind?
(SSH) don't try and out-Rabbi me!
(Grundislav) this is a difficult question
(Grundislav) but I'll go with the game that I've played the most times
(Grundislav) which is Curse of Monkey Island
(Grundislav) which would be appropriate anyway to the island setting
(SSH) and if you could take one "underground" (i.e. free) game?
(SSH) not including your own
(Grundislav) hmm
(Grundislav) not to sound like an ass-kisser, but probably the shivah
(Grundislav) with soviet unterzdorfenglublewhatever a close second
(SSH) OK, I can't think of anything else to ask right now
(SSH) plus the wife wants me to clean the kitchen...
(Grundislav) and I have to go to work
(SSH) I'll have a grande latte!
(Grundislav) haha
(SSH) thanks
(Grundislav) thank YOU
Session Close: Thu Oct 12 21:37:52 2006

How to fake a Backstory

Hardydev has an article on creating the whole unseen history of your world and characters.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

New logo chosen!

Hey, I know I never actually set a closing date, but entries have dried up now and Ali (of Nelly Cootalot fame) gave me a compelling entry. Huge thanks to Mr Beckett and also to the other entrants (some of whom you can see in the forum thread).

BJ2 review

CaptainD gives us his opinion on the Salton Sea escapade...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Truly madly truetype

Well, AGS has release AGS 3.2 Final 2 and in it he fixes the Truetype Antialias bug that has been the bane of many a game for aeons. What a star!

Friday, April 2, 2010

April's not cold for Helme

So this month's pick is Helme's Cold Meat after it won the poll here. But, to be honest, I've recieved so many other recommendations for it that I would probably choose it anyway. So, enjoy... and Helme... I hope you're encouraged!