Monday, January 31, 2011

Just what you've been waiting for!

I know you guys didn't want to pressure me, which is why none of you sent me messages demanding a new Princess Marian game. But, I can read between those non-existent lines and tell you were thirsting for the compelling gaming experience that only your favourite character can bring. So, I can happily announce to have met these tacit demands: Princess Marian's Pigeon Pinger. You may think its just a poorly executed Angry Birds rip-off, but PMPP has a completely different set of standard that has eliminated the need for a complex physics engine.

Anyway, download and enjoy the latest Princess Marian gaming experience.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ben's new game!

Minutes before the posting of the game, we've discovered that Ben will release AIRWAVE! How? Well, a secret!!Check his signature! It's the ultimate truth! Be proud and happy for we bring you news, before they even happen!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Interview Part 14: Catcher in the Rue

Today we feature two of the three factors why Gemini Rue is all over the internet this week. Gemini Rue (formerly known as Boryokudan Rue) is a full-length game by Joshua Nuernberger also known as JBurger and Nathan-Allen Pinard, and of course now under Wadjet Eye Games by famous AGS member and publisher Dave Gilbert.

The Official Gemini Rue website at Pre-Orders are available.

1) Okay, so, well this is a typical question I ask in every interview, so here goes. What's your favorite AGS and what's your favorite non-AGS game?

Dave Gilbert: Shameful to admit, but I rarely play AGS games anymore. :-x So I am doing many of the awesome games that came out in the last year or two a disservice by not mentioning them. But of the ones I played, the ones that really stick out in my mind are "Charlie Foxtrot", "The Uncertainty Machine" and "Da New Guys."

As for non-AGS, I fell in love with "Assassin's Creed 2" when it came out, and I've been enjoying the everloving heck out of "Hitman Blood Money" at the moment. Also, Jeff Vogel's games are a blast.

JBurger: Possibly Pleurghburg, as it showed me what people could do with AGS when I first discovered the engine. But I also love other AGS classics, such as Da New Guys for being lesser-known oldie but goodies.

Favorite non-AGS game: The Secret of Monkey Island (original).

2) What were the reasons behind you getting into the indie game development business? Commercially and freeware.

Dave Gilbert:
I got started making freeware games because I was looking to get my mind off things. It was September, the year was 2001 and I live in New York City, so you can imagine what I needed distracting from. I had read about the Reality on the Norm project and figured it would be a fun way to vent myself creatively, so I downloaded AGS and made a little game called
The Reposseser. It was tiny and rough but people seemed to like it, so I made more.

As for commercial games, that started in 2006. I had just gotten back home from teaching english abroad. I had money saved up and didn't feel like getting a "real" job right away, so I made The Shivah just for fun. I'd bring my laptop to a cafe and plug away on it for 7-8 hours every day, and told myself I was "working". Basically putting off the inevitable. But when it was finished, I realized that I enjoyed working on it so much that I couldn't envision doing anything else. So I sold the game commercially just to see if it would gain any traction. The feedback was encouraging, and I've been doing it ever since!

JBurger: I knew I wanted to make games as a kid (commercially or freeware didn’t really factor into the equation at that young age) after playing The Secret of Monkey Island. I always loved games and enjoyed playing them, whether they were quick arcade games, flight sims, or strategy games. But there was something so enthralling and captivating in The Secret of Monkey Island about combining interactivity with such a compelling game world and characters that just planted a deep interest in me to create my own games. Ever since then, I’ve just been doing it for fun.

The jump to commercial came more out of practicality and necessity, as Gemini Rue took so long to develop and I put so much work into it that it seemed to be more beneficial to try and go the commercial route than just release it for freeware.

3) What do you think characterizes your business relationship with each other. How does it work out for the two of you? How did you decide to work together?

Dave Gilbert:
It's a unique arrangement. Josh basically emailed me one day and handed me the game gift-wrapped. He had decided that the game was worth selling commercially, but he didn't have the time to really do it justice, so he thought of me. It had a few rough edges at the time; there was no voice acting, the portraits were all rough sketches, and there were a number of bugs here and there, but it was 100% playable and absolutely brilliant. My wife and I played it together and we both fell in love with it.

Wadjet Eye's main roles were to handle the voice acting, update the portraits, deal with marketing and PR and handle all the sales once it launches. Occasionally I'd make some minor decisions about the script that Josh hadn't originally intended (usually based on voice actor feedback) but, for the most part, that was the extent of my meddling.

JBurger: We mainly work together via e-mail (we’re a whole country length apart!) but it’s turned out pretty great. I always knew of Dave’s work from the AGS community and I even got to meet him in person at GDC, so I really hoped that I would get a chance to work with him. Since our collaboration, it’s been a really great experience.

4) Some people(including me, I won't hide) have commented that Boryokudan Rue was one, if not THE, greatest name a game could ever have. Comment on the change to Gemini Rue, and explain what does the name refer to in the story of the game.

JBurger: The greatest names are unfortunately the least pronounceable and spellable names. And so, “Boryokudan Rue” had to be changed to “Gemini Rue.”
“Gemini” is the location of half of the game’s setting (with Azriel) and also refers to Greek mythology and the motif of duality, which parallels the game’s story and dual protagonists. “Rue” is English for regret, or sadness.

5) Explain little bit the story that will take place in Gemini rue, and give us an idea of what to expect in terms of gameplay and length (meaning is the game short/medium ecc)

JBurger: The story alternates between two characters, Azriel, an ex-assassin, and Delta-Six, an amnesiac prisoner. Azriel is in the Gemini system in search of a defector from the Boryokudan crime syndicate. Meanwhile, Delta-Six re-awakens in his prison with no memory and must figure out what he is doing there, who are his friends and enemies, and how to escape before he completely loses his identity.

The gameplay is fairly standard for point n’ click adventures, but also contains a notes and names investigation system also incorporated into dialog trees, a ‘kick’ verb, swappable player characters, and several fine-tuned action sequences (they’re not that hard, honest. ).

6) How was the whole concept of this game developed? And what, if any, strong cultural influences influenced the shaping of this idea.

The concept came about as I wanted to do a game about two different, seemingly unrelated storylines that would converge at a critical instance. From there, different stylistic influences were adapted into the project, including noir and science fiction. I drew inspiration from anime, such as Cowboy Bebop, films, such as Blade Runner, television shows, such as LOST, and many other video games and novels. At the same time, I wanted to come up with more innovative ideas for traditional point n’ click gameplay, which were also complementary to the story.

7) What do you people do besides the game-making industry? I'm referring to your real life.

Dave Gilbert: Hey, I have a life outside of game-making! Honest! :p

JBurger: I attend UCLA as a full-time student in the Design | Media Arts department. I also play the guitar, write, draw, and of course, play video games.

8) How did you find AGS?

Dave Gilbert: I sort of answered this with #1, but to reiterate, I played a few early AGS games like ROb Blanc and Larry Vales, but I really thought I could make one until I read about the Reality on the Norm project. THere was this wonderful sense of "Hey, I can do that!" about it. I learned the games were made with AGS and went from there.

JBurger: I found AGS around 2001 or 2002 when googling some kind of Indiana Jones fan game (No, it wasn’t the Fountain of Youth! *nudge* *nudge*). It was mostly an accident, as was I was experimenting with other engines before then (namely ADRIFT, a text-adventure editor, and Indiana Java, a less powerful and more awkwardly presentable version of an adventure game engine). However, that accident led to about 8 years of creating video games, so I guess it turned out okay!

9) Joshua, not a long time ago, you were abandoned a game project (Hide Quest namely), then you made La Croix Pan and Chatroom. What did you learn from this process (how you evolved from each project)

JBurger: Hide Quest (gosh, what a title) mainly taught me about work ethic, and how to unsuccessfully embark on the creation of a full-length adventure game – what not to do, essentially. La Croix Pan taught me how to finish a game, from its inception to its publication – in other words, what to do. And Chatroom was just a fun little experiment.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Interview Part 13: Snascovel of Abaron

Tonight, we host two great fellows. Igor Hardy, or Ascovel, (famous for some blog about something, can't remember now... and won a best demo AGS award for 2009) and of course the ultimate AGSer, Baron, or Alex Van Wijst (famous for Mittens 2007, Besieged, Charlie Foxtrot and of course the Winter Rose!

However they combined their forces together, and along with the complementary awesomeness of Thomas Regin in the music department, originally for the MAGS I hosted and set the theme for, they created SNAKES OF AVALON.
If you absolutely have no clue, check the game here.
And if you want my opinion on it, check the review here.

1) First, let's go by the book. What is your favorite videogame? Is there an AGS one you particularly like?

Baron: My all-time favourite video game is Dr. Mario -now you know. My favourite adventure game is SQIII, so it should be no surprise that I'm a huge fan of the equally zany sci-fi AGS-made games like Time Gentlemen Please and the Barn Runner series.

My favorite game of all time would be Grim Fandango.

As for AGS games, I'm fond of way too many to list and I fear the recent onslaught of Oceanspirit Dennis productions has been spoiling my taste ;), but I’d like to mention 3 titles that are particularly important to me: Nelly Cootalot, The Winter Rose (made by some brilliant guy I know nothing about) and Infinity String.

The reason why I have a special fondness for those 3 is that I consider them to be the first utterly delightful and must-play amateur adventure games I’ve played (despite the fact I did try out quite a few before). It meant a lot to me to see that adventure games fans can treat their work this seriously, and yet… succeed at completing such top quality projects.

2) How hard is to go back and improve what's already been done? (referring to you improving Snakes of Avalon)

Baron: It had been a massive effort to complete the MAGS version by the contest deadline, and after that we just crashed. We determined that after a month's rest we would take a week to fill in the gaps and add an extra scene that was cut in the original due to time constraints. Based on our productivity in the three weeks leading up to the MAGS release this seemed very feasible, but in fact it took us several months to finally complete the game.

For various reasons our ambitions had grown far beyond the earlier plans - definitely the main reason behind us pushing the release date back several times. My estimate is that, instead of the expected week, adding the new content took us at least 1,5 month in total (broken up by a long period of holidays, renovations and computer crashes in July/August).

Nevertheless, to the very end we were extremely efficient every time we did sit down to work. We made good decisions and implemented new ideas really fast. Also, no concept we came up with, nor any animation, piece of code, or piece of music was ever wasted or proved to be out of place. So we were able to avoid any major mistakes and take advantage of 99% of what we created for Snakes in the final version of the game.

3) What was the reason behind the improvement of Snakes?

Igor: The MAGS Snakes came together so well that we didn’t want to leave it as an unpolished 1 month production. For example, having a main menu seemed useless during MAGS, but for a serious production it felt like a must. Similarly, the interface in the original needed a few fixes and many dialogs seemed rushed (non-interactive and missing important beats for the story and characters).

Then there was the opportunity to work with Thomas Regin on the soundtrack –an aspect which even on its own would make the updated game a fresh, new experience.

And finally, we invented that huge nightmare segment. It came out of our discussions about the meaning of the game’s story and I feel in the end gave it much more depth and resonance.

4) Lots of people found the game having lots of references to Hitchcock's cinematic style. Mostly his film Vertigo. Comment on that.

I’m not sure how people really feel about it (as far as I know, only the Vertigo poster reference was discussed by players), but I certainly used Hitchcock’s name in almost every description of what the game is about – my great marketing ploy. I was long wondering how to explain the genre of fiction the story belongs too. It had murder, it had mystery, but it wasn’t really a “murder mystery”. It was some sort of trippy, pulpy, suspenseful thriller with both creepy bits as well as humor in it, and so I thought Hitchcock’s name is possibly the only 1-word label that can bring to mind all of those qualities.

And there actually are many vintage Hitchcockian themes and gimmicks in Snakes: the hero spying on people, a “man who knew too much”, the hero passing out in a stressful situation, family issues, murder in domestic environment, scary scenes featuring bathrooms, dark silhouettes, and dramatic stings in the musical score.

Additionally, we tried to make the scenes feel as dynamic and cinematic as possible, so there are many close-ups, unexpected cuts, jumps in time etc. I’m particularly fond of the real-time abrupt focus changes, like the weird, static cuts between the two parts of the bar – I think they are unusual, rough, but work well

5) Can you tell us a bit about the team. Introduce us to the members and comment on each person's work and work-flow.

Baron: I have been a member in good-standing at the AGS forums for seven years now. I've started many projects, but only finished 5 adventure games to date. I like to experiment with different genres, so it would be hard to identify a consistent theme to my games outside of humour. I really do have fun making adventure games and I want people to have fun playing them.

My reason for entering the MAGS competition was to implement a new experimental animation process I'd been developing to cut down on production time. I made this very clear from the outset to Igor, who graciously gave me free reign in the character design and animation department. We had a very loose design document outlining and prioritizing some 60 animations, but usually Igor would PM me what animations he'd need that day and I would do my best to pound them out that evening.

The team for the original version from April was just Alex and me. And qptain Nemo beta-tested our creation when it was ready. After MAGS, we were joined by Thomas Regin who composed Snakes’ original music. The occasional cutscene voice-overs were provided by family members, friends and Alex himself. However, Jack’s voice was provided by Drew Wellman (ddq). At the very end of development, we had additional beta-testing help from Leon.

So the core team is just the 3 of us - Thomas, me and Alex…

Thomas is best known for his soundtracks to Wadjet Eye’s games, including the beloved Blackwell series, but he also composed for dozens of commercial game titles. He is a master of many genres – a versatility which we were most happy to exploit for the whimsical (or even grotesque) nature of the game as it alternates between suspense, humor, jazz and even plain horror.

Based on our collaboration I can say Thomas works quickly and with passion and is a shameless perfectionist. Sadly I don’t know any of his true work-flow secrets I could spread around.

As for me, I love creating games and stories that are at least a bit unconventional. I feel great doing prototypes and experimenting with design while scripting rather than in theory. Consequently, I hate overly detailed design documents and I wouldn’t feel like I’m truly designing a game if the complete design would came first and implementation only at the very end.

My personal work flow is a combination of laziness, perfectionism and millions of how-to-make-this-feature-several-times-better-with-minimal-additional-effort-but-it-turns-out-later-it-wasn’t-so-easy ideas.

6) How was Snakes of Avalon initially born?

Baron: I was interested in partnering with someone for the April MAGS competition so I could share the predictable humiliation of being bested by Ben304 and Leafshade -er...., I mean experiment with animation techniques. I posted in the RAT thread and received a PM from Igor pitching this intriguing concept of a drunk who overhears a murder plot in the bar that he never leaves. Considering the MAGS rules that month dictated “one room”, I thought it a brilliant setting: not only does a bar lend itself to all sorts of shenanigans, but the drunken perceptions of the lead protagonist create almost infinite possibilities in terms of puzzles and gameplay. Four weeks of intensive and enthusiastic labour saw Igor's vision actualized as the original Snakes.

Yep, that’s how I would describe it too. But it’s worth adding that I originally had a rather modest and crude game in mind - so that we wouldn’t have problems finishing it in a month. It’s Alex who insisted that we go so crazy with hallucinations, animations and the like and once we started in that direction soon there was no sanity left for us.

7) Are there any plans for a sequel? Or what can we expect from you guys in the future (any projects you're into) ?

I'm amazed at the number of people interested in seeing a spin-off featuring “Bathroom Man”. But seriously, there is no planned sequel. I may or may not be working on a secret fantasy adventure game though.

I feel we used up Snakes of Avalon themes to their full potential. The story is complete. The characters ended up like they were supposed to. So any new Avalon game would feel like a forced add-on that would only weaken the impact of the original. I have to admit though that it would be nice to have a peek inside Avalon’s toilet and enter Avalon’s smelly kitchen.

As for my next game I’m working on a short-to-medium length adventure game project that will be really experimental in terms of interface and gameplay. This
game will be different from Snakes in many ways – e.g. grounded in a consistent, mundane reality (no surreal touches at all).

After that I’m planning to finish off my original game - Frantic Franko - which is a crazy, surreal game quite akin to Snakes. I treat it as a “designer’s playground” - it will be full of strange, hairy, half-baked gameplay concepts gone wild and showing obscene gestures to innocent bystanders. I’m planning to have it ready for fall 2011.

8) What do you guys do beside the game-making industry. I'm referring to your real life.

I am a full-time parent who occasionally works as a substitute teacher to pay the bills. I play a lot of hockey, am an amateur but very enthusiastic carpenter, manage websites for various community groups I am involved with, and play with AGS to avoid working on my novel (the true secret to my productivity is revealed!).

For a living I’m doing freelance video-editing and occasionally translating work (just Polish-English, English-Polish).

Some strange journalistic passions make me take care of the indie adventure games blog A Hardy Developer’s Journal, and occasionally write for gaming websites like Adventure Classic Gaming.

I also try to secure some time for learning and perfecting various languages (non-programming kind), watching films, reading fiction and philosophy. A few times a week I like to break up my mostly sedentary life with sports – preferably tennis and long-distance running.

9) Is there an AGS game in production you're very excited about?
Expectation is the root of all heartache! Where is Herman Toothrot's Monkey Island when you need it?

I’m really looking forward to Shattenrayze, Gemini Rue and The Cat Lady. I expect them to be nothing less than mindblowing.

Also, I’m eagerly expecting new installments of all those cool series I’m following - from Blackwell, through Ben & Dan to Death Wore Some Feathers and Second Face.

Friday, January 14, 2011

PUN: "!" + Flash = Flash! (*gasps*)

Okay, awesome news a tiny weeny late, but nevertheless, delivered, so don't whine plz.

Recently Denzil Quixode took the source files of Ben304's "!" and made a web runtime out of them, one with and one without flash requirement.
Click on the image to enlarge
Check the topic if you wanna see with your own eyes, or can't make out anything (I don't blame you really).

Oh, and happiest of birthdays to HardyDev.
I need ideas for titles by the way.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

You wait ages for Just Adventure to review Blackwell...

...and then they review 3 of them at once!

PUN: Fountain of Youth + Indie Games Night = Night of the Living Dead

Fountain of Youth team has released an awesome demo for the holidays, that just passed, but nevertheless, you should check it out. Go to the topic, or click here to download.
Reason: It made its way below...
Click to enlarge
(And yes, it's PC GAMER front page!!)

On a different subject, Domithan has been doing some cool video-reviews of AGS games that he's calling:

-->Indie Games Night
Episode 1
Episode 2

EDIT: On a side note the second MAGS game I composed for, lost. So well, yes, it's a conspiracy! Personally I blame ddq. It's a great game though, and not because I composed the awesome chiptune soundtrack. Here, play it and tell me your opinion.!CLICKY HERE!

The cow is dead, long live the zombie

Zombie Cow have announced that the 3rd Ben and Dan game has been canceled. *sob*

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Insert Rue pun here

Ready for a gem-in-eye from Davey La Rue? TheJBurger's Gemini (formerly unpronouncable) Rue is being released by Wadjet Eye Games and is available for pre-order and has already broken Dave's sales records!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Where do AGS go to convalesce?

A ward! Gettit? In this case, an AGS Award! Go and read the AGS Awards For Your Consideration thread and get ready to vote!