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1  General / Check this out! / Re: Residue: the Aral Sea platform adventure on: September 20, 2013, 01:06:30 PM
Hey, thanks for playing! Sorry I can't give you a performance patch - the game stands on a shaky foundation to say the least, both technically and artistically, and there is much that should have been done differently. That said - the flashlight sections are usually especially heavy on the rendering, and usually work better if you turn off v-sync and especially anti-aliasing. This can be done in the config.ini file. =)
2  General / Check this out! / Re: Gone home (anyone?) on: September 20, 2013, 01:00:08 PM
I find that the absence of the player character (or rather how they handle and motivate that absence) is one of the game's major strengths. Player character agency is always a messy subject and trying to equate the player with the character is always an enviable goal, but how to do it believably? That's a tougher nut. In Gone Home, very little is being told about Katie, and also very little is being told about anything that happened (to anyone in the family) before she left for Europe. This lets me fill in the blanks and assume that Katie is pretty much like me and her family history (up to that point) is pretty much like mine. The beautiful part is that Katie started traveling at the same time the family moved, so everything in the house is as new to her as it is to me. Nearly every artifact you find is from that past year, anything older than that is my responsibility to fill in. Because Katie has never lived in this house, I can easily empathize with everything that's new, and fill in the rest.

Personally I also fell in love with the ending. I was absolutely terrified for the last couple of minutes as I ascended to the attic, still half-expecting a horrible truth or a supernatural explanation or just the ghost of uncle Oscar suddenly jumping in front of me to capitalize on the ever-escalating tension that hadn't found any release for the entirety of the game. I was expecting to see Sam dead in every corner. And instead, the whole reason for the house being empty is that Sam finally got an opportunity to be with the one she loves. Nothing supernatural, nothing scary, in this horror game the whole explanation is simply - love. I found that endlessly refreshing. (Admittedly I still don't understand where the parents are, but I haven't been able to open their safe yet either).
This whole experience of course relies on the fact that I was invested in the Sam/Lonnie story. I found it to be naïvely written in a teenage sort of way that is difficult to pull off as an adult, and every audiolog took me back to the clumsy and wonderful loves of my teenage years.

Finally I'm thankful that the game, in stark contrast to Dear Esther, took place in a non-linear environment that allowed me as a player freedom to decide on a whim which rooms I was most interested in exploring rather than just being shown things in order. By re-utilising the same spaces it also started to convey a sense of space and familiarity with it that can simply never be achieved on a linear journey and is one of this medium's greatest, greatest strengths, but that is perhaps a separate crusade of mine.
3  General / Check this out! / Residue: the Aral Sea platform adventure on: May 01, 2013, 07:48:59 PM
Hi all!

I wanted to share a game with you, that I have been the director of for most of the last four years. Being primarily designed so long ago by naive students, it contains a lot of "interesting mistakes", especially of the type that I expect will annoy a community like ours. Like issues of gameplay and storytelling getting in each other's way. But there is also much I am proud of here, and a lot of things I am glad I've now tried.



Residue is a 2D platforming and exploration game set in the remains of the Aral Sea. In each of the thirteen chapters you will play a specific character, furthering a quite dialogue-heavy story by means of each character's platform actions (jumping, climbing, swimming, throwing a grappling hook or directing a flashlight, among other things). No characters appear who are not playable at some point, and we've tried to live by the rule that NPCs always operate within the exact gameplay logic they would use when playable (although we did find the rule impossible to follow sometimes).

We've been adamant about making a story-driven action game with no enemies, no violence and no cut-scenes, instead looking for other ways to create both meaning and engagement. Our solutions are sometimes clever, sometimes embarrassing. I hope there's someone on the NotGames forums who is curious to play it and discuss it!

Residue will be released on Desura the coming Monday (May 5). There is already a demo there (http://www.desura.com/games/residue), but just send me a PM and I'll send you the full game for free.

And, of course, tell your friends. Wink Here's our Greenlight page, complete with trailer:
http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=92921269
4  General / Everything / Re: Critique focused meet-up? on: May 30, 2012, 08:48:51 PM
Well, loving it. I could really use some new perspectives on what I do right about now, feels like I'm starting to do things habitually. Not gut. Meeting up in Cologne or something is a good idea of course, but I'm also starting to think that a bunch of us Swedes operate close enough together to actually be able to pull some smaller things off.

Also, I find myself agreeing 100% with Blow & Hecker on this one. Never thought that way about game jams before, but it's true what they're saying, at least for the ones I've attended. Much as I love getting newcomers involved into this world of ours, I believe that for developers with the kind of experience that most of us here seem to have, the low expectations are just holding us back. It would be fun with something more in-depth, focusing on the things we're already working on.
5  Creation / From the ridiculous to the sublime / Re: What are you Playing on: May 30, 2012, 05:22:56 PM
I've also been dipping into the survival horror of old, playing Resident Evil 2 for the first time. I'm really appreciating how the old Resident Evils float between the systematic and the surprising - it's internal economy of herbs and ammo, inventory spaces and safehouses, is a surprisingly rich gameplay system, leading to countless nerve-wracking decisions about what to bring, or whether to fight or run. This is very much unlike the Silent Hills, whose combat and riddles have always felt unnecessary to me.
The Resident Evil system makes the player acutely aware of what they should be afraid of, making the situation and emotion very clear. I'm certainly tasked with trying to beat the system, certainly playing a game and thinking about it as such, but that's where the surprises become so important - and so effective, striking when I'm so into the micromanagement that I forget about the zombies! Every so often Capcom throws a wrench in its own system - a new enemy type or a surprise attack, expanding the system to include elements I don't understand and haven't mastered and have every reason to be afraid of - or just breaking its own rules. Even today, I found Resident Evil 2 to be a tense experience. An audiovisual (and narrative?) overhaul like the first one got would probably make it genuinely chilling.
6  General / Check this out! / Re: They Breathe is live on XBLIG on: March 01, 2012, 08:53:34 PM
They Breathe for Windows is now live on IndieCity for 2$!

http://indiecity.com/game/TheyBreathe

Axcho, sorry for not replying last time. I haven't really blogged about the design of They Breathe, but there's a "hidden" behind the scenes gallery on http://www.theworkingparts.com/beneaththesurface

If you want a sneak peek, the password is "jelly". It's printed at the end of the game. Bunch of spoilers tho.

And please do hit me up with questions or (more likely) criticisms!
7  General / Check this out! / Re: Siren is not fun, it's a slog, it's cruel, it's tough... on: March 01, 2012, 08:41:24 PM
I happened to see this review for Siren and the way it was reviewed was surprising. Focusing on how it's worth playing because it gives you a glimpse into someone else's world rather than because it's fun. Seems a Notgames-ish type of thing.

Not sure how I managed to miss this thread, as the Forbidden Siren series is one of my favorites and one of my greatest influences as a creator. The first two games were catastrophically inaccessible and demanded great (and often boring) work from the player. You never "reached" the next level, you had to UNLOCK it by replaying old chapters in new ways. You're never told the story, you get to piece it together from clues you may or may not find, and sometimes from the assumptions based on those clues, or the assumptions based on those assumptions. There are some pretty effective revelations to be had down that rabbit hole. As a work of interactive storytelling I admire this detective work that it makes the player do. Rather than being told in a linear fashion, it sort of starts in the middle and then expands outwards until the player is satisfied that he's understood enough. There isn't much of a determined order of things, the credits roll early and often, and mean nothing. You're never immersed in the belief that you are the characters for long, rather the player becomes this journalistic entity that gets to share the perspectives of all characters in order to piece the puzzle together. The story is the fundamental challenge. You might wish it was the only one, but there's something to be said for the (hideous) difficulty level that makes every morsel all the more valuable. It's a great game to play with a co-pilot to discuss things with. As a horror game, it gets some points for the stealth focus (at least the first one), but ten minus for killing you all the time. It's usually fair though, and as long as you can maintain an extremely careful playstyle (in order not to die) it's a chilling experience. But I believe no one can do that for long.

I usually don't recommend these game to anyone though. If anyone asks, I usually tell them to play Siren: Blood Curse for the PS3 instead, which is a watered-down remake (remake as the word is used among movies, not games). The developers actually said that if the original was to be considered a true story, then Blood Curse was to be the american movie based on that true story. So the documentary vibe is gone, and the story has been linearized. It's a lot more accessible and fair and GOOD, but also quite a bit less interesting.
8  General / Check this out! / Re: Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs? on: February 24, 2012, 01:32:31 PM
Oh I can answer: Yeah the other thingie is what we are spending most of our time on. That project is very slowly started though (mainly because there is a huge amount of assets needed to get anything testable), so having a project like this "on the side" where there already is a lot of ground work is done is very nice for motivation. Feels like more stuff is happening, even though we are not doing much of it Smiley

Haha, wish I had one of those. Tongue Best of luck with both of them!
9  General / Check this out! / Re: Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs? on: February 24, 2012, 10:04:57 AM
Nice! Makes me think of all sorts of brand-swapping that could be done on this forum... Smiley

Oh, and I'm assuming then that the "less scary, more intellectual" stuff that Thomas has been mentioning is what Frictional is doing with the bulk of their time? No need to answer that.  Tongue
10  General / Introductions / Re: Hi, I 'm Pehr on: February 21, 2012, 07:34:57 PM
Tjenare! It's always welcome to see an attempt to tackle the game medium's problems from the "outside".
11  Creation / Notgames design / Re: Games and notgames -- again! on: February 20, 2012, 07:53:08 AM
The thing with the Swedish words here is that the concept of "game" is split into "spel" and "lek" (verbs spela / leka). Spel corresponds very well to Caillois' idea of Ludus, as in games with rigid structures, goals and winners, whereas lek has more childish connotations and signifies a more freeform style of play where it's often okay for rules to be broken. Think playing house, or any other kind of loosely defined activity that's more about the imagined situation and drama than about actually following the rules (hide and seek and tag also tend to fall in this category).

I could be wrong, but I feel that what we're trying to achieve here, oftentimes, is digital lek. A paidian movement, if you will. Which is a challenge mainly because of how computers love rigid rules (and because this has created a mental framework that it's hard to think outside).
12  General / Check this out! / Re: They Breathe is live on XBLIG on: December 08, 2011, 07:28:06 PM
Thanks! Grin We have a PC version ready to go, but we thought we'd get some release experience on XBLIG first. That, and feedback, and reviews to help us attract distributors. So we're thrilled to see how people interpret it, hope it's as good as we've come to believe. A lot of people seem to have played it already (we were probably lucky that the Xbox menus were updated on the same day), but not a lot of buzz online yet. So yeah, waiting. Chewing nails.
13  General / Check this out! / They Breathe is live on XBLIG on: December 08, 2011, 03:40:51 PM
Thought you guys might want to know that my studio has just pulled off its first release. For me, They Breathe is an experiment in conveying exposition (and creating dramatic situations) using emergent behaviour. I hope it might serve as an inspiration to some of you! As always on XBLIG, there is a free trial version. I'll be here to discuss the design if anyone is interested.

Trailer here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acLsBJ5vm18
14  General / Everything / Re: Disappointed by From Dust? on: September 26, 2011, 10:18:22 AM
Can't say it does. Really, all of the levels are very high concept and based around a certain feature of the core mechanics. The playfulness is something you have to find for yourself within the scenarios presented. And if you haven't already it's probably not for you.  Smiley
15  General / Everything / Re: Disappointed by From Dust? on: September 22, 2011, 07:46:32 PM
I played it all in one night. That's not to say I loved it though, it was just one of those nights.

It's a playful game. Given your indirect control and the unpredictable meanderings of mother nature, it loses much of its meaning as a competitive game (not that that'd be what Michaël is looking for). For me, it was more about messing around and se how nature reacted and settled in new shapes. It's a fascinating model of the world simply because there's so much geological truth in it, and the slow pace (where waiting is often an objective) allowed me to get to thinking about what people and societies really are. I think the tribal setting is a fantastic way to explore human nature and quickly reach its core values, and I wish the game had done much more of that. I definitely agree about the structure of the game though, Why such discrete levels? And why structure so many of them like a mechanical puzzle when the heart of the game is about the organics of the world? I can imagine the game would have gained something on focusing less on mechanics and challenge, and more on world/atmosphere and freeform creation. Then again, the freeform creation part at the end is unbearably boring.

In the end though, I still view it as a fascinating and fresh model of the earth and life on it.
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