Another fan tribute bites the dust

I shouldn’t be surprised, but it still comes as a depressing blow: Went2Play’s high-quality remake of Fate of Atlantis has been told to pack it in because “guuhhh license uggghh copyright blaaah.”

"Doctor Ubermann! Not-so-fantastic news."
“Doctor Ubermann! Not-so-fantastic news.”

It’s hardly surprising, given that the game was not just a remake of an existing game by a well-known developer (LucasArts) that Went2Play didn’t have the rights to, but that said game was also an Indiana Jones game, another license that Went2Play didn’t have the rights to. Looking back on it, I suppose a venture of this nature was doomed to fail.

It’s also incredibly disheartening, because this is another case of seeing dedicated, creative souls wanting to pay tribute to a favorite game of theirs, only to get shut down by the powers that be because it might “hurt sales” or somehow sully the brand.

Are they within their right to shut it down? Of course. No one is debating that.

Is it, as my mate Gareth says, morally right? No. Not if you ask me. These people were not out to spite the original, or claim it as their own.

The bigger question is: Would a fan tribute to a game of this kind really hurt sales of the original?

I don’t have the answer to that. My gut reaction says no. People would look at this and think, “Wow, that looks cool. I should try the original.” Shawn (of Infamous Quests), however, says people would be too cheap to spring for the original because a) the new one would be shinier, and shiny is all a modern audience cares about, and b) the original costs money, and modern audiences don’t like to spend money.

If it was an old game that had been out of circulation for a long time, perhaps even on the brink of obscurity, I would definitely disagree.

But this one is a tricky one because you’re not just dealing with an old game. You’re dealing with an old game that’s still being sold and has the goddamn Indiana Jones name on it.

And maybe Shawn is right that, should someone who’s unfamiliar with the original stumble upon this, they would have no interest in subsequently going out and paying for the original.

The counter-argument to that is, well, Fate of Atlantis sells for peanuts on GOG and Steam; it’s hardly like this is make-or-break territory. But, through the eyes of corporate thinking, lost revenue is lost revenue, even if it’s just peanuts.

As much as it pains me to see it go, maybe it was foolish to think Fate of Atlantis: Special Edition would ever actually be completed. It hurts to see an effort with this much love, affection and talent behind it get squashed — yet again — but this is the world we live in, it seems.

Battle of the U.I.s, Pt. 3: The One U.I. to End Them All

This has been a long time coming, but I was recently reminded of this topic as I have been (glacially) doing the groundwork for Space Quest Historian: The Adventure Game. When you’re making a game, one of the things you have to settle on early is what kind of user interface the game will be using.

And for the SQH game, I wanted to use my favorite type of adventure game U.I. ever. Turns out that’s not easy to do in AGS, but that’s not what this blog is about. Right now, I just want to tell you what that U.I. actually is.

It's this.
It’s this.

Surprised? Well, don’t be. Whatever you may think of Leisure Suit Larry 7, I will fight anyone who says that isn’t the best adventure game interface ever devised. Let me briefly explain how it works.

Continue reading “Battle of the U.I.s, Pt. 3: The One U.I. to End Them All”

I did my very own Upper Memory Block episode!

I guess this is what they call “coming full circle,” eh? The podcast that inspired me to start my own podcast allowed me to do my own guest episode for that podcast.

Confused yet? Don’t be. It just means that I got the chance to do my very own episode of Upper Memory Block, the podcast usually hosted by Joe Mastroianni. But because he’s off populating the Earth, he asked friends if they wouldn’t mind keeping his show alive while he was tending to the new heir to the throne, and I was fortunate enough to be included in that roster of people.

The game I’m covering is Steel Empire (also known as Cyber Empires in North America); a little-known strategy/arcade hybrid by then-fledgling company Silicon Knights.

I even managed to score an interview with Silicon Knights founder Denis Dyack, who kindly spoke to me for an hour about making the game. There’s about 30 minutes of the interview in the episode itself, but I put the full-length interview on Mixcloud.

Go have a listen to the episode!

Oh, and if you’re interested in seeing how this thing actually plays, my mate David and I sat down and played a campaign at his house, which I, of course, put on YouTube.

Early graphic adventure games: Murder on the Mississippi

At this point, we’re all pretty used to calling Maniac Mansion “the first graphic adventure game,” and just kind of leave it at that. By that, I mean that the natural evolution of graphic adventure games is mostly centered on what LucasArts and Sierra were doing with the fancy new pointing-and-clicking peripherals, and not much attention has been given to the other early adopters out there.

Take, for example, this one: Murder on the Mississippi, released in 1986 for the Commodore 64 by … the fuck? Activision? Okay, didn’t see that one coming. Ironic, considering what happened to Sierra, really. But let’s not dwell on that.

intro.png
I wonder if the creators of this game were binging a certain Hercule Poirot movie before they came up with this idea.

Continue reading “Early graphic adventure games: Murder on the Mississippi”