Confessions of a Crap GameDev

Making “Kitty Quest” – my submission for AdventureJam 2017

They say, “Never work with children or animals.” And that was indeed the phrase that instantly popped into mind when my wife responded to my question, “What do you think I should do for this year’s AdventureJam?” with, “Why not make a game about our cats?”

I couldn’t help myself, though. It was such a hilarious idea. Cats and the internet are always a winning combination; talking cats even moreso. And it fit right into the mindset I’d had since the first time I participated in AdventureJam, when it was called Point & Click Jam, that I wasn’t so much in this to win approval as I just wanted to do something batshit crazy and hopefully freak the judges out.

Cocaine-dealing squirrels oughta do the trick.

So, without really knowing how I was going to get my two cats to actually appear in the game, I set out to create Kitty Quest — a story more or less born out of a five-minute brainstorm with my wife about how our indoor rescue cat, Pemberton Flæsk Mis Mis Brunata Odenkirk (yes, that’s his name), wanted to escape the confines of our house on a warm summer day. His companion would be our other cat, Carlin Spinoza Bøffelsovs (also real name), who is an energetic but dopey Maine Coon cat.

It wasn’t a fully fleshed out story by any means. In fact, the escape part turned out to just be the first act of a (very small) two-act game. Escaping our house would then send them on a small adventure where they faced the horrors that lurk outdoors, eventually causing them to change their minds and head back home.

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Rants and raves

Do Let’s Players hurt sales of adventure/narrative-driven games?

I got into an interesting discussion on Twitter last night — which, frankly, I probably should have been more awake for.

The debate was about how developer Atlus have effectively told Let’s Players not to play their game (at least, not any more than the beginning of the game).

The official explanation is that it’s a story-based game and Atlus doesn’t want the story spoiled for people who haven’t had a chance to play it themselves. A cynic like myself, however, might entertain the notion that it’s also an attempt to prevent people from just sitting down and watching a playthrough on YouTube or Twitch instead of going out and actually buying their own copy.

“You can just put the cash right in my hand, thank you.”

The question then becomes: do streamers or YouTubers who play games from start-to-finish — particularly games that rely heavily on an unfolding narrative, like adventure games — hurt sales of those games?

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Battle of the U.I.s, Rants and raves

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.

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Guest appearances, Upper Memory Block

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.

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