Welcome to Through the Looking GlassOriginally created to follow Looking Glass Studios and their games, these days we are many things to different people. Whether you wish to discuss the games themselves and fan content, enjoy games inspired by the legacy of the game studio or just enjoy chatting about games or life in general - Welcome!
Rock Paper Shotgun posted the news the Dear Esther was going retail. What followed included some comments from creators Dan Pinchbeck and Robert Briscoe.
... [W]ithout talking figures at this point, I can tell you it will be extremely affordable, and Im going to do everything I can to make sure what you get in return is worth every penny! This is the culmination of two years of the most dedicated and creative work i've ever done, and im so happy to see it so warmly welcomed as an indie title. There will be lots more info to come, and im looking forward hearing more of your thoughts!
So three things, really. Firstly, going commercial lets us do things we couldn't have otherwise done, like reach out to gamers beyond the mod community, which means we can get our game out to anyone who hasn't got Half Life (yeah, I know! Apparently, there are a few of them out there, in their Fallout-style bunkers). It also means we can leverage some additional investment into the project so we can do things like re-orchestrate the soundtrack, which means you're going to get a massive level-up for Jessica Curry's work, which is completely brilliant.
Secondly, Rob's put a year of his life into this and produced something which is as good as any commercial game environment out there - and that's just the art, let alone the detail and design overhaul of the player experience - and I think he deserves to get paid for that, basically, and so does everyone else involved. So that's a factor too.
Finally, what's basically going to happen is that profits get broken down to make sure everyone gets paid, and then a stream of cash goes directly into a running budget which does just what Persus-9 says - it works to build thechineseroom towards a greater financial independence. And this is my current beef with games research - there's not enough experimentation going on, not enough builds to try things out and innovate and support games as a medium by not just writing theory by actually doing development... so if we can start to prove you can make games that work commercially (and creatively, natch) as games but also are these high-risk experimental research tools, then we can start coming back at the criticisms of the redundancy of games research and rebuild a bit of worth in the eyes of the games industry and gamers. Or something like that.
We'll release a lot more information in the very near future, but we are really aware that pricing and value is critical and getting the balance between a high quality product and value for money is pretty central to how we're approaching things...
- The removal of the old Dear Esther from the ModDB was a mistake. It will be returned.
- Translations will likely be in the form of a separate downloadable community created language pack.
- There will be subtitles.
Welcome to TTLG. I know, it's been a while. Where do we begin? So much has changed since 2006, but in a way, it feels like not much has changed. Two Bioshock games came and went. A Thief 4 was announced but we still know nothing about it. Arkane's The Crossing was canceled, and their next project is still a secret. Dues Ex 3 is almost finished... All in all, there's really a great deal to talk about. There's probably more to talk about now than there was back in 2006.
Thief 4. At the moment all we have is a title graphic and a photo of the team making it. It's important because it's a new game (probably a reboot) in the most popular series among the TTLGers. Whatever happens with Thief 4, the mass of our community will draw us along with it. At the moment I personally have pessimistic feelings about this title. I don't think anyone at eidos or square enix particularly liked the old Thief games, or even understood them. I am not sure which is worse. (They will vehemently deny this, of course.) What do I expect? A linear 3rd person assassin's creed clone set in a medieval non-fantasy world with cover-based stealth and very little emphasis on actual stealing. I stress that this prediction is based on hearsay, not any insider info, nor just a bad dream I had once.
Arkane Studios. The only reason why this isn't on top, is because the game hasn't been announced yet. All that's known is that it's been worked on by people who made Arx Fatalis, Dark Messiah, and Deus Ex (not to mention a few TTLGers), and is being published by Arkane's new parent-studio, Bethesda. They seem very excited about it.
Bioshock Infinite. This twice removed spiritual successor to System Shock is probably not being called that by anyone at Irrational this time around. The TTLGers don't seem particularly interested in this title. Most felt betrayed by Bioshock, and see Infinite as a step farther in the direction they didn't like. I, personally, am looking forward to it. I found depth in the gameplay of the first two Bioshocks, and found the worldbuilding and storytelling second to none. I expect all of the same from Infinite. But, it's still no System Shock. (But then again, what is?)
Deus Ex: Human Revolution. It's visually stunning, but how close is it to the original Deus Ex? Previews promise that it's very close, but videos of the game are muddled and bogged with the player's view cutting to 3rd person constantly to show off some cool animation that the designers really want us to see. Maybe it won't matter. Maybe it won't kill the immersion, or maybe the gameplay will be strong enough so that we won't care. It seems to me that the subject matter of this game is focused much more on the trans-humanism which was a shadow in the background of the previous games, and much less on global political conspiracies, which was the cornerstone of the first game's premise. Again, maybe it doesn't matter, and maybe the semi-fresh subject matter is just what the series needs.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. There's not going to be any surprises here. Bethesda isn't going to reinvent the wheel with Skyrim, which is very much an Elder Scrolls game. Instead, they're taking what worked well, and adding a great deal of polish on top of it. It's Oblivion with great big dragons you can fight, and a slick new dual wielding system, an un-mangled RPG system, and much nicer looking character faces.
Fallout Series. Bethesda and Obsidian's take on the classic Fallout series has turned out to be a huge success. A stream of New Vegas DLC seems imminent, but the main thing on my mind is if or if not Obsidian will become the new owners of the Fallout universe (which would be appropriate, considering that they count some of the creators among them) or if Bethesda itself will be making Fallout 4 (or whatever they call it, I doubt they'll use a number) after Skyrim is done. We shall see!
STALKER Series. I gave the original STALKER quite a few tries back when it was new, taking advantage of various piles of game-bettering mods that came highly recommended by people who knew that I just wasn't enjoying the game. My own personal opinion aside, this other post-apocalyptic series is pretty popular with the TTLGers, and so we'll be paying attention to the future of the series. I am told that STALKER 2 is just over the horizon.
Dear Esther. The new version of the extremely unorthodox source engine mod is still underway. Recently it was announced that it would be given a full retail release, a move that disappointed and irritated many TTLGers. I am not surprised by this move. The comments section of Robert Briscoe's Devblog is filled with encouragement by fans of the project to turn this into a price-tagged indie game. Ignoring what could be a brewing controversy, Dear Esther still remains a huge element on my radar, with any info or media on it devoured at first sight.
Dead Space. I was a fan of the first Dead Space. I felt like it was a great homage to System Shock and that the series had great promise. It's a shame that I feel so underwhelmed by the sequel. There's just something about the first game that's missing. Maybe it's because I no longer feel helpless in a hopeless situation. Maybe it's because it feels more like an action movie than a horror game. Maybe there's just no sense of discovery anymore, other than finding out what awesome thing the environmental artists came up with around that next corner. While technically everything about Dead Space 2 makes it a better game than the first, it's just leaving me unsatisfied. I wish I could put my finger on why.
The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings. The Witcher had fantastic art and graphics, a very cool story involving a real branching plot, and excellent RPG gameplay that was only bogged down by a head-scratching combat system. Witcher 2 is going to be freed from the clunky Bioware-made engine, which hopefully means that CDProjekt is going to be getting closer to the game they wanted to make in the first place. They also seem to have realized that the combat (pretty central to an RPG about a sword-swinger) was the weakest part of the game, and have promised a complete revamp. I just hope that the revamp doesn't turn it into a Diabloesque button-masher.
Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Most survival horror games make the player vulnerable. In Amnesia, Frictional dared make the player totally helpless. It's a supremely sardonic game that has a bit of a following among TTLGers due to its unusual gameplay involving hiding in cupboards to escape invisible monsters. In truth I haven't gotten more than an hour and a half into this game, though I keep planning to give it another look. Whatever developer Frictional dreams up next, chances are we'll be paying attention.
XCOM. I think the only people who were happy with the announcement of XCOM were those who thought that the retro art direction was cool. Count me among them. I have no allegiance to the old X-Com series, but I understand fandom, so the sense of betrayal among those dreaming of a modern take on those games from the creators of System Shock 2 was tangible. Still, the 2K Marion/Australia studios working on this game have a great deal of talent (correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Jordan "Shalebridge Cradle" Thomas is a creative lead on this game) and so I am being patiently optimistic that they'll produce a fun game, even if it's XCOM (er, X-Com?) in name only.
E.Y.E.: Divine Cybermancy. EYE looks like a game from another era, and not just because of the graphics. It's a complex scifi RPG shooter in the vein of Deus Ex being made in the source engine at an indie studio in France. It's supposed to have an open world, cooperative multiplayer, and I believe a branching plot, though I am not sure where I read that. It could be a colossal mess, but it could also turn out to be a really compelling game that puts this studio on the map, at least with the TTLGers.
So, how do you feel about what's going on? Post your thoughts here, and in a week I'll do another post like this one, but this time with the community's take on all of this. Feel free to bring up games I did not, and completely disagree with me.
When I say 'I interviewed' I mean I emailed him a bunch of questions other people much more talented that I thought up. On the plus side he did ring me up to introduce himself, which was pretty odd as I'd have thought that, if anything, it would have been the other way around.TTLG Interview Ken Levine - July 2006
Earlier in the year one of Irrational's PR guys contacted me wondering if we'd like to send a few interview questions to Irrational. After emailing back HELL YES the TTLG staff started coming up with some questions. We also solicited questions from our forum readers too. We whittled the submissions down to 13 questions, getting rid of anything that vaguely resembled "ru putting monkies in bioshock lol" as, let's face it, they're a) probably not terribly interesting and b) Irrational won't be giving any specific details about BioShock out for quite a while. The thirteen questions were further slimmed down to six as Irrational are 'super busy'.I'd like to thank Ken and Joe of Irrational and Tom of Evolve, they've been great!
To continue, the job I wanted most in the games industry was a design position on what at that time was called The Dark Project. There was little public data, but Looking Glass had a very evocative teaser website for the project, and System Shock was my all time favorite game. On a list of a hundred potential jobs, I wanted that job so badly that it made me tense. I searched and found the phone number of the project director, Greg LoPicollo, and gave him an unsolicited call where I sold myself to him in 15 seconds before he could hang up on me. I said I’d drive myself down to Cambridge for the interview. Weeks later, after two self-funded interviews and a couple homework assignments with their 3D editor, they offered me a hybrid design/programming job, essentially building levels and scripted behaviors.This very candid interview discusses the bad as well as the good of working on the series.
It turned out my marginal programming skills weren't as valuable as my design abilities, so with lots of coaching and instruction from the legendary Looking Glass guys, I shifted off of programming entirely and became a full time level builder and designer. I contributed to many of the Thief 1 levels, owned a few of them, and created gameplay behaviors for even more of them.
To date, it was the best project of my life, although maybe first projects are always like that. I learned a ton, I connected with an awesome team, and I believe the shared magic of that group led to the success that was Thief: The Dark Project.
Let's talk a bit about Junction Point Studios. The company has been founded about 1.5 years ago, but it's been pretty quiet until now. What have you been doing so far?While I am sure that most of the community is hoping that Warren and crew will be doing a System Shock / Thief / Deus Ex / Underworld clone type game, I am hoping that something new is on the broiler.
JPS currently has about 20 people. We started out working on a pretty epic game with a supportive publisher but, through no fault of our own, the deal got cancelled after about 9 months of work. Since then, we've been working on some stuff with Valve (can't talk much about that), doing concept development for some folks (can't talk at ALL about that, sadly!) and pitching some new game ideas. We're keeping plenty busy!
What's your job there exactly? How deep are you involved into development?
I often ask myself what my job is, exactly! I'm involved in all the creative aspects of concept development and planning. I evaluate and approve all the implementation work (though I don't do any of that anymore...). I spend a lot of time on studio management and deal-making these days, which I hope ends soon!
|Download the Official 7 minute E3 demonstration|
Though you could mistake this game for a first-person shooter based on a cursory glance, it quickly becomes clear that Dark Messiah goes to greater-than-average lengths to make you truly feel like you're an extremely skilled fantasy warrior.
Regardless, the game can't come out soon enough. If half of the things that Ubisoft is promising end up panning out, then this could be one of the best games of this year. It's kind of unseemly to speak about a yet-to-be-released game with such enthusiasm, but if ever a games journalist should be trusted for his earnestness, this is that very case.
The video clips we saw previous to the presentation are actually indicative of the game's style, which favors knives over negotiation. What those brief glimpses can't capture quite as well is how smooth and nuanced the combat system is.
Help Tino save his fruit stand from becoming a parking lot. Lead Rikki, the fruit-gathering monkey, to fill the customers' orders in a market full of fruit. Use Rikki's swing and the many Power-Ups to fill orders faster and with more flair! Earn tips, sell fruit... Save Tino's Fruit Stand!You can download the demo by going to the site, and you can purchase the game from there as well. Support Art and his company -- Good luck selling fruit!
Tino's Fruit Stand is a puzzle game where you work to pay back the loan and upgrade the stand to save the family store. You'll enjoy the 50 arcade levels that complement the story.
There's a great article this month in CGW on Dark Messiah, loads of info many screenshots, some art, really worth a look. After this and last month's Bioshock magazine article, I think things are looking copious indeed.
Also worth a look is the Spector interview at Firing Squad on Junction Point (the studio, not the game) as well as his opinions on this and that. No real news yet, but he promises soon. Soooon.
Starting Junction Point wasn’t hard at all—it was (and remains) great. Inevitably, we’ll grow and feel the pressures of time and budget but we’re still small, and all sharing a one-room office. The team is really tight, really functional, really psyched. JPS feels like “The Good Old Days,” at least right now. And I’m loving it. (Hope the rest of the team is, too! I think they are…)But, in the mean time...