This week, I address a question that I'm sure we've all pondered at some point--are videogames really addictive, and, if so, is that necessarily a bad thing? I'm particularly interested here in what it would take to design a videogame that would "turn you on," offering a comparable experience to taking LSD or even peyote but without the potential side effects. How close are we to developing true digital drugs? Will you be the Albert Hofmann of videogames?
I recently completed my advance copy of Phantomery Interactive's Outcry:The Dawn, a 2008 game now being published by Mamba Games under their Odyssia label. Outcry is a great game in the style of Myst, with fun puzzles, a rich story, and creepy, surreal atmosphere.
The story is complex enough that even after finishing the game you may not be quite sure what happened. At least, that's how I ended the game--though this isn't a criticism; indeed, the mysterious and unexplained aspects of the storyline make it even more intriguing to play. Basically, though, we have here a sort of H.P. Lovecraft take on Jules Verne. The protagonist travels to another dimension, which is apparently built of fragments of his own rationality. The game is psychological to the point of having players read snippets of Freud and Yung (as well as experiment with mind-altering chemicals).
The Labyrinth of Time, created by Bradley W. Schenck and Michal Todorovic of Terra Nova Development, and published by Electronic Arts, was a CD-ROM-based graphics adventure released in the wake of Myst and 7th Guest, which explains why the game never really took off and why the game's intended sequels were never created. After all, if you're basically third after two of the biggest selling computer games of all time to that point were released, you don't stand much of a chance in the marketplace. Anyway, what's interesting is that beyond being released for the Apple Macintosh, Commodore Amiga and PC platforms, there was also a version specific to the Commodore Amiga CD32 released, and in the US to boot.
Matt Chat #2: Myst is now live! Please watch, subscribe, rate it, comment on it, have fun!
I tried to tweak the audio and what not this go round, so let me know what you think.
In the world of videogames, there are few times when something that failed has been given a second chance at success. GameTap has certainly done its part with not only bringing officially licensed emulation to PC users in the US, but also by taking on classic properties cast-off by their original publishers, such as "Sam & Max" and "Myst Online: Uru Live". It's the latter for which we have the latest press release, direct from GameTap. While I have the original game sent by a friend who used to work at Ubisoft, I never did get a chance to try it. I'm certainly not the biggest Myst fan out there, but I do have countless conversions of the original that started it all and this massively multiplayer version does seem intriguing and takes some of the best elements from the later games. As a GameTap subscriber myself, I'll definitely try to check this re-launch out.
The full press release follows:
Game design blog Sirlin had an article about the death of the Graphical Adventure Game genre. While this is nothing new, he has a theory on how to craft a GAG with more dynamic gameplay elements. Here's a clip.
Itâ€™s probably not technically feasible to allow different outcomes to branch into a huge tree of totally different stories, nor is it even desirable. The opponents of interactive fiction state that any story is really 1,000 possible stories where the author intelligently chose the one, single best story to tell. It would still be possible, though, to create a game world whose major story arc was resistant to change, while allowing change on the smaller scale. It might even be fun.