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Topics - Roisack

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Technobabylon / Finished the game. Here are my thoughts. No spoilers.
« on: June 11, 2016, 12:11:58 PM »
Technobabylon has been on my todo list for years. I heard about the game back when it came out in 2010 and some other adventure game players linked it, but I never got to playing it. When I heard a remake was in the making I decided to wait for it, and finally got it in this summer's GOG sale.

It is without doubt that I say this is the best title that is in the Wadjet Eye catalogue. So many of the issues otherwise good adventure games often end up having didn't manifest themselves, even as I was expecting them. The ending wasn't hurried like in every other adventure game ever. There wasn't a single illogical puzzle that felt it shouldn't be there. None of the characters ended up being shallow or lacking depth.

The biggest part deserving praise is the representation of the cyberspace. The intro sequence where Latha is what she desires to be and is forced to return to the gray and dark true world allowed myself to admit that her addiction had a completely logical reasoning behind it. When the possibility of being whatever you can be exists, what is there for us in the real world where we are nothing? Perhaps the visuals for this were so good I found myself addicted to them myself, and hoped the game had more content in virtual reality.

Parts of the writing impressed me, and the author clearly did his homework on writing believable technobabble. Maybe it's an old idea or maybe it's original, but using DNA for quaternary storage and computation was damn fascinating. The idea of mind-theft isn't super old, but it has been used in plenty of new cyberpunk stories. One notable story that comes to mind is Dreamspace, the webcomic.

The biggest issue I had with the game was that it wasn't long enough. I'm guessing I'll have to play it again to see what other minor choices I can make on the way.

The most noticeable difference to other games produced by Wadjet Eye is that in this one I enjoyed the music. Will have to add the soundtrack on my playlist.

As this game involved Wadjet Eye, I guess I don't have to say anything about the voice work since we all know there's only one quality they produce: excellent.

The only bug I had was that when I first started the game the main menu didn't work.

2
Shardlight / Spoilers. Finished the game. Here are my thoughts.
« on: March 11, 2016, 05:47:30 AM »
Finished the game today. Here are my thoughts on it. Spoiler warning.

For stats purposes, I bought the game on GOG and it took me 3 days to finish it. I was on sick leave due to a cold, so hey, it was good entertainment. I played it on Windows 7 64-bit on a high-end computer, although I would have liked to play it on Debian Linux.

Puzzles

There was a surprisingly large amount of puzzles that I thought were bad. The most notorious of these is definitely drawing the glyph to access Danton's place. I found the chalkboard and tried using it. The game opened the chalkboard, but then instantly faded the screen away. I don't really understand why this happened, and why I wasn't allowed to look at the chalkboard before getting the chalk. Secondly, after getting the hint about calliography I noticed the symbol on the letter and tried drawing it, but nothing happened. Then I found the book and got the instructions on how to use the "grid" when drawing the symbol. After drawing the symbol and noticing the hidden message, Amy told she's going to wipe the board. Then I knocked 5 times, buzzed 4 times, and the game told me I was a cheater. I had to go later check a walkthrough as I had hit a roadblock, and it turned I was supposed to do just that but drawing the glyph had to be done ridiculously meticulously in order for the game to accept it. Knowing the answer, I had to try it maybe 5 or 6 times before I got the glyph properly drawn. Gestures have always been a very difficult thing to do in gaming. Even games that did them reasonably well (The Void) still had parts where the game refused to accept your glyph because some computer vision algorithm didn't properly identify the glyph.

Another puzzle that had me frustrated was finding the piece of sharp metal in the cathedral, in order to tear the painting. Next to the painting there was the broken record player and, on the ground, there was a sharp nail that seemed like I should have been able to use it. In general, finding any sharp item in a destroyed city shouldn't be that hard. If the piece of metal in the wreckage didn't have that glitter I wouldn't have found it. On my way out from the quarantine zone you find the rusty metal bar behind the rubble. This was another of those items that was oddly specific - surely rusty metal bars are all around the city.

Eavesdropping on the two aristrocrats was a weird puzzle. Those crows sure like toppling that trash bin.

I was a bit surprised about how much use some items got. It's rare for adventure games to re-use an item for multiple puzzles. The crossbow was an obvious item as it was kind of Amy's signature tool and its usage was all-around witty, except for having to use it for pressing too-high-to-reach buttons like 3 times. The piece of sharp metal also had plenty of use in places I didn't really think it would work as opposed to some of my other items.

Plenty of times a moment in the game made me expect a death sequence for taking the wrong action in a puzzle / dialogue, up to the point where I was paranoid with my saves. The times you were threatened with violence left plenty of opportunities for that, but I guess you went with the Lucas Arts method. Considering this isn't a comedy, this was the right choice.

Escaping the quarantine zone should have been possible without the crossbow. After all, you could stand on Gordon's shoulders and use your severed arm to get extra reach.

Setting

There should be more stories that take place in "quarantine zones". The ones that I can think of is "This War of Mine" and the novel by Brandon Sanderson, Elantris. Guess there are a bunch of Prisoner of War stories that have similar themes.

I'm guessing an artist in the game's development team has a thing for old cars. It doesn't really make sense that a setting a bit to the future has some many antique cars going around as opposed to the city being filled with destroyed modern cars, which would be there after a sudden nuclear strike. But hey, they look pretty cool.

How long does radiation remain a problem after a nuclear strike? The apparent lack of radiation related diseases was kind of odd. Maybe they used weird future nukes that don't radiate.

Music

The music didn't really hit me. It was there in the background doing its thing, but at least it was varied.

Writing and progression

The primary motivation for the protagonist turned out to be selfish survival. The moment Amy admits to Milton she's getting the vaccine for herself absolutely sold the character to me. All around, none of the characters were unbelievable. Every villain simply turned out to have their reasons for doing what they do, except perhaps for some of the stereotypical comic relief aristocracy. The scene with the guard trying to talk to the vegetable lady on the market was one example of the guards simply doing what they do and Amy trying to find a common ground. Danton and Tiberius both were kind of shallow characters. They mostly had one thing going for them. It felt like they existed in the game to force the player two extreme ends of the spectrum when making the final choice. They both had some attempts to give them some fluff, namely Tiberius' son (and wife, the painting on the wall?), and Danton's rough past, but this didn't really make me appreciate the characters. I was quite surprised when the game actually let me kill both of them, that having been my thought while the cutscene was playing. I'm assuming this is the choice most players will make.

As often is the case with adventure games I thought the pacing was hurried towards the end. From the moment you find the reaper you quickly accomplish finding the servos, then almost instantly there's a rebellion and the final showdown. The first parts of the game do their task well, introducing the player to the setting and the characters. This part, excluding the glyph, was my favorite part of the game. Interestingly, I felt the same way when playing Primordia, it being another post-apocalyptic adventure game. The second part involves the hunt for the Reaper, which I think did alright for itself. The acid trip scene was kind of off, but it worked.

"Last one to die, please turn out the light."

Voice acting

Top-notch voice work. The only exceptions were the assorted screams that seemed to be too loud / badly mastered as they broke a bit. I don't know if the standards have improved all-around, but it seems any game with Wadjet Eye involved in it (production or development) seems to really spend resources on getting those voices right.

Graphics

Character portraits were all-around impressive, as were the background mattes. There was definitely a color palette going on with the game that was used in most areas. I really enjoy when games do this - seeing the same colors juxtaposed with something out-of-place really adds something interesting to the scene.

Animations were alright, but some animations could have used some extra frames (Gordon swinging over the incinerator for one).

The game's icon reminds me of Quest for Glory.

Usability

* No option to change resolution / windowed mode in the game's preferences. Had to edit the config file in the game's install directory to do this (or use winsetup.exe). Is this still a limitation in AGS?
* Can't skip credits to quickly see other endings

Then, onwards with bugs.

* In the very first scene where Amy fires her crossbow at the lamp, Amy actually walked way into the room's corner, faced the wrong way and the "firing the crossbow" animation played facing right instead of towards the target.
* After tearing the painting and finding the coin with the logo on it, I instantly went to the train as I had seen the logo there. Inside, after some dialogue with the lady, I tried giving the coin to her. At this point I got a message saying something along the lines of "I don't think she'd be interested in my collection", and I think the lady even responded to that with something like "Yeah, I'm not." It took me a good while until I tried giving the coin again and the game okay'ed the action.

3
Resonance / Crash in the hospital waiting room
« on: July 08, 2012, 03:13:31 PM »
After the cutscene that follows the laboratory fire scene you get to crack the journal open. When the elevator opened, I immediately got this error:

Quote
An error has occurred. Please contact the game author for support, as this is likely to be a scripting error and not a bug in AGS (ACI version 3.21.1115)

in "Conversation.asc", line 1413
from "GlobalScript.asc", line 10256

Error: AnimateCharacter: invalid loop number specified.


After loading an earlier save and replaying the laboratory I got past that scene. Playing on Windows 7 64-bits.

EDIT: The version used is the Gog.com version, downloaded on the release date. Can't seem to find any version strings anywhere.

4
The Blackwell series / Save file location
« on: October 17, 2011, 06:31:58 PM »
Where are the save files located for Blackwell Deception? I'm playing on Windows 7 and was hoping to transfer the save files from my laptop to my main computer as I played in the train and now want to continue on my main computer. I looked at the game folder, but it had nothing. I then went to %appdata%, but it had nothing either. I even performed a search on the entire computer for "autosave" which is one of the save game names, but that didn't turn out any better. I also tried moving the entire game from my laptop to my main computer, but that didn't work.

5
The Blackwell series / Bugs in Legacy
« on: April 05, 2011, 08:00:15 PM »
Heyas.

I just got myself to purchase the series, and played the first two games. Looking good! However, I encountered two bugs in Legacy which I didn't find by searching or googling, and both of them prevented me from finishing the game. I didn't find a bug thread here, nor a way to report bugs, so I'll be dropping them here.

Spoiler warning!

In the scene where you need to use the phone and call Joey in the dorm, I first went through the dialogue without knowing what the solution to the puzzle was. This naturally dropped me out from the dialogue with him, and the call was over. I later on, attempting to solve the puzzle, picked the phone again and called Joey. This time all I got was the protagonist calling out Joey's name twice, to which Joey responded with the line: "..." and the call ended. There were no dialogue options with Joey, and ultimately I had to restart the game.

On my re-play I encountered an another bug. In the scene where Rosa just finished writing the article and Joey is about to appear, and the photo should start blinking, the game dropped out from the cutscene and I was able to control the character. If I tried pressing the bedroom door, I got the message going something like: "I have to get this article written before sleeping." I tried all sorts of things, but nothing worked.

I was forced to restart again. This time too I encountered the same Joey appereance bug. I then went on to watch an LP for the game on Youtube, and got to see all the solutions. Nothing was different from what I had done.

The second game worked fine, and I found no bugs there. Just felt like reporting these as there appear to be no mentions of them anywhere.

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