Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
PaulloDEC

Black Lake - Prototype Reactions

80 posts in this topic

There didn't seem to be a thread for this yet, so I figured I'd take the leap and start one. Post your reactions to the Black Lake Prototype here!

For me, Black Lake was actually the prototype I was most concerned about during the the daily update videos. I always knew I loved the look and feel of it, but I could never really get a grasp on how it was going to play. It felt almost aimless in that regard.

Now that I've played it however, I see I was worrying unduly. I really like the two-sided approach to following clues, with the lantern revealing tracks and the darkness unveiling scents and sounds. The character controls very nicely too, with a good feeling to the movement speed and turning (though I'd have loved a run button the first time I spotted the Bramble Fox!).

The presentation is equally great. The visuals are dripping with atmosphere, which can't be an easy thing to achieve in such a short time. I also loved the sound, from the Russian(?) voice-over to the music (the ambient stuff is beautiful, and it made me smile hear the accordian stuff in-game after seeing it in the update videos).

...and did I mention how much I love the Bramble Fox? That thing is terrifying.

So yeah, loved it! I'd be thrilled if this became a full title. Congrats to everyone on the team!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with everything on here. I think the only thing moving forward is to extend the experience to 3-5 hours, vary up the gameplay a bit (some non-tracking gameplay would be great), throw in a rough map of landmark references, and dole out new songs/abilities. I would gladly throw $10-15 at this.

It is really tough to find any room for improvement in this prototype. Everything was nearly flawless. I think you just need to lean into the dream/supernatural stuff, and you'll be golden. Having some screen effects to show the player that they are being hunted by a bramble fox might be useful, and help to really drive home the panic of the situation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Holy smokes is it good. They did all that graphics work in just days? Amazing. It's one of the most beautiful things I've run on my PC. Hope it becomes a game.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am getting some odd graphic glitches but I love the ambiance and the controls. Feels very smooth and the exploring is fun. :)

I was not terribly excited about this game and was initially thinking that it wouldn't be all that fun but I could not be more happy to be wrong. I love the style and pretty much everything about it. I hope it does get picked up as it is just lovely and I bet it would have a great following. The art makes me wish there were t-shirts with the different characters!

Really amazing work. I am going to re-install and see if I just managed to break it :P

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Let me confess - coming from an art background myself - I was rooting for this, "but in no way is this going to become something playable in 2 weeks" was my starting sentiment.

A-HG7P1CcAALNUB.jpg

"What's over here? Oh! And what's over here??"

I just finished 1+ hour of delightfully walking around in the Blake Lake forest and it feels like a mystical, strange but familiar home. This forest has "character". Like the forests in Tolkien's books.

I was blown away the very first seconds in-game by the look! Graphics - artistic and technically - are amazing! The game mechanics work perfectly and switching the latern on/off - offering the player a second layer of "mystical forest" - although seen in other games, makes this game (yes, I call it a game, not a "prototype") even more enjoyable!

The Intro, narrated by Anna, the sound design and music ...

Stopping my praise here. It's already boring to read for you all.

I tip my virtual HAT! (d-pad up!!) to the team and the team leader Levi "I don't need a Twitter account" Ryken. On the stream it seemed as if Tim Schafer was bugging Levi the most, which can only be a sign of affection. Somebody wanted somebody else to "break through" and "succeed". Something big happend here!

This is already a game. I want more of it. I pay. But forget about 'us' - dedicated, annoying DF fans - this is something MANY kids and adults would play ... accross all platforms. From Steam, to iPad and WiiU?! (are you listening, Tim?)

поздравление & congratulations to the team. And have a nice party today!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was really really impressed.

I had the same concerns: what is the gameplay and how are they going to make a videogame forest in 2weeks?

But the tracking/wandering around in the forest(and losing the trail) is really fun, the forest feels and looks really good and is filled with atmosphere.

I really enjoyed it and would love to play more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having played all the prototypes now, it is abundantly clear to me that Black Lake is by far my favourite - and that's taking in consideration that the others had a TON of brilliant things about them.

What set Black Lake apart, IMO, was how the following aspects seemed to dovetail so nicely with one another:

1. Not only did Black Lake have the most fleshed out narrative and backstory - it delivered it through the most "complete" experience with a beginning, middle and ending that proved exceptionally satisfying and left me wanting more - like I was reading a chapter of an old and treasured folk tale. I had the strongest feeling that it could all have been rendered as an illustrated novella featuring artwork much like that used in the intro. Which brings me to...

2. The art! From the design of the creatures and the main character to the balance between a lush, friendly forest and a menacingly dark thicket - I am in awe, not just over the level reached in such a short space of time, but as an overall level for any fully-realized game. I had of course already seen the art develop over the course of the Amnesia Fortnight, so I knew it was stunning, but until I played it I wasn't prepared for the effect it would have on...

3. The pacing! Since the art was so well-crafted and so convincingly conveyed the sense of danger when entering a large, dark forest, I found myself wanting to move very slowly, turning the light on and off, and carefully, contemplating the risk of danger behind every tree instead of just dashing around with reckless abandon trying to find that fox. I imagine that getting lost in an even larger version of this world would be akin to delving deeply into a long story.

I am also impressed with how the character gave off the sense of someone who is well-acquainted with the life and rules of the forest and not a complete novice thrown into a world where everything is new. That made me care more about the progress of the character which in turn strengthened the story. Also, having a situation seem threatening to such a character has a lot more impact than having some character who jumps at the slightest movement in the bushes.

Well, that went on for a bit, but it was worth it if I managed to convey how deeply impressed I was with Black Lake from beginning to end. Kudos to the entire team for a job exceptionally well done!

..

P.S. I don't know if it was a bug or something, but somewhere halfway through the journey, the animation of the character changed and made it look as if she hade a limp, almost as if she had sprained her ankle on something, which in turn seemed to cause movement to slow (it could all have been due to my poor graphics card!). Anyway - it struck me as a neat potential effect to enhance the sense of danger when trying to get away from monsters, say during a climactic finale...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, team. Just wow! *clapping*

This was great. It's only the second prototype I've played, and it would certainly need some additional work for a full title, but I loooooooove it! Some people play games for competition and challenge, to score points, to reach the finish line, to pass the test. And all of that is well and good, but for some of us, the most important thing of all is being transported elsewhere. I am absolutely in the latter category, and my crush on the Black Lake project is totally vindicated and reinforced by the prototype. These kinds of atmospheric/experiential games are too few and far between. Thanks, all!

THINGS I LOVED:

1) Sensing. The switching back and forth between light (sight) and dark (sound/smell) was a really cool idea, and I was switching it up pretty often.

2) Bramble fox sound. When you're in the dark, you have the sound ring, but when you're in the light you don't. And even when you're in the dark, the bramble foxes are sometimes a little off screen (or really close below the bottom border of the screen). That might have proven to be a huge disadvantage and made bramble fox encounters way frustrating, but the fact that you could literally hear the evil sound of an approaching bramble fox---like with your real life ears!---and didn't have to solely rely on looking for the sound ring, made the bramble fox situation just that much cooler. It avoided what might have been an enemy design issue, and it gave you a really cool sound to listen for in the soundscape---and to dread of course---so you could begin your oh-sh!t moment before you even saw the bramble fox on screen! I hope if you get to take BL to full production that you get to do some more awesome stuff with the actual sound design. BL is showing good potential for great sound design, from music to ambient sounds, both in terms of establishing atmosphere and in terms of usefulness. How cool to explore the forest around Black Lake and have to actually listen for things with my own human ears?! I would be SO cool with that.

3) Light/darkness as a ward/lure. It was interesting that light could be used as a lure for the bramble foxes, and it made me think about enemy design. Surely the forest would be full of all kinds of creepy crawly mythical things and not just bramble foxes. Maybe other kinds of creepy crawly things are attracted to sound and would crawl after you in the dark, but could be sent scurrying away with a bright light. It could be cool to mix up enemy behavior that way. (Though you might have to confine them to zones, because putting those two behaviors in the same place sounds like trouble.)

4) Accordion!!! It was definitely an interesting choice when you announced it, and it helps give the game a unique personality. I wasn't sure how well I was going to like the mechanic where you use the accordion to put the bramble foxes to sleep, but it was actually pretty swell! Using the accordion to repair dreams actually turned out better than expected to. I was imaging the accordion playing working the same way as the ocarina in Zelda, but it's interesting that you can play the accordion and move around at the same time. This adds all kinds of interesting possibilities. You could do a little Pied Piper thing with it maybe! As mentioned before, I'd also be interested accordion songs with environmental uses. =D

5. Dreams!!! Man, the dream around the fox was such awesome sauce. One of my concerns about the gameplay was that the dream repair wouldn't be that interesting. You'd just do a little Zelda-style ocarina ditty and blammo the dream is insta-repaired or something. But actually having to run around to all the damaged parts and repair them individually while worrying about nasty bramble foxes, all while this dream continues to swirl around you. Man, some of these dream repair sequences could turn into something seriously bad ass for real. I can especially imagine more difficult dream repairs in the late game where there were not only more damaged parts to repair, but the damaged parts were placed in more tricky/precarious places.

6. Controls!!! I like the constant-follow control method (aka "sparkle chase") for walking around. That was nice! So simple! I took so many drinks of coffee while playing the game because it was so easy to do!

7. Anna Intro!!! - omg awesome. The art, the language, the tone. Cool stuff.

THINGS I WOULD LOVE TO SEE:

1) More unique landmarks. Maybe drop in some cool ruins or mysterious artifacts here and there. With an atmospheric/experiential game, one of the most rewarding things is the art that makes you go "ooh!" So feel free to spice it up with some mythical-looking landmarks! =D

2. More things to discover and use. Hunting the fox was great, and my suggesting this is in no way intended as a "but it's not fun enough" comment. But there should certainly be rewards for exploring the awesome world of Black Lake, and having things to see and do in there seems like a cool plan. Actually, one of the games I was reminded of the absolute most while playing the prototype was Okami. Think about it. It's a game overflowing with Japanese folklore and there are animals EVERYWHERE. And if you think about Okami, every little area had a primary objective you needed to do to advance, but every area was also a sort of activity book overflowing with lots of tiny tasks with tiny little rewards. Feed the birds. Bring the gravestone some flowers. Clear obstructions. Basically it all came down to running around and mending the world or tending to it. Taking care of it in small ways. Those kinds of little tasks in Okami seem like a good influence for exploration rewards and/or "sidequests".

3. Problem solving. Tracking that fox is the critical path, and those bramble foxes sure are scary, but maybe they're not the only thing that could throw a little hitch in your giddyup. I think some puzzly/problem-solvey bits would be a great addition and could help relieve gameplay fatigue after long segments of animal tracking.

This is really great, team! You did a bang up job and I hope to see a full-fledged Black Lake some day in the future! Couldn't come soon enough!

shut-up-and-take-my-money.jpeg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I first saw the pitch for this game I was really excited about the idea. I love the concept of the animals dreaming in the forest, it's simple but wonderfully evocative. I don't know if it's based on an old folk story, but it feels like it is, and that really gives the story authenticity.

I've just finished playing the prototype (which miraculously seems to run on my bootcamp Windows XP!). I love how dense the forest is, it really reminds me of exploring parks and wooded areas when I was little; it has that sense of trepidation and excitement.

The overarching storyline involving the father is really strong. It also gives scope for the girl to find out more about her father through the animals she meets; so her relationship with her father will grow at the same time as her relationship with the animals. It's very clever. I can imagine in a full game the ending would be very moving (I'm assuming the father will wake up and they'll be reconciled...).

The foreign-movie/folk-story vibe comes across clearly and effectively - I think in a full version it could really blossom into something beautiful and profound.

The music works brilliantly. I was slightly unsure about the accordian idea when I first heard about it, but then when the accordian starts playing what's not to like?! The atmosphere for the rest of it is pitched just right.

Anyhows, I'm really glowing with excitement for this game. I was a little disappointed when Levi said a full length game would only be a few hours long. I honestly think there's a lot more this story could offer.

Big congratulations to the team, you did a truly fantastic job!!! I look forward to whatever you do next (and I hope it's this game!!).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I just spent 20 minutes wandering around in a forest with no idea where I was supposed to be going.

Then I met a monster and it made dramatic noises and then fell over. Then I met another monster and it killed me. I'm confused.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I just spent 20 minutes wandering around in a forest with no idea where I was supposed to be going.

Then I met a monster and it made dramatic noises and then fell over. Then I met another monster and it killed me. I'm confused.

I've had that dream before. Weird.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Black Lake was incredibly immersive, really creepy feel as you play through. Even though I watched a bit of the gameplay during the stream, I still felt like something was gonna jump out from the trees and eat me at any given moment. The accordion music was a perfect fit to the style of the world and the character as well. I don't believe I've ever played a game where an accordion was my sole means of survival lol, I'd love to see an expanded version so I can just accordion jam for hours on end. Thank you all so much from the Black Lake team, this was a wonderful game!

Black2012-12-1419-48-46-26_zpse7df2da1.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, I managed to follow the fox. I don't get what I need to do now? I've been running around playing "Dream Mend", but it doesn't seem to to anything?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OK, I managed to follow the fox. I don't get what I need to do now? I've been running around playing "Dream Mend", but it doesn't seem to to anything?

I think you have to try and mend all the dream images, so run around and make sure you get them all (being careful not to let those evil fox stalkers kill you!)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to admit I wasn't very enthused about Black Lake from Levi's pitch and most of what I saw during the livestreams, but now that I've played it I'm sold. Atmospheric, artistic, beautiful, haunting, scary, weird, unique. Throwbacks to LOOM and Psychonauts. And there's even a HAT. They thought of everything. I KNOW this is going to be turned into a full game eventually, and I can't wait to play it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What do dream images look like? The seaweed stuff? Where do I need to be to affect them?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What do dream images look like? The seaweed stuff? Where do I need to be to affect them?

Some of the images are distorted. And something tells me that bramble foxes like it that way... like it enough to defend it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I actually really want to play it again now, but Autonomous is almost finished downloading. I'll be back for you Black Lake!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really really loved this prototype. The visuals were hauntingly beautiful for one thing, but more than that, the overall atmosphere was just so pervasive. There was a sense of great beauty, but also this underlying menace. Whenever a bramble fox started to charge towards me I would get so terrified, especially before I understood how the accordion worked.

I loved the tracking, and actually had no trouble finding my way along the trail. The sense vision worked pretty well, and I loved how the light would show the fox's tracks.

I see a lot of potential in this protoype, but obviously the gameplay would have to be mixed up a bit. There would need to be more threats, more accordion songs and more variety in the tracking gameplay. The most challenging thing here was the tone and core gameplay, and you've definately got it.

So basically kudos.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Whenever a bramble fox started to charge towards me I would get so terrified.

Did you by any chance encounter the part where a bramble fox crawls down the trunk of a tree to come get you? Granted, I was in the dark and running away like a baby from the bramble fox sound, so maybe I don't entirely remember what was happening, but in my memory, a bramble fox totally crawled out of a tree like a spider and came after me! Eeeeeek!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is my surprise of the show, right here. I wasn't expecting much out of Black Lake. On the surface it shared a lot in common with White Birch... nature theme, color in the title, atmospheric, focused more on art than gameplay.

But when I PLAYED it, the atmosphere and exploration hit the perfect notes. I didn't feel rushed, I didn't feel like I was fighting the controls, I could connect the dots at my own pace and really soak in the ambiance. The gameplay focused section at the end with the accordion was a bit confusing -- I couldn't figure out where the broken things were to mend, I derped about until I somehow finished the game -- but I was still SOLVING PUZZLES WITH AN ACCORDION. That is awesome and having multiple key combinations for different songs hints at some really exciting things for the future.

If I have a concern, it's that what we see here is a bit straightforward -- there's little interactivity, it's just a matter of following the path. Obviously we don't need this to be a twinstick bullet hell shooter or anything gonzo like that, but I was glad to see the musical puzzle pop up at the end, hinting at more interactivity to come.

This was a terrific all-around prototype, with no major flaws holding it back and plenty to win the player over. Bravo!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My first play through was unfortunately cut short by the error causing the game to crash, I need to download the fixed version to give a full impressions on the game, however I did want to say that running around in the dark was a tad confusing, and wasn't sure if I was running into things, it was an error or what, but sometimes, she'd just start walking REALLY slow, which was a tad frustrating given she walks slow already. Please don't take this as a dislike for the game however, as I did find the graphics amazing for a prototype, the atmosphere was spectacular, and even the music was really solid! I look forward to playing this game tomorrow, hoping it has a few hats(especially a shopka!). My heart is forever yours Black Lake, take it, and take my limited expendable income with it. Just promise me Baba Yaga will be in the final version.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just played it, loved it. In spite of having already seen people play it on the livestream, I was surprised by how immediately and powerfully immersive it was, and how much I enjoyed the gameplay. It's really beautiful. I was thinking perhaps I'd like the ability to rotate the camera (in which case perhaps some kind of compass item could be useful). I'd love to see this expanded into a larger game, with a lot of exploration, tracking, perhaps adventure game elements, some diversity of locations, characters to meet, perhaps a much much larger variety of plants to collect and environmental interaction (would maybe be cool if you could go around picking anything, and different things had different functions and crafting potential). I loved the themes.. nature, dreaming.. Very cool.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0