Knight of Words

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  1. The OFFICIAL "Who did you vote for and why" thread

    Hail, Tim of Legend! Here's that voting breakdown you wanted: thought I should get it done before getting stuck into the prototypes themselves (work before play and all that). For brevity's sake, I'll just focus on the pitches that elicited the strongest reactions from me, since I found every single presentation to have at least some likeable aspects. Titles I voted for Autonomous: One of my favourite aspects of video games is the ability to explore worlds with a unique atmosphere quite unlike that of reality. I really liked the audio-visual aesthetic presented in this excellent pitch. The game mechanics also reminded me a little of Lucas Learning classic Star Wars: DroidWorks, except with the hands-on direct control replaced with AI, which sounded like it would be intriguing and fun to interact with. Black Lake: Another aspect of games I like is that they let you do cool things that you could never do in real life. I loved the premise of this: save the forest by tracking animals and exploring externally projected manifestations of their dreams? Awesome! The supplementary info had some great ideas as well, not to mention the beautiful, evocative art; altogether, I found myself quite enchanted. Hack n' Slash: A third aspect of games that I enjoy is the mental challenge: I do like a good puzzle. I've never hacked a game before, but this sounded like it could be a lot of fun, as well as using a very unusual mechanic executed in a unique style. Redbot's Reboot: One more vote for mental challenge, but also for humour. The story sounded fun and the pitch made me smile. Another bonus is that, on occasion, at the end of a tiring day I am too exhausted physically to get the most out of a demanding action game. The mechanics proposed sounded great for such times. They also reminded me of the programmable robot that we got to play with in school once. Sadly, we never saw Roamer again after that, but with Redbot, the fun can continue! The White Birch: As with Autonomous and Black Lake, the atmosphere of The White Birch sounded very enticing and well worth experiencing. I did have some queries about how the ambitious structure was to be executed successfully, but there simply aren't very many good exploration-focused platformers, so I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt; it looks like my concerns were beyond the scope of the prototype in any case. Titles I really liked (except for that one thing) Echelon: This sounded like a really unique and interesting experience that would provide an atmospheric and intense real-time mental challenge: something right up my street. However, after reading that I would need a gaming headset, webcam and multiple monitors in order to get the best experience... well it started sounding pretty expensive. Also, the webcam aspect worried me a little: since the game was going to delve into issues of privacy, does that mean it would be recording me playing and then uploading the movies somewhere, in order to make me feel like my privacy was compromised? That's probably a step too close to reality for me. I guess I needed a little more clarification on the nature of the play experience: if I already had the required equipment and this was a single-player offline title, I would have voted for it without hesitation. The Flock: There aren't enough games where you get to be a true-to-life animal: Ecco the Dolphin, Ōkami, Deadly Creatures and Tokyo Jungle being some notable exceptions (Pokémon Mystery Dungeon doesn't count). On top of this, I really like ducks, so getting to be one would be great fun, and exploring beautiful landscapes sounded like it would be a pleasantly relaxing experience. The one thing that put me off was the emphasis on online multiplayer. I'm not saying that this aspect is bad per se – I can totally understand its appeal – but there are two issues I have with it. The first is that birds tend to behave quite differently from humans, so unless everyone online is role-playing as their fowl of choice, or the game mechanics are cleverly put together with an eye to shaping player interaction, you would arguably get a more authentic experience interacting with well-programmed avian AI. The second issue is that inherent to all online multiplayer-focused games: how can I be sure that there will be a healthy community around whenever I might choose to play? I would prefer to support a game where, even if I played it decades from now, I would still be able to enjoy it, even if the majority of players had moved on. If too much emphasis is placed on the multiplayer and community aspects at the expense of the single-player experience, we are left with naught but an underwhelming shell of a game should these become unavailable. The Knockover: The combination of strategy and cards sounded fun, but it would be really hard for me to get used to the idea of robbing people unless it was somehow justified by the story. The idea of a revenge story where you aim to take down your former colleagues sounded all right, but the thought of having to rob convenience stores and the like made me feel uncomfortable. If this was to work for me, it would either have to give you significant choice as to which heists to pursue, or create enough moral ambiguity that you can justify your acts in some way: the world of Shadowrun does a great job with both of these. In most cases I really wouldn't want to play a game if it forced me to do something that I would regard as despicable in order to proceed. And finally... The Booby (Poopy?) Prize Silent But Deadly: Whilst I don't mind the occasional fart joke (it’s less harmful than being directly exposed to truly malodorous flatus, at any rate), it is very difficult for me to see self-soiling as anything other than a fail state. Think the penultimate stage of PaRappa the Rapper; you can almost feel the same relief he does after successfully rap battling your way through the toilet queue, especially if you messed up once or twice along the way. And yet here, you begin at a point where it is already too late. With continence being such an important childhood milestone, there's something oddly heroic about keeping it in when illness is pushing you so hard to let loose. If the idea was changed so that the protagonist had simply been rendered flatulent (thus providing the necessary smell) and each level consisted of trying to make it to a toilet in order to stave off disaster (each toilet being rendered unusable thereafter, possibly due to your bowels now being a biohazardous WMD, which isn't too far off from how a case of serious food poisoning would actually be regarded), then I would probably be much more amenable to the idea – good stealth games are still rare, and I do enjoy that style of play. As it stands, the presentation jars too strongly with my own sensibilities, and I feel actively repulsed by such a scenario. Right that's it! Sorry it's a little on the long side, but there's a point at which brief becomes useless, and I did put a lot of thought into deciding which games to vote for, even if one person really doesn't make that much of a difference. Thanks so much for opening up Amnesia Fortnight this year: it's been a blast so far, and I'm really looking forward to trying out the prototypes. Long live Double Fine!
  2. The White Birch: Voting Discussion Thread

    First of all, congratulations, Andy! I'm glad to see this idea make it to the prototype stage; it certainly has a lot of potential. Hearing your concept made me think quite a bit about how multiple paths and endings could be incorporated into such a design. I hope you don't mind my asking – I do not wish to tamper with your vision-in-progress – but I would be interested to know whether you are considering using items or other characters as potential solutions to the challenges raised by the design. By items, I don't mean in the ubiquitous, generic sense of Sonic's rings or Mario's coins, but perhaps something like a variety of mysterious artefacts, encountered every so often, that could hint at your character's goals, and eventual endings, depending on which ones are collected or sought out. As for characters, what about having opportunities to help other beings in some way as you explore, like the Mudokons in the Oddworld games, with each one saved being counted towards a particular path or ending? This would also allow for conflict, without necessarily involving direct combat, if the environment could be used in some way to thwart aggressors, as is often worked into adventure games. It could even lead to the possibility of helper companions. The owl is there of course, but including others could tie into alternate paths and endings: for example, you might save a goat from drowning, who could then accompany you and use its extraordinary climbing skills to get to areas otherwise out of reach. It could then butt down a plank or rock to help you up or, if aiming for a somewhat otherworldly, surreal tone, perhaps grow its beard long enough for you to climb up; after all, goats are so badass that even the female ones have beards, so anything they do wouldn't surprise me. With alternate paths being part of the design, you could then have situations where the player must choose whether to continue a path alone (because the companion either cannot travel that route, or does not want to), or try to seek out a way to keep the partnership together. Having a few potential companions to meet along the way, along with a handful of path branches, would allow for a very decent number of possible routes and endings; it could also touch on themes such as friendship, loyalty, independence, loneliness and abandonment, depending on the choices made during the journey. Anyway, that's enough for now – you must already have had plenty of ideas, so it would be untoward of me to elaborate further without hearing more of your own thoughts first. The art is looking wonderfully atmospheric so far, and I am definitely looking forward to hearing further details on the mechanics!