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Greg Rice

DF Game Club: Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP

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Here's my problem with all this moon stuff. The way it was pitched to me when I first heard about this game is that some different things would happen depending on the moon. I didn't realise that being on the incorrect moon phase would actually halt my progress. It's not an inherently terrible idea but, it's based on a gamble...

It's gambling that you'll be invested enough in it that by the time you get to part 3, you'll be willing to do all the moon stuff (either just by waiting or messing with your system clock) to keep on playing. And that's where it loses the gamble for me. I'm not that invested. At this point? Mildly interested, but the thought of messing around with this moon phase stuff just makes me tired. My desire to not have to either figure out or find out what to do to 'make the game go' and then do it currently exceeds my mild curiosity to find out what happens next. Kind of a shame, for me.

Didn't know anything about the game before I started. When I realised the significance of the moon and worked out the stuff with the boor it wasn't too bad. But after reading Acorino's post about not finding the boor because he started roughly in the "wrong" time seems like an annoyance. Is it confirmed that the moon will shift slightly after completing a Side B Trigon so you can find the boor? Agreeing with Surplus, that if you weren't that invested to begin with, putting the game down to wait a few days means losing just enough interest to never come back.

Other annoyances, the touch screen feeling of the game when playing on pc such as needing to rub rainbows? Couldn't work out what was required but completed that bit anyway. Then the pixel hunting, needing to strum on those waterfalls in the "right" bit of waterfall. Doesn't matter that it made the noise, but because I didn't strum it in the right part the puzzle kept resetting. Then random sheep pairing. Was there anything in those areas that sort of hinted as to which order to select the glowing hotspots?

Pluses! Because there are some and they're good. The soundtrack is great! The graphics are excellent, really liking that style. The writing makes me smile and Logfella is a good man. Haven't quite finished it yet, but it is shaping up to be a good length game, not too long or short. Does anyone use the Social Experiment thing?

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Then random sheep pairing.

They're in pairs? I thought it was just a find-the-sequence puzzle. If I had've been trying to get pairs, I probably would have found it much more frustrating >_<

As for the moon stuff, it's a pretty interesting idea, and I have to say, that given the length and complexity of the game, it probably wouldn't have been as enjoyable if I hadn't taken breaks and reflected on the game during those breaks. If the game had've allowed me, I would have played it from start to finish within a couple of hours, and I really do feel like I wouldn't have enjoyed it as much.

That said, for my next playthough I'm going to see if I can find the boor and complete the game in a single sitting (for curiosity's sake, and to be able to demonstrate that if you're thorough and thoughtful, that the game doesn't hold you back - perhaps in the same way that challenging classic adventure games didn't let you progress unless you were thorough and thoughtful).

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Hey guys, don't want to jinx it, but it looks like Craig Adams, aka Superbrothers, the man behind the art/concept/writing in this game is going to join us Saturday. Be there at 12:00 Pacific Time and come with questions!

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Hello to the people of the Double Fine Game Club,

This is Craig from Superbrothers (art/animation, initial concepts, writing, co-sound design, co-design, co-pr on S:S&S EP). This is going to be a wall-of-text post worthy of The Megatome but if you're interested in Sword & Sworcery you might enjoy reading it through. Also: I'll be poking my head in to this Saturday's session - exciting!

So Superbrothers started way back in 2003, before indie videogames & iPhones existed. It's supposed to be a concept first and foremost and it's bigger than just me in a lot of ways, but I'm still the only full-time staff. I sometimes create illustrations for newspapers & magazines, and back in the day in 2005 & 2007 I created a couple little pixel films for Jim Guthrie, plus I created a kind of trailer/short film for Jonathan Blow's lecture "Design Reboot" (you can see those films here: https://vimeo.com/user721935). I also worked in the larger studio segment of the vidgjagames industry for a few years doing art/design/concept/sound/3-D/whatever.

I've been playing videogames since forever, starting on the Vic-20, and then the glory days of the C-64, and onwards to the NES & Super Mario Bros (co-namesake for Superbrothers along with Guitar Vader's song Superbrothers in Jet Grind Radio). I had a PC in the 90s and the people at Lucasarts were my heroes. Aside from Tim Schafer's projects I loooooved Dark Forces, X-Wing, TIE-Fighter, The Dig, Indiana Jones & The Fate of Atlantis... I actually wrote a 30 page illustrated design document for a Dark Forces follow-up and sent it in... but that's another story.

Tim Schafer's name means a heckuva lot to me! I really dug Day of the Tentacle, Full Throttle & Grim Fandango. When I finally had the opportunity to meet the guy at GDC (for the interview you saw excerpted in Episode 2) I had to try pretty hard not to tell him about how my grade nine sketchbook was chock-a-block with Full Throttle studies & drawings (truth... also I can probably recite the intro line for line). I love the style, I love the jokes, I love the humanity, I'm not necessarily crazy about the puzzles themselves... but actually I think what I was most impacted by was the personal style. I know those videogames were very much team efforts, but little things like the Special Biker Haiku Section at the end of Full Throttle shines through as one person insane/hilarious/idiosyncratic vision. I love that! I also thought it was cool to see a creator's name up there with the title (related: I also love seeing a studio/concept name in titles too, like with Pixeljunk).

I'll admit, I've never been amazing at playing videogames (well except maybe TIE-Fighter, Goldeneye & Motorstorm: Pacific Rift), but if I'm interested in a videogame I'll get good enough to clear it. I am playing Dark Souls, kinda, and I love it, mostly, and I'm playing Monster Hunter (or well, I wish I was, too busy these days) but I also enjoy more relaxed, intentionally expressive videogames where the mechanics are intended to evoke emotion or communicate thought structures that would be tricky to boil down (eg: Passage, The Marriage).

Anyways, that's my background. Kris Piotrowski, co-creator on S&S and creative director at Capy, has his own ultra-long super-intense videogame background, and some of that ended up in S&S. Jim Guthrie too.

So yeah, this post might change the vibe in this thread and that isn't my intention, but I'll be saying hello this Saturday so I thought I'd just drop three thoughts that might connect with what y'all have been talking about (some of this goes deep into making-of territory, but as DFA fans I figure y'all can handle a discussion of the videogame-making process):

1) Superbrothers started back in 2003 when I got my first iPod, I always wanted to create interesting music-inspired things on that type & size of machine. When the iPhone appeared it was precisely the right machine for what I had in mind. S:S&S EP began on the iPhone in a time before the iPad. I think the 'tilt to unsheathe' mechanic makes a lot more sense on iPhone than anywhere else, so does the Twitter integration in my opinion, and a lot of the tap/drag/pinch stuff feels pretty dang good. Beyond all that, when you have a lush, detailed little world in the palm of your hands and you're listening to Jim's songs on headphones... I dunno, it makes for an intimate, surprising, subversive & charming experience... and I think it feels pretty great. So yeah, the iPhone is the original platform & to me it will always be the optimal platform, that's where the concepts came from.

So why bring it to iPad? The iPad was announced & released while we were in production, and actually we never fully made the decision to support it, but we kind of experimented with it and made some adjustments to the design and we kind of ended up supporting it by osmosis, and then we committed to it. I think it works pretty well there, although the 'tilt to unsheathe' mechanic feels maybe 30% less charming, and whenever my artwork is scaled up larger than an iPhone I get a little anxious... but yeah, it was definitely the right decision.

Why bring it to PC & Mac? To be honest, after the iOS launches I was exhausted, we all were, and we all pretty much took the summer of 2011 off. However, during production we had talked about bringing it to the 'electric computer' and it made sense - it wasn't too far off from a point & click adventure, after all. Also, we were getting a looooottttt of people asking us to bring the project to platform x or platform y, and we figured if it was on PC/Mac we would be able to hook everyone up, and then we could put the project to bed. I was still kind of in S&S PTSD mode when this initiative was greenlit so Capy shouldered the burden (thank you guys) and they did the hard work of bringing it over to the new platforms. As the project got within sight of the finish line I jumped on and went through it with a fine-tooth-comb, pushing on a few things, tweaking, finagling... and I've been on the project full-time all this year up until basically this week, just helping out wherever I can (actually we just got finished with a trip to Japan where we launched a carefully crafted Japan localization featuring Suda 51 as Logella, plus a cool S&S remix record called The Scythian Steppes). ANYWAYS I actually really dug it on the new platform once it was done! It was different, super different from the original/intended experience, but it felt good to me, although I'm still a bit self conscious when I see pixels designed for an iPhone filling a PC monitor. That said, I was aware that the charm of some of our initial ideas (eg. tilt to unsheathe etc) wouldn't be there, and I knew that the expectations from the audience would be quite a bit higher due to the high number of more in-depth videogames available there. In the end I definitely think it was the right idea for us to bring Sword & Sworcery over, because a bunch of people who don't have iPhones have been super grateful, and it's also just kind of glorious installing our project in a little corner cabinet of The Pantheon Of Point & Click Adventure Videogames. As an aside: as a creator with limited bandwidth this experience has been pretty informative and I'm pondering platform strategery for the next Superbrothers project... there's definitely an appeal to creating 1 optimal experience and then building on that or moving on.

2) What's that phrase about 'failing gloriously' that Warren Spector is always tossing around? I love S:S&S EP and I'm super proud of what Capy, Jim Guthrie & I we were able to build within our constraints, it's like 200% of what I thought it could be but sure, it's not perfect... and that's ok! We set out to create a 'prog rock album you could hang out in' and a 'brave experiment in input/output cinema' and a 'crude videogame haiku about life, love & death'... I'm not just tossing off art school slogans here, those phrases are as close to a design document as we had. We committed ourselves to some pretty crazy, risky things in the spirit of exploring new territory in videogames... and a lot of our crazy schemes paid off for a lot of people, from what we can tell. So yeah, the advantage of tiny teams with small budgets is that it's possible to do this type of exploratory work and even if the audience is small the project can more or less pay off. With Double Fine Adventure it's not the same thing, I imagine they're going to aim high but stay somewhat safe, smooth off the rough edges, keep things lively but maybe not too subversive, and I think that's mayyyybe how it oughta be. Not to mix metaphors too much but if S&S was a curve ball, then maybe DFA has gotta be a fast ball, or something like that (yes I'm Canadian, maybe I shoulda chosen a hockey analogy).

3) The last thing I'll mention is that this project was made with a lotta heart, and it was made with no expectations of it finding an audience. It was made because it was a thing we wanted to exist in the world for the people like us. Our hope was that it would recoup the project budget and during production, when we were over-schedule and over-budget in a crazy way, even that seemed unlikely (and was what might be called a 'cause of stress' for my broke ass). I know to some the script comes off as a bit 'too cool for school' and yeah, I dunno, this was my first time writing a script for a videogame but I'm actually super proud with how it ended up, jokes & all (tho maybe in a few years I'll read it and cringe)... but what I want to say is that the script isn't where it's at, that's not the point... it's all about Jim's music, and the art & the narrative were intended to wrap around that, and we (occasionally clumsily) created mechanics that we felt would evoke particular situations and moods, and we smoothed off as many rough edges as we could be then we also left a few in because it felt appropriate... and maybe even that isn't where it's at, because ultimately it's all about what happens in Session IV, and how that changes the concept of the project, where the light-hearted script finally kind of cuts off and the a/v + mechanics tell the story to the end. NOT EXACTLY A SPOILER ALERT: Making a videogame can be tough, particularly if it's your first time... it can wear you out... even while you're making progress, your mental & physical health can worsen... but you keep putting one foot in front of the other, even if you don't know why, because you need to get to the end for it to mean anything.

. . .

Anyways, it's totally ok to feel however you feel about S:S&S EP, it was designed with the understanding that it would be polarizing, and in any case we all definitely appreciate your time, attention, curiosity & patience. And no matter what you think of your playing experience, definitely listen to Jim Guthrie's S&S record... that thing is a pure gem, I'm so glad it exists. :)

Finally: Long live Double Fine!

ok & kindest wishes

c

- -

superbrothers.ca | @the1console

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your first game? then its a huge success. first games usually suck horseass. this one had some nasty bits, which have been heartily pointed out in this thread by many people, including myself, but there were some really enjoyable things as well. for just one example: i like the idea of "metagame" outside the game, but it could have been handled much better.

for some reason i couldnt stop thinking about Another World (or Out of this World if Canada had the same title as US) the whole game. was it just the atmosphere? i dunno. S&S is still very unique.

anyways, im shocked that you talk like that even in real life. i thought that it was a bit pretentious with those "super awesome" lines. it wasnt, apparently.

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Making a videogame can be tough, particularly if it's your first time... it can wear you out... even while you're making progress, your mental & physical health can worsen... but you keep putting one foot in front of the other, even if you don't know why, because you need to get to the end for it to mean anything.

Craig, I just wanted to say thanks heaps for that post, and for wanting to engage with us.

When I completed my woeful errand, it evoked one of those "I need time to understand how I feel about this" emotions, which is an immensely powerful thing.

Looking forward to chatting with you.

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Thanks again to Craig for joining us in the chat. Looking forward to seeing how Game Club grows and evolves now that it's in the hands of the community!

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Thanks again to Craig for joining us in the chat.

Here here!

Looking forward to seeing how Game Club grows and evolves now that it's in the hands of the community!

I hope you can still give us a little bit of handholding so we can get a smooth transition :)

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i JUST beat S&S version for electric computers earlier this week. hands down one of my favorite gaming experiences in recent memory. hilarious, gorgeous visuals and music, and so much heart. I just wish it never ended. i want to live in that world for way longer. THANK YOU!

and personally, the language was PERFECT for the tastes of me and my friends (all of which are almost as jazzed as I am).

can't wait for whatever comes next for all involved.

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Sorry I missed out on the club get together. I was all ready to go with about an hour to go then bam, power outage. That'll be right!! I'll be sure to make the next one. Backup generator is on its way!

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I was totally pumped for the game club, but a bad storm hit Friday night and I literally just got my internet back moments ago.

I had just played through S&S onThursday so it'd be fresh in my mind, too.

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Welcome Craig,

Your game is awesome, thanks, now we are cosmic friends forever.

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So, Craig, do you have any particular comments about some of the specific issues which we mulled over in the thread? (I'm particularly to keen to hear your response to the arguments about the trigon fight - and in particular the way the shield works suddenly changing partway through the fight - and on the Moon thing.)

Either way, I'm (genuinely, sincerely) glad to see you take our criticism in the right spirit and show a willingness to accept people just plain not enjoying the game because of its Marmitey love-it-or-hate it design. A much healthier attitude than certain more established, older and really-ought-to-be-wiser developers. (*cough*Bioware*cough*) ;)

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welcome craig,

for me Suberbrothers is one of the best pc-expereince which I 've had in the last 12/13 years. I really don't care in graphics (and what people are prefering). Important for me is the atmosphere and what it does with my brain. The music and the ability to interact with that music is an brilliant kind of art.

P.S. The experience rises if you drink a couple glasses of wine :)

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Looking forward to seeing how Game Club grows and evolves now that it's in the hands of the community!

I think it evolved like the dinosaurs .. to extinction.

Heard nothing else, so I expected to see game club starting 15 minutes ago, nothing happened.

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Looking forward to seeing how Game Club grows and evolves now that it's in the hands of the community!

I think it evolved like the dinosaurs .. to extinction.

Heard nothing else, so I expected to see game club starting 15 minutes ago, nothing happened.

it's a bit awkward that we've got conversations going on in two places at the moment, but Greg has made the suggestion that we skip a week to get things in order.

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well, i think the most important thing is to first make a list of ppl that can stream at reasonable quality.

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well, i think the most important thing is to first make a list of ppl that can stream at reasonable quality.

I think we can get by without streaming for a little while if we have to. I think streaming is very worthwhile, but I reckon we shouldn't let that stop us (we've already skipped a week).

By the way, did we finish S&S or not? I kinda got confused about that.

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sry, i was not able to catch most of the DF Game Club eps with a few exceptions simply because it was saturday night. i dont know if we did.

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