Showing posts from August, 2009

Some of the Factions

There are nine factions, the pics here are of the three alien races that are advanced enough to challenge human doninance. The first is the Dhar-Hazier, the second the Kraggen and last, the Shadokesh. The other six factions not shown here are human.

Some of the Leviathan designs

The Paladin is the most recent addition, the others were started some time ago.The next pic is the Black Widow Heavy support tank and the last is the Assault Leviathan Reaper.

Puzzles in horror games. Part 3

In the previous blog some problems with puzzles in adventure games where discussed. It was also mentioned that a major culprit in all of these where that many adventure games do not have a coherent system for doing interactions, like for example a Super Mario game. A nice way of solving this and still allowing a varied set of possible actions might seem to be physics. For the last couple of years, especially after the launch of Half-Life 2, physics have gotten a lot of attention and is pretty much a standard component of any 3D game today. It might therefore seem obvious to start using physics in adventure games in order to bring the genre forward. However, having implemented physics for four games now and working on a fifth a lot of problems have emerged. While adventure games and physics seems like the promised land at first glance, it is far from it.

Difficult controls
Classic adventure games like Myst and Broken Sword got very inntuitive and simple controls and can still give the p…

Horror Tip: Elevated

Name: Elevated
Type: Short film
Link:Youtube part 1 and part 2.
This is a pretty unknown short film from the guy that made Cube (one of my favorite horror movies) and it has a lot in common with that movie. Both films are based on a fear of the unknown, have tense psychological drama and feature a very limited set.

The entire film takes place in an elevator where two people are confronted with a blood-soaked man claiming there is a monster in the building. From there things go from bad to worse as the people start to distrust each other.

I liked Elevated a lot and it is a shame that there are not more films like it available. Especially in this age of spectacular effects it is refreshing to see movies that let the viewer use her own imagination!

Blog layout updated

I just made the blog a little wider and hopefully this will make it more readable than before. Some have asked for the blog to be a percentage of the screen width, but I do not like that because then one might have blog posts that is a single row on some screens and it will be very hard to read. It also makes layout easier to have a fixed size. Hopefully this is good enough!

Please say what you think about this and also repoort any issues you might be having. I have just made some dirty hacks to make it wider and might have broken something in the progress!

Puzzles in horror games. Part 2.

Before continuing to dig deeper into the world of puzzles, I would like to clarify a thing from the last puzzle post: When I said that I thought puzzles were the best way to have as core gameplay in a horror game, I did not mean that it excluded all other kinds of gameplay. I rather meant that the basic design was based on puzzles and that other mechanisms are there as extras. Penumbra: Black Plague is a game that uses that approach while Resident Evil has a clear focus on action with puzzles as extras. Now on with the post.

In this second part I am going to discuss some problems with puzzles. The common thread of these issues is that while other mechanics usually have a very fixed set of available actions, "puzzle games" are not always clear on what is possible in the game world. In a shooter the world usually reacts as one wants when firing a weapon and when encountering an enemy the player does not feel restricted or unable to do sensible actions. When it comes to puzzles …

Horror Tip: Dear Esther

Name: Dear Esther
Type: Game (Half Life 2 Mod)
Link:Mod DB page (info + download)
This horror tip is quite fitting with last post's discussion on what makes a game. Dear Esther is pretty much a first person game without any gameplay and only based an a fragmented narrative. While not really scary it has got a very dark and gloomy atmosphere. The game is highly experimental and might feel a bit pretentious at first, but still very well worth playing. It takes a little over 30 min to complete and offers a very unique experience.

To play it Half Life 2 or any of the episodes is needed. Download the zip and extract to "steamapps\SourceMods". Then start the game through steam.

What did you like this narrative-only kind of gameplay? And would you consider it a game*?

*Yes, trying to categorize stuff will always fail at some point, but I still think it can create an interesting discussion. For the same reason that for example not calling pluto a planet is important.

Working on a new web page and product line

The economy has been rough but this gives me an opportunity to go back to my passion. I have been putting together a new web site and product line... lots of work but very gratifying. Working on three new races and five major factions as well as Households. I'll post a bit more when I am further along.

Puzzles in horror games. Part 1.

This post will be the first in a series concentrating on puzzles in games, with special focus on horror games. To start this up I would like to discuss why puzzles are needed at all. Is it really necessary to have puzzles in game when it might detract from story, immersion, etc?

In order to be a game, there needs to be some kind of interaction. I think this is pretty much the most basic feature of a game - no interaction, no game. In order to be engaging there also needs to be some kind of challenge, if the player simple makes arbitrary choices then the game is awfully close to interactive storytelling (not be mixed up with IF) instead. Even in the most linear story games, there is always something blocking progression, something that needs to be taken care of before the game advances. In Fahrenheit (aka Indigo Prophecy) the player presses random buttons and in the IF game Photopia the player needs to do the correct action. Both of these games are (in my option at least) are very clo…

Horror Tip: The Awakening

Name: The Awakening
Type: Game (Interactive Fiction)
Link:Info and download
Time for another work of interactive fiction and this time there are some puzzles to be solved as well. The game is pretty simple though and also comes with a nice help system making it a good beginner game.

The game starts out as you wake up in a grave and needs to find out what has happened to you. The story is quite lovecraftian and the game has a very nice atmosphere. It is not as scary as All Alone but still a very good horror IF game.

To play the game you need a Z-machine and the most popular is probably Frotz.

Briefly Being Frictional

In this blog post I am going to give a very brief overview of our "business model". Hopefully it will be interesting to see how we run the company and how we manage to pay salaries and such.

Frictional games was properly started 2007 (although part of the team has worked together before that), meaning we will celebrate 3 year anniversary next year. During this time we have paid salary to all employees ranging from 2 - 4 people. As far I can recall, we have never missed a month (jens: as the one that pays the salaries - no we have not!). We have been very lucky in this regard as the income can be quite unstable, with periods of very meager cash flow. Our salaries have not been all that good, often around what we had as students (right now I am below that!), but I guess that is what you have to deal with when running your own game company.

During the entire duration of the company we have always been working at home and so have all employees. Even though we have this very bedro…