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Showing posts from September, 2010

Where have I been?

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It has been quite some time since my last update...


So, where have I been and what am I working on? Among other projects, I have been working on the molds. So far all the body components are complete and I'm starting on the molds for the legs and arms.


Molds are like the foundation of a house, you need to get it right or the house will not come together right. All my molds are two part, requiring two pours and a lot of pre-prep clay work to get the parting lines of the two mold halves set correctly.


Until this week I only had one adjustable mold box, I now have two so things should move a little faster.. fingers crossed.


To be honest I hate this part of the process but it has to be done, so back to work I go ;)

On Game Length

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Not too long ago, there was a coordinated blog effort with developers like Jonathan Blow, 2D Boy and more commenting on the length of games. The general consensus of these posts was that games should not be judged by their length, but if the experience feels complete or not. Something that we here at Frictional Games agree on.

Now that we have released Amnesia: The Dark Descent, game length has once again come into our lives. There have been several reviews of the game that have stated that the game's length, 6 - 10 hours, was a major negative. Especially considering that the game does not have any replayability (although that is up for discussion).

This has made us a bit concerned. A major goal with our games is to have no fillers, to have a game where everything is focused on creating a certain experience. Since we do not have combat in our games, there is no way to extend length in a simple way (like filling a room with enemies). Just about every minute in our games requires lot…

One week after the release of Amnesia

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It has now been a week since we released Amnesia: The Dark Descent and I would like to go through some areas of interest. There is a a lot to say really, but I will try and be brief and only concentrate on the most important things.


Making the game available
This was the first time that we have had a game that would be simultaneously released for six different stores on the same day, so we were a bit nervous on how that would go. To make sure that all stores had enough time we sent out the game more than a week before release. This seems to have worked and all the stores had the game available in time for release.

Added to this, we also had a system for pre-order customers to get their download link, serial key and Steam key. Jens have tried this over a month before release and it was very well tested once released. The only problem was some mix up with keys and people loosing their mail, otherwise all went well.

In summary, we are quite happy how the availability of the game turned out a…

Editors are out!

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Just wanted to notify all that the editor tools for Amnesia: The Dark Descent are out. These are the same tools that we used the create the game, so at a minimum you will able to do all that is done in the game.

All info is being collected here:
http://hpl2.frictionalgames.com/

I suggest you start by first downloading the tools here, then follow the guide here and finally start checking some tutorials.

If you have any questions about the editors, please use our modding forum found here:
http://frictionalgames.com/forum/forum-35.html

Happy editing! :)

NOTE: Only windows version released so far. Other platforms coming shortly!

Amnesia "Launch" Trailer

We just finished our "launch" trailer for Amnesia The Dark Descent. Watch here:



Now for a quick making of the trailer:

First of I started out making a text synopsis over the clips needed for the trailer. I had an idea of starting the video with a lynchian stare, that should set the mood for the rest of the trailer. My design process was then for me to lock myself inside a dark room, lie on the floor and mumble stuff while gesticulating in the air.

I then showed the synopsis to Jens and when he had approved after some smaller changes, I set Marcus and Luis to work with recording. I gave them descriptions on how I wanted the clips to be, they then recorded something, sent sample and I mostly told em tons of stuff to improve. It took a day and something like 5 - 50 retakes for each shot (one ended up not being used) to complete. We now had the clips!

One clip was missing though: Some fancy logo animation! This we could not do ourselves so I started looking for a company to do it f…

Where is your self in a game?

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Introduction
When you are playing a videogame, an external observer will probably say that you are sitting in a sofa or at the computer desk. But is this really where you are? When immersed in the virtual world of a videogame, do you still feel that you are sitting on a chair or in a sofa, staring at the screen?


An experiment
Before moving on, I would like you to consider a simple experiment. You can easily do it with the help of a friend if you got the right prop: a rubber hand. Put your own hand next to the rubber one on a table, and place a screen between them, shielding your own hand from view. Now ask your friend to stroke the fake and real hand at the same time, at the same place. Something strange will now happen. Your body image will change, and the rubber hand will become part of you. As your friend touch both hands, you will feel as if the feeling arise in the rubber one. All of a sudden, you will have made an external object, become part of your self!

With this experiment in mi…

Amnesia: The Dark Descent is Released!

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Not too long ago, I actually wondered if there ever would be a release. However, today I am proud to say that Amnesia: The Dark Descent is finally released!

If that is all you need to know, go and get the game at one of the following places:
Our own store (windows, linux & mac)
Steam (windows & mac)
GamersGate (windows & mac)
Direct2Drive (windows)
ImpulseDriven (windows)

The game has been in the making for exactly 3 years now (first document is dated 8th sept 07) and it has been quite the journey. The design has been changed countless times and we have been very close running out of money a few times. Somehow, due to successful sales and salary cut we have managed to get through it though. This makes it extra rewarding to have the game finally out.

Even more rewarding is the extremely nice press response! Some example:
“Few games are able to conjure up an atmosphere this genuinely frightening.”
- IGN

“Despite its title, Amnesia remembers what the blockbusters of survival horror seem…

Let's not forget about Physics

Today we released a little video that show of the physics in Amnesia: The Dark Descent. You can find the clip right below and below that I will go through the various parts a bit more detailed.



As you can see, this is pretty much the same things that we used in Penumbra. But I also hope you noticed that it is more streamlined and intuitive. Allow me to explain.

Grabbing stuff
The grab mode is what is used when interacting with objects like books, chairs and pots. In the first versions of the game, we actually had something more like in Crysis, where the object travels to a certain position when interacted with. This did not feel right though, so we want back to more like in Penumbra. We then added a lot polish to this and especially the rotating mode (when holding down a button, moving mouse rotates object). Even though the object is still moved 100% by a physics simulation, it is very smooth and you can be very exact when placing. In Penumbra there was lots of lag, but that is all gone …

Amnesia Demo Is Out!

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Finally, you can get a small taste of the Amnesia: The Dark Descent! We have just put up a demo of the game, that will guide you through a few of the earlier levels in the game. To get it simply go here:
http://AmnesiaGame.com/#demo

The demo is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Check the site for system requirements and other helpful data.

Please help us spread the news, twittering, facebooking, etc!
Make sure to up the following links:
Reddit
Digg
These sites are usually really simple to register at and if enough people vote up, our exposure increase enormously! All help is really appreciated!

Thanks for all support so far!


Now while you are downloading I would like to discuss some of the thoughts that when into this demo. Creating demos for adventure games is hard, and more so for horror ones, where build-up and foreshadowing is so crucial. In a more action oriented game, the purpose is simply to show of the game's main mechanics (shooting, matching blocks, etc). However, in an adven…

What could possibly go wrong?

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Now that we are so close to the release of Amnesia, I would like to talk a little about all that stuff that didn't go so well during the development. I cannot talk much on behalf of my mates here at FG, so this is gonna be a pretty personal post (but can surely apply to others out there as well).

What can keep a project from getting done? Well, there sure are tons of different causes for this to happen, but I think we can classify these in some simple categories, which I am gonna list right away:


Bad (or not so good) design
This is a big source for issues, issues and more issues. Think about it, if you are just patching your stuff up for your current needs, you are really gonna need a big amount of luck to be able to keep that if further additions need to be made. Also, that is bound to fall apart at some point in the future. All these generally lead to rewriting stuff from scratch, which means time in which the project is stalled.
For example, at the start of the project I made an ob…

Puzzle Tweaking - Tale of a Wooden Stick

Once upon a time there was a wooden stick, a stick so firm, a stick so stuck it could not be seen upon without the touch of many small, busy hands.

And so this tale beings.



Today we released a new gameplay video. Keeping to the Amnesia tradition it is one single clip, showing a sequence from the game. This time it's about exploration and puzzle solving. It is the puzzle part that this blog post will discuss, as it took quite some time for us to get that puzzle right.

The puzzle is that the hatch is too heavy to lift by hand, but by using a crank and pulley contraption the player can open it. Unfortunately something is wrong with the crank/pulley and the player has to figure out what it is. It turns out that a small piece of wood has been jammed into one of the pulleys, making it impossible for the crank to pull the rope going through the pulley.

This particular piece of wood took quite a lot of tweaking in order to make it noticeable. For each test session we found that there was alw…