Rock Paper Shotgun published an interesting article yesterday about the artistic merit of remastered video games. Ron, Tim, and Brian Moriarty are all on hand to weigh in on the technical and even ethical pitfalls of "upgrading" a classic:
“We had limitations back then” recalls Gilbert in an email interview, “and the artist worked magic to make the game work within those limitations. They often turned working within those limitations into an art all its own. When classic games get ‘hi-resed’, you lose all of that.”
“It’s true that you can often switch back to the original graphics,” he says, “but that is also true of colorizing black and white movies.
“You can always watch the original, but that doesn’t make colorizing it any less of an artistic sin. Saying you can switch back to the original art feels like a cop-out.”
Harsh! But Ron has a point. And as we've seen, the "original version" you can switch back to often isn't the perfect recreation it purports to be. After all, the only "classic" version of Monkey Island 2 that anyone can buy has vertical scrolling effects removed and some dialog altered. My grandkids will grow up without the "white slavers" line, so I hope you're proud of yourself, Craig Derrick!
22 Sep, 2017, 00:07 | Posted by: Jennifer
The adventure that was featured on our forums (when we had them), The Journey Down, sees the release of its third chapter today. With this release, SkyGoblin's excellent adventure inspired by LucasArts adventures like Grim Fandango and Monkey Island 2 is finally concluded. Find out what happens to Bwana and Kito, as they finally manage to journey down to the Underland on Steam,
GOG.com or iTunes.
Oh, and one of Ron Gilbert's other iOS games, co-created by Clayton Kauzlaric, is now optimised for iOS 11 and is permanently free! I'm talking, of course, about the sadly oft-neglected match-3 RPG puzzle game with a long name, Scurvy Scallywags in the Voyage to Discover the Ultimate Sea Shanty. It's fun and it's now free, so grab it on iTunes now.
Tim is the subject of a new article on Medium in which he speaks about the oft-documented strain - and, perhaps, the needlessness - of crunch mode, a period at the end (or sometimes throughout) of a game development cycle when teams work around the clock to meet looming deadlines.
Speaking about his experiences at both LucasArts and Double Fine, Tim's thoughts on the subject are sobering and even personal, such as when he relates how the passionate and relentless climate at LucasArts during his early days at the studio brought consequences at home:
Schafer saw the crunch periods become more demanding as time went on, and it wasn’t long before he experienced the heavy price of that kind of working culture. His first marriage, he said, collapsed after just a year.
“You don’t realize until it has happened that you’re doing all this damage to your personal life by staying at work all the time,” he said. “You can mentally put the rest of the world on hold, but the rest of the world can’t necessarily be put on hold by you. I was so gung-ho about it. If you think someone will wait for you and tolerate you not being around… people move on.”
Even then, with a relationship falling apart around him, the work came first. The rewards were just big enough, and the aura of George Lucas radiant enough, that it felt impossible to leave. Schafer only met Lucas three times in the 10 years he worked for him, but says his presence was felt in the craftsmanship and artistry of the house and its grounds. The attention to detail exuded an air of quality that reminded everyone that things needed to be done right.
06 Aug, 2017, 15:01 | Posted by: Jason | Source: IdeateTV
Here's a brief video of Steve Purcell being chatted up at the recent expo. Was anything of importance learned? No, but it's still always nice to see Steve.
Continuing today's accidental theme of Sam's voice actors, Gameranx has an interview with Bill Farmer. Farmer is of course best known as the voice of Goofy for Disney, but Sam & Max gets a mention as well:
Gameranx: You voiced Sam in Sam & Max Hit the Road, whose voice sounds like a more toned-down version of Goofy. Phonetically, how did you make them different?
Bill Farmer: Well Steve Purcell had brilliant dialogue for the game, and I wanted to bring something deadpan but still comedic to the role. So it was a bit of Johnny Carson and more Humphrey Bogart.
Farmer also explains why he did not reprise the role for the television show, which was new to me:
You never know why you don’t get something. They just don’t call. Maybe they forgot I was in the first one, maybe they found somebody they liked better, who knows. That’s part of the business. Like with Sam & Max, they did a cartoon show which was not union. I’m a union actor. They took that to Canada to cast which is why I didn’t do that. And so maybe they got on that non-union bandwagon, and you never know with all the politics. A lot of it’s politics, too. So you just stay grateful for the ones you get, and say, hey I’m available if you need me!
Visit Gamerax to listen to the audio recording of the full interview.
PC Gamer published an interview with Tim about Full Throttle in their June issue, but you don't buy magazines anymore, so you didn't read it. At least not until its ink exclusivity ended and it wound up online, which is now.
At the time a LucasArts adventure was expected to sell around 100,000 copies, but Full Throttle sold over a million. And now, 22 years later, the game has been re-released with remastered graphics and audio. I ask the game’s writer/director Tim Schafer what it’s like going back to something he made when he was in his early 20s.
“It’s been interesting looking at how I wrote dialogue back then based on my life experiences at the time, and how I interpret it differently now that I’m older,” he says. “And now that I’ve actually been a biker on the run for a crime I didn’t commit, that adds a lot of depth to it too. I had no idea what that was like back then.”
You know what I did in my early 20s? Not make Full Throttle. Learn more about how Tim outclassed me by reading the full article.
The long-awaited Psychonauts 2 has exited pre-production and has now unambiguously entered that rarefied air of honest-to-George production. I, of course, totally know what that means, but if you don't, here's Tim and project leader Zak McClendon to lay it out:
Double Fine also represented themselves at E3 last week. In a noble rejection of hubris, we held back and let the other gaming sites cover that. But we should point out that during a panel he hosted with Jack Back, Tim asserted that Brutal Legend 2 will happen "someday," noting that it would be "expensive." Fortunately, I was able to interpret this signal correctly, and what was once Remi's plasma is now the first angel investment for Brutal Legend 2.
Monkey Island fanatic and Eurogamer personality Johnny Chiodini decided to answer a gauntlet that was never thrown by creating grog using the ingredients listed in The Secret of Monkey Island. And although he punts on third down by subtracting the more lethal ingredients, the end result is still gross enough that we award him and his two confederates eight Monkey Bucks for introducing it into their digestive system.
In other not bad, but not great news is that Duke Grabowski: Debonair Corsair is on hold until we sell a certain number of units. Alliance wants the first episode to prove it is a success before funding the follow up. And you can help with that if you so chose because Alliance has discounted Duke to $2 and the sales are picking up. If you all told all your family, friends and acquaintances about the game that could really help. Mean time Venture Moon and Alliance will continue to promote the game as much as we can.
But have no fear that I won't be doing any more game because I am in negotiations to make another non-Duke game while we wait for Duke numbers to reach our goal. I can't go to much into it because nothing is official, but I can say it is an idea that is very close to my heart.
That's not very hopeful news on Duke - if the first episode's sales is making the publisher wary of funding the second, what are we to conclude about the likelihood of episodes 3-5?
On the other hand, we apparently have a secret project in the works. The obvious question: is this A Vampyre Story 2 or a new IP altogether? Only time will tell, and in the meantime you might want to throw a measly two bucks at Duke Grabowski
and contribute to those sales numbers
Adventure Gamers has a ten day old brand new interview with Tim for your enjoyment. It's primarily about Full Throttle Remastered, but it's pretty well-rounded. Tim even talks a bit about the old LEC vs. Sierra rivalries:
You know, I like talking about it. I think it’s a symptom of the fact that we didn’t have the internet back then. Nowadays, I’d be Facebook friends with those guys, and we’d all be making fun of each other on Twitter. Back then, we just didn’t talk at all, except for a couple of people that knew the Coles. There was a little back-and-forth, so the Coles came to the ranch to play softball, and they beat us. (laughs) They put it in the Sierra newsletter, but didn’t even mention the name LucasArts, just “Sierra beats competitor in softball”, and we were like, “oh my god, guys!”
I got to know Lori Cole a little at GDC last year; we were on a panel together. They were much more aware of our games than we realized. We thought that we had this competition going on, and they weren’t even aware of it, but they were much more aware than we thought! They kind of saw us as taking over. Lori was like, “we were on top for a long time, but after Monkey Island things started to shift, and Lucas took over.” They had a completely reverse idea of that competition than we had, which is that we were always up against them, and they were winning. I mean, they definitely won the sales war. We’re winning the remasters war, though! (laughs)
Read the full interview here, and prepare yourself for Full Throttle Remastered tomorrow!
Adventure Gamers decided to have a lengthy confab with their personal graphic designer Bill Tiller as well as his Duke Grabowski cohort Gene Mocsy. They mostly talk Duke - which Bill reiterates is planned for five episodes that he figures will come out at six-month intervals - but other topics spring up, like the future of A Vampyre Story, which isn't quite as defined as I had hoped:
Ingmar: Speaking of legal stuff… I know people ask you about this a lot, but of course we can’t do an interview with you without discussing the potential future of A Vampyre Story.
Bill: I think Crimson Cow has a new management. They’re probably not interested in doing it, but I don’t think they’re against selling it, so I guess if I came up with the right money I suppose I can get the rights back. I’m concentrating on Duke Grabowski right now, but once Duke’s over I’m totally open to talking to Crimson Cow. But I’ve also been discussing the idea of animated shorts with our animator Romero. I love these characters, you know, and I don’t want them to die off just because of the distribution rights.
It’s a pretty long and epic story, so it could easily be turned into an episodic game with around eight episodes before the whole story arc wraps up. So, yeah, I’d love to do it, but if worst comes to worst I have the rights to do animated shorts, books, or comic books. When the time comes I’ll definitely explore the options.
There's a whole lot more in the full article, so why don't you go give it a read? Gosh, it's not like we're competitors.
Using the official A Vampyre Story Facebook page, Bill has posed a cryptic question. See it at the bottom of this post, because that's apparently the only place images will work. Good gravy, this site.
A Vampyre 2: A Bat's Tale entered production immediately after the original game back in 2008, but months later the plug was pulled by its publisher Crimson Cow Games. Because they still had the rights, Bill was unable to try to shop the project around or go the crowdfunding route, leaving the sequel in indefinite limbo.
So why is Bill gauging fan interest now? Have the rights lapsed back to him, or is he trying to gather evidence to show Crimson Cow that there's an audience that justifies revving the machine back up? Is Crimson Cow even in business anymore?
Whatever's going on, send an email to Bill at the email address below, and let him know that you need A Vampyre Story 2 more than you need potable water.
Here's Tim humbly suggesting that you pre-order from GOG:
One last cool thing: apparently Tim had the original demo of the game (a PC Magazine exclusive) remastered as well because it featured unique dialog not heard in the shipped game, and Tim wanted all of Roy Conrad's lines preserved in high quality. Pretty rad.
As with Day of the Tentacle Remastered and Grim Fandango Remastered, Double Fine had to go through the LucasArts archives to resurrect Full Throttle, and Tim talked about that effort with GamesIndustry.biz:
Schafer called it a sort of "digital archaeology." For Full Throttle, the art was completely repainted, often with input from original artists like Larry Ahern and Peter Chen. 3D elements like the game's motorcycles had to be remodeled from scratch because the originals weren't archived. Roy Conrad, the original voice actor for the game's protagonist Ben, died over a decade ago, so they had to track down the uncompressed DAT tapes of his original voiceover sessions in order to remaster them in stereo.
"We're in a unique position where we remember where the bodies are buried," he said. "'I think that sound guy took home a box of tapes once, and I know so-and-so has that thing in their attic.' And at Skywalker Ranch there's an archive that has a lot of cool stuff there, and we got access to those. We got to dig through these flat files, finding these great pieces of art and putting them in the concept art browser for the first time to let you see all this stuff when you play the game. It's more like a fun treasure hunt."
One might expect that the hassles of remastering projects like these would cause Double Fine to re-think the way it preserves its current titles for the future.
"I feel like we had all this trouble finding all these archives," Schafer said, "and it was like, 'Why didn't we archive this stuff better?' And then I was like, 'Are we archiving our new stuff better?' We had to really look at it, and well, you know... In some ways it's easy to make those same mistakes again, to just not really think about what's going to happen 20 years from now. 'Yeah, that stuff's all on that one artist's hard drive, but we don't have time to do all that...' So you really have to push yourself to create good archives, and to put away a machine that can do the actual build of the game. And that's something I hope all developers do, or they'll be kicking themselves later."
It's a comfort to know that Roy Conrad's line readings will liberated from that Turkish prison that is MONSTER.SOU.
We have been asked politely by a new promoted Lucasfilm Head of business development person to stop developing and distributing Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis Special Edition demo.
We will remove the downloading buttons from our website this Sunday (5th March 2017)
We have been told that Lucasfilm don't want to share the Indy license with anyone right one, so we came up with other solution and we will see if that is going to work for them.
We will keep in touch with Lucasfilm people and continuously trying to obtain a deal for a full project development!
Lucasfilm has seen what we have done, we proved our skills, show them a great effort and strong responsibility, they have received all required documents and now it's up to them if they will change their minds and start supporting Independent developers.
Whatever the response will be, We are extremely proud of what we have done, it has been a great fun, we will love this project forever and we thank you all who participated or support us during this "long-term, free-time" development.
Fans community is strong, full of talented people and nobody is going to stop us from doing what we love, because we are doing it right! This is not the end of this project and this is not the end of any fans projects...big companies need to understand that: "All things come to him who waits." #lucasfilm #lucasarts #adventuregames #disney
website: http://went2play.com/fate-of-atlantis-se https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/39935592/IJ_clocks.jpg
Which reminds me, I'd be much obliged if you guys could keep my painstaking remaster of Defenders of Dynatron City that's nineteen years in the making under your hat.
08 Jan, 2017, 01:08 | Posted by: Jennifer
We're now a week into 2017, which means it's the perfect time for a new poll. We couldn't just put one up on the first day of the new year. That's just not The Mojo Way™.
There's a lot of goodness coming out this year, from just about every company that this site covers. So go to the poll on the right and let us know which one has you excited the most.