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Note: The list shows the number of people who have played a particular game since achievements were added to it (so older games that had achievements added later will have higher scores than shown). And crucially, the list does not show the number of owners (which will be higher than the players).
In the publishers that Mojo readers are interested in, there are some predictable results and some surprises.
From most popular to least, the list is topped with TellTale's most popular license, beating even the most popular Star Wars title:
The Walking Dead - 2,846,244 players
STAR WARS Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords - 1,529,038
But hot on their heels are the two biggest Double Fine games:
Brutal Legend - 1,235,714
Psychonauts - 1,207,186
After that Campo Santo (well done!) and TellTale make an appearance:
Firewatch - 959,053
Poker Night at the Inventory - 952,378
Poker Night 2 - 671,540
Given the popularity of the Poker Night games, it does make you wonder why TellTale stick to licenses, especially when we drop down and find the bulk of the adventure titles:
Game of Thrones - A Telltale Games Series - 598,965 players
Grim Fandango Remastered - 516,584
Broken Age - 419,666
Minecraft: Story Mode - A Telltale Games Series - 346,763
Costume Quest - 341,308
Monkey Island 2 Special Edition: LeChuck's Revenge - 288,297
Batman - The Telltale Series - 272,720
Game of Thrones - 272,599
The Cave - 271,663
Day of the Tentacle Remastered - 265,169
Stacking - 248,039
The Walking Dead: Michonne - A Telltale Miniseries - 197,450
MASSIVE CHALICE - 161,770
Gemini Rue - 130,615
Iron Brigade - 109,286
Batman: The Enemy Within - The Telltale Series - 80,154
Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series - 69,783
And then, for some comparison, several indie adventure titles, and a big shock at how far down DoubleFine's last adventure game remaster is:
The Blackwell Legacy - 79,474
Full Throttle Remastered - 61,757 players
Costume Quest 2 - 57,457
Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards: Reloaded - 56,138
Blackwell Unbound (Blackwell 2) - 52,347
Blackwell Convergence (Blackwell 3) - 49,385
Blackwell Deception (Blackwell 4) - 46,844
Headlander - 44,476
The Shivah - 38,128
Blackwell Epiphany (Blackwell 5) - 20,146
Also surprising is how a sequel to DoubleFine's most popular Amnesia Fortnight title, Costume Quest, performed so poorly when compared to the original. This explains why there were no similar attempts at sequels.
Finally, perhaps unsurprisingly, is the VR only title:
Psychonauts in the Rhombus of Ruin - 2,155 players
Are adventure games dead? You decide.
This year, the students are working on the following games:ScummVM:
While we're on the subject of ScummVM and ResidualVM, both projects have had updates lately:ResidualVM 0.31 has been released. This is a bugfix release that fixes a few bugs in Myst III, in preparation for Cyan's upcoming digital release of Myst III that will use ResidualVM to play the game.
ScummVM's addition of Xeen, the first RPG engine added after ScummVM changed their guidelines to allow RPG games alongside the adventure games, is now completable in the daily builds. There are five RPGs that are currently completable: Might and Magic IV, Might and Magic V, World of Xeen, World of Xeen 2 (CD Talkie), and Swords of Xeen. If you want to play these games in the daily builds, make sure that you place xeen.css in the same folder as your game files.
Myst: Masterpiece Edition and Riven: The Sequel to Myst will be powered by ScummVM, and Myst III: Exile will be powered by ScummVM's sister project for 3D adventure games, ResidualVM.
The ScummVM team stated that they'll be working together in the future to "make your journey through the Ages even more pleasant". More news will follow soon. It will be really interesting to see what else will come from this new partnership.
They've stated that the reason for the delay is because they are "committed to exploring new ways to tell our stories. Taking this extra time will allow [them] not only to focus on quality but also to experiment and iterate in order to craft something truly special".
If this means that the gameplay will be significantly different than the cut-and-paste style gameplay that's been in Telltale's games since The Walking Dead, then the delay is certainly most welcome.
Of course you do. And you're in luck, because that's just what was recorded at something called "EGX Rezzed 2018." I assume that's the name of an expo, though it may also be the model of dirt bike my nephew got for Christmas. For those of us who happened to be washing our hair during Tim's panel, here's a handy Youtube embed of the whole interview:
I haven't watched it myself yet, but reportedly Tim mentions the possibility of further LucasArts remasters, iterating once again that he'd insist on the original creators being involved. Hasn't Brian Moriarty been pretty upfront about wanting revisit Loom? Anyway, Tim evidently talks a bunch about Psychonauts as well, so it's sure to be a worthy listen all the way around.
There are a number of layers. Firstly, there is the real ancient Egyptian civilization. Secondly, there is the game’s ’20s setting, which taps into Egyptomania and the fetishization and trends accompanying it. Thirdly, there’s the contemporary world of Campo Santo and the playerbase, where very different conversations about cultural destruction, repatriation, and appropriation take place.
So where is Campo Santo pitching its game tonally? “A lot of the way we work as a group and a lot of the way I’ve always worked as a writer is, we have modern, pretty lefty feelings about shit,” says Vanaman. “But I don’t think we have declarative opinions about the way things should be. This game is not a political statement about representation or a political statement about appropriation of the past or whatever.” He adds, “The act of making the game for us helps solidify or challenge feelings we have held before we had to make the game.” There’s further insight into Zora and Rashida’s relationship: “Zora and Rashida got famous seven years before they make the game, making a movie we would now watch in film school and go that’s kind of fucked up.”
It happened without warning, and goodness knows it happened decades later than it should have, but the the original Maniac Mansion is now available on Steam. Sure, you already have it as a free bonus feature within Day of the Tentacle, but don't you want the pleasure of buying it individually, especially since the last time you could do so was like forty years ago?
And anyway, it's less than five bucks. So do it. Do it now.
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.”
Thimbleweed Park is now available to purchase for iOS devices, so you can now be a clown in a gritty town while moving around.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.
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.
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.”
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.
Here is the write-up, and below is the video proof of the reckless endeavor:
That's right, he'll answer any question. Provided that you asked it yesterday, because that's when Noah's AMA happened. Lots of good stuff in there, though.
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!
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