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Old 03-13-2005, 09:31 AM   #1
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Default Dreamfall demo with Ragnar Tornquist

Once again Chris - excellent article! This sounds absolutely wonderful - I can't wait! And you simply MUST write more - I'll get to Marek, and see that he gives you more writing assignments! You are really good at this and your enthusiasm shows through! That makes it much more interesting for us to read! Keep on writing - you hear?

FGM
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Old 03-13-2005, 09:59 AM   #2
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Funny, I alway thought TLJ came out in 2000. Good article though.
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Old 03-13-2005, 10:03 AM   #3
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Depends on which territory you're thinking of The first release date was in 1999.
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Old 03-13-2005, 10:19 AM   #4
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Excellent preview.

I'm still pouting because I had to miss that demo.

Quote:
The theme stressed most in this particular demonstration was a closer and more natural link between the gameplay and the events of the plot than we tend to see in adventure games, which often have puzzles and cutscenes that seem bolted on to the underlying story.
Very glad to hear this.

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Zoë, like most of us, is someone who rarely actually trades blows; when she does, she will apparently be very upset about it and will constantly bring it up when talking to other characters.
This sounds great, too. The "conversation in a vacuum" issue is one of my huge pet peeves in AGs.

Quote:
If you do happen to lose a fight, Ragnar mentioned, you'll never have to play catch up with more than a minute or so of gameplay (during which you can presumably choose a different course of action not requiring a fight), thanks to the game's checkpoint system and save-anytime option on both PC and Xbox.
Is Zoe actually able to die, then? This seems odd to me, if we're supposed to believe that at the beginning of the game she's in a coma and what we're playing is a flashback. Did Ragnar address this at all?

-emily
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Old 03-13-2005, 10:24 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fov
Is Zoe actually able to die, then? This seems odd to me, if we're supposed to believe that at the beginning of the game she's in a coma and what we're playing is a flashback. Did Ragnar address this at all?
Didn't you learn anything from Back to the Future?
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Old 03-13-2005, 10:28 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by tabacco
Didn't you learn anything from Back to the Future?
That Michael J. Fox can't sing?

Urg... my hand... save me, George!
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Old 03-13-2005, 11:00 AM   #7
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I find it funny that wanting an immersive, cinematic experience led to no visible interface, yet the character will wave around a blue beam of light to find items to interact with. So much for immersiveness, eh?

I'd rather have the simple head turning of other games. It works much better to keep you in the game, and only needed a little tweaking to avoid some of the annoyances past implementations had.
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Old 03-13-2005, 11:40 AM   #8
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But really, hon, would you rather we go back to the oft frustrating pixel hunting? I was watching niece playing the CSI demo yesterday and she almost had a cow simply running the mouse up and down the crime scene just to see it light up.
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Old 03-13-2005, 11:49 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Intrepid Homoludens
But really, hon, would you rather we go back to the oft frustrating pixel hunting? I was watching niece playing the CSI demo yesterday and she almost had a cow simply running the mouse up and down the crime scene just to see it light up.
I don't see what that has to do with what I said. I didn't have any pixel hunting problems in Grim Fandango, any of the Silent Hills, and I don't think I did in BS3. The only problem I had was the stubborn insistence of having to have my character lined up EXACTLY to some crazy angle to pick something up once I had found it. I always knew it was there when the head turned. If they simply relaxed the required angle necessary to interact, it would be perfect, and I certainly wouldn't need some magical blue beam to distract me from the game.
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Old 03-13-2005, 11:56 AM   #10
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Why don't you just wait until you actually play the game, or at least the demo of it?

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The game will also feature characters and events which do not necessarily operate on a timetable entirely based around your character. Like in The Last Express, there will sometimes be things to observe that depend on your being in a particular place at a particular time. Unlike in that game, these things will never be essential in Dreamfall, and you'll never (ever) find yourself stuck because you didn't get somewhere in time. They are purely for the purposes of added backstory and setting.
This is EXACTLY one of the things I've been wanting for adventure games, the awareness (no matter how illusive) that the world is alive, breathing, and functioning all around you whether you're around or not. It adds to the immersion by allowing you to think, Somewhere around the corner, high above, down below, life moves on. And when you do stumble on little events - other characters chatting, a scene - they can only serve to enrich and deepen your sense of place.
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Old 03-13-2005, 12:02 PM   #11
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No matter what, there's eventually going to have to be something on the screen, whether it's a beam or some text or your inventory or whatever. That's a given, at least until someone makes a game with a natural language parser and voice input. The focus field allows you to look at items which are right next to you or on the other side of the screen (and whether you are near or far will actually change the character's response, I forgot to mention)and the Funcom guys felt it was superior option to point and click. And as far as Grim Fandango goes, remember that actually quite a few people had problems with its control scheme. If the PC interface for Dreamfall is in fact "mouse-only" as Ragnar claims then I suspect it will end up acting somewhat like a point and click anyway from the user's perspective (this is only speculation though). The focus field allows for a system that works whether the player has decided to use a mouse or a controller. Maybe Funcom has ****ed up badly but I haven't been this confident about a modern adventure game in years and I'd be surprised if we ended up with a shitty control scheme.

Anyway, glad most of you liked the preview. I really am excited about this game, and Ragnar's enthusiasm is practically tangible. I sort of feel like it's been a while since we've had an adventure designer who really seems like he has the ability and the ambition to do something noteworthy in the genre.
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Old 03-13-2005, 12:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
It is an intuitive puzzle (though Ragnar is reluctant to use the term "puzzles", not liking the cryptic and nonsensical connotations that have built up over the years) and fits perfectly into the context of the scene.


I hear you Ragnar. Heh...

Quote:
You might be relieved to know that despite the time-sensitive nature of a room filling with gas, the scene itself is not actually timed.
Hmmm. That sucks. I think it should have been timed, but that if the victim had died, there could have been an alternate way. For example, as she slumps to her death, her little Blackberry slips out her pocket and it shows a bit of the information Zoe needs (along with little digital pics of the victim's family, boyfriend, etc.). So you'd still have find out how to get in that room to get the Blackberry. This alternate scenario would help tug at the player's emotions.
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Old 03-13-2005, 12:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Intrepid Homoludens
Why don't you just wait until you actually play the game, or at least the demo of it?
Because my opinion on the matter is not one of condemnation, no matter how much you want to twist my words to make it to be.

I just don't think it's the best solution. That DOES NOT mean I dislike the game, won't play it, or won't buy it.

In fact, it doesn't even matter what game we are talking about. Adding GUI elements ALWAYS distracts from the game and I don't need to play any demo to know that.
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Old 03-13-2005, 12:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Intrepid Homoludens
Hmmm. That sucks. I think it should have been timed, but that if the victim had died, there could have been an alternate way. For example, as she slumps to her death, her little Blackberry slips out her pocket and it shows a bit of the information Zoe needs (along with little digital pics of the victim's family, boyfriend, etc.). So you'd still have find out how to get in that room to get the Blackberry. This alternate scenario would help tug at the player's emotions.
Mmmm... Just like in 24! I've seen that Jack Bauer make the most delicious lemonade from the nastiest lemons that the terrorists hand him. (What??? That's a stupid analogy I just made...) Anyway, that sort of thing happens all the time in that show, like when Jack is pursuing a suspect that he wants to interrogate, but fails to capture him alive. However, he always manages to find at least a tiny shred of evidence that points to the next lead.

So yeah, I read that and was also disappointed about the lack of timed sequences. It's not particularly realistic. OH WELL! I'll deal with it.
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Old 03-13-2005, 12:31 PM   #15
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Well, I of course won't diss all of Dreamfall just because of that one instance, but surely it would still have been in the service of the story and the player's emotional involvement had the 'very real' dangers of death, dying, and injury been present while at the same offering alternate choices and consequential scenarios should the things go awry like this.
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Old 03-13-2005, 12:49 PM   #16
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I completely agree. Maybe in the next game...?
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Old 03-13-2005, 01:58 PM   #17
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By the way, Bastich - Dreamfall uses an interface similar to the Grim Fandango-style "head turn" thing when you are close to objects. The focus beam is just for interacting with things far away - its just for getting your character to look at things that aren't within the immediate small sphere around their head. Ragnar used the focus field for instance to get the character to loom more closely at and try to listen in on some events occurring on the other side of a room without going over and interrupting, but usually just used one click Grim-style interface for interacting with anything within arms reach of the character.
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Old 03-13-2005, 02:03 PM   #18
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Well that definitely explains a better deal.
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Old 03-13-2005, 04:00 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jake
By the way, Bastich - Dreamfall uses an interface similar to the Grim Fandango-style "head turn" thing when you are close to objects.
Awesome! I wonder if the game is flexible enough to let me play without ever using the focus field? (I already have a goal for the game... )

Anyway, how exactly does the combat work? I see it referenced in some of the articles, but no details.

You see, the Bastich doesn't negotiate, and he sure as Hell doesn't run. I open up a can of whoop-ass and frag the beyotches.

Has anyone seen the combat in action? Is it some Dragon's Lair style "pretend to be action" or do you actually have some control?
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Old 03-13-2005, 04:32 PM   #20
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To be honest once the "combat segments" started, the game transitioned into what really reminded me of an honest all out fighting game... well, without ridiculous special moves and stuff. From what I saw, Ragnar was controlling Zoe very directly, throwing punches and dodging. There were Street Fighter or Fate of Atlantis-style health meters even, though I've got no clue if that was a piece of placeholder UI which will be replaced later with something more subtle.

If that description makes it sound like some jarring shift into another game, don't misunderstand me - the flow was very natural, and awesome. The receptionist behind the counter completely freaked out, and more or less lunged at Zoe, at which point you could start fighting back. It didn't cut to a cheezy fighting camera angle or anything, it all takes place within the same world as the exploring... it feels very cohesive and organic. I was excited. The fact that you could have avoided the fight entirely by distracting and locking the receptionist in the closet is also good.

To me it seemed like the point was that while you often don't have to fight, if you're going to fight it should at least be compelling and ... real. Not just a faked up thing that looks like fighting but is just pressing a button at the right time. Ragnar's not pulling any punches, if you will
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