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AG Community Playthrough #36: ASA: A Space Adventure

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Welcome everyone to the ASA: A Space Adventure AGCP!!!!  Laughing

Space….
So big and great, a source of inspiration and yet, in the 21st century, still vastly unexplored. And in ASA, we will do our best to fill some of that void….

But first, some small talk about the game’s background history. ASA was created by Simon Mesnard in 2013. Simon has already agreed to join us and provide useful info about the game now and then. Smile
The Remastered version was released this year with improved visuals and hotspot indicators, but also some bugs that weren’t present in the original game. I’ll use my original copy, but trully it doesn’t matter which version you choose for the course of this playthrough. Whoever wants a first taste, the game’s review is here and is really spot on in almost all its aspects.

The game takes place in the future (2057) where our nameless protagonsist, an astonaut working in space, finds a strange object that draws his/her attention. This strange object, a black cube, will teleport us in an abandoned (?) massive spaceship and that is where the adventure starts. Who built this spaceship? What is its purpose? Are we the first human who ever set foot here? And most importantly, is there any way to get back home? During our quest, we will unravel the spaceship’s secrets, visit some gorgeous planets and much more.

ASA is a first person point & click sci-fi adventure with fully rendered 360-degree rotation. There will be screens however where the game changes from fully rendered to slideshow. Right clicking gives access to the inventory on the top of the screen. You will find the controls easy to manipulate and they won’t distract you from any game experience.
ASA is a difficult game. It’s riddles vary from easy to hardcore, with most of them being in the hard level. None of them is unfair or illogical however and they are all excellently integrated within the storyline. That said, it is almost necessary to have a notebook near you the entire time since many clues from both the environment around you and other places (f.e. electronic journals that you may find and take with you) will need to be noted. Of course we are all together in this adventure, so anybody who may get stuck will get the appropriate nudge if needed.

The game’s photorealistic graphics are detailed and with great variety both in colour and style. From the cold, steel walls of the spaceship to the warming soil of an extraterrestial planet, you will find them really atmospheric!! And I’m just talking about the original version! The Remasterd one is of course much better in this aspect. The voice acting that will guide you through the journals is somewhat poor and unipressive, but I believe that this small flaw will not ruin your experience. Because of it’s whole gaming style of controls, graphic style, riddles, the feeling of loneliness, the reading, the whole atmosphere, ASA is sometimes called “Sci Fi Riven” which says a lot about its quality.

While the game isn’t divided in chapters in the litteral term, it can be divided in 5 or 6 parts. I propose a 10-day per part playthrough, making it a slightly short paced one. Of course all these could change depending on the pace the majority of the members can follow.

Now about obtaining the game….
Simon informed me that he has 5 Steam keys for the Remastered version available and he will give them for free to the first 5 members that would PM him and want to participate the playthrough.

These first days will be spent in solving any technical difficulties, or simply give you time to obtain the game (if you don’t have it already). If we are all ready, we will begin the game in the 16th of October.
Whoever has the game installed and ready to go, please confirm it below. Also, please inform if this is your first time of the game or not.

Finally, the usual and necessary request to all participants to stay on-topic, use spoiler tags whenever needed and generally join in a good-heart spirit.

     
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Installed and ready to go - the Remastered version. This’ll be my first time playing the game. And I have my notebook at the ready. Cool

     

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I didn’t vote at all this time around but hoped this would win. I’ll join in too.

     
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Installed and ready to start. Remastered version

     

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I have the game installed (Steam, remastered version). First time.

As usual with CPs, I expect I’ll lose interest and stop posting long before the end of the playthrough, but for the moment I’m here.

     

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Courtesy of Simon I have the remastered version installed and ready to go.

I haven’t played the game before, but is looking forward to doing so.

     

You have to play the game, to find out why you are playing the game! - eXistenZ

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Hi everyone! Thank you Sefir for the presentation, and thanks to all of you who voted for the game and made this CPT possible. I will do my best to come and comment your progress when I have the time, so please ask me as many questions as possible.

3 participants have requested a free Steam key so I still have 2 left. I believe that they will be asked quickly later (time difference).
Just so you know: if you don’t own the game at all, please send me a PM and I will see if I can offer you the Original Edition from Desura, for free I mean. I think it is much better if we are a lot to participate? “The more people, the more we laugh”, we say in France. Which has also been turned to “The more people, the less rice”...

Here some more infos about the main differences between the 2 versions of the game:

ASA: A Space Adventure (Original - December 2012)

is available on Desura for 7.99€ if I am not mistaken (which might be lowered for Christmas)

System requirements:
WINDOWS ONLY
2ghz processor
1,5GB ram
GPU with 256MB ram
1GB on HDD
Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8

The game is working well and there is no specific bug inside. However there might be issues installing the provided patch/update which is necessary. There is also a localization patch for French and Italian languages. The English translation is far from perfect and contains many mistakes. The resolution is 1024x432, which is automatically scaled on your screen (desktop resolution is temporarily lowered). The game was created with Adventure Maker, which is a great soft to develop Myst-like games at home (can be done using 3D graphics, but also illustrations or photos). I developped the whole game on my own, except for the music (Stélian Derenne).

ASA: Remastered Edition (March 2015)

is available on The Adventure Gamers Shop and on Steam for 14.99€ and supported by The Icehouse collective (http://www.theicehouse.fr) that I have founded last year.
We plan to make a redeem along with the release of Catyph in 2016, which could allow to discover the 2 games together for a lower price.

System requirements:
WINDOWS, MAC, LINUX (there are some issues with the Mac and Linux versions)
Duo Core @ 2 Ghz
2 GB RAM
1 GB available space
Windows Xp, Vista, 7, 8 + Windows 10 compatibility

More info on the Steam page:
http://store.steampowered.com/app/329980/

The game is working well since we released an important update in April (or May, was it?). However there are several bugs in the game that we never succeeded to fix, or that were discovered very lately. For example, sometimes when you look back, you are not in the same room anymore (happens very rarely and should not destroy your savegame), so it is recommended to use the manual savegame regularly. We have also added an autosave feature which has proved very useful sometimes. The localization should be much better, since th English was proofread by an Irish person, and used to translate the game in German, Italian and Spanish (and French of course). The other improvements are the HD graphics (1920x800) that were totally redone from the original 3D scene (it’s not a photoshop upscale), and the addition of cursors over the hotspots (it can be disabled in the options - Escape key, “visual aid”). The game was remade from scratch with Visionaire Studio by Andrea Rinaldi (programmer), and this engine proved both powerful and difficult to use: what I mean is that some of the original features could not be redone: spherical panoramas and water animation for example. I only worked on the HD graphics for this version (which was already a lot) and prepared the brief, and Andy did all the rest in Visionaire on his own, along with my explanations. 

 

     
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A quick history:


The birth of a space adventure…

In 2011 I have written a sci-fi book at home, that is talking of a planet named Terra. The heros, 2 generations of people from the Forte family, discover Space in their own ways, until they find a mysterious Black Cube with incredible powers. The Cube will be in the center of several stories, sometimes unrelated and on different planets, but who create a kind of mythology around the Anterran civilisation: the creators of the Cubes. Indeed there are several Cubes, protected inside a spaceship named the Ark. The Ark travels automatically in the universe since several millions of years, with the only purpose to gather knowledge…

From this book I have created a short animation film (spoilers inside!) named 2011: A Space Adventure (it was in 2011). This film was more of an experiment, and a tribute to Kubrick’s famous movie. It had a wonderful success on Vimeo with over 70k views in no time, and it became obvious that I should continue to develop this project. Several months later, I decided to work on ASA.

From the original version…

ASA: A Space Adventure, original edition, was created incredibly quickly, in around 7-8 months (if you include the Beta-tests, marketing and other stuff). The production itself only took me 6 months, which I had never done before and I was surprised myself. Passion at work! I did not have any specific plans for ASA but I really wanted to revive the Myst genre, which was a bit forgotten in 2012.
ASA was also more or less tinkered, because I was discovering and learning game development at the same time. There are several issues in the game as a result, such as translation mistakes. Sometimes, planet Terra is named Earth, which is an error. Happily the whole game is logical and doesn’t suffer that much of these problems. It was really interesting to write the story of Philippe Forté in the diary of the game in a different way than what was said in the book.
Then ASA released in December 2012, but more officially in January 2013 (and March on Desura). Launching the game has been difficult, and a bit hazardous, but in the end I succeeded thanks to the great reviews of several sites such as Adventure Gamers, and the help of people who purchased it (thanks again).

...to the Remastered.

During all that time (since November 2012 to be exact), ASA was on Steam Greenlight, waiting for enough votes to be released on Steam. I quickly abandonned the idea that it would happen someday, because in the end of 2013, the game was already more or less forgotten, but I was far from having enough votes to be greenlit. However, surprisingly, the game was suddenly greenlit in April 2014. That was incredible, but also a big problem: I had already started working on my new game Catyph. I had 2 solutions:
- release ASA in its current state (which was possible, but a lot of people were complaining because of the patch to manually install - which could become a big issue on Steam)
- release an updated version.

At the same period, I had founded my collective TheIcehouse.Fr and I got in touch with Andrea Rinaldi (Andy), who accepted to work on the updated version for Steam - the second choice above. We wanted to offer a better and more modern experience in order to reach even the younger players on Steam, who had never heard of Myst before, and who usually prefer HD graphics.

Production process for the HD Remake

We started working on ASA: Remastered Edition with Visionaire Studio, that I was using at the same time for my new project. I provided a template created for Catyph to Andy, who used it as a basis of work. At that time, we wanted to release a game with a high resolution, but we had in mind to simply upscale the original pictures with a batch script (and add a few filters to improve the quality and hide the pixels - the result was quite blurry). We knew that it really was a lot of work to re-render all the backgrounds into HD, and it seemed impossible… However I changed my mind, and I finally decided to stop the development of Catyph for a few months and re-opened each scene of the game created in 3dsmax, reworked the textures and increased the resolution, and re-rendered each of them in 1920x800 instead of the original 1024x432. People who played the original game will probably see many differences, and the one I am the most proud of is the result of the rock on the Forte Islands. In the end, it’s over 900 pictures that were recreated from scratch (3dsmax + After Effects), and imported in Visionaire Studio.
Several of the puzzles were also rethought. We had in mind that, maybe, it could be possible to release the game on iOS or tablet PC (tactile), and that the puzzles needed to be thought on purpose. That is why we have added the inventory button at the top right corner, and why we completely changed the “DOS” puzzle on the PC Forte (you’ll see in game). Now I wonder if it was a good idea, you’ll have to tell me!

Anyway, after 6 more months, ASA: Remastered was finished and released on Steam in March 2015. The sales were low but it allowed a few more people to discover the game. Since then I have restarted to work on Catyph, and I hope that you will like it as much as ASA (and even more).

That is all for now!

     
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Also courtesy of Simon, I received a Steam Key, but am having some difficulty activating it. It’s well known that I do not like Steam. Trouble such as this, which I’ve experienced several times in the past, is one of the main reasons.

Hopefully I’ll be up and running in a day or two.

     

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rtrooney - 13 October 2015 11:14 AM

Also courtesy of Simon, I received a Steam Key, but am having some difficulty activating it. It’s well known that I do not like Steam. Trouble such as this, which I’ve experienced several times in the past, is one of the main reasons.

Please follow these instructions to activate a new retail purchase on Steam:
Launch the Steam client software and log into your Steam account.
Click the Games Menu.
Choose Activate a Product on Steam…
Follow the onscreen instructions to complete the process.

Important:
Ensure that you are activating your game through the Steam application. The Steam website cannot be used to activate a game. If you have not yet done so, you can download and install the Steam application by clicking on the green “Install Steam Now” button here:
http://store.steampowered.com/about/

     

Oh, don’t look at me like that. I’m not a real adventurer, I just played one on TV. I couldn’t find my way out of a maze if you paid me. - Antheria Jack in Zork Grand Inquisitor.

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I don’t know if I’m up and running yet. The game is in the process of doing its initial install.

Edit: While I haven’t tried to play anything, the game is apparently installed.

I did have to uninstall and reinstall the Steam client before it would run properly. I know there are Steam fans out there. And while I am ever so grateful to Simon for providing the Steam key, I am just not one of them, and doubt that I ever will be. I know there are some games out there, e.g. JULIA, that I will probably never play because they are only available on Steam.

Enough of the rant. I’m looking forward to the playthrough.

     

For whom the games toll,
they toll for thee.

Casual Game Developer List
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AohuMgk8BGFTdExjM2s4eGdJRGZmcWJxMUNoUTlMZVE#gid=0

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rtrooney - 13 October 2015 06:30 PM

I know there are some games out there, e.g. JULIA, that I will probably never play because they are only available on Steam.

This is very interesting, because we (developers) are usually aware of this problem, so we try to release our games on several market places. Steam is the most popular, where indie devs have hope to reach a lot of people, and that is not a surprise if we all try to be greenlit there. However there are often alternative ways provided to purchase our games.
e.g. ASA is on the Adventure Gamers Shop, on the Zodiac Store, and more. I really wanted to release it on GOG too, but they refused the game (there has been several discussions about this on the AG forums, I could try to find the link if someone’s interested).

Regarding JULIA, I purchased it on their own website (not Steam). It was possible for several months to buy and download the game directly from the developer’s store. It has been stopped recently because UE has created a new tax for internet transactions (something related to online sales), and the guys of JULIA could not handle it (which I fully understand). So they removed the game from their servers. I am surprised however if Steam is now the only place to purchase it?

Anyway I really hope that you successfully installed ASA Remastered. Well it’s not really an installation, just a download. I think I wrote it earlier, but I would like to remind that the game is DRM Free.
What does it mean? It means that, as soon as the files are on your computer, you can go to the Steam folders and copy the game anywhere else on your drive to make a backup and play it anytime without going through Steam (you can even uninstall Steam if you want).
The games downloaded through Steam should be here:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\SteamApps\common

So if you find the folder ASA Remastered Edition in the above place, just copy/paste it in the folder where you usually place your games, and run the ASA.Exe without starting Steam!
Steam is just a market place where you choose and pay. It’s up to the developers to decide if their game is DRM Free or not. We have the choice.

     
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Thankyou Simon for the Steam key, all installed and working perfectly for me. It’ll be my first time playing ASA, really looking forward to it.

Simon_ASA - 14 October 2015 05:32 AM

So if you find the folder ASA Remastered Edition in the above place, just copy/paste it in the folder where you usually place your games, and run the ASA.Exe without starting Steam!
Steam is just a market place where you choose and pay. It’s up to the developers to decide if their game is DRM Free or not. We have the choice.

This is really interesting. I too dislike Steam and try to avoid it if at all possible, however the availability for certain games (J.U.L.I.A - I’m still hoping for a AGCP before playing!) and discounts make it unavoidable/too tempting. I disabled achievements long ago and have activated ‘offline’ mode but the Steam update client still starts/checks every time I play - very annoying, but your tip above should put a stop to that. Cheers! Smile

Nod

     
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Noddy - 14 October 2015 06:04 AM

It’ll be my first time playing ASA, really looking forward to it.

Hope you like it! Smile

Noddy - 14 October 2015 06:04 AM

I too dislike Steam and try to avoid it if at all possible, however the availability for certain games (J.U.L.I.A - I’m still hoping for a AGCP before playing!) and discounts make it unavoidable/too tempting.


Indeed I checked the website of JULIA and Steam is now the only way to buy it… Has anyone tried to submit this issue to the devs? Usually indie devs are small teams that are opened to suggestions and willing to help their (potential) customers - or just happy to discuss of their projects. In the case of JULIA, the CBE software company is more or less managed by the devs of the game, so that’s 1 or 2 person. If they are not too busy with a project, they will probably be happy to provide an alternative way to sell their game if you are reluctant to Steam (Paypal?). Well I don’t know, it depends on the devs.

Regarding the releases on Steam instead of other smaller stores:
one of the problems that I have personally encountered with small shops is the necessity to check regularly the amount of sales, make sure that everything is correct, and request the money myself. It can take several hours if you have released your game on several shops (and if you don’t forget to check). On top of that, you are often asked to send an invoice, which is not necessary through Steam. It is true that greenlighting a game and submitting the information of your society to Valve/Steam is long and difficult, but when this is finished, they automatically send the money to your bank. Nothing else to do! When you are alone to manage the development of the game, the marketing, and the sales, it’s always comfortable if you can save time.
Another issue with small stores is that the amount of sales is usually low. You might have to request a payment of 30 or 50$, which is very low after you removed the taxes and shared the revenue with your partners (e.g. music composer). Also there are stores that won’t give your money if you don’t reach $500 of sales (e.g. Desura), which means that you will never receive your due if you sold your game for $499 or less! Since around 2 years, I have around $400 on Desura, and I don’t know if I will reach 500 someday and see my Money Mouth someday.

Well… don’t know if it’s clear and/or interesting.

Noddy - 14 October 2015 06:04 AM

I disabled achievements long ago and have activated ‘offline’ mode but the Steam update client still starts/checks every time I play - very annoying, but your tip above should put a stop to that.


My tip only works for DRM-free games (and so ASA) but you will still have to use the Steam software with other games.

Maybe I’m writing too much for the beginning of the CPT, sorry.

     
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Simon_ASA - 14 October 2015 06:28 AM

My tip only works for DRM-free games (and so ASA) but you will still have to use the Steam software with other games.

You will also need Steam for patches and updates for DRM-free games, if any.

 

     

Oh, don’t look at me like that. I’m not a real adventurer, I just played one on TV. I couldn’t find my way out of a maze if you paid me. - Antheria Jack in Zork Grand Inquisitor.

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In the current case (ASA) there won’t be any more update since the programmer Andy is busy and working on other projects. So do whatever you want with the game files from Steam!

     
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