Adventure News

September 2005



Order, and get your free soundtrack!

The independent developer Big Time Games has announced that they will be accepting pre-orders for the upcoming Delaware St. John Vol. 2: The Town with No Name from tomorrow, October 1st.

The Town with No Name continues the mysterious adventures of Delaware St. John, as he investigates the remains of a town not located on any map. Delaware will have to piece together the past in order to free the restless spirits that are present there.

For those interested that haven't played the first chapter, Big Time Games is running a special for the month of October, where everyone who preorders Volume 2 will get a free copy of The Curse of Midnight Manor soundtrack. This offer is limited to only those who order in October.

The Town with No Name ships November 28th. To pre-order, visit the game's website. To read our review of The Curse of Midnight Manor, go here.



"We have managed to step back from the brink—after stepping off"

Cyan Worlds, the studio masterminded by Rand and Robyn Miller who created the Myst universe and franchise, have somehow defied their 'End Of Ages' as a formidable developer of adventure games for over a decade. The company's closure was primarily for financial reasons.

But Rand Miller has just announced to Gamespot a 180 degree turn for the company: they are back in business. However, he hasn't yet elaborated on the details of how this happened:

"We've had a reprieve.....Managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat (that I can't give details about yet), so we rehired almost everybody. Crazy industry. It's giving me whiplash!"

We'll have more breaking news on this as it comes, but for now check out our preview of their former swan song, Myst V: End Of Ages.



The cold hits charts in Germany, UK and France

Atari announced today that the sales numbers for Fahrenheit, their newly released and critically acclaimed interactive drama, has hit the upper reaches on the sales charts across Europe. The game was released simultaneously for the PC, Xbox and PS2 on September 16th, and has already hit #1 on the UK and German Xbox charts, as well as the German PS2 charts. In addition it is #2 on all platforms in France and on the PC charts in the UK.

Fahrenheit was originally to be released by Vivendi Universal, but their involvement on the game was cut last November, and Atari was announced as the new publisher the following February. A profitable decision for the company, as Fahrenheit could very well become one of the best-selling adventure games, or rather, interactive dramas, in some time.

Fahrenheit is known as Indigo Prophecy in America. Be sure to join Thursday's developer's chat with David Cage, the game's director.



Call goes out to graphic adventure developers

Veteran game designer Greg Costikyan, known for strongly criticising the financial models of the games industry, has left his current job to found Manifesto Games, a new venture that has the goal to "build a strong and viable independent game industry".

Graphic adventure are specifically mentioned in the press release as a genre of particular interest to Manifesto Games, along with wargames, flight sims and niche MMOs.

"It's time to put my money where my mouth is," Costikyan said on his blog. He most recently wrote a feature called Death to the Game Industry, Long Live Games for online mag The Escapist.

Explaining the reasons behind founding Manifesto Games: "Because of ballooning budgets and the narrowness of the retail channel, it is now essentially impossible for anything other than a franchise title or licensed product to obtain distribution. Yet historically, the major hits, the titles that have expanded the industry to new markets and created new audiences have been highly innovative. It is time for us to find a way to foster innovation, because it's not going to happen if we leave it to the large publishers."

Although a number of direct-download and episodic experiments have been launched as of late, few initiatives have been taken to create one-stop destinations for such games. Manifesto expects to begin carrying original content by early 2006.

More information can be found on Manifesto's makeshift website, or Greg Costikyan's blog.



Visit Maurania - or take a trip to Egypt

A fictional website has been created for the country of Maurania, the land in which Benoit Sokal's Paradise takes place. Sokal is well known for his previous games, the Syberia series and Amerzone, and Paradise is currently one of the most anticipated upcoming adventure releases, due out next year. The website can be found here.

The point & click adventure Ankh also has its own website. This comic third-person game set ancient Egypt is scheduled for release this winter. Judging from the screenshots and our E3 coverage, Ankh could very well be one of the surprise hits of this year. The website is found here.



Fan-made King's Quest looks better than ever

Phoenix Online Studios has released the first trailer for King's Quest IX: Every Cloak Has a Silver Lining, the fan-made sequel to the King's Quest series. The trailer gives us a glimpse on what's waiting in the game's first episode, Shadows, which is due for release this winter.

The previous King's Quest game, Mask of Eternity was released in 1998, and was criticized for its emphasis on action and the fact that the main character was not a member of the royal family of Daventry. With KQ9, Phoenix Online Studios aims to revive the series, bringing back the royal family, and renovate the gaming world in 3D.

The trailer can be downloaded from Adventure Europe.



Psychological thriller on its way to PC and consoles

Fahrenheit is now hot off the gold press, as official word from developer Quantic Dream on their site announced today. All three platform versions (PC, Xbox, PS2) are on their way to stores in Europe and the Asia/Pacific region, with the North American release, re-titled Indigo Prophecy, coming very soon after.

Complementing the launch is a new movie showcasing scenes from the game. It can be downloaded from 3D Gamers and weighs in at about 40MB. More movies are at Gametrailers.

Already receiving much critical praise in previews from the media, Fahrenheit is a psychological thriller where the player assumes the role of mulitple characters in a cat and mouse chase to find the truth behind a series of grisly murders in a frigid New York City. For more on this game check out our special E3 preview.



Out from Boneville available only from Telltale Now

The adventure world continues to revolve around Telltale Games this week. Hot on the heels of their announcement of securing the rights to create Sam & Max games, today Telltale has released the highly-anticipated first installment of its Bone series, Out from Boneville.

Available only through Telltale Now, the installer plus 73 MB download includes the complete game with a free playable portion. After playing through the initial section, players will be prompted to purchase the game to unlock the remainder of the story. At $20 (U.S.), Out from Boneville (along with each subsequent episode) is expected to provide 4-6 hours of gameplay.

For those not familiar with the graphic novels, Bone is the original creation of Jeff Smith. Out From Boneville is the first in his nine-volume series that follows the adventures of Fone Bone and his cousins Phoney and Smiley, as well as other memorable characters like Ted the Bug, Thorn, Gran'ma Ben, the Rat Creatures, and the Red Dragon. The adaptation by Telltale, a team co-founded by three former LucasArts veterans, promises to stay fairly true to the comic's story, while beefing up a few scenes for added gameplay, and giving it a 3D presentation with an intuitive point & click interface that should have even total newcomers up and playing in no time.

For more background information about the game and its creators, check out our recent preview. No need to take our word for the quality of the game, however. Once you're up to speed, head on over to Telltale and grab the download for yourself!



Steve Purcell: "If there's a better match, I don't know who it is."

Telltale Games disclosed tonight what many adventure fans have been waiting to hear for over a year: Sam & Max is making a comeback.

The announcement came during a special event, "The Future of Digital Entertainment," which took place in the San Francisco office of consulting firm AT Kearney. The evening started with presentations by Pixar Supervising Animator Alan Barillaro and AT Kearney Vice President John Ciacchella, focusing on the direction of the digital entertainment industry. Telltale principals Dan Connors, Kevin Bruner, and Troy Molander then took the floor to talk about Telltale's corporate goals, development process, and market strategy. The presentation closed with the surprise announcement that Telltale has entered into an agreement with Sam & Max creator Steve Purcell to reintroduce the popular dog and rabbit team to the digital age.

The deal was inked only days ago, and few details are available as of now. Telltale stresses that the game will not be Sam & Max: Freelance Police, the LucasArts title whose highly-publicized 2004 cancellation was widely mourned by fans. New content will be developed, and the game will be implemented in an episodic format similar to that of Telltale's Bone games. Purcell, who works at Pixar, says he will be as involved with the Sam & Max project as he can be.

"If there's a better match, I don't know who it is… I trust them," Purcell said, when asked why he chose to work with Telltale. Purcell knows the Telltale team from their LucasArts days and is comfortable with their handling of the upcoming first Bone game, which is adapted from the well-known comic by Jeff Smith. When LucasArts' hold on the Sam & Max rights ran out this spring, Purcell and Telltale had the freedom to move forward.

Telltale has positioned itself as a company intent on delivering high-quality, story-driven games to an audience hungry for interactivity. "Around a year ago, we left the bosom of the game industry because we saw opportunity," Connors said of the team's departure from LucasArts. According to Bruner, Telltale's plan for licenses such as Bone and Sam & Max is "bigger than video games. It's interactive entertainment."

Adventure Gamers will provide more details about the Sam & Max project as they become available. For now, disillusioned fans can stop signing petitions and set aside the bitterness over all those false rumors. We spoke; they listened.



Puzzle adventure hitting stores in October

Got Game Entertainment today announced October 15th as the North American release date for Rhem 2, the sequel to 2003's Rhem.

Rhem 2 is a first person adventure game, and rejoins players with Zetais and Kales as they now explore a hidden city in underground caves far beneath the earth’s surface.

Our reviewer described the first Rhem as being for the hardcore puzzle adventurer only, and this fall seems to be prime time for this type of games, with the release of both Myst V and Rhem 2.



Anticipated paranormal thriller soon to be in stores

Atari announced today that Indigo Prophecy, or Fahrenheit as it is titled in Europe, has gone gold and will be hitting store shelves this September.

Indigo Prophecy has been one of the most anticipated adventure games since it was shown at E3 2004, and Quantic Dream promises to deliver an interactive experience by introducing several innovative features, such as a highly dynamic game world, multiple characters, motion picture techniques, and of course an interesting, paranormal plot.

Apart from the titles, there are a couple of minor details separating Indigo Prophecy from the European Fahrenheit, as several of the game's 'adult' scenes have been removed from the American version. However, Quantic Dream claims that these edits won't dramatically affect the game.

Available for PC, PS2 and Xbox, Indigo Prophecy will be released on September 20th, while Fahrenheit is due for release on September 16th. For more information and a playable demo, check out the game's website.



Real-life "End of Ages" for renowned Myst developer

"It may feel like an ending… but it never really is. It is always a new beginning as well."

So said Rand Miller in his recent interview with Adventure Gamers. At the time, he was referring only to the end of the Myst saga with the upcoming release of End of Ages. Now, however, the quote has become sadly prophetic for the renowned company itself.

As first shared through various sources in the Myst community, including the blogs of now-former employees Ryan Warzecha (better known as "Grey Dragon") and Bill Slease, Cyan Worlds has laid off all but a few employees, retaining only Miller, company President Tony Fryman, and a small skeleton crew.

Athough there has been no official announcement from Cyan, Myst fan site Uru Obsession has posted a short summary of the factors leading to this move, stating that the developer "failed to gain financial backing for their future projects." Bill Slease has since confirmed that "the move is purely financial, and Rand has told us he wants to hire back anyone who hasn't moved on if Cyan can secure funding for another project."


It may seem unfathomable for the company whose Myst and Riven games have exceeded 12 million units sold worldwide to fall on such troubled times. Unfortunately, the company risked many years and millions of dollars to develop the ambitious Uru, which ultimately failed to capture the massively-multiplayer audience it hoped to reach, leaving Cyan with financial burdens too deep to overcome.

Founded in 1987 by brothers Rand and Robyn Miller to create The Manhole, Cyan followed with two more children's titles before doubling its staff to four people and beginning work on Myst in 1991. As Cyan describes on its own website, "the goal was to create not only a new world, but a different way of seeing environments, puzzles, and in a bold move, the way people viewed computer games as a whole."


From such humble beginnings to a staff of 40 at its peak, the impact of Cyan on the adventure genre has been undeniable over the years. Spawning numerous third-party clones, Myst almost singlehandedly created a sub-genre of its own that continues to spark passionate love-or-hate responses throughout the community. Regardless of personal preferences, though, Cyan Worlds is deeply respected for its vision, quality, and innovation in creating "fantastic places of exploration and challenge for adventurers of any age."

Although the company is not officially closed, and the long term future unknown, a talented and dedicated team has disbanded on a dark day for the genre. As perfectly expressed by two departing Cyan employees in this photo, "thanks for the memories", Cyan.



Adventure gaming gives students visual language and literacy

In a recent story from BBC News, Tim Rylands, a teacher at Chew Magna Primary School, Bristol, UK, is using the adventure game Myst to teach his young pupils.

Running counter to the media frenzy over gratuitous sex and violence in video games, the students are actually learning from the game to develop visual language skills which, according to Rylands, help them to be more imaginative with problem solving in real life. It also fosters a more social and inspiring learning climate where the children can take their time putting their heads together to solve the game's many puzzles.

For his progressive endeavors Rylands was awarded the BECTA (British Educational Communications and Technology Agency) honor this year for his use of technology as a teaching tool. Furthermore the school's national attainment levels have shot up dramatically. But most importantly, the direct results can be seen in the students themselves as they moan when class is over, not when it starts.