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Jakk -
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To second the comment above by Bezman, there have been some very popular 2d platformer releases on the Xbox Live Arcade lately - Bionic Commando: Rearmed, Splosion Man and Shadow Complex to name a few. I don't think the 2d platformer will ever die. It has a casual appeal that will probably retain a place in the leisuretime of a lot of humans for decades to come, while fully 3d games demand too much attention - too much stress, they're too much like reality for the casual market, while the hardcore market like it for that exact reason. Regarding Nintendo, I'm skeptical as to the actual value of design in their games. I think they got lucky, early, and as is the nature of human affection/obsession, the pebbles tumbled and set loose an avalanche. The bigger it gets, the bigger it gets. The more people love it, the more people love it. One of those fundamental guidelines.
Toggle Commented Sep 13, 2009 on 2D Or Not 2D at ihobo
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I'm uncomfortably aware that having more needs and responsibilities would be a distinctly good thing for me - that it would wake me up and stimulate my creativity, as long as I could keep it from exhausting me.. .. Nonetheless, knowing I will eventually need the monies makes me keen to enjoy the family home for as long as possible O.O I feel £10 would be what the game is worth - which is saying more than it seems, as I've never been able to afford games at release-price, growing up poor in South Wales - but £5 would be the more intelligent point to market it at, given the skepticism the game's age would induce in the prospective buyer. Looks like that's the way it's going with GoG and Steam, give or take a few =) Continuing to enjoy the game a great deal.. Dreading it coming to an end - and expecting I'm very close, having just reached Phantom of the Operating Room (or is it Operation Room?)..
Toggle Commented Sep 11, 2009 on Post Mortem: Ghost Master (Part One) at Only a Game
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I imagine some would find it insulting to see their baby going for so little - but so long after development, I'd think the best outcome now is that as many people get to play it as possible, building a little bit of underground support for a sequel, and generally making people happy - something more important to me than making money. I'm a bit of a cynic and a lot of an.. anticonsumerist? I hate money - a claim that often makes my older and more experienced friends wince at my naivete - and anticipate a future of scraping by with part time jobs in favour of using my spare time to make games for free on a donation basis. I'll regret the technological limitations a low/nonexistant budget will instil, but do not anticipate regretting the choice. Almost without exception, the best games I've played have been graphically minimal, and most have been independent projects. I think the only game that has truly hit me hard thanks to a large budget well-spent and the latest graphical tricks would be Shadow of the Colossus.. I was pleasantly surprised by your email - I look forward to replying to it shortly. A pleasure to have met you, Chris =)
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Ahoy there! Another recent discoverer; you're right, this little beauty truly had no advertising! I'd barely even heard of it until but a few days ago - when I found it on Steam for £1.50 - and I'm pleasantly stunned by it =) At first I approached it as a game in the vein of Dungeon Keeper 2, Startopia, Evil Genius or even Dwarf Fortress - and the comparison certainly stands.. After a few hours however, the single game it most closely resembled to my experience was the Hitman franchise. An odd comparison, but the approach of beginning 'innocent', a mere civilian, or ethereal observer, exploring an enviroment in detail, observing fairly deep AI interactions with the enviroment and with one another before making stealthy assaults upon them, speed and awareness encouraged by the diminishing reserve of plasm here, as in hitman by the increasing risk of discovery as your crimes mount up. You're also bang on in your mentions of failing to name/target a genre - but through no fault of your own. Ghost Master has no genre, deep down. It's certainly strategic, just as the Hitman games are 'shooters' - but neither are adequately framed by these titles. The closest I could manage would be to describe them as AI Sandboxes. They're playgrounds in which artificial life dances, and we kick them in the shins and spike their drinks to see what it does to that beautiful dance. We throw explosive powerballs into a giant bucket, a bucket full of dancing polygonal crabs! For the sheer joy of of not knowing where the richochet will take them and who will get pinched! .. Forgive my metaphors ._. There is no defined genre for this game - there was not at the time of creation, nor when you wrote this article - and there still isn't today. I'd guess given your interests and career to date you're familiar with the game 'Dwarf Fortress'? If not, it will suffice for now to say that it shares several of the most important foundations of Ghost Master - you've no direct control or influence upon the characters, they are powered by unpredictable AI possessed of emotion, and in this mad sandpit wonderful things happen; if you let them. Emergent gameplay, as I believe Will Wright said.. But he didn't make perhaps the most significant point; with sufficient AI simulation, the game starts to make itself. Many of the emotions evoked within and experiences had by the players are entirely new, unanticipated by the creators. Well, I'm getting more than a little verbose, I'll try to make my points and draw this to a close =) Your game is a great deal of fun and a true inspiration - A very pleasant surprise, from nowhere. I'm glad to see Steam and GoG giving this game a little bit of life long after it seemed to have disappeared. Did you ever get a review in PC Gamer UK? If their score was anything like the US review, I'd imagine the game would be on the cards for a re-release in the PC Gamer Presents boxes I see floating around PC World and Maplin. Have you heard anything like this? I had a look on ihobo as a result of finding this article (.. while googling sadly for tech help with the game, as I'm afraid as much as I'm loving it I experience a hardlock long before I can ever ever beat Weird Seance >.<) .. Ooh, that was inspiring. I've knocked out an email to the contact address saying hello and asking for any words of advice that could be offered to someone inclined to writing and design, without a taste for code or asset production. In indie-modland, trying to get onboard a decent project without technical skills is a long and difficult journey.. Well, I encourage you to take any opportunities you can to push Ghostmaster for more re-releases, to spread the word of mouth - the graphics engine has not aged significantly (impressive in itself, Sickpuppy were clever buggers) and there's a massive number of players out there I know would absolutely love this game, thousands of desperate Bullfrog lovers praying for another Dungeon Keeper - and they simply haven't heard of it! And your comment from October last year.. No, never ever say never *smiles* As good as this game is, I do not doubt that you know better than I do that you've only scratched the surface of the potential the concept has - An AI sandbox in which ghosts can play around to achieve their goals can go a lot further than just Suburbia. Consider the direction the latest sims 'sequel' has taken, expanding into a persistant neighborhood. A little freedom of exploration and travel around, blending open world sandbox with AI playground.. That could be entertaining. *grins* Blast, mental images of Electrical fettered gremlins speeding through underground lines, crackling off a substation and bursting out of my computer screen with a confused look. I'd best stop now before I start writing up a design document on the backs of my arms. - running for the sake of his sanity, and yours - Jack O'Hare.
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