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AdventureX

So, we just got back from what may very well have been the most awesome little expo I’ve ever visited. For those of you unfamiliar with AdventureX, I’ll attempt to summarize it like this:

AdventureX is a small point-n-click adventure game specific expo, organized by screen7 with the help of various folks from the AGS community. It’s by no means exclusive to AGS titles, but more often than not, visitors and titles showed off there have one connection or another to AGS and its community. (Many were folks like us who previously had worked with AGS, but now had moved on to other tools) (AGS is a tool for developing adventure games)

The expo took place in London, during this previous weekend. We arrived Friday night just in time to hang out with some early arrivals at a pub, right next to the venue.

We came with one single objective in mind: to have fun. I can proudly announce that we succeeded with this in pretty much every single respect. Nothing beats having deeply nerdy adventure game design discussions at the pub with good friends, old and new.

We did have a little “The Journey Down” table but we rarely manned it and didn’t really make an effort to push the game. Checking out the other games, talks, panels and just mingling about was a lot more fun than just standing around a table.

Mathias held a talk on lessons learned during our TJD development, unfortunately it wasn’t filmed as far as I know, but we did manage to snag some pics. The talk mainly chronicled different types of design patterns, good and bad, and seems to have been really well received.

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I took part in a panel about the pros and cons of relying on nostalgia when developing adventure games. It was a somewhat haphazard but fun rumble and I wound up mostly evangelizing the simplification of UI. I was surrounded by the awesomely talented Wadjet Eye folks, Francisco, Dave and Drew. I wish we would have disagreed more to make it more of a show. Maybe more bloodshed next time, eh?

Another high point during the weekend was meeting up with our old buddy Robert Megone, who has helped us A LOT with TJD testing. A real testing hero, whom we owe a lot. We also finally got to meet our musician Jamie Salisbury and …lol.. we all got really excited about the TJD3 soundtrack. It’s gonna blow your mind. :D

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Jamie, Henrik and Mathias faking seriousness

One more high point was Mathias scoring the AdventureX raffle swag bag, full to the brim with cool stuff, including a really awesome SkyGoblin mug. :D

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Mathias and I pose together with Alexander and Seb of Rumpus animation

The list of cool games on display would be annoyingly long so I’m not going to bother writing them all down, but a personal favorite was Bertram Fiddle, which will be launching quite shortly on iOS. Another nice easygoing game that deserves a mention is Nelly Cootalot II.

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James Dearden shows off the delicious-looking technobabylon

Wadjet Eye obviously had a ton of impressive stuff on display, including Technobabylon, Shardlight and Automaticity. All worthy of your eyeballs.

Overall a great weekend. If time and money allows for it, we will definitely be sponsoring and visiting AdventureX next year again!

More pics of the event are available here and here, and videos are being uploaded right now over here.

Now back to work on TJD3 – Game of the year!

New office and stuff

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So, here’s a pretty shoddy pic from our new office. (The weird glow comes from my phone’s camera-lens being all greasy and isn’t some lame instagram filter, fyi.) It’s a pretty great place and we’re sharing it with a whole bunch of other awesome Gothenburgian devs such as Senri and 1337 Game design, so the cost is wayyyy lower than our previous office. (For those who haven’t been following – we’ve been without an office for over a year’s time so this is a pretty big change for us).

We’ve gotten used to, and gotten real good at working apart, but meeting up now and then and working together is essential, especially in this design phase – there’s really no replacement. No matter how much you skype/dropbox/email/telephone, you’ll never get the same synergy as when you’re physically sitting in the same room, brainstorming. So, I’m happy we’re back working from the same spot, though we’ve decided to only do so half-time, since working on one’s own is just as important.

See that huge adapter Henrik has for his laptop? There’s one more. I’m serious, he can connect two of them at the same time and when the computer gets roaring it sounds like a jumbo jet is taking off right next to me. It’s pretty awesome. :D

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Here’s the Armando News Network (ANN) van in glorious 3d. Not entirely ready yet. But I’ve got the basics down. We’ll be seeing a lot of this van in TJD3, as one of the main characters of the plot, is an ANN news reporter.

So how’s overall progress coming along? Well the TJD3 design (puzzle and story) is solidifying by the day and I’m totally in love with it. We’re still at the bloating-phase though so the game is ballooning daily. Some day now we’re gonna have to bring in the reality-hammer and distill it down into something doable, but right now we’re just focusing on making the design as bombastic as possible. We had a similar approach to TJD2 and we’re real happy with how that came out, so odds are it will work this time around as well. :)

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Here’s a test render of my own take on the traditional North American 80’s police car. It’s a bit of a mashup of Fords and Chevy’s, but slightly simplified for that little touch of TJD-cartoonyness. I’m having a real blast working on these 80’s aesthetics, it’s a very nice change of tone and it adds so much flavor to the game, it’s ridiculous.

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This is a rough version of the top of the ANN broadcast tower. Yes, we will be puzzling here and yes the helipad will feature bad guys plotting outside of their helicopter, as is staple-food in any 80’s action movie. :) We’re aiming for a lot of those visual tropes in TJD3. This pic is serious need of paintover-ing…

Last but not least, if for some reason you still haven’t physically forced everyone you know to purchase a copy of TJD, here’s an excellent opportunity!

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Some more TJD3 sketches

I’ve been spending the last couple of weeks trying to get the TJD3 geography together and to try and sort out what different kinds of moods we’re after in the game, and have so far only really had the chance to work on the St. Armando bit. (A large part of TJD3 takes place in St. Armando, though definitely far from all of it!). Working on these more modern neon cityscapes is a hell of a lot of fun and I’m enjoying every second of it.

As previously stated, TJD3 is shooting for much more of a 80’s action movie feel than the noir vibes that heavily inspired the second game in the series. Very much a welcome change for me, as the setting was beginning to get kind of samey after a while.

So, without further ado, I give you some TJD3 St. Armando sketches. (Click on them to get less fuzzy, ugly versions)

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Yes, we will be reseeing some old friends from TJD1! :)

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The desolate edge of the city holds something more than just industrial wastelands…

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In TJD2 I really wanted to make a shot where Bwana walked out on a balcony only to soak up the atmosphere of the game, well, we had to cut it for various reasons. So now I’m insisting on doing it in TJD3, albeit with St. Armando instead of Port artue. :)

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Secret secrets are going on down here! Very secret secrets!

As the puzzles of St. Armando have started to solidify, so has the geography. I’m not gonna spoil it all by showing a map, but I can proudly state that there IS a map, and that it’s becoming increasingly… good. The locations of St. Armando are all going to be an absolute blast to work on. :) As for plot, we’re making some really good progress there and have pretty much got it all figured out. The HUGE thing missing now is figuring out all the characters. Having lovable, interesting characters is, after all, one of the most important parts of a quality point ‘n’ click adventure game. We’ve started on that, but we’ve got a lot of work left to do.

In other more spammy news, there’s now a bundle on iOS for TJD1+2, I strongly recommend telling everyone you know about it!

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