Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Mini-Review: Dream Chronicles click fun

Just spent a leisurely-yet-fun last hour playing through the demo of Dream Chronicles by PlayFirst. (N.B. The demo from the link says it's half an hour - I downloaded the one over at macGamesStore.) Looks like it's a Mac game, but there are options to play on-line and something about a PC version at that first link. (What did you expect, me to go and find out or something? ;)

The story: an evil fairy queen (or someone) has cast some kind of sleeping spell to put everyone to sleep. You're in a weird dreamland chasing clues left by your husband, to get to the Queen and break the spell.

In terms of style and interaction, the game is very reminiscent of Myst and its brethren, with some other nods to Escape the Room type games. That's to say, the artwork is pretty nice, and there's a generally nicely-done fairyesque feel to the whole thing. The music definitely reminded me of Myst, in a good way.

The puzzles are obviously the main thing here though. The game is played as a series of "Chapters", or screens within which certain activities have to be completed. These start out fairly easily - find item X, apply it to Y to open the door and move on. Expect lots of clicking to pick up objects and use them - some of it is a little random at times, but for the most part it's fairly quick to advance. If you're really stuck, keep an eye out for "twinkles" on the screen that guide you towards needed items.

A few screens in, the puzzles are more drawn out, more complicated, and quite possibly more surreal too. It's usually quite clear what you need to do (even if it wouldn't necessarily make sense in a non-dreamworld). This is probably a good thing for a quick-delve type game, but does mean the majority of what you're up to is clicking stuff to find it, or putting items down in the right place. Still, each level/screen is different enough to keep the interest going.

Kind of a random review, this one, but having spent a little while being amused by it, I thought I'd throw it out there in case others fancied a look.

The full version of Dream Chronicles seems to be $19.95 from the main site, or $14.95 from the MacGamesStore. (See links above.) Maybe the latter is out of date.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Puzzle Balance: From Smithy to Santa

I'm sad to see that it looks like the smithy111110 arg trail may be over, for now at least. It was great fun with some nice little (not too easy, not to difficult) puzzles in it, an interesting mix of topics (UFOs, the occult, Lovecraft) and some fun voice acting. Maybe (hopefully?) I'm jumping to wrong conclusions, but the thank you message seems to wrap everything up like the end of a Scooby Doo cartoon.

Fortunately, perhaps through some divine providence for puzzle balance, the We Love Puzzles Christmas Conundrums Competition is on instead. Just over 3 weeks to come up with some fun - no prize, of course, but such motivation should never be needed - especially over the festive season...

Of course, that'll have to wait until I've concocted something suitable for visiting Bookmore with. Muahaha.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Currently playing...

Guinness' Tipping Point - a Flash-based code-hunt to tie in with their new advert. A nice mix of searching through video, Googling, and random puzzles (some are easy, some difficult, some just hidden), although Flash does annoy me at the best of times. Still, there's prizes being given away, so don't forget to register (or "join") if you're playing along in the UK.

Also been pointed at smithy111110's photos today by Bookmore. Not sure how deep this rabbit hole goes yet, but managed to get an early (and bunny-eared) name check already ;) So far, conversation is happening (albeit slowly - which is never a bad thing) over at We Love Puzzles and on the Unfiction forum.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Ideas: Gaming in a Web 2-point-O Land

I mostly hate the term "web 2.0" as I think it tries to encapsulate something - an idea, a trend - when all the best ideas come out of not being constrained in such ways. Still, it has some merit, so I continue to use it to refer to "modern" web services that focus less on websites and more on content: information, users.

With that in mind, and knowing that the likelihood of me actually getting round to doing either of the following for a while, here's 2 suggestions for stirring things up a little in modern "games":

1. An API for Wii Miis. Currently you can create your own Mii - an avatar for yourself, as a player - using a Wii, and then use that avatar in games that support it. You can also travel around via the Internet, or via a Wiimote, to other people's Wiis. Looks like you can also edit Miis on the web by loading and saving extracted binary files.

Why not skip this middle man (XML files and Flash editors), and open up Mii characters to all kinds of services via a standard API? In the beginning, it may make sense to limit it to read-only, but all of a sudden the Mii becomes not just a Wii thing, but an avatar for all occasions.

2. Twitter-based gaming. Hey, it's being used to keep track of who owes who beer, as well as for storytelling, so why not some simple games that are less "intrusive" (e.g. do one thing per hour, or per day, by sending a text) or take mobile interactivity into account (e.g. enter the code at a certain place).

This was kind of inspired by news of mobile gaming in the West taking a beating. Video is touted as what people really want, but if you look at it, people are quite happy with voice and texts. Twitter does texts for free, and provides a handy API for tying it into lots of lovely custom functionality, so why not use that as a platform for entertainment? (See also Boxr (and previous post on it) which seems to have its own own Twitter feed too.)

So there you go, 2 things that could be fun. Make it so.

Gamasutra at Essen

Not too much detail going on, but Gamasutra has a small report from the recent Essen board game show, including a mini-look at Eurogames such as Kingsburg, and some different concepts such as Seigo, which ties together Japanese characters with territory.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Perplexorum Looks to the Big Sleep

Today's downer news (well, Monday's - I've been busy) is that the Perplexorum forum will be going into suspended animation on Nov 11th. The site will be kept up for reference, but no new posts will be allowed. The Perplex City chat has obviously been minimal since the game was put on hold. Since then, the forums have been buoyed by discussion around the Golden Jigsaw and Alice is Lost games, both of which are now "over", one way or another.

There's still the unforums and the We Love Puzzles forum (for the time being ;) for all your ARG and puzzling needs, but hearty thanks go out to the Perplexorum team for doing a great job. Maybe we'll see them again next year if Perplex City gets going again... Watch this space?

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Phurther Fantom Phlummoxing

Added another Halloween-themed puzzle last night: Ghostly Presents. Funny how you can spend ages trying to mull over a new idea, but then a completely different one just pops into your head, ready to go. I call this "the voice of the hidden setter" and am off to Tikitiki to track it down and bottle it.