Feedback: Interactive Drama, Masq

Discussion in 'Feedback Requests' started by javier, Jun 24, 2007.

  1. javier

    javier New Member

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    Hello,

    A few years back we developed Masq, an adult Interactive Drama (It's not intended for kids, there is some nudity and strong language but it's a great game). It was recently rediscovered by PCGamer (read full text at games radar) and PCGameplay (Benelux) and we got great reviews.

    We believe we have something different that can be used to improve current game categories and to trigger a whole new game category. We're looking for feedback. Mainly if you see this as a potential new game category, or not, and why. Which platform will be better to launch it (mobile, consoles, web) and why? And other suggestions opinions you may have.

    The graphics are minimalist and we know that with the right budget we can do better, so please focus on the underlying design and game play. And consider this design model applied to other stories, other themes, etc.

    The game requires Windows and to be online. It's free it does not contain ads or adware. You can Google it.

    Ad poster

    Screenshoot 1

    Screenshoot 2

    Web site www.alteraction.com


    Download



    Thanks.

    Javier Maldonado
    www.alteraction.com
     
  2. mrkwang

    mrkwang New Member

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    Played 3-5 times until now. It's fun. :)

    Please check your PM box. :)
     
  3. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    I guess the adult content will scare some people off because there's so much crappy stuff out there that is just a front to sell stuff. That doesnt seem to be the case here. It actually seems to be a pretty interesting play mechanic. Kind of like a choose your own adventure book with a realtime character feelings/behaviour engine running in the background affecting everythign as you make choices. The way the story changes dynamically is pretty neat. Id like to see it expanded to other genres like a detective murder mystery (although this has a bit of that) or a ghost story etc...
     
  4. Christian

    Original Member

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    Im sure that if you change the adult content it might be able to reach a bigger market, but as it is, i think that if you translate it to japanese and sell each episode online in japan it will be a huge hit, japan has an history of making those types of games.

    Edit:
    By the way, check www.storytron.com, that might be your competition someday...
     
    #4 Christian, Jun 24, 2007
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2007
  5. javier

    javier New Member

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    Thanks for your feedback. I really appreciate it.
     
  6. javier

    javier New Member

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    Christian,

    I have often heard that, as you said, japan has an history of making those types of games, however I've tried some dating simulators and bishoujo and have not been able to find any game as interactive as Masq. Yes, there are some linear stories where you can make a couple of choices every 4 minutes at most but no game where you really move the action bay making choices triggering different plots. Are you aware of anything like it that you can recommend? Maybe I can partner with the publisher.

    I know it's very difficult to intertwine storytelling with game design given that you need to be able to do decent screenwriting and decent programming at the same time, and it's also time/money consuming. But still amazes me not finding anything with Masq complexity level. Comments are obviously welcome.

    And regarding translating it to Japanese anybody have any recommendations who can handle this kind of work, and then, whom to look for to promote it in Japan?
     
  7. Cartman

    Indie Author

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    I like this alot. The art work is minimalist, but I think that's part of what makes it compelling. The dialog is very well written and the story draws you in. I'm going to have to play the rest of the chapters tonight. Very well done.
     
  8. Musenik

    Original Member

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    Javier,

    Thanks for posting your entertainment! I played a bit of it, on my Macintosh, so some of the graphical glitches I encountered were probably due to that.

    You've done a lot of work! The writing is decent and the art is especially engaging, but the interface was very awkward. There are dialog buttons and other buttons and I was surprised at how the game kept talking to me during the story. The whole time is running concept was very confusing. The static nature of the art runs counter to that concept. Also, I didn't hear any sound. Is there some in the download version?

    Check out Chris Crawford's StoryTron for it's ideas. Gameboomers is a good site for adventure game developers:

    http://www.gameboomers.com/

    Also, see our title 'The Witch's Yarn' for an example of an interactive story with static art.
     
  9. mrkwang

    mrkwang New Member

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  10. javier

    javier New Member

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    No, there is not sound in the game, but we believe it will really enhance the experience.

    Regarding your confusion with the interface, it may be because you’re using a Mac, the text gets pretty messy in the Mac.

    It’s interesting that you didn't like the fact that the time is always running, given that this feature has been the subject of many good comments from players and people in the US gaming industry, you can check what they said about it here (check Greg Johnson, David Riordan and Douglas Kay):

    http://alteraction.com/discussion/Industry2.html

    As a matter of fact, we see this feature as one of our contributions :)

    My idea when I designed Masq, was to let the other characters react as they would do in real life. I don’t like the frozen screen or the endless action loops of characters waiting for my decisions, it breaks the suspension of disbelieving.

    I don’t know how you use the static screens given that I was unable to download your 'The Witch's Yarn' demo, none of the two links worked for me.

    Coming back to the time issue, maybe you should slow down Masq. Do you remember when it measured your reading speed? There is a bar you can adjust.

    In addition, this time-running feature keeps you on your toes making choices, stimulated instead of letting you come up with options that there may not be available to you.

    Regarding Chris Crawford work, I don’t know anymore if he has the same engine he was promoting years ago. But back then, my opinion was (and I don’t know if I'll choose the right words) what he was trying to solve with code, AI or an engineered system, something that requires screenwriting talent combined with game design. And even when I believe he has mentioned that this is the kind of people that may take better advantage to his technology, I’m not sure if even committed screenwriters will ever be able to use Chris authoring system to do something good, or even if his system facilitates that. But I believe some screenwriters can master our design model and tools. Even when Masq was hell to design, I believe the process is much closer to a writer’s creative process than Chris system. But that is just my opinion and I have not reviewed Chris work in a long time. Is there any game around as a result of his technology? It will be interesting to play it.

    Thanks for the Japanese games suggestions, I'll keep them in mind, but if they are not in English or Spanish I'm toast. Are they successful commercially? what may be the reason they have not translated them yet?
     
  11. Musenik

    Original Member

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    Javier,

    Thanks, I owe you one. We had recently updated our site and the download links must have broke. I think it's fixed now. Reload the page, if you go back to it, and if that doesn't let you download, then go into The Witch's Yarn page and click the download links there.

    I'm not sure what was happening in Masq with live time. It confused me. I'm use to reading comic panels at my own pace. I read text very quickly, but I like to linger over the art. Often, there are interesting things in the art.

    Tying the speed of the game to a reading speed is a mismatch of different cognitive processes. One is observation, the other is projection. The nature of comic art is to read between the panels for what's happening. It would take specific kinds of art to hint at all that could happen if the game just sat and delivered subsequent panels.

    Again, just my opinion.

    The witch's yarn does not use a living story time, but it does have a reading speed. Our original story model does allow for a living world, but since we could only afford static imagery, we implemented a call and response system.

    Would love to hear your feedback. I'll check out Masq some more. I'm sure I missed things that others were able 'get'.
     
  12. papillon

    Indie Author

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    There's at least one translated-to-English Japanese visual novel which has time limits on all the choices - it shows a ticking clock and if you don't pick something before it runs out, the game picks one for you.

    It works for that game, since it's a sort of dark murder horror suspense thing that's meant to keep the player pretty wound up... it would feel out of place in a lighter comedy, I think.
     
  13. svero

    Moderator Original Member Indie Author

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    What is that translated game called?
     
  14. papillon

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    AnimaMundi - Dark Alchemist

    I'm not officially recommending it or anything - I've never finished my copy (the art style is unappealing, the characters aren't that likeable, and I'm not really into yaoi) but it's the only such game I've personally encountered with timed choices.
     
  15. javier

    javier New Member

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    Thanks papillon. I appreciate the recommendation...

    In addition to the timed choices, how frequent do you believe are the interactions? I guess in Masq you may to have make a decision at least every 30 seconds, or sooner than that, it depends how you calculate but you choose every single move your character does.

    And what are the kind of choices you face? And this is not easy to articulate; Physical-material world manipulation choices such as going places, jumping, picking up and using objects as well as fighting, or more interpersonal relationships choices like in Masq, like choosing what to say or what to do to characters knowing it will affect your relationship with them triggering different plots.

    I know the easiest way to find out will be to buy it, but I have bought already so many games looking that I would like to have a better idea, if you don't mind.

    Thanks

    Musenik, I'll try your game today.
     
  16. papillon

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    Oh, it's the typical visual novel thing where your choices are many minutes apart. There are some extra "strategic" choices at the end of chapters, where you can choose to gather different types of resources, but I'm not sure what effect that has on the whole thing. And there were a few riddle-minigames in there too...

    Like many commercial japanese visual novels, it is very very long - your choices are not frequent but the story runs for hours and hours. I put many hours into playing it, I have no idea how far I got, but I suspect not even halfway. It's not the same sort of thing you're describing - how would you possibly maintain constant choice in a full simulated world for ten hours and ensure a dramatic story out of it? It's a matter of what your goal is, simulationism or drama.

    I know that there ARE people who would be interested in making more simulated dating games, but the people I'm thinking of are a fairly staunchly freeware community. :) Have a read through http://lemmasoft.renai.us/forums/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=2058 and possibly talk to them? The post about the restaurant-date dating simulator might be more in your field...
     
  17. javier

    javier New Member

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    Musenik,

    I started playing the Witch’s Yarn and got stock in the spell puzzle, I suck at puzzles. Then, I started again and involved the mother Agelica right away, it started to develop a story that I was able to understand but left me mainly with one actor-prop to choose for many iterations. Then it came up the puzzle of the character traits and I stopped again. I guess that’s why Masq doesn’t have puzzles, I’m not good at them therefore I don’t like them (or viceversa). The rythm of the text appearing was very good and it kept me engaged.

    Regarding the reading speed. Our engine not only considers the reading speed but different time to explore different images accordingly to its complexity, but also accordingly with the situation going on; even if you want a few more seconds to explore how sexy are the legs of your new assistant, she wont wait there for you to do it, she’ll react naturally. And there are a few other variables we took in consideration to write the algorithm that manages the time.

    papillon,

    Thanks again for your comments I'll check the people you suggested.
     

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