Sunday, 9 September 2012

What's Your Story? - daubeur

Well I made it to the end of 1988! I have no intention of stopping either, and will be looking for a copy of Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess shortly. That being said, the massive business project I've been working on for the last couple of months actually launches tomorrow, and then I'm off to Hong Kong next week for a few days, so I'm afraid I'm not yet able to throw myself into gaming and blogging as much as I'd like to. I plan to have a month off at the end of the year and man, do I look forward to it!

This week's What's Your Story post is for daubeur. While the French have not been extremely well represented by their games just yet, they have been by their citizens, of which daubeur is one.

daubeur: I always thought that it was blood on the ground in your avatar, but now I see it's roses. Slight difference!

My home country is... France (Paris), but I live in Hamburg (Germany).

My age is... 37

The first adventure game I played was... Transylvania I think, although "play" is a big word as I couldn't speak any English at that time (so I would just move around and get eaten by the werewolf). I think the first game I "really" played (and finished) was Zombi, on Amstrad CPC.

You mean THIS WEREWOLF!!!!

When I’m not playing games I like to... play music, learn a bunch of stuff (currently learning the Python programming language), watch movies and discuss about it

I like my games in (a box, digital format)… box, if properly done. Nothing beats Ultima's maps.

My favourite adventure game is... Guild of Thieves

daubeur seems to be a big fan of interactive fiction with graphics

The thing I miss about old games is… how close the developers' teams seemed to be to the players. I remember actually calling Ubisoft after meeting a bunch of them at the Amstrad expo. And they answered.

The best thing about modern games is… the immersion made possible through 3D environment. Especially when visiting "real" places I've been to (The Mall in Fallout 3 made quite an impression on me).

The one TV show I never miss is… I don't watch TV, but the best series ever are 6 Feet under, The (UK) Office and Monty Python Flying Circus

Six Feet Under: A most awesome show indeed!

If I could see any band live it would be… Frank Zappa, or Jimi Hendrix

One interesting thing about me is… I'd love to run a quantitative study finding out about the underlying moral conceptions that can be found in horror movies through the ages.

My favourite movie is… Three colours: Red (actually any Kieslowski film could be my favourite). I could have named Kurosawa or Kubrick but if it's about exchanging with the rest of the guys, I'd rather name the one that's a bit less famous :)

Three Colours Red: I remember watching this movie and liking it, but can't remember much about it. Will have to revisit!


  1. I'll be posting a 1988 wrap-up shortly and then getting onto 1989. In future, any companions that want to spend CAPs to add a game to the gamelist will need to do so prior to the previous end of year wrap-up.

    In this instance, I'll give you until my first Chamber of the Sci-Mutant Priestess post to finalise your Emmanuelle transaction. I'm also going to let you add the game to Wikipedia and therefore half the expense in this instance, but in future, whatever the situation is at the time I write the "The Year Ahead" post is how it will stay. You can tinker all you like until that moment though.

    Does this all make sense? I'll make it more official if no-one objects.

  2. Ha, welcome to Hong Kong. We'll be in the same city as that's where I live.

  3. So, what 1989 games do we need to put CAPs/wikipedia articles do we need to write? I think we got them all. Also, as I understand it we now have more then enough for Emanualle.

    Also: Thanks. You WILL regret it. Next time I'll slack off less.

    1. I checked the Year Ahead post, and yes, we got them all now. Now we just to keep saving CAPs for 1990. :p

  4. Hey Daubeur! Favorite Kubrick & Kurosawa films?

    Also, I find your idea for the horror film study intriguing. Please describe further.

    1. I find it very difficult to rank them...
      I've seen 7 samurais a bunch of time (5 or 6 I think) and I discovered something new every time, but I loved Ran, Rashomon and Dreams as well.
      I think it's even harder for Kubrick... Shining for the thrill, Barry Lyndon for the technical masterpiece, Lolita for doing an awesome film from an awesome book while having barely anything to do with it, Dr. Strangelove for the laughs...

    2. I'm a big fan of Kubrick (Shining, A Clockwork Orange, Full Metal Jacket and 2001 in particular), but have only watched two Kurosawa films (Ran and Seven Samurai).

      I really need to check out Rashomon and Yojimbo some day.

    3. Oh...and Dr Strangelove is awesome!

    4. Loved Dr. Strangelove so much. Only Kurbric I think I've seen though.

    5. My favorite Kurosawa movie is by far Dersu Uzala, So beautiful and awesome and sad and true.

      It saddens me that so many people mention The Seven samurai, Yojinbo, han and others without giving Dersu more attention.

  5. The KKK directors are part of my favorites as well. Kieslowski is really a fascinating director, and an excellent writer as well. I loved the Bleu, Blanc, Rouge trilogy, but I have a fondness for the Décalogue. As for me I can't really think of a favorite Kubrick movie. They're all fascinating, but if I had to pick only one, I may go for A Clockwork Orange. Kurosawa's Rashomon is a fabulous movie too... And I like the idea about horror movies as well. We want to know more ;)

    1. I think I'm going to vote Barry Lyndon and Seven Samurai also, although Paths of Glory and Ikiru would be close second places.

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  7. I am a big fan of the Décalogue as well, especially as it doesn't really rely on the actors' performances at all. The actors are good, but it's really the direction that makes the characters shine. Bleu and Rouge actually "suffer" from overwhelming actors' performances I think (Jean-Louis Trintignant especially).
    I can really recommend "Thou shall not kill", it is one of the most mind-shattering movies I know.
    "Le Hasard" (dunno what the English name is, "Chances" maybe?) is less brilliant but very clever.

    Anyway, my horror movies project would need a bunch of geeks to scan films to gather data on each character such as: time spoken, time on screen, belongs to a "minority", sex, shows cruelty, makes sexual jokes, has sexual intercourse, etc
    and to relate these to survival time, maiming or other gruesome fates.
    The idea would be to check (using various statistical methods) whether "moral" characters get some kind of protection against death, which would be a very strong underlying moral assumption.
    And then maybe compare eras (the reference would probably be the Reagan years and the so-called "conservative revolution")

    For the sake of French adventure games reputation, I wish you wouldn't play Emanuelle, it's pretty pathetic :). Let's fight the tirany of the CAPs! (I'm probably writing this because I don't have much).

  8. Guild of Thieves is good! Have you tried other games from Magnetic Scrolls? I think at least Jinxter and Fish! were worth playing.

    1. Oh, I own that one. It has a really funny manual.

  9. I did try Jinxter, but that was back in my teens and my English was way to limited to be able to enjoy it. I played The Pawn which has a good story and is wonderfully written as well, but whose challenges aren't as logical as in Guild of Thieves.
    Actually that's an excellent idea, I shall try to find Jinxter right now!

  10. So, how long do I have to wait for game plots to get as detailed and interesting as this comic? Really, it is only 6 pages, and has more detail and drama then any game so far. So, when, if ever, do adventure games get to be this serious? Given the length of the games so far, and the number of scenes in Zak I think we are at a level that they can put plots of basic complexity in, so how long before games become serious in this manner? Was Myst the first one?

    1. Hey Canageek, I know you've harped about this many times in the past, but having seen your example I wonder what you mean by complexity, drama or seriousness? Is it because of the setting (apocalyptic, in this case) or the general nihilistic tone? I ask because I think Police Quest 2, for example, can easily tick all three areas -- but it does contain some humor unlike the little vignette you linked (which strangely reminded me of the water well scene in Lawrence of Arabia) and certainly has a more intrincate plot.

      I don't think Myst is what you're looking for. I wonder about The Dig or Beneath a Steel Sky, though.

    2. I'd say you're being overly harsh to graphical adventure games, while the comic you linked to was a short, dramatic segment, not really comparable to an entire game experience.

      As Charles said, PQ2 was pretty damn good in that department (at least to a level of a prime-time TV cop show, which when you consider the youth of the medium isn't bad).

    3. I've played Beneath a Steel Sky. Not beaten, but I made some progress. I recall the story being good, but still doesn't take itself seriously. I mean, the main character is named after a beer. Now, I'd just gotten to ground level or something like that, and I don't recall much in the way of plots. Lovely environments though.

      I'm not sure why I pass over PQII so much. It seems like the best one we've played so far, but compare its plot to just about anything that has come out lately. Lets see, I just finished playing Bulletstorm, a double-A FPS. Not anything people will remember in a year.

      A page long, and that doesn't cover a lot of the (admittedly crude) character growth or the subtle hints sprinkled throughout the game. Little things about what happened to the civilization on this planet written on the walls or whispered on loop by the newsbots.
      And this is one of those FPSes that are making us dumb.

      Here is another one: Starhawk, an FPS/dogfighter my brother played. We laughed at how bad and predicable and overdone the plot was; Give it a read: yet it still has a plot more complex then anything we've seen so far.

      I think PQII keeps slipping my mind because Trickster really emphasized the puzzles over the plot in his review. Similarly the first complex plot we saw in RPGs (Wasteland) was one of Chet's weakest reviews and didn't really touch on the plot at all and missed most of the endgame.

      Anyway: PQIIs plot wouldn't stand on any detective TV show today. There isn't really any plot twists, or any characterization beyond that one date. It is defeintly a step in the right direction. Myst is 1993, so hopefully things will pick up after that. Or my memories might be nostalgic, I was like, 6 at the time. I recall trying to play that, and just being stunned by all the hints scattered around the world, all the clues and such. I can still remeber bits of that opening "The book would not be destroyed as I thought."

      Also: Elite from 1984 had a quite well done NOVELLA containing its introduction. Portal from 1988 was a full-length novel in digital form. On that note, I need to find a C64 addict, and an FPS addict.

    4. So you want complexity? Here's the plot of KGB, graphical adventure released in 1992:

    5. @Canageek: But that Bulletstorm plot is indistinguishable from any other generic sci-fi story plastered as an afterthought on a dumb shooter that screams "gang rape" or similar when you score a particularly skillful combo. The fact that the background story is sprinkled all around the place but has a minimal impact on your deeds or decisions other than maybe providing your carrot to the next checkpoint is a device to flesh out the action, which is the whole point of the game.

      In fact, one of the things preventing me from advancing in Crysis 2 was the continual intrusion of the eye-rolling "plot" getting in the way of what could've been a decent shooter.

      Now, maybe you care for background story, even if it's only stated in the manual (I hear Captain Blood has a really nice and convoluted plot ;-)), and that's exactly what you're looking for. Maybe you're the kind of gamer that reads all the books in the Elder Scrolls games - which are fabulous by the way. But the actual plot integrated in the gameplay is usually slim. It is true that PQ2 wouldn't cut the mustard as a police procedural TODAY - and that's why I recommend judging entertainment's merits against the history and longevity of the medium - but I'm sure it provided a smashing experience when it came out compared with what had came before. Things will definitely get more serious as we move on in time.

      Myst is a good case study to analyze what we mean by plot. I think the series provides tons of fantastic atmosphere, amazing settings and incredible, devilish world-based puzzles, but what's revealed by journals and whatnot is mostly background rather than plot, which I find rather basic and completely optional. I haven't read the novellas/books based on the series but I understand they do the fleshing out the games can't be bothered with.

      There's a case to be made for the "found journal" narrative syle of System Shock/Bioshock/Deus Ex, but after several similar experiences under your belt you start seeing it as the device it is and just follow the instructions of the guy on the radio while shooting baddies on the way. The "emergent" narrative provided by rich sandbox worlds like Fallout is another story, but adventure games tend to be much more focused so they're not able to replicate it.

    6. Charles: It isn't that bad, but I didn't think they tacked the plot on afterwards, since it drops clues in a lot of the locations, which means the plot had to be done before the art. Is it full of surprises and well-written dialog? Not really, but they do surprisingly good characterizations of the 4 characters.

      I don't read ALL the books in the Elder Scrolls games, most are pretty bad. Oddly the ones on the Thieves guild seem to be a lot better written then average, so I read those. I find the plot quality of the side quests varies a lot, with most quite weak and some gems. I really liked Blood on the Ice, but that could just be a reaction to how bad most of them are. The Bards and Wizards guilds were....disappointing, though I liked the decent into Labyrinthine with the ghosts.

      I've only played a bit of Myst; but the introduction, the empty island and the journals of the two brothers have stuck with me. I assumed that it kept going in that manner, dropping hints until you find out what is going on; Am I wrong?

      I still like the journals/audiologs/etc you find along the way, though I do think they need to work on the mechanism still. Standing in one place so that gunshots don't drown out the audiolog is quite annoying.
      Still, better then Red Dead where you had to follow someone along on a horse for 20 minutes while speaking to them. On the other hand, I thought that was some of the best dialog I've seen in a game. The final scene with John Marsdon, if a bit predictable, was also one of the best I've seen in a game.

      Mass Effect I thought had a great plot in the first and last games (I've played the first one 1.5 times, watched my brother play the third one a lot). He did the second one while I was in BC though. I would love to see more games like that, with detailed plot and characters. It also seems like a good fit for adventure games, given that it has a setting to make the combats a walk through, and the writers have talked about making them optional. Really, if you take out the combat from Mass Effect you wind up with a Portopia style adventure game, don't you?

      I was also interested in the plot of Deus Ex: Human Revolution, but stealth games are NOT my thing, and my brother hasn't had a huge interest in it. So I've seen the opening few scenes, and liked what I saw, but no more. Also, he is back at Uni now.

      I have to go to class now, but in my next post I'll explain what I mean by plot.

    7. @Canageek: I didn't mean the plot was literally tacked on afterwards. Sorry about that. What I'm saying is that the game could exist entirely without plot, and conversely a game like Doom could have the most intrincate plot imaginable -- happening off-game. Save for puzzle-based games (again I bring up Myst and its army of clones), adventure games typically integrate all plot in the gameplay, even those cases where it's thin, and are constrained uniquely by the storytelling aspect. Thus I feel that comparing a shooter's plot - and especially the plot of an action vignette like the one you linked before - to that of an adventure game feels a bit strange.

      Now if you mean setting/tone, I can totally see that. Audiologs and journals are fine -- they've just been overused, a consequence of trying to inject plot in games where your main appendix is a weapon. OTOH, to me Mass Effect is more than an action/adventure than an RPG, by the way.

      I believe I've hijacked daubeur's post enough so I'll probably pick this discussion up later (oh to have a forum! ;-)). Re: the TES games, I actually think the in-game books are the best the series offers in terms of writing/plot. Great mythological writing in quite a few of them. The actual game? Meh.

    8. Alright, I've been watching Game Informers super replays, and I've found some games that fit my qualification of having serious plots, while still being terrible (Makes Bulletstorm look good terrible) and are early:

      The first is the 1997 original Playstation adventure game Overblood.
      Well, action adventure; it has 2 platforming segments, and something like 4 fights, plus some early quicktime events. Anyway, it was really terrible, had a horribly predictable plot, but it was serious. It was all about escaping a facility, no diving minigames, or cute little jokes.

      Also, I don't see any difference between an adventure game making you find the red crystal, which you place into the stone monkey's mouth to access the temple, and a FPS having you get the rocket launcher to shoot the purple bosses eye before you can access the temple, or an RPG making you get the FLY spell before you can walk across the water to access the temple.

      Re a forum: Those are kind of a pain, and have a habit of disappearing or breaking over time, but what about a yahoo group? Easy to maintain and join, and they have been around a very long time. Basically a listserv with a web interface.

      Also, would anyone be interested in a IRC channel?

    9. I'm losing you here a bit Canageek. You seem to dislike silly jokes and prefer grittier stuff, which I happen to agree with; but then why would you offer the latest poster boy for juvenile entertainment Bulletstorm, which apparently finds the human reproductive system to be the ultimate source of hilarity. As for the difference between rocket-launching the boss' eye and solving inventory conundrums, I'd say the first is a brief interlude before going back to running and blowing stuff up; the second is the whole point. There's a reason most lever-pulling and button-pushing found in FPSs are rather straightforward affairs and not exactly taxing on the old brain, not to mention linear and immediate -- contrast the network of actions you're required to integrate meaningfully in a game like Zak, even when the whole plot is absurd.

      A Yahoo Group would be a good option but AFAIK don't offer much in the way of customization. I initially thought of having a forum associated with the blog in order to keep things closer together. But I don't think Blogger has any tool for that...

    10. Charles: I'm using Bulletstorm as an example for a few reasons. The first is, I just finished it, so it is fresh in my mind. Most of the games I've played as of late have been either plotless (Dwarf Fortress) or open world games that I've not gotten into the plot very much (Fallout 3, Skyrim).

      Secondly, because it is a bad game. If I say Mass Effect then you can counter with the fact it is possibly the best plot-based game of all time, and of course no adventure game can measure up to that. However, Bulletstorm is a B game with a somewhat weak plot that still blows away pretty much any other adventure game I've encountered so far.

      I mean, for one, its plot was surprisingly good; The part of the plot about what happened to the planet I could see done as a short novel, Something like The Last Planet by Andre Norton for example.

      I don't actually like really gritty things. My favourite ongoing book series is The Liaden universe, and my favourite on-off is Hunter's Oath and Hunter's Death by Michelle West. None of those are exactly dark and gritty. I really am not a fan of moral ambiguity in my games; I want to be King Arthur, Lancelot, Robin Hood.

      Let me try an convey what I'm seeing.
      With the exception of PQII the top games are all cartoons. Really good cartoons, say, classic Wiley Cyote and Roadrunner.
      I'm looking for something more like Cowboy Bebop or even Bubblegum Crisis.
      Do you see the difference? Both are hand animated, and both are funny, but one has a serious plot at its core, and one doesn't.

      And it seems odd, because adventure games have the potential to be great novel-like experiences, since you don't need to add in combat all over the place like in an RPG or FPS. If you can find it, get a copy of Plague Ship by Andre Norton. Doesn't the solution they come up with to the plague strike you as very adventure game? I could see the whole book done as an action-adventure.

      Here is another Andre Norton that would work well as an adventure game: Daybreak 2250 AD. First you have some puzzles on how to steal your fathers supplies, then some on how to survive in the wilderness. Then you explore the city and have to retrieve some artifacts to demonstrate the richness of supplies in it. Then you have to solve some environmental puzzles to get out of the city.

      Do you see what I'm saying? We are seeing some serious adventure games, but slowly, very slowly.

      Also, there were lots of serious adventure games put out in Japan, but they were basically visual novels with few puzzles. I'd love to see a merger of the two sides.

    11. I think it is a bit clearer. I don't want to argue semantics, but I don't usually consider background story to be in the same realm as actual plot.

      To give you my own example with Gabriel Knight 2 - Beast Within: jumped straight into it, with no previous knowledge of the series. Got a slice of background story about Schattenjagers, and that was about it. I enjoyed the game very much, and felt it had a strong plot.

      Maybe you value the fiction created around the game more than I do. Personally I've had my fill of generic sci-fi/fantasy a long time ago so I tend to skip it unless it's craftily integrated in the game's world/gameplay, which is extremely rare. You could build a great literary work around a run & shoot game, but still I wouldn't be interested in it per se. What I like about GK2 or Zak is how you piece together the various fragments that make up the plot, and how skilfully things like pacing, narrative and difficulty are handled.

      I wonder what your take would be of Kult's backstory, as I understand it's based on a French comic.

      The reason you're seeing slow progress plot-wise in adventure games is IMO because you're judging with the impatience of modern eyes. This is 1988 we're talking about. The literary medium hadn't made a full crossover and was dipping its toes. Adventures didn't need much plot back then (or for that matter, background story) to be groundbreaking -- witness Maniac Mansion. It was all about execution, and the core of any classically understood adventure game are the puzzles.

      There's also the issue of target. Kids who wanted something more complex had RPGs to sink their teeth into. Adventures were always more casual. I think you'll probably have to wait until the VGA days to see something meatier (I'm thinking things in the vein of Ringworld).

    12. I'm not clear as to how you divide backstory and plot. Take um, what have I played that other people will have. Balder's Gate: What do you divide into 'plot' and what is 'background'? Sure, the books you find are background, but are the details about Bhaal are central to the plot, and you only find some of that out in the books.
      So yeah, I don't count the books giving background on the Elder Scrolls world as 'plot'. However, I do count the whole civil war and related details as being plot, as you have to do something with that. What about Mass Effect? Just about everything but the audiolog things are tied to something you have to go out and do, and even some of those are needed to understand what is going on (What the Genophage is for example).

      I agree that a lot of flash games for example just give an info dump at the start of the game and never return to it. Or Elite for example starts with a novella and then is just flying around shooting and trading after that I think.

      Yeah, all the examples I can find are from the mid-late 90s.
      New plan: Kidnap Trickster. Make him play adventure games 24/7 until he is well into the 90s.
      On the other hand: I can't recall any games that are just straight up "shits and giggles" style like Monkey Island, Beneath a Steel Sky, Day of the Tentacle, Maniac Mansion...even Manhunter. Based on my playing of FPSes (Very few) you don't see that for a long time, until Duke Nuke'em in (FPS was Duke Nuck'em 3D in 1996), and then in Borderlands recently (Also probably a lot of other ones, but not that I've played). They started with Wolfenstine 3D (Entire plot was "You are a American POW, escape from this Nazi castle, but it is a serious plot) and DOOM (Plot entirely in text scrolls, and I think we all know it; Demons invade Mars via a teleporter accident, go to hell and kill them) but it is rather serious.
      In CRPGs you see very simple plots, but the only silly one I renumber is Wasteland, though the plots are even more simple then in adventure games so far.

      Here is a question: Where there serious text adventures? Portal was kind of a text adventure and it was damn great.

    13. My take on your examples: the civil war in Skyrim - I call that plot, yes. Not "good" plot necessarily as it's not fully developed in-game; you have to remember I'm only interested in plots insomuch as they are skilfully integrated in the gaming experience. Elite: all setting, in fact they took it out of the game and made the novella. Darn good game though. Same goes for every cookie-cutter RTS released with a backstory. I'm actually on my first playthrough of Baldur's Gate (from GOG); I'm on chapter 3 and so far I've freed some mines. All I know is there's an iron shortage in the realm, so I cannot comment yet on the plot. Right now I'm wandering around looking for trouble. Mass Effect, of course, is all plot -save for the actiony bits- but that's due to its Choose your Own Adventure pedigree. In fact, in part 3 you have the option of skipping the action parts altogether.

      As you can see the early FPS games also leaned on their revolutionary nature and eschewed plot for the most part. Today they would also be unacceptable or "refreshing" depending who you ask. I was there when Wolf 3D came out and it duly blew our collective minds. Mind you, it was not entirely serious -- but you probably have to get to the bosses to realize that :-)

      As for serious text adventures, there were quite a few IIRC -- Borderzone, Deadline, A Mind Forever Voyaging, Infidel, Lurking Horror, Moonmist, just to name Infocom's.

    14. One more example: check out Chet's comment about Bloodwych on the first paragraph. That's basically what I mean by interchangeable backstory. You could find 1000 "lore" books as you crawl through the dungeon, but that wouldn't count as plot in my view.

    15. @Charles I agree on lore books, unless they are directly related to the plot (For example, "History of Amn" in Baldur's Gate is background, "History of the Dead Three: 'Knucklebones, skull bowling, and the empty throne'" would be boarderline)

  11. You could be forgiven for thinking that was blood on the floor of daubert's avatar given the creepy background Trick, but I wonder what's up with the blue snot bubble? :-)

    1. Also my first thought, but now I'm thinking it's a purple pipe. Does daubeur really smoke a purple pipe whilst surrounded by roses, playing interactive fiction and analysing the moral patterns within horror movies over the decades? Not sure. But that's how I'm going to picture him from now on!

    2. I like the idea of the purple pipe. Of me snorting purple things as well (blueberries?).
      Well, the purple thing used to be animated, it is supposed to be one of these party whistles with a paper thingie coming out (do these things have a name?), but it got lost in the process.
      So basically, what the artist tried to express in his composition was:
      - this guy is creepy
      - he's romantic because he's French
      - but all this isn't very serious, see the dry humour with the whistle (the French have a big inferiority complex towards the Brits when it comes to humour)

    3. That's so funny daubeur. I'm totally picturing it now with that paper thingie (no clue how it's called either).

    4. Do you mean party horn, also known as jolly Jonathan?

  12. Adventure game sale:
    "Deponia--gorgeous point-and-click that feels like written by Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams for $14.99 "

    1. A new adventure game just got Greenlighted on Steam:

    2. Sorry mate. I already mentioned Deponia on the last post. But Dream looks really cool! I did'n't even know you could see what games were greenlit for Steam, but I'll pay it. 5 CAPs!

    3. Cool. They just announced the first batch of greenlit games, and I looked through them. Most looked pretty boring, but that one looked very adventure gamey, so I thought you might like to hear about it.