Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Challenge - Olav and the Lute

Look familiar?

I realise that I posted an interview just a few posts back, and that I also have an incomplete poll on whether or not interviews are a welcome addition to the blog in the first place. But, to not post this now would be to miss an opportunity. I was thinking to myself the other day that I hadn't introduced anything knew to the blog for a while. The What's Your Story well seems to have run dry, so I tried to come up with something a bit different. I decided I would set a challenge for you all, with a reward of CAPs for anyone that has a go, but I hadn't got much further than that. The very next day I received an email from Shelly Alon, a guy that claimed to have made a short adventure game with a couple of his mates. One particular line in the email really caught my attention! “Olav & the Lute is a short mystical point & click adventure, using a unique mechanic once introduced by the classic Loom.” Well that was a neat piece of timing! I was just about to embark on the journey of Loom for the very first time! I made my way to www.olavandthelute.com to see if Shelly’s first attempt at making a game was worth a passing look, and well, I’ll let you guys be the judge! Here’s the deal. I challenge any of you to play Olav & the Lute, and to blog your way through it the same way I do on a near-daily basis.

Shelly Alon

To be clear, this is not a way for me to show you how much work is involved in making this blog happen, or how incredibly awesome I am at it (I don’t think that at all by the way). I just think it would be an interesting exercise, and would no doubt offer a budding game developer some amazing feedback on his first real shot at making a game. It’s also a celebration of Loom, since I’m unaware of any other games that have applied anything remotely similar to the distaff mechanic found in LucasArts’ classic. Anyone that meets this challenge will receive 50 CAPs, and the one I’m most impressed with will get 100. That’s right, 100 CAPs!!!! Only the infamous Laukku has received more for a single effort! I’m not going to demand that people do Introduction and Final Rating posts, but if you want to try your hand at them then be my guest. Any attempts can be emailed to me in whatever format you like, or they can be posted online if you have the resources available. I will send all of them to Shelly, and likely post the winning effort it it's not already online. The competition will run until I reach the end of Conquests of Camelot, (which will likely be over a month away) so plenty of time to blog through a thirty minute game. As a final note, please remember that this is about giving Shelly some constructive feedback, whether it be positive or negative.

No, you don't have to know foreign languages to play the game

In the meantime, here’s a short interview I conducted with Shelly.

Can you tell us about yourself and your background in gaming?

I'm Shelly, a 22 year old design student living in Hamburg. By design I don't mean game design at all. The fields I'm studying reach from analog photography to typography and animation. Though I have always planned on getting into game development, I never made a step towards my goal. I've been playing games my whole life and they always were a welcome creative input.

What made you decide to try your hand at developing your own game?

When I decided to finally get my hands dirty and make a game, I didn’t know where to start. I couldn’t program. But a friend of mine (Daniel) had the experience needed and so we started. Suddenly all the creative fields of my design studies became useful.  That’s also how I got the motivation in the first place. I made animations, books, type designs, and I drew a lot. And suddenly I remembered my original goal and realised that all those creative and graphical themes are a part of games. Game development inherits all of the things that interest me.

An in-game Book of Patterns!

What is Olav & the Lute and why should we play it?

Olav & the Lute is a short Point & Click adventure. In a mystical post-apocalyptic world Olav has the divine and fateful mission to awaken the mighty Loom. Instead of the classical Inventory, you collect melodies, like in the old classic Adventure LOOM. You help Olav, encounter strange characters and interact with the world with your magical Lute. It's by far not a perfect game, but for a first game it's impressive. A vivid world and with the soundtrack a friend of mine contributed to the game, it's really atmospheric. Since a play-through is only half an hour long, it is definitely worth a try.

Who was involved in the development of the game, and what techniques were used?

Daniel & I were the lead developers and Johann helped us a bit with ideas. Daniel got his hands dirty on the hard programing stuff and I did all the rest, from the art to the game design. Throughout the development I learned to program myself and as of now I think I could program the whole game alone. Thanks to Daniel’s code of course, from which I've learned. Quirin Nebas helped us with the sound and music. For the development we used Unity. In it we built sort of our own little engine. Other programs are Photoshop, Aftereffects and some sound programs. I also made the trailer and the website.

It tells us that someone has played Loom before. A lot!

Clearly LOOM was a big influence in both the design and the mechanics of the game. Was that always the plan or did it just happen?

LOOM was an inspiration from the start. We wanted to make a game with the same mechanics and continued from there. There wasn't really a complete concept at the beginning, we just started to work and built the world one screen at a time.

Where to from here? Are you planning to experiment more and hone your skills, or jump into making a commercially released game?

We will definitely try other things out in the future. Since Olav & the Lute was quite a large project, maybe too large for us, we will try smaller things out maybe. But first I will be developing a game on my own. The idea for it is brewing for a couple of months. A puzzle game about sums, systems and the inability to sleep at night because of too many thoughts.....

Now that's good advice!

The challenge is set. Who is brave enough to accept it!?


  1. Wow, I'm "infamous" already? X-D

    I'll take a look at this, it looks really ineteresting, but won't necessarily write about it. I already have more than enough CAPs.

    1. You hold a record that may not be beaten for some time! It will take 15 games with no-one beating me to get the jackpot back up to that level!

  2. Yes, the Adventure Gamer's B-Sides are finally becoming a reality!
    I'd love to give this one a try, but I have a big project coming up so I'm not sure how much time I'll have available in the next few days...

  3. I'm also getting that game! I've been looking exactly for something like this to spend a few hours on!

    1. You won't be getting a few hours out of it I'm afraid. It really does take about thirty minutes to complete, unless you get stuck of course.

  4. "No, you don't have to know foreign languages to play the game." Well, that's not true for some of us ;)

    I'll definitely try to scrounge some time to play and write about the game - after all, I'm not Looming right now, like most of us.

    1. Ah...yes. That was naive of me! I apologise to all you amazing people that speak English as a second language. My bad!

  5. On a related note: what about the possibility to play and write about games that failed to be Accepted? I thought we had some discussion that this could be done for some CAPs. There were three games that didn’t make it for 1990, if I remember correctly: Oregon Trail, It came from desert and Circuit’s edge.

    1. I actually proposed this last year: http://advgamer.blogspot.com.ar/2012/05/year-ahead-1989.html

      "One solution? A sister blog devoted to the obscure rejects. Something like "The Adventure Gamer -- The B sides" We need to clone Trickster!!"

      Great minds, etc. ;-)

    2. I was thinking of doing this without a CAPs reward, but with CAPs I'll just be that much more motivated. Yay for Internet points! ;)

    3. I'd love to read someone's blogging of It Came From the Desert. Have very fond memories of that game from my Amiga days.

    4. I also have fond memories of that game on my Amiga TBD. I can still hear the bugs chirping in the background. :)

      I guess we should revisit how it would work for others to blog through the games that don't make the list. It would be easy enough for me to post it under a heading such as Missed the Cut: It Came From the Desert (by TBD) or something like that. I'm actually pretty excited by the idea of other games being blogged through on the site by readers while I continue down the actual game list.

      The main question I always have is how will it be decided who gets to blog through each game? The only way I can think of is for the first person that puts their hand up after the game list for a year is set gets the opportunity, but that doesn't seem completely fair. What if someone has been hanging out to play a game, only to miss out due to time zones. We certainly don't want multiple people blogging through the same games though, so I'm not sure there is a better system.


    5. I don't know if you'll get that many volunteers. My inherent laziness would prefer me to read other people's bloggings than write my own.

      Having said that, I suddenly have a desire to fire up WinUAE and replay It Came From the Desert so maybe I'll do it while taking notes and screenshots in case this idea does pan out.

      A simple way to share the joy would be if multiple people do want to blog a game but some of them have already guest-blogged other games, the gig goes to the person who hasn't yet guest-blogged. But that doesn't solve the problem of a bunch of people all preferring to blog the same game.

    6. Why don't make it a contest, like here? Say, everyone who'd wanted to guest-blog a particular game could send their attempt (and perhaps get a few CAPs for their effort), but only the best would get the honour of being published here (and loads of CAPs).

      TBD's suggestion could also be added here: say, winners of one year might have to take a break for the games of the next year, so that guest-blogs wouldn't concentrate on same people.

      And if Trickster is afraid of all the work in reading and evaluating the attempts of all the contestants, I am sure a new Adventure Gamer Committee could be set up for this task.

    7. I'd be up for this in future, if we hit a game that is known to be a fairly simple one that I can get through in a sitting or two, possibly while chatting to some of you online.

      On that note; would anyone be interested in me setting up an IRC channel for us to hang out in?

    8. Live-chatting in the middle of a Loom playthrough, Canageek? Here, let me plug in this Voight-Kampff thingie and ask you a few questions.

    9. Well, I tried to stream my playthrough of Loom on Saturday, but for some reason the audio wasn't working from console to computer (TV sound was fine). I'll have to get that fixed eventually but didn't feel like messing about with it, so I just played on my own.

  6. Hmm, interesting game and proposition both.

    I might give it a shot, but since my command of the english language has its limits I'm probably going to end up binning whatever I come up with. I'll definitely play the game though.

    Looking forward to see the results!

  7. I am currently playing through Loom (and The Stanley Parable, and Papers Please) so it might take me a little while to get to this. Perhaps by the weekend... is that acceptable? I generally write about all the games I play these days on my blog, but I've been a little irregular in writing things recently. I have a few posts brewing at the back of my mind though, some adventure gaming related.

    1. Loom blogging done, Olav & the lute done, and more besides. A very productive blogging weekend!

      Here's the Olav & the Lute blog post: http://playedbypanthro.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/free-indie-game-olav-lute.html

  8. Well, I'm planning to blog about Loom. I'll tack on a post or two for this as well. I just need to get caught up on the side blog. Last quarter of the year is always so busy though.

  9. It looks pretty interesting but I'm not really proficient in English.

    Would it be okay if I wrote in Chinese, Japanese, Parseltongue or Titihuacanese?

  10. Challenge accepted! Here's my post on my experience with the game: http://telyni.wordpress.com/2013/10/23/game-review-olav-and-the-lute/

    1. Fantastic! I'll read your review tonight.

      That's 50 CAPs for Reiko and maybe even 100. We'll have to wait and see if there are any other brave adventurers. ;)

  11. Here's my entry:

    The thing evolved into a first person narrative, so please excuse the awkward English!

    1. You are becoming quite the story teller! I sent my review straight to Trickster, but I'll "publish" here my main gimmick: a poem for the game. And oh yes, all differences to the original are explained by artistic licence :)

      Hear this tale from distant land,
      Full of beauty and quite cute,
      Great adventure and so grand,
      Of hooded man with a lute.

      With no help was stuck in cave,
      No bow, no arrow could he shoot,
      Onwards went this hero brave,
      Found just hidden lonely lute.

      Cave was closed by door too big,
      None dare open, but giant brute,
      Ground too hard for hands to dig,
      Unlocking key he found in lute.

      He learned to play with elements,
      His ear was sharp and astute,
      With water did he experiments,
      Turned it into ice this lute.

      With instrument he doused the fire,
      Angered men in snowsuit,
      They growled and shouted, raised their ire
      Returned the warmth the wonder lute.

      He cleared the head of hopeless drunk,
      Man so silent, almost mute,
      Invited in house full of junk,
      Learned to fix things did the lute.

      He mended broken, great old loom,
      Which lives and fortunes does compute,
      And heard only loud kaboom,
      Then slept the Olav with his lute.

    2. I enjoyed the poem. Although it misses the sleepy ghost needed to awaken the loom.

    3. My creativity points were all used up by the time I got to consider it ;) And I didn't want to make it a straightforward walkthrough, but just point out some pieces of the plot.

  12. As promised, here's my review of Olav: http://sidequestsaga.blogspot.com/2013/11/olav-lute-inspired-by-loom.html

    I hope it doesn't sound overly harsh. I did enjoy it, but I guess I was expecting a little more having just finished off Loom (which was also a little underwhelming). I'm looking forward to reading through everyone else's reviews. Let me know if I missed linking to your own review and I'll add it in. I only see three at this time.