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Found 4 results

  1. The creators of Myst, Riven, and Obduction are back with Firmament, a first-person adventure game that seeks to be unlike anything players have seen before. To that end, Cyan Inc. has released its preliminary vision of Firmament onto Kickstarter to raise money to complete its production and gauge potential player interest in their latest puzzle-filled mystery. Players will awaken in a mysterious location, frozen in the mountains of an unfamiliar land. In the next room, they will encounter "the device" a strange collection of lights and clockwork that was left on a table in the outstretched hands of an icy corpse. As players approach, the device comes to life and relays a message from its previous owner, a woman who had planned to explain everything in person. That is, until some unexplained something ruined those plans. Armed with scraps of knowledge, the player must venture forth and uncover the secrets of Firmament with nothing but their wits and the aid of the device that was left in their care. "We are a small indie developer and we love the idea that what we are doing is not building games; it is building worlds." says Rand Miller, the CEO & co-founder of Cyan Inc. The teaser shows off just what the worlds of Firmament look like, with concept art and early in-game visions of surreal landscapes and architecture. While the game begins on snow capped mountains, the game will range into lush, temperate lands, soot-covered early industrial/steam-powered locales, and the strange, technological door at the heart of it all. Through it all, an aesthetic of magic and steampunk leaves an unmistakable trail. The inscrutable and anachronistic technology serve as part of Firmament's thematic callback to Myst. Oh, and the soundtrack? Yeah, it's being overseen by Russell Brower, the composer behind World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, and Hearthstone. That design sensibility carries over to one of the big divergent elements of Firmament compared to its predecessors: The device. The clockwork friend exists as both a tool and an ally. It serves as a character in its own right, able to respond to player decisions and actions. It does not speak, but it's able to understands the player's gestures. In a move that's sure to invite some comparisons to the Kinect, players are able to direct the device to perform various tasks by discovering and using hand gestures. In fact, a main part of the gameplay involves working together with the device to learn how to communicate with one another without words. That's actually really cool if the technical hurdles can be overcome and it works as intended. The team at Cyan has embraced VR and built Firmament from the ground up to support virtual reality headsets and sensors. In fact, that might be the primary reason their gesture-based approach to communication with the device will succeed. Of course, the team recognizes that not everyone is able to play games in VR, so a non-VR option will be available. They just heavily encourage people to play Firmament in VR if they can. How exactly the gesture controls will work on a gamepad or a mouse and keyboard remain to be seen. As of this writing, the Kickstarter is nearing $1.1 million pledges from 13,569 people in its crowdfunding campaign. However, it only has three days left to reach $1.3 million. There's also a stretch goal of $1.4 million to add Mac, PS4/PSVR, and multilingual support. The campaign, as one might expect, is packed with backer rewards. One of the most interesting is that fans who back the game at $250 will be able to see and play the proof of concept that Cyan Inc. developed for their own internal use. It's not often that those early vertical slices make it out into the public, but seeing some of that behind-the-scenes game development is always really interesting. People who back the Kickstarter will also receive exclusive DLC for the finished version of Firmament that will reskin the trusty clockwork companion - including one skin that's a direct throwback to Myst. Another exclusive for backers will be some additional unique elements that haven't been revealed. On top of that, players will be able to personalize some elements of the narrative in the exclusive DLC, like naming a special book or leaving behind a significant date that will appear in the campaign. Overall, Firmament looks to be the kind of project that Cyan Inc. does best, an atmosphere heavy adventure full of more questions than answers. The game is expected to ship in July of 2020, though the success or failure of the Kickstarter could cause that window to shift somewhat. Here's hoping this unique project succeeds. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games!
  2. The creators of Myst, Riven, and Obduction are back with Firmament, a first-person adventure game that seeks to be unlike anything players have seen before. To that end, Cyan Inc. has released its preliminary vision of Firmament onto Kickstarter to raise money to complete its production and gauge potential player interest in their latest puzzle-filled mystery. Players will awaken in a mysterious location, frozen in the mountains of an unfamiliar land. In the next room, they will encounter "the device" a strange collection of lights and clockwork that was left on a table in the outstretched hands of an icy corpse. As players approach, the device comes to life and relays a message from its previous owner, a woman who had planned to explain everything in person. That is, until some unexplained something ruined those plans. Armed with scraps of knowledge, the player must venture forth and uncover the secrets of Firmament with nothing but their wits and the aid of the device that was left in their care. "We are a small indie developer and we love the idea that what we are doing is not building games; it is building worlds." says Rand Miller, the CEO & co-founder of Cyan Inc. The teaser shows off just what the worlds of Firmament look like, with concept art and early in-game visions of surreal landscapes and architecture. While the game begins on snow capped mountains, the game will range into lush, temperate lands, soot-covered early industrial/steam-powered locales, and the strange, technological door at the heart of it all. Through it all, an aesthetic of magic and steampunk leaves an unmistakable trail. The inscrutable and anachronistic technology serve as part of Firmament's thematic callback to Myst. Oh, and the soundtrack? Yeah, it's being overseen by Russell Brower, the composer behind World of Warcraft, StarCraft II, Diablo III, and Hearthstone. That design sensibility carries over to one of the big divergent elements of Firmament compared to its predecessors: The device. The clockwork friend exists as both a tool and an ally. It serves as a character in its own right, able to respond to player decisions and actions. It does not speak, but it's able to understands the player's gestures. In a move that's sure to invite some comparisons to the Kinect, players are able to direct the device to perform various tasks by discovering and using hand gestures. In fact, a main part of the gameplay involves working together with the device to learn how to communicate with one another without words. That's actually really cool if the technical hurdles can be overcome and it works as intended. The team at Cyan has embraced VR and built Firmament from the ground up to support virtual reality headsets and sensors. In fact, that might be the primary reason their gesture-based approach to communication with the device will succeed. Of course, the team recognizes that not everyone is able to play games in VR, so a non-VR option will be available. They just heavily encourage people to play Firmament in VR if they can. How exactly the gesture controls will work on a gamepad or a mouse and keyboard remain to be seen. As of this writing, the Kickstarter is nearing $1.1 million pledges from 13,569 people in its crowdfunding campaign. However, it only has three days left to reach $1.3 million. There's also a stretch goal of $1.4 million to add Mac, PS4/PSVR, and multilingual support. The campaign, as one might expect, is packed with backer rewards. One of the most interesting is that fans who back the game at $250 will be able to see and play the proof of concept that Cyan Inc. developed for their own internal use. It's not often that those early vertical slices make it out into the public, but seeing some of that behind-the-scenes game development is always really interesting. People who back the Kickstarter will also receive exclusive DLC for the finished version of Firmament that will reskin the trusty clockwork companion - including one skin that's a direct throwback to Myst. Another exclusive for backers will be some additional unique elements that haven't been revealed. On top of that, players will be able to personalize some elements of the narrative in the exclusive DLC, like naming a special book or leaving behind a significant date that will appear in the campaign. Overall, Firmament looks to be the kind of project that Cyan Inc. does best, an atmosphere heavy adventure full of more questions than answers. The game is expected to ship in July of 2020, though the success or failure of the Kickstarter could cause that window to shift somewhat. Here's hoping this unique project succeeds. Don't forget to sign up for Extra Life to help sick and injured kids in hospitals around the US and Canada by playing games! View full article
  3. Do you remember the last time you discovered something in a game without looking up an answer online or unlocking an achievement? It has been too long for me, and I don’t think I’m alone. There’s value in uncovering secrets via clues, random luck, or just natural progression of story. The internet community and completionists are winning out and persuading developers to dumb down these elements or remove them entirely. There are some diamonds in the rough, and these become instantly popular because mystery in gaming is something that shouldn’t be forgotten or lost. In-game mysteries come in many forms, but we’re going to focus on a few of the more common occurrences. The first and most prevalent is the puzzle. A puzzle comes in many shapes and sizes, and neither factor directly impacts the difficulty. But, in all cases the difficulty of puzzles has decreased over the years. How long are you willing to try solving a puzzle before researching the answer? A development team can make a great puzzle that takes hours of play to figure out (ex. Braid, The Stanley Parable, Majora’s Mask), but if you can google the answer two days after it releases then all those folks are taking away from their art. So instead they make the puzzle simpler. Now it takes no more than a few minutes to solve. More complex puzzles require a mechanic that points you to the answer, such as Lara Croft’s “Survival Instincts” in Tomb Raider. When did it become more important to complete the game than it did to enjoy the experience? Next, and perhaps most coveted, the Easter Egg. An Easter Egg is a bonus feature hidden in a game by its designers. Often a simple picture or message, they are a way for the designer to share an inside joke with a player who goes the extra mile to find it. The Easter Egg has its own variance in difficulty and scale. Some are meant to be found by any player willing to take a few more minutes. Others still are buried deep, deep in the code, deeper than the first Easter Eggs such as the key in Atari’s Adventure. They can be mysteries buried to the point that only a select few will find it without looking up the answers. In order to encourage players to explore their world and find the hidden gems, some more recent releases such as Halo have incorporated a gameplay feature into the Easter Egg. Now, in order to experience the hardest difficulty or ‘real’ ending, you must find them. So, to the internet! Instead of spending quality time in the world, players just watch how-to videos and skip any exploration. I use Halo to bring up a personal reference. I found my first hidden skull in Halo 3 on my own. I saw a small corner and the desire to explore sent me off on a few minute long quest to reach an odd ledge. Reaching that skull myself was so rewarding I yearned to go find all of them, with no help. In the end I failed and could not find two despite my best efforts. I refused to look them up on the internet. The developers had bested me twice. Looking up the answer would cheapen their victory. All of that is lost as we become less adventurous and focus more on completion. Let’s look at another example, P.T. I think this single level demo proves the value of mystery and also shows how the current gaming culture dilutes it. It contained a series of exploration-based puzzles with clues that led to the Easter Egg that was the project’s purpose, the relation between this game and an upcoming (now cancelled) Silent Hills. Adventure-horror is not my cup of tea, so I never played it. However, by the time I would’ve had a chance the entire mystery had been solved, analyzed, and shared to the point of a decrease in the value of trying it. In short, it was spoiled. Hideo Kojima himself expected it would take a week to be solved, but it ended up taking half a day. I praise the folks who completed it so quickly. However, the rapid spreading of the answers takes away from Kojima’s and Guillermo del Toro’s creation, minimizing the number of people that can enjoy and discover its mysteries on their own time. Most of the above focuses on video games, but tabletop gaming has its own form of mystery. Take Magic: the Gathering. I am a Johnny, a type of player that focuses on creating combos more than optimized strategy. As such, discovering card combinations built into a set, maybe even finding some the designers never intended, brings me great joy. However, when I do any research on cards in current sets I find dozens of potential combos and pre-built decks that will utilize and destroy my newfound discovery. It’s great that the community shares these, even in a competitive world like M:tG. Unfortunately, I left the world of Magic and sold my cards mainly because of the devaluation of the parts I enjoyed the most. We live in a “no spoiler” culture for nearly all forms of media. In years past, motivated players could purchase a strategy guide to reach the coveted 100%. However, the explosion of free walkthroughs, guides, faqs, and demos on the internet has removed the financial barrier. Why are these mysteries the exception to the rule? Has the need to win become more important than the play? Imagine a movie that gave hints and reminders to previous clues or a book that allowed you to skip exposition in order to get to the juicy combat chapter. That mentality is far too common and encourages developers to focus on gameplay more than complex plot or mystery. In a perfect world shouldn’t there be room for both? The truth is I’m likely in the minority. Market research and statistics would likely reveal that most gamers don’t care about mystery as much as me. Thankfully the indie market provides some great products that utilize mystery in new and engaging ways. To those of you out there that have never immersed yourself in a game and picked out all the secrets and answers yourself, I encourage you to try it soon. The experience will both show you new ways to enjoy our hobby and stimulate your brain in ways that will benefit you outside of the gaming world. --- This post was authored by Extra Life community member Bobby Frazier. Thank you very much, Bobby! Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read our article about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today! View full article
  4. Do you remember the last time you discovered something in a game without looking up an answer online or unlocking an achievement? It has been too long for me, and I don’t think I’m alone. There’s value in uncovering secrets via clues, random luck, or just natural progression of story. The internet community and completionists are winning out and persuading developers to dumb down these elements or remove them entirely. There are some diamonds in the rough, and these become instantly popular because mystery in gaming is something that shouldn’t be forgotten or lost. In-game mysteries come in many forms, but we’re going to focus on a few of the more common occurrences. The first and most prevalent is the puzzle. A puzzle comes in many shapes and sizes, and neither factor directly impacts the difficulty. But, in all cases the difficulty of puzzles has decreased over the years. How long are you willing to try solving a puzzle before researching the answer? A development team can make a great puzzle that takes hours of play to figure out (ex. Braid, The Stanley Parable, Majora’s Mask), but if you can google the answer two days after it releases then all those folks are taking away from their art. So instead they make the puzzle simpler. Now it takes no more than a few minutes to solve. More complex puzzles require a mechanic that points you to the answer, such as Lara Croft’s “Survival Instincts” in Tomb Raider. When did it become more important to complete the game than it did to enjoy the experience? Next, and perhaps most coveted, the Easter Egg. An Easter Egg is a bonus feature hidden in a game by its designers. Often a simple picture or message, they are a way for the designer to share an inside joke with a player who goes the extra mile to find it. The Easter Egg has its own variance in difficulty and scale. Some are meant to be found by any player willing to take a few more minutes. Others still are buried deep, deep in the code, deeper than the first Easter Eggs such as the key in Atari’s Adventure. They can be mysteries buried to the point that only a select few will find it without looking up the answers. In order to encourage players to explore their world and find the hidden gems, some more recent releases such as Halo have incorporated a gameplay feature into the Easter Egg. Now, in order to experience the hardest difficulty or ‘real’ ending, you must find them. So, to the internet! Instead of spending quality time in the world, players just watch how-to videos and skip any exploration. I use Halo to bring up a personal reference. I found my first hidden skull in Halo 3 on my own. I saw a small corner and the desire to explore sent me off on a few minute long quest to reach an odd ledge. Reaching that skull myself was so rewarding I yearned to go find all of them, with no help. In the end I failed and could not find two despite my best efforts. I refused to look them up on the internet. The developers had bested me twice. Looking up the answer would cheapen their victory. All of that is lost as we become less adventurous and focus more on completion. Let’s look at another example, P.T. I think this single level demo proves the value of mystery and also shows how the current gaming culture dilutes it. It contained a series of exploration-based puzzles with clues that led to the Easter Egg that was the project’s purpose, the relation between this game and an upcoming (now cancelled) Silent Hills. Adventure-horror is not my cup of tea, so I never played it. However, by the time I would’ve had a chance the entire mystery had been solved, analyzed, and shared to the point of a decrease in the value of trying it. In short, it was spoiled. Hideo Kojima himself expected it would take a week to be solved, but it ended up taking half a day. I praise the folks who completed it so quickly. However, the rapid spreading of the answers takes away from Kojima’s and Guillermo del Toro’s creation, minimizing the number of people that can enjoy and discover its mysteries on their own time. Most of the above focuses on video games, but tabletop gaming has its own form of mystery. Take Magic: the Gathering. I am a Johnny, a type of player that focuses on creating combos more than optimized strategy. As such, discovering card combinations built into a set, maybe even finding some the designers never intended, brings me great joy. However, when I do any research on cards in current sets I find dozens of potential combos and pre-built decks that will utilize and destroy my newfound discovery. It’s great that the community shares these, even in a competitive world like M:tG. Unfortunately, I left the world of Magic and sold my cards mainly because of the devaluation of the parts I enjoyed the most. We live in a “no spoiler” culture for nearly all forms of media. In years past, motivated players could purchase a strategy guide to reach the coveted 100%. However, the explosion of free walkthroughs, guides, faqs, and demos on the internet has removed the financial barrier. Why are these mysteries the exception to the rule? Has the need to win become more important than the play? Imagine a movie that gave hints and reminders to previous clues or a book that allowed you to skip exposition in order to get to the juicy combat chapter. That mentality is far too common and encourages developers to focus on gameplay more than complex plot or mystery. In a perfect world shouldn’t there be room for both? The truth is I’m likely in the minority. Market research and statistics would likely reveal that most gamers don’t care about mystery as much as me. Thankfully the indie market provides some great products that utilize mystery in new and engaging ways. To those of you out there that have never immersed yourself in a game and picked out all the secrets and answers yourself, I encourage you to try it soon. The experience will both show you new ways to enjoy our hobby and stimulate your brain in ways that will benefit you outside of the gaming world. --- This post was authored by Extra Life community member Bobby Frazier. Thank you very much, Bobby! Any other Extra Lifers out there with some writing skills and a good idea? Read our article about how to become a community contributor and start submitting today!
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