Advice on suitable platform

Greetings all,

I am the lead designer for a multimedia story-driven adventure game. Our team mainly consists of talented individuals putting their heads together, and we currently have a number of talented graphics artists (3d and 2d), composers, well-known voice actors, etc. We originally envisioned creating this project in a full 3d environment, and we got pretty far using the Unreal Development Kit, but soon realized that we needed to do a LOT of customizing to get things to where we wanted them. Essentially, our game is story-driven, dialogue heavy (with lip synching), has inventory management type puzzles etc. We also tried some adventure game systems such as AGS, but found them pretty limiting (e.g. when it comes to the allowed screen resolution).

We may still go the 3d route, but have decided to first focus on creating an interactive fiction version of the actual plot, if nothing else as a proof of concept. That way, we can put a lot of the work we already performed towards an actual finished product, since our original ambitious idea may be delayed. To make a long story short, we’re looking to find an interactive fiction developing system that allows:

  • Some combination of clicking and typing in order to perform actions (e.g. compass, inventory icons etc).
  • Ideally pretty powerful graphics capabilities. We would need the ability to play full screen videos and windowed videos (limited to a section of the screen) efficiently. We’d particularly want the ability to have somewhat animated scenes for the actual rooms, and a system capable of playing videos one after the other pretty seamlessly.
  • Full music / sound capabilities.

So my question to you all is, what is the most multimedia capable IF developing system out there? Is there any clever way to incorporate fairly high level videos and animations with a text-based approach to puzzle solving etc (ideally combined with some point and click elements)?

Thanks!

Anne.

Sounds like Quest might be your best bet.

As the creator of Quest, I agree (recommended by Campbell - that was unexpected :slight_smile: )

It gives you a clickable compass, on-screen inventory list, hyperlinks, video and sound out of the box - you can embed YouTube and Vimeo clips.

It works with HTML and Javascript, so it is possible to completely customise the game UI. So, if there’s a way in JS to trigger an event when a video finishes playing, you could use that to trigger another video, or trigger the description for the next room, etc.

Games can be played either in the Quest software itself, or through a web browser. I’m also currently working on an export facility that will make it possible to create iPhone/iPad/Android apps.

I’m working on Quest full-time at the moment, so I can give you all the help you need.

I’m surprised you didn’t find AGS to be helpful, and if screen resolution is the only reason you didn’t like it… well, when I was there I don’t recall a game ever really needing higher resolutions than the ones supported; and the ones that did go as high as they could go were, invariably, not that good.

However, if it’s that much a dealbreaker, you might find Wintermute to be worth your while. And maybe Adventure Maker, I’ve always shied from it but it might be what you’re looking for.

In IF, I don’t know about the multimedia abilties of Quest, but I think Adrift can do nifty things (just am not sure about the videos). I do know for sure that HTML Tads and Inform have those capabilities, but learning those languages just for this might be extreme.

You could always do something else - recruit a programmer from this forum and let him/her program your multimedia-intensive proof-of-concept, in their language of choice, provided it can do all those nifty things you want. Especially if it really is just a proof of concept - otherwise you’ll have to learn a new language from scratch… just to put together a storyboard and LATER make the whole game from scratch AGAIN.

Tads doesn’t support video (MNG animations don’t really qualify) nor fullscreen.

Inform 7 might support what you want, but the extent of customization you’ll need to do will be severe. Take a look at any Inform 7 code that’s available and you’ll see what I mean – even a relatively straightforward game like Weishaupt Scholars is customized up the butt. And you don’t even want to see the source code for Rover’s Day Out. I can say this because I’ve been down that path with New Cat (no source code is available yet, but I’ve been considering it).

Other platforms have a few nasty restrictions. ADRIFT, for instance, has a horrible parser and can only run on Windows.

Horrible in what way? And keep up at the back - ADRIFT runs on Linux and I am trialling an online version.

Thanks so much for the help so far, guys. It’s been really useful.

We have some great connections in our team, but mainly within the area of voice acting / music and scriptwriting (and also somewhat in the field of graphics, even though we will probably need some more help there). Our programming abilities are not quite on level with everything else. Some of our voice actors were in pretty well-known TV and computer game productions, and worked with companies such as Blizzard and Bioware. We have a studio in the Hollywood area, where most of the dialogue is recorded, and where most of the sound/music mixing is performed. We also know some people at EA and some other game companies, so we’re going to try to pitch this and pass it around, enroll in some indie game conferences etc. We also know some people at G4 so we’re hoping to get at least a small feature in there.

We got fairly far in UDK, including a functional 3d environment with moving NPCs and lip synched dialogue, but ultimately the amount of 3d modeling and programming required turned out quite overwhelming. Things like inventory and even a semblance of a save state system had to be coded totally from scratch. Since we have a LOT of dialogue, music, writing and graphics already finalized, we wanted to focus on another platform to at least make use of a lot of the elements we have so far, and also have it work as a proof of concept that we can pass around to our contacts. Many of the members in our team love interactive fiction, and so we think this may be the best way to go, to get the actual game concept to a workable stage. We don’t want it to become one of those unending projects that never result in anything actually playable for years, if we stick exclusively with our exceedingly ambitious 3d version, so this is why we are looking at IF languages so we can get something “out there” fairly fast.

Thanks for the suggestion about Quest, we were pretty unfamiliar with it. Other names you mention we have heard about, but haven’t researched a whole lot. We HAVE tried AGS as I mentioned. We did find the screen resolution limiting since we’re working with some pretty high-res videos. There were also other aspects that we didn’t quite get along with. We have tried Wintermute as well and liked it better, but we still had some issues (I don’t want to get long-winded with specifics in my post and bore you all).

I think ultimately, we veered away from our initial idea to make a proof of concept by way of a point and click 2d/video based game, since it still doesn’t allow us to put a proof of concept out there as fast as we want. The game is very cinematic, and some sequences like “X grabs a gun, turns towards Y and fires” are hard to incorporate visually within a reasonable time span (considering the length of the script). Since the game is totally first-person, that makes cinematic style sequences even harder to incorporate realistically in a 2d point and click environment. We know you can rely on pop-ups containing plain text even in a point and click game, but we’re not huge fans of that solution, so we figure it would all “blend” more naturally if we focus more on a text-based approach (i.e. IF) to the whole thing.

Again, thanks for all the help so far. If any of you feel that you’re interested in this project and have some time to dedicate to it, don’t hesitate to let me know. We are always looking for potential team members, and this project will be our starting point into actually going commercial (even though this one project is performed on a totally volunteer basis). Always hard to tell the future, but if things go like we expect them to, it could be a great entry into the field, and it all looks pretty promising.

Anne.

If you don’t want to get into the specifics, I understand, but I would be interested rather than bored. I’ve done quite a bit of work on a similar system, so areas of improvement are a very interesting discussion to me.