Dark Recall

Hi all,

My name is Lee Page, I work as Indy developer at TeraBit Software.

I have been working on putting a newer spin on some older game formulas. My current project is entitled ‘Dark Recall’ and is an interactive fiction game (hence I have come looking for the experts). :wink:

The game itself is based on a proprietary engine and hence stand alone (no interpreter needed) and currently at the Alpha stage of development.

It combines Text, Graphics, Music and Sound Effects in an interesting way, as it tries to give the text centre stage but uses the extra elements to add an ambient atmosphere.

(edit) Alpha is now closed.

Background:
"In the year 2076 as mankind’s resources dwindled, they began desperately reaching out to the stars in order to find a new home.

Rapid advances in star-drive technology opened the way to the settlement and colonisation of other planets.

Hundreds of worlds were identified as being able to support human life and, as the technology to do so became ever more common place, more and more ordinary people began heading out into the void to find another home for themselves amidst distant stars.

The Hyden star system, on the outer reaches of mankinds exploratory missions, boasted a single habitable world, rich in rare metals and other mineral wealth, but otherwise unremarkable.

The unofficial colony that sprang up was small, numbering only into the thousands, but over the decades they had managed to build up a modern association of settlements grouped around a single fusion reactor, known as the ‘core’.

It seemed like the perfect place to start over, but colonisation of distant worlds is not without its’ hazards…"

Game controls:
Left Click Portraits to speak to characters
Left Click Highlighted words to view additional information or make decisions.

  • / - Increases or decreases the read speed at any time
    F5 / F6 Increases or decreases the font size
    Right Mouse / Enter Key - Finishes the Current Reading quickly
    Mouse Wheel / Page Up / Page Down / Up Arrow / Down Arrow Reviews the story so far

Space Bar / Middle Mouse Button = Reveals the highlighted words quickly.

Menu

Opening Screen

Only the first section of the game is in the engine at the moment, but if you get a chance to test, it would be much appreciated!

Feel free to post your comments / impressions here in this thread or contact me via the link in my signature.

Hi all,

Anyone had a go yet? :sunglasses:

Just to mention a point raised earlier, you can change the font on the Options screen. Updated a couple of spelling mistakes (missed by the spell checker in my editor because they were just the wrong words! :blush: ).

Just from those screen shots I can tell you that your font choice is terrible, it’s far too wide and some of the letter forms are bizarre. Keep it for the titles, sure. But change your body text to something sensible. A nice serif font please.

Sure, the engine is in Alpha at the moment, but as mentioned above, you can change the font in the options screen. The default font is a problem, but illustrates the style I was hoping for, if not the clarity. :confused:

Actually, suggestions for a suitable available default font would be helpful. The alternate is currently Segoe UI, which looks a bit well UI. :wink:

Note: I get the impression most are a little reluctant to try beyond the screen shots. Is that common? (I just joined the forum here recently, so may not have presented it in the way people here are used to?)

Times New Roman. (If it must be sans-serif, Helvetica.) Unless you’re deliberately trying to make a statement with your font choice and you know what you’re doing, go with the classics.

I like Cambria which comes with recent windows but may not be legal to distribute. Or you could check out the Google Web Fonts list.

(I don’t like Times New Roman.)

Something like this?

(original post about changing the font) [spoiler]That’s much better. I tried the game but whenever I changed the font in options, it wouldn’t stick in the game (it kept reverting to futuristic).

I did options -> change font -> escape key -> load game, and the loaded game would be in futuristic.

Futuristic really is unreadable for me, let me know if there’s a fix or I was doing something wrong.

edit: nevermind, quitting the game, restarting, changing the option again and then loading a new game did the trick.[/spoiler]

I think a fair number of people here use Mac/Linux, so it may be a tougher sell if they don’t have a Windows VM or emulator.

Just some quick initial impressions:

  • I’d like a non full screen option
  • I’d like an option to display text all at once
  • the game might not be checking the native resolution, as some texts scrolled off the screen (for example when looking under the sink).
  • I would favor more naturalistic sound with the music only at certain moments for dramatic effect
  • in the beginning, is Amaya in an enclosed garden? This was a little confusing once you get into the house and you can’t leave it. Or maybe ‘garden’ here is meant to be ‘yard’ (like an enclosed yard) in American English?
  • the text transition effects are nice.
  • the backscroll/history feature combined with the new text on its own page is really nice. Usually I prefer continuous text (as in most IF games), but I’ve never seen it done this way and it’s great.
  • the initial gameplay felt a little forced. I can understand wanting to direct the player to explore the house; perhaps shorten these texts so it goes a little more quickly.
  • the initial mystery is good, I wanted to find out more, and I liked the choices where Amaya could hide or reveal information.
  • the writing in the opening paragraph felt clumsy, which left a bad impression of the rest of the text that followed (though the rest was much better in my opinion).

Anyway, I’ll play around with this some more. I think you have a good basic concept and a nice UI, so please do post updates as they roll out and I’d be happy to give them a go.

Hi All,

A new version is up to play with.

Changes:

  1. Changed the default font (see the earlier images, which have been updated)
  2. Some minor text changes in some locations.
  3. Added some more information about the garden (thanks George for pointing that out)
  4. Added a Mac OSX Alpha version to play with.

Fairly early on I decided to do something full screen. The idea is to try and focus your attention on the world. The ambient images, SFX and music are all attempts to maintain a kind of atmosphere. I’ve always felt it would kind of break the experience if you had Skype running next to it in a window. Like holding a Head Mounted Display a foot from your face! However, the option will likely be there in the end. :smiley:

Right Click the Mouse or Pressing the Enter key does this. This should be used sparingly though, since the idea is that the story is ‘read’ to you.

Even within a paragraph, sound effects are timed to individual words, as are background image transitions (and characters turning up for that matter).
So if you always just blast an entire screen full of text onto the screen, you will sometimes get a confusing jumble of SFX and image transitions.
It can be useful for replaying sections you’ve already played through (if you loaded from a saved game or something).

The extra descriptions in text that you click just appear, as they are not part of the story as such, just extra information. However, the story sections and speech are ‘read’ intentionally so as to appear as if they are happening in real time, or at least as I imagine it when reading a story. In an idea world, it would be good to have eye tracking, so sound etc. happen when you first look at words. :sunglasses:

This can happen. But as mentioned above, the idea is for you to adjust the read speed (using the + / - keys) so you are ‘read to’ about your own pace, so you can keep up with it all. You can of course use the ‘p’ key to pause or the arrow keys / mouse wheel to hold it where it is if needed.

It was the first bit I wrote of the actual game. If you can suggest a smoother way of writing it, or just point out the bits that sound most clunky, I’m happy to rework it a bit. :slight_smile:

The preferences save with the saved games, so if you set the music / sfx volume or font, it will carry over with save games from person to person.

Thanks for testing so far, I’m hoping the get the mechanics of the game nailed down fairly soon, so I can work on getting the rest of the actual game in there. :sunglasses:

Also, just to reiterate the controls from the top post:

Let me know once you complete the section (by escaping the house). The first section is not very long, so shouldn’t take long to complete.

Hi all,

Dark Recall is now almost at Beta test stage, so I put it up on Steam Greenlight to see how it would go. :slight_smile:

Here’s my Project Page

Convincing people that playing a primarily Text-based adventure game can be fun is proving a challenge. 8D

And you do get the odd choice comment! :-/

Is there Linux support?

Edit:
Btw, “Hybrid Text / Graphic Adventure Game”? Isn’t it just “Graphical Text Adventure?” :slight_smile: They’ve been around since the late 80’s and most people know them as such.

Not quite. The interface is a point and click type (similar to modern graphic Adventure games (in this case options based on highlighted keywords)) and you also interact with the graphics in that you can click on character portraits to converse with them. So it’s more of a Hybrid of Graphical Adventure interface with Text based story telling.

As for Linux, it’s possible as the compiler has a Linux version. But although I have a Mac version, I’ve not yet had a go with a Linux distro.

That sounds like the games by Legend Ent. from 1992 (the two “Gateway” games are the most well known, I suppose.) You could also interact with objects using the mouse.

And I’m eagerly awaiting a Linux build.

I just looked them up on YouTube. :slight_smile:

Some similarities! But in my case you interact with the text by point and click or with characters only.

In the case of the Gateway games it appears that the images were shortcuts to text commands (i.e. you could click on the word ‘Look’ from the menu on the left, then click on the picture (a lift door for instance)).

In fact it is more of a graphic adventure than mine in that respect.

Seems closest to a visual novel.

Seems closest to a visual novel.

Kind of… but the focus is different.

Visual Novels (the ones I’ve seen since people began pointing this out) are mostly about characters talking about things while pictures of them in the background change. The focus is on the graphics, with the text taking a back seat.

Dark Recall is more about what is being described in the text and making decisions based on that.
The conversation system is layered on top of this and in that respect is more like an RPG.

They share similar elements, they’re just used differently.