Monday, December 30, 2013

Episode 14 - Top 5 Things We're Looking Forward to in 2014

This week we take a look at the top 5 things we're looking forward to in 2014!  We also have reviews on Bioshock and Final Fantasy 2, and talk about what it really means to be "Next Gen." We also have our first contest!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Spotlight on: Reset

Marc got a hold of Theory Interactive Ltd. last week to ask them a few questions about their upcoming First Person Mystery Puzzle game, Reset. While they are tight-lipped about the plot behind the game, they have a few videos out showcasing AAA visuals and challenging time-travel puzzles. If you are an Oculus Rift fan or just a fan of atmospheric puzzle games, head on over and consider donating!

TFN: How would you describe Reset to someone who doesn’t know anything about it?

Theory Interactive: Reset is a First Person Puzzle and Open World Mystery solving game with a strong emphasis on story and atmosphere. A Sci-fi Noir mystery. The main game mechanic in solving the puzzles is the ability to skip back in time to co-operate with your previous self or selves.

TFN: Games like Portal and Antichamber have helped expand the First Person Puzzle genre but it is still quite small and fresh compared to others. What was it that drew you to the genre? Have you encountered any unexpected challenges?

Theory Interactive: Portal was a real eye opener for me. It was a very pure game but at the same time it was the deepest game I've played story wise. It was a game that succeeded in playing me, a very powerful experience. I feel that games have great, mostly untapped potential in making players experiencing stories, rather than just telling them. It is this aspect that I find most intriguing. I think a game that concentrates more on mental challenges rather than just reaction challenges is more suited to engage the player in a deeper way over all. I don't know if we've encountered unexpected challenges, I'd say all challenges are more or less unexpected.

TFN: You have been very guarded about revealing the plot behind Reset, telling us only that it will take place on a fictional island in the Galápagos and involve time travel. We would normally ask a few questions regarding plot, instead, can you describe the philosophy behind your decision to keep it under wraps?

Theory Interactive: This is a decision based on our goal to get the player to experience the game more deeply. It's likely that you understand the decision once you've played the game through.

TFN: The sights and sounds of Reset are beautiful and build an amazing sci-fi noir atmosphere. Can you tell us some of the sources you’ve drawn inspiration from?

Theory Interactive: I guess all things sci-fi play a big role in the background, but mostly works that are a bit more enigmatic, challenging and not necessarily ending happily are more closer to Reset. We are kids who grew up in the 80's and 90's so a lot of inspiration simply comes from works that emerged in that era.

TFN: Your Indiegogo description mentions you both previously worked for Futuremark and that Reset runs on Praxis, an engine youve developed in-house. Given your tremendous technical experience, is there a feature youve built into Praxis that you dont see other studios focusing on?

Theory Interactive: Technical knowledge is one of our strong points and a of course an interest. Lighting has been one our main focuses from the beginning. Not creating hugely complex geometry but focusing on light reacting realistically on surfaces and in the atmosphere. We we're a bit head of times when we released the first trailer a year ago, but now you can see the bigger studios focusing the same way. It's a natural progress. When computational power is available it's more efficient to simulate rather than do everything by hand.

TFN: What has your experience been with the Indiegogo process and is there any advice you’d offer to aspiring game designers looking at the platform?

Theory Interactive: We'll this is a tough one. It's been a ride of emotions so far. And being such a tiny team has brought it's own challenges. For example I've had to take care of my kids for many days during the campaign when they we're ill (nothing serious, normal flus and vomit diseases), and we weren't prepared for that. Since the campaign is only for a certain time, being away from the project at that time means that we can't drive it forward. We should have been more prepared for the whole length of the campaign before we even started. This isn't really a platform specific advice, but planning the whole thing through properly, at least the major updates (which should be frequent enough) will go a long way. And of course having a big enough community around the project is essential especially for the start. I can't really compare to other platforms since I have no first hand experience. Indiegogo was our choice, because it's basically the best way to go from where we are. Kickstarter is unavailable from Finland directly, and it would have been too big a task for us to set up a business representation in the US or UK just to get the campaign going.

TFN: Our podcast is known for doing Top 5 lists every week, your game promises to feature challenging, mind-bending time-travel puzzles. What are your Top 5 mind-bending games?

Theory Interactive: I think the aforementioned Portal and Antichamber hold the first two places. I enjoyed The Misadventures of P.B.Winterbottom quite alot, and it's kind of a 2d sibling to Reset. Oldie but goldie Day of the Tentacle is awesome of course. The upcoming Parallax seems very intriguing, looking forward to that.

TFN: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us! Is there anything else you’d like to communicate about Reset?

Theory Interactive: Thanks for the great questions. Although fallen behind, the Indiegogo campaign is not over yet, so now is the perfect time to purchase a Christmas present for yourself or a friend for... Christmas 2014!

Check out Theory Interactive Ltd.’s First Person Mystery Puzzle game, Reset, over at

Monday, December 16, 2013

Episode 13 - Our Top 5 Game Worlds

This episode we go over our top 5 game worlds!  Brian sees things differently than the rest of the world on.....well just about everything!  Marc and JJ gush over the Elder Scrolls and we also do a review for Mass Effect 2!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Spotlight: Stasis Interview with Christopher Bischoff

Last week Marc caught up with Christopher Bischoff, the creator of the horror adventure game STASIS, which is now taking donations via Kickstarter. A few days still remain in the kickstarter and a demo is available for the curious via Be sure to read our interview and check out the game! .

TFN: How would you describe Stasis to someone who doesn’t know anything about it?  

Christopher: STASIS is set on a seemingly abandoned research facility. The player takes on the identity of John Maracheck to explore and solve puzzles in a 2D isometric environment. Essentially, it's an horror, adventure game in the same vein as Monkey Island and The Dig. To help John find his family, you're required to interact with your surroundings, collect and use items all while uncovering the deepening mystery.

 TFN: One of the things that drew me to your project was the idea of using the adventure genre as the framework for a modern Sci-Fi horror game. Can you tell us some of the ways the genre has enabled you to explore your story in a way other genres could not?  

Christopher:The adventure game genre is perfectly suited to a horror game, in that it almost goes directly against the grain of needing to explore. It forces you along a path, that goes against human nature and almost creates an 'uncomfortable feel' in the environment. You don't want to go through that door, but you have to... You don't want to know what's under that hospital bed, but it could be an integral part of the game... Science Fiction is also a wonderful tool in adventure games, from a story point of view. I found that many of my favorite adventure game experiences were reflections on who I was as a person as the time of playing them. Through Space Quest I got to live out my time as an awkward kid, trying to see where I fit into the world. Day of the Tentacle was am exploration of friendship, reflecting many things that a young child was looking for in the world. As an older gamer, I am looking for experiences that speak to me and to my role in society. The best Science Fiction is the type that holds up a mirror to the feelings and emotions that society is going through at that moment.

 TFN: During my play time I found puzzles which seemed well grounded in reality and followed logically. Is there anything you can tell us about your design philosophy?

 Christopher:John is very much a part of me. I'm not an engineer, so if I was trying to get through a locked door, there is very little chance of me rewiring the lock! I'd most likely try to lever the door open with a crowbar. The design philosophy is really, "What Would John Do?" He isn't a marine or a scientist. He is a normal, untrained man, in search of his family - and that's constantly in the forefront of my mind when designing the game, the puzzles and the situations that John finds himself in. But that's not to say that there aren't instances where he'll need to move far from his comfort zone to get through the ship.  

TFN: Groomlake is a reference to the dried up lake north of Area 51, would you say that American cult mythology has influenced this game?  

Christopher:The world is a very small place and the influences in STASIS range from American Cult Mythology to Japanese political cover-ups, post World War II. STASIS is an amalgamation of ALL of my interests; some are obscure (like conspiracy theories and black holes) and many are more direct like film and games and you'll find these references throughout the game. Did you know that John's name is a good example of a truly obscure Aliens reference?  

TFN: In a recent kickstarter update you expounded on the influence Alien has had on you over the years and in particular with Stasis. What I have always found remarkable about that movie was Ridley Scott’s courage to pose deep, disturbing questions and offer no clean answers. Beyond subject matter, have Ridley Scott’s works had an impact on your approach to narrative and exposition?  

Christopher:Ridley Scott's ability to give a lot of information without relying on dialogue (or any focused written word) is something I've tried to emulate. Things like small signs on the sides of doors, a bloody hand print, a sound that echoes through the scene at just the right time... Every piece of information in a Ridley Scott film is carefully given to the viewer, allowing them to piece together the puzzle without being overt about it. It's an incredible skill. I'm trying to pull this thread through into STASIS.  

TFN: Kicktraq expects you to exceed your Kickstarter goal by a healthy margin. What has your experience been with the kickstarting process and is there any advice you’d offer to aspiring game designers looking at the platform?  

Christopher:It really has been an intense few months - counting the four months of preparation for the Kickstarter campaign. My two cents: Treat the time leading up to your campaign as importantly, as the time during your campaign. A strong build up and strong start is the best thing I could've hoped for, because it gives supporters confidence in your project, if the campaign slows down a little.  

TFN: Our podcast is known for doing Top 5 lists every week, you have mentioned your love for adventure games. What are your Top 5 adventure games?

Christopher: The Dig Space Quest 5 Day Of The Tentacle Broken Sword Beneath a Steel Sky  

TFN: Thank you again for giving us a bit of your time! Is there anything else that you'd like to mention? About Stasis or any other projects you're working on?

 Christopher:STASIS has been my focus and my life for three years now! The future is going to be interesting for The Brotherhood and for fans of isometric games...  

You can check out Christopher Bischoff's game, STASIS, via his Kickstarter page located here:

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Episode 12 - Our Top 5 Games We'd Like to see Rereleased

Brian spoils Star Ocean: Till the End of Time!.....but the game's been out for years so we forgive him.  We talk about digital gaming purchases versus physical copies, and also go over our top 5 games that we would like to see rereleased!