Rabbit Tell http://www.rabbittell.com/ Rabbit Tell - Point and click adventure games en-us nrts-97 Vacations! /blog/97-vacations Which actualy means “coding and drawing games”. At the same time we move forwards with the engine – and the fact that we’re building PC, Android and Web at the same time is a big challenge – we’re drawing and testing Cape of Storms. Fun times ahead.

Meanwhile Bruno moved to China and there are over 2000 comments to moderate. You’d think the spammers would give up after they saw 2000 of their comments not going through, but it’s not the case. Not the smartest people in the world, as it turns out.

By the way, if you have any tips for getting rid of spam, please let us know. Next step will be to block all comments except from Facebook/Google users. But only when the game things are over – priorities, always priorities.

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Rodrigo Roesler Mon, 23 Sep 2013 2:23:00 GMT Behind the Scenes Cape of Storms Development Games Random stuff
nrts-86 Once Upon a Time… /blog/86-once-upon-a-time tim_gordon_draft

…we were building Cape of Storms, as you might or might not remember. We went as far as to write the whole, detailed script with all the puzzles (and then we found one of the puzzles being used almost exactly as we wrote it in The Cave, which was a fun coincidence but now we have to rewrite it – bummer).

Back then we had a new engine, used to build The Labyrinth. The problem was this engine was heavily dependent on perspective drawing, as opposed to the isometric we had before (protip: isometric makes some things really easy if you don’t know how to draw). So we found an external artist to work on the new game.

And that didn’t really work. The guy kind of disappeared.

That left us stuck in a corner. We couldn’t draw the game ourselves, and by then we had almost no spare time because of a series of other matters. So Cape of Storms was delayed. And delayed. And then we stopped updating the site. And then we also disappeared.

Until now.

We’re rebuilding the engine. And planning new games. To be honest, both those things are easy. But we still have some roadblocks. Mainly, the ability to create scenes, characters and animations without the need to rely on artists. And that’s what’s taking our time right now – we’re building tools and the engine with the goal of making it easy and fast to make all the art involved.

The scenes are working fine, the characters are still in draft stage (there’s an unfinished example above) and the animations are the next thing to conquer. After that, the engine (which is a bit of menial work but it’s all planned already) and the games (yay! – the fun part). With a few changes in relation to the old games, but we’ll get to that in another post.

Does that mean we’re not calling artists anymore? Nah. We will do it, eventually, and that should be really interesting. We just need to make certain that, if that doesn’t work for any reason, we’re capable of working on a game by ourselves. And thus to be able to keep our deadlines and roadmaps.

Yes, we have roadmaps. Right now we have at least fifteen games planned. Seriously.

The first one? Cape of Storms, of course. Some time this year. It’s been delayed enough. :)

Meanwhile here’s some doodles:

doodles

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Rabbit Tell Sun, 16 Jun 2013 23:16:00 GMT Behind the Scenes Cape of Storms Development Games
nrts-80 Characters (part 1) /blog/80-characters-part-1 If I was someone who knows how to draw, I could look at something and put it on paper. Ok, I know it’s not that easy. It requires points of reference, models, a lot of practice and so on. Even so, I am not that person.

This makes it really difficult to draw the hard stuff, like the human body. I wish I could get one of those little wooden dolls, position it the way I want it and copy it. But I need something more exact to start from.

Then there are programmers, and when programmers find a roadblock we sit down and code a solution. Once again, not that simple. But it helps.

That’s how this little tool came to be – and believe me, it was tricky. Say hello to the virtual wooden doll:

character_tool_1

So, what does it do? Well, mainly the same as that other tool. It creates models for people, using the same perspective as the scenes. After all the variables are set up, it prints a page like this one:

character_tool_print

It is intended to generate the main positions for a character, but I’m not doing it right now – I’m mainly creating some random poses to some random characters so I can test it. So, after this is printed, we can start some concept art. For instance, here’s David Green:

character_tool_david

No, I don’t like it either. I don’t know why, but this guy was created with a common face that’s simply bland. If (some day) we get to work on Trapped again, this will have to be solved. But right now, it’s not a concern. Let’s move on.

Meet Tim:

character_tool_tim

And here’s a ghost/zombie:

character_tool_ghost

And, finally, this is Betsy:

character_tool_betsy

Next steps are to “ink” these drawings, much in the same way as the scenes. This is what the next post will be about.

Anyway, as a side note – before deciding to create the tool I researched a lot for free, simple ways to get the same kind of results in the Internet. No luck – there are some good references, but I really needed a tool. So when this one is over, after we enable animations, we’ll upload it here and leave it free for use to anyone who has the same issues.

Cheers.

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Rodrigo Roesler Mon, 22 Apr 2013 11:31:00 GMT Behind the Scenes Development Games Graphics
nrts-66 Comments temporarily disabled /blog/66-comments-temporarily-disabled Sorry about that. Blame the spammers and robots (always blame the robots).

The fact is we’re having to moderate a few hundreds of comments a day because of spam. And we’re not talking about any spam – it’s the kind you don’t mention in a blog post so not to attract undesirable visitors. Like the FBI. Pretty gross stuff.

As soon as we get the captcha working the comments will be back. Meanwhile, use our contact page. Or Facebook. Or Twitter. Your call.

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Rabbit Tell Sat, 13 Apr 2013 15:56:00 GMT Sigh
nrts-58 That’s why I’ll have to do it… yesterday! /blog/58-thats-why-ill-have-to-do-it-yesterday DOTT

When I was a child, we had an Atari for years. But the first video game I chose, and looked forward to, was an 8-bit Nintendo. This information isn’t really what I wanted to tell you, it just shows how old I am. Sorry.

Anyway, a few months before I got the Nintendo I started to collect a video game magazine to know what’s going on. And while I didn’t have the games themselves, I used to read the magazines from cover to cover. They were divided in sections for different platforms, and most of them didn’t interest me, but I had a lot of time in my hands. And by the end of the magazines, things got weird.

You see, all sections had walkthroughs and tips. And most of them looked a lot like each other: jump, run to the left, press A, B, some instances of the Konami code… It was like all the games were variations on the same themes. But the last, smaller section, was about PC games. And the tips for some of those games just made no sense to me. There was no “A, B, jump” there. It was more like “to get the golden pen, first pick up the chattering teeth and the explosive cigar in the present and send them to the past. Give the cigar to George Washington, replace his teeth with the chattering ones and wait until the fireplace is lit up. Pick up the indian carpet, climb the house and use it on the chimney.” I mean, how was that even possible? It wasn’t your regular Mega-Man-snake-shooter stuff. It seemed impossibly complicated. It seemed like magic.

Even after I got my Nintendo, I still was a couple of years from my first PC. A couple of years trying to understand those actions, cartoon-like graphics, trying to wrap my mind around how to play those games and what were they like. And then, with a lot of built-up expectative, I finally got my hands on a copy of Day of the Tentacle.

It was way, way better than I expected.

It was the most fun I’ve ever had with a game. We used to play in groups of friends, personally or by telephone, sharing tips and trying bizarre ideas. We could barely understand English. It was challenging, it was unexpected, it was funny, and it was like nothing I’ve seen before.

After that we started to collect adventure games (which was hard in Brazil back in those days). Each new one we got was a treasure. After DOTT came Maniac Mansion, Monkey Island, Indiana Jones, Sam & Max… you got the picture (unlike Bruno, I was never a big fan of Sierra). And those games marked me more than I can tell.

Then the adventure games fad was over. And everything changed.

Rest in peace, Lucas Arts. You were amazing. And even though you never launched anything relevant after the adventure games golden age (my personal opinion, feel free to disagree), I can’t avoid being saddened by the news.

It’s been more fun than a jump-suit full of weasels.

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Rodrigo Roesler Thu, 4 Apr 2013 15:10:00 GMT Lucas Arts Random stuff Sigh
nrts-41 Making a scene (part 2) /blog/41-making-a-scene-part-2 Hi again. Where were we? Oh, yes. I showed you a small tool that generated a 3D wireframe, as the one below.

making_scene_wireframe

Now, this needs to become a cartoonish drawing to use in a game. It didn’t look promising. So let’s see what happens next. First off, we go analog. Which means the wireframe gets printed and I pen a quick draft on top of it.

making_scene_draft

Next, the draft is scanned and the colors and shadows are added, layer by layer.

making_scene_layers

After some time and a few tries, this is what I’ve got:

making_scene_betsyroom

And that’s pretty close to what we expected. It took more time than it should, but that’s only a matter of practice. The more I draw the scenes, the quicker and better they become.

Oh really?

I wanted to test that theory. So I tried a second scene, one that could be compared with previous games. And sure thing, it took half the time.

making_scene_backyard2

And I gotta say, I’m happy about it. It’s almost there on what we’re trying to follow, and it’s sustainable – easy to reproduce over and over.

Of course, none of this means anything unless we can follow the same style for the characters and items. So that’s the new challenge. Next: characters. I’ll see if I can finish some concept art tonight.

Cheers.

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Rodrigo Roesler Sat, 2 Mar 2013 3:39:00 GMT Behind the Scenes Development Games Graphics
nrts-25 Making a scene* (part 1) /blog/25-making-a-scene-part-1 So, we’re not going back to isometrics for the next games. There are a few good reasons for that (the fact that we don’t like it as much is not the worst of them), but the details are not important right now. The thing is, we want to keep the scenes based on perspective and cameras.

This poses a series of problems. Isometrics are quite easy to draw, but real cartoonish scenes demand you to actually know what you’re doing. Or that you cheat.

I like cheating.

For The Labyrinth, what we did was to generate all scenes within Google (now Trimble) SketchUp, and use textures everywhere. It worked, but it wasn’t close to perfect. There wasn’t much control on lighting and colors, and all lines and angles were too straight and hard. And integrating the scenes with the game engine was like tripping and falling face-first on an ant colony while running away from furious african bees. Not really pleasant. We needed a better way to cheat.

That’s what I’ve been working on in the past couple of weeks. A useful little tool to be able to create scenes for the game in a way that’s easy, looks good (maybe not great, but good) and works with the game engine. This last part is important.

making_scene_tool

The result is what you see above. It has a number of functions, all aimed for the creation of rooms and environments using a simple grid. After you put all the walls, doors and objects in place, it generates a simple wireframe.

making_scene_wireframe

“If all you needed was a wireframe” you may ask, “why not keep using a 3D tool and then doing whatever you’ll do with it?” Good question, actually. Well, an actual 3D tool would be a bit overkill for this. But this is not a good reason. However, our tool does more than just the wireframe. First of all, it keeps the perspective fixed and optimized for the game engine. Second, and more important, it generates maps along with the wireframe. These maps will be used within, with no need for edits, to regulate the walking behavior for the characters and clicking responses for the player. This is the whole integration part that we had issues in The Labyrinth – and not anymore.

“But how is that wireframe supposed to, you know, look good?” might be your second question. The answer for that will be in the second part of this post, some time in this week.

Cheers.

 

* Bad pun intended. I’m sorry.

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Rodrigo Roesler Mon, 25 Feb 2013 2:15:00 GMT Behind the Scenes Development Games Graphics
nrts-18 FAQ /blog/18-faq Do you have any questions we didn’t cover here? There are several ways of contacting us.

When can we expect more games?
We’re aiming the second half of 2013. Ok, we know, it’s not a real deadline, but it’s the best we’ve got right now.

What are you working on right now?
Well, there’s a new engine coming. It is based in the previous one, but it’s more ambitious. We’re also studying forms of design for the games in order to have a quicker delivery. The idea is take as much time as we need in the preparation, so the actual game making will be quick after that. We’ll keep our blog updated as we go.

Why don’t I see anything about Matt Sandorf in the site? Where’s Matt?
Still out in space, probably. The thing is, even though that is still our favorite game, it doesn’t belong to us. It was sold and paid for by Sony. We would gladly link the original page here, but it’s not live anymore. Also, there won’t be any sequels unless Sony asks for it, and that’s not a decision we can make. So we decided to leave it behind and focus on new things.
However, it is probably still around somewhere if you want to play. Google can help.

Why do all Trapped pages say “classic version” now?
Because “old version” didn’t sound as good.

No, seriously.
We’ll leave this one for you to figure out. If you don’t, you’ll have your answer in a near future.

I’m stuck in some place of some game you made. Can you help me?
No. Sorry, it just doesn’t seem fair. Part of what adventure games are about is the way each person can make a different path to get to the end of it, and our path tends to be the shortest (and less fun) one.
But there are several walkthroughs and forums online, so you’re free to Google them and get your answer. Just remember: there are always different paths. Don’t think of any walkthrough as the only way.

I’ve reached a dead-end. Do I need to start over or load a previously saved game?
Ok, here’s the answer for 99.99% of the the cases: no, you didn’t. There are more details about it here, but what’s probably happening is that you just don’t know what to do next. It’s one of the things that make adventure games fun. Keep trying. :)

What do you guys think of your own games?
We like them. Honest.
In the old Trapped series, we like The Dark the best. There’s not much we would change there. The White Rabbit was still a beginner’s work, and there were a lot of things there we would make different today. As for The Labyrinth, it is a good game, even though it has several signs of something hurried up.
Matt Sandorf (R.I.P.) is our favorite because, given the limitations of the engine at the time, it is the best it could be. We wouldn’t change anything in it except for, maybe, the graphics. It would be even better if we had dialog trees at the time, but we didn’t. That’s the direction we want to follow from now on.

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Rabbit Tell Sun, 10 Feb 2013 0:56:00 GMT Games Rabbit Tell Reading list
nrts-16 How we make games /blog/16-how-we-make-games Before starting any games, we needed to set up a few ground rules. Feel free to yell at us when they’re not followed. Here are our Four Commandments for Adventure Games:

The story comes first
Most important than anything else: all games need to have a story to be followed. With acts, characters and twists. It makes no sense to just make puzzles with no thread joining them.

All puzzles must be logical, yet unexpected
All puzzles need to make sense. But they can’t be obvious. This is a really thin line, and we may cross it from time to time (see the mutant pear in The White Rabbit). That’s one of the main reasons we have testers.

No Dying policy
You can’t die. This is more or less of a given in adventure games. Lucas Arts described the reasoning for this better than we could: the whole point of adventure games is exploring the environment and trying everything, so we can’t punish the player in any way for trying different things. Do all you feel like in our games, they’re risk-free.

No Dead-Ends policy
Oh, we had our share of compaints about this. So let us assure you: we extensively test all games to make sure there’s no way you can paint yourself in a corner/reach a dead-end/lose an item that’s needed to finish the game. To this date we only let one of these cases slip through, and the game was updated right away.
However…
When we can, we create multiple ways for a puzzle to be solved. And it may seem like you lost an important item, especially if you’re following a walkthrough without trying other things. One real example is a puzzle where you had to ruin all the popcorn in a machine so you could sell a popcorn bag to a certain character. The first walkthrough that came about said that you needed to put the frog in the popcorn machine, which is right. But then there were loads of comments saying “I don’t have the frog anymore, do I need to start all over again?”. The reality is there were five or six different items you could use with the same intent, so the frog wasn’t really necessary. It was just the way the person who wrote the waltrhough solved it. So, if you think you’ve reached a dead-end, try other things. We wouldn’t be that mean to you.

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Rabbit Tell Sun, 10 Feb 2013 0:54:00 GMT Games Rabbit Tell Reading list
nrts-9 Hey! Guys! Where have you been? /blog/9-hey-guys-where-have-you-been Well, that’s a long story. Actually, more than one long story. We’ll tell you about it in due time.
So, are you back?
Not just yet. There are still things to set straight before we start things over. But we will be.
What now, then?
Er… Could you wait a bit longer? Please?
Great! Thanks. :)

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Rabbit Tell Sat, 9 Feb 2013 19:46:00 GMT Rabbit Tell Random stuff