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PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2017 2:11 pm 
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Hello everyone. Proposing,

Magnetic Scrolls Remastered

The aim is to "remaster" the 1980's adventure games by Magnetic Scrolls for mobiles and desktop, making them friendlier to play and adding a modern, touch based UI and possibly to add extra content.

They would be released on App Stores for people to enjoy, either as free games or, possibly, charged at a small fee/lowest tier to cover inevitable direct costs (eg website hosting and Apple developer fees), with permission from copyright holders.

Supported Platforms: Windows/Linux/OSX, Android & iOS.

How it would work:

Built by combining the Brahman front-end GUI with a plugin back-end IF "engine". The back-end plugin is an adaptor onto the Karlsson/Kinder/Meier/Doherty magnetic emulator.

The project would be open source so anyone can tinker with the code and features for themselves afterwards.

The picture below shows an Android demo. The Brahman "text touch" interface, illustrates one way how these games could be made much more playable on mobile with only the bare minimum of typing required. Many other enhancements are also possible such as a Map Page and Inventory Roster with icons.

Image

Calling for suggestions, comments and opinions:

  1. Is this worth doing?
  2. Do you think it should be free or have a small charge?
  3. If additional gameplay or content were possible, is this a good idea?
  4. Is (3) still true if it means charging more to cover the effort.
  5. There could be a small budget for new icons/cameo pictures of objects in the games, would anyone be interested in this?
  6. Other ideas welcome.

Thanks.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2017 5:47 pm 
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I have a few old parser games up on the iOS Store. (Shade and Heliopause for $1 each; Dreamhold for free.) I can tell you that Dreamhold gets a steady 200 downloads a month. I'm sure most of those people never successfully enter a command, but at least they get to see it run.

The $1 apps get much less activity. Shade was selling under ten copies a month in 2014, Heliopause less. So if your goal is to get the game in front of new eyeballs, even a nominal charge is going to really work against that.

You could avoid that problem by releasing the apps for free with a "pay if you want" in-app purchase. Only a few people will push that button, of course, but that's the reality of selling old parser games.

(Since 2014, Shade and Heliopause have been structured in a bundle -- they're effectively freebies that come with Hadean Lands. So I don't have meaningful recent sales data for them.)


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2017 5:59 pm 
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Hey thanks for the info,

The aim here is not for profit. It's quite feasible to release these as totally free games, and you're right, it would be nice to get them in front of more eyeballs.

So the real question is over how much effort is put in to make things nicer. For example there could be icons for objects on the inventory - or it could be just text. If someone made some icons for free, i would put them in, otherwise if for payment, this could happen but i would want to (vaguely) recoup some of this loss (i don't think it would break even from sales).

The other option is to release the games for free with the minimum of improvements and just tweak them over time and make new releases. Although i feel the problem with the latter is that those people who might actually want to play these games, will do so with the early versions and never see the improved ones.

I know. There's not a straight answer to this.

All suggestions welcome.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2017 10:26 pm 
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I think it's a neat idea, but I think you should get permission from the copyright holders before deciding on many of those questions. Despite the existence of interpreters such as Magnetic, you might find more resistance than you are expecting and then all of your planning will have been for naught.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 10:14 am 
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Hi Roody,

That's a very important point. I once had a game rejected from the Apple Store simply because the description mentioned it was a "star trek like game". The game itself had no mention of any Paramount trademarks. Personally, i thought that was a bit too strict, but it's Apple's choice.

In this case, I've already been granted permission. The copyright holders like my playable Android demo and are happy for me to go ahead. I plan to make mobile and desktop releases.

This is an opportunity for people to get involved in a bona fide, remastering of some classic games. Like i said, there might be a small budget for new icons, if anyone's interested.

I've been in touch with one of the original writers, who's willing to author some additional content. So that's an option, but i don't know whether it's worth doing or whether anyone even wants it.

Today, i did some preliminary work on a sliding drawer inventory. I plan this to have drag and drop (no typing). Right now, it just shows the items as words. This is one of the places i would put icons.

WIP:

Image


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 4:31 pm 
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Well, first off, I'd probably acquire/purchase this no matter what its scope just to support the novelty of it. As far as additional content goes, what would this entail? A separate game (the authors still have access to the old compiler?)? Some kind of hacking of the story files themselves?

I have to admit that I've considered doing an unofficial port of "Guild of Thieves" in the past, partly just because I wanted a version of it where finding the syntax for making a fishing rod didn't drive me crazy. I also imagined I would drop several puzzles and hone its scope; it's one of those games that I've never finished just because even the task of typing in a walkthrough was too tiresome for some of its more annoying puzzles (mainly thinking about the endgame here- I didn't mind the "RAINBOW" puzzle).

I guess, optimally, the app would provide both original and enhanced versions, but just having the enhanced game would also be novel.

I don't know if any general refining is also being considered, but endings in Magnetic Scrolls games are usually far from satisfying. Of the ones I've seen ("The Pawn", "Corruption", "Fish!"... I think maybe "Myth" too), I think "Corruption" was the most successful while the others gave sort of a "you've got to be kidding me" feeling.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 5:41 pm 
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Firstly, there is no way to recompile the original code. The story files will remain as is.

But that doesn't mean we can't have additional content or improvements. Here are some ideas:

  1. an easy one is, of course, to change or improve/extend the text.
  2. a meta-parser could be added to transform inputs the original game did not understand into ones it does. Using this, we could have new constructs and add new words.
    Simple example. "wrist band" -> "wristband".
  3. automate puzzles with choices.
    This would work by monitoring the world state and selecting appropriate choices in each situation.
  4. additional objects.
    It might be possible to add a few objects into games by adding them (and their support data) into the object tables.
  5. new gameplay and puzzles
    Would manifest as sub-games and be processed by a different engine (eg the Brahman game core).

Example: King Erik's Palace; in the original you deliver a note to the Palace, but are never allowed in. Perhaps in the expanded version, you enter the Palace, solve some puzzles, meet the King, deliver the note, then leave. This whole sub-game would run in a different engine, after which you'd be transferred back to magnetic. Of course, this switch would be invisible to the player.

I like your idea about endings. There could be alternative or bigger endings for sure.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 6:00 pm 
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That idea for King Erik's Palace is pretty cool. It's interesting how there is so much more world building in "A Tale of Kerovnia" than in the game itself. I'd be a fan of anything that helps bridge the gap more.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 6:12 pm 
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Awesome!

At some point, I'll be looking for alpha/beta testers. I'll count you in.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 31, 2017 7:07 pm 
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Please count me in to! This sounds like a really cool project. I was wondering.. are there any plans to implement things like the compass and auto-map windows from "Wonderland"? Also, how will font-choosing work? That was another thing I enjoyed about playing Wonderland on a 386 when it first came out.. being able to use fonts types and sizes for different text ie; command verses room description text.


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