Orr Group – Roll20.net

I’ve been a roleplayer for more than a decade now, having discovered it in university and never looking back. I started with D&D, moved on to Star Wars and Vampire, then had my first GM experience in a seven year long World of Warcraft campaign, moving on to many other games and systems and GMs and groups.

The one constant in all those years was that we played around a table, be it a coffee one, or the one in the study halls, or even a dining room table. Sadly, I’ve moved to another country, and so our group has split. I thought I might have to find new people, but now thanks to my friends, I found a new way to keep in touch and keep our games going. Continue reading Orr Group – Roll20.net

Phoenix Online Studios – Gabriel Knight Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition

Welcome to another issue of Attic Diving, where we interview interesting people to help us jump into their Mental Attics to see what we find!

Today’s guests are once again Phoenix Online Studios, this time about the Gabriel Knight remake, currently in development and due to release later this year.

I want to thank Phoenix Online Studios’ Katie Hallahan, PR Head, for once again taking time to reply to these questions of mine.


How excited were you when you knew you were going to be working on a remake for Gabriel Knight?

Extremely! It’s one of the favorite classic series for a lot of us on the team, we’re all psyched to be working on it. It’s definitely one of those things where we have to pinch ourselves sometimes.

How far along is Gabriel Knight 20thAnniversary Edition?

Still in alpha. The whole game is playable, technically, but there’s plenty more to be added. We’re still adding animations, updating some art, and so forth.

Is it a direct remake or will it have new features? (Story elements, puzzles, etc.)

It is mostly a direct remake, though a few small adjustments or additions have been made here and there. Nothing major, though, the plot and flow of the game are still the same.

New conversation window has a similar style to the original
New conversation window has a similar style to the original

Gabriel Knight had a classic interface, with multiple, and very specific cursors. Is that something you’re keeping in GK20?

Some streamlining has happened with the interface.

What about the “Total Score”, will it be in the game? Sins of the Fathers and its sequels had a Scoring system, and getting the high score meant finding everything worth finding and interacting.

Yes! There will still be a scoring system; as some of those puzzles have changed, the total will be different from the original, but you can still shoot for getting a perfect score!

Will you be re-casting all voices for the game or using the originals? If the former, I’d like to vote for Raleigh Holmes as Grace.

Using the same voice cast wasn’t really an option, for a number of reasons, so the roles have all been recast. Who’s playing who hasn’t been announced yet, but the recordings were done with Bay Area Sound, the same studio who did Moebius and does all the Telltale Games, including the Walking Dead. They’re great and have a very talented pool of actors!

The new environments look fantastic, but keep the spirit of the original
The new environments look fantastic, but keep the spirit of the original

Are there any plans to re-make the rest of the series?

Not at this time. As Jane’s said recently, the real hope is that this remake will do well and, fingers crossed, pave the way for her to be able to make a new GK game! She has two ideas for what GK4 would be about. I’ve heard and read about both of them, and it really would be fantastic. Here’s hoping!

Will you update Gabriel and New Orleans to the 21st century, or will it remain in the 1990s?

It will still be set in 1993, with all the old, familiar trappings thereof!

A part of me wanted to see Gracie with an iPad
A part of me wanted to see Gracie with an iPad

(This is for the whole team, if possible) If you could remake any game, which would it be?

We had a variety of responses! For myself, I’d love to remake The Black Cauldron, which was my first Sierra game and first adventure game, but rather than follow the Disney movie’s plot, I’d want to stick to the book series it was based on, The Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander. That game got me into both those books and adventure games, and I would love to see it done justice!

“Tough question! It is hard for me to pick just one game. I am thinking Shadowgate an old point and click adventure on the nes and early PC. Actraiser for the SNES or Ultima 6 The False Prophet.”

“It’s not the most adventure game-studio response I could think of, but my ideal remake project would be Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines. Despite the game’s excellent world building and allowance of a great variety of play styles, it was obviously rushed to retail and suffered from a litany of bugs and half-formed design decisions. Would love to take this thing from the assets up and polish it to an HD, fully realized mirror shine.”

“My personal pick since it’s been floating in my mind is Battletoads. Slick power set, variety of stages, but it was 8-bit and super hard. I’d like the difficulty toned down or at least optionalized so that players can choose. Online multiplayer. Allow all 3 toads to play together. Also keep the sidescrolling aspect intact ala Double Dragon Neon. At least 2.5D, like the latest Street Fighters have done. Actually that way, we can have the giant hand attacks animated closeup with literally high-impact.

“Adventure-game-wise, I’d like to see Loom get remade. It had so much potential in its use of music as spellwork. I can imagine more crafting via composing, more notes and chords, but that may mean more of a sequel or expansion than a straight remake. The simplicity of playing forwards and backwards to achieve opposite effects may be hindered if spells are made too complicated. So any remake of the original should probably keep the spell system simply as-is but pretty up the graphics and sound for the current generation.”

“ It’s a tossup between Dreamweb and Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender. Dreamweb had a hypnotic  and  somber atmosphere, but could be lightly redesigned to allow for all the depth of story and character the the tone is so evocative of.

I also love Rex Nebular, but there’s an entire middle section where I really thought it was going to intelligently subvert gender roles, and do so in an interactive way. The game either sidesteps this issue, or didn’t realize its own potential. Either way, the game still has a wonderful conceit that could be better fleshed out and honed in a remake.”

“Final Fantasy 7.”


I want to once again thank Katie for taking the time to answer yet another set of questions for us. Be sure to keep an eye out on Phoenix Online Studios (twitter @postudios) and Pinkerton Road Studio (Jane Jensen’s twitter: @jensen_jane) for more information on this upcoming remake of a classic.

Phoenix Online Studios – Moebius: Empire Rising

Welcome to another issue of Attic Diving, where we interview interesting people to help us jump into their Mental Attics to see what we find!

Today’s issue is all about Moebius: Empire Rising, the new game from adventure game legend Jane Jensen’s Pinkerton Road. It’s set to release tomorrow, April 15th, all over the world. You can still preorder it and get a nice 20% discount.

I want to thank Phoenix Online Studios’ Katie Hallahan, PR Head and Assistant Designer for Moebius, for taking time out of her crazily busy schedule to answer these questions and others you will get to read in the coming days.

Continue reading Phoenix Online Studios – Moebius: Empire Rising

Blogger Spotlight – Kelly M, The Archaeology of Tomb Raider

Welcome to Blogger Spotlight, where I show appreciation to the people of my ever-growing WordPress community through a small interview where they talk about how they started and what blogging has been like for them.

The Brilliant Kelly M!

Celebrating its first anniversary, we’ll kick things off with the author/owner of The Archaeology of Tomb Raider, a blog focusing on the popular Tomb Raider series and archaeology, both through the games and in general.

On this site you find enlightening pieces on symbolism in the Tomb Raider series, the true origins of cultures, locations, relics and even creatures found in the series. You’ll also find news pieces on real world and current archaeological digs and discoveries and how they might change how we perceive history or how much they’ll impact a given society or country if they’re proved or disproved. And beyond that, if you’ve ever thought of pursuing Archaeology as a career, then Kelly has what you need to prepare yourself for the challenges ahead, the first thing being lifting the veil Hollywood and games have put over the Archaeology, revealing the true nature of this great path.

Trust me, every second spent on her site means something new to learn.

I leave you now in Kelly’s good company:

1) How did you get into blogging?

I suppose I sort of stumbled into it. I’ve always enjoyed writing and I used to spend countless hours writing letters (and later emails) to my friends and family when I was living and studying in the UK and China. This was back in the early days of the Internet so there was no WordPress, Blogger, or Facebook (the horror!) and some of my family still hadn’t figured out how to send an email (this has since been remedied). In 2004, just as I was preparing to move to Taiwan with my partner for 10 months, a friend told me about a new blogging service, LiveJournal, so I decided to keep a diary of my time there. It seemed like the perfect way to share photos and stories with my loved ones as well as connect with fellow expats and bloggers.

Once I moved back to Europe, I ditched the LiveJournal blog (though I saved the blog posts for posterity) and started a series of other blogs, most of which lasted no more than a few months. Despite my inability to keep those blogs going, blogging has been a part of my life for the past 10 years and it’s hard to remember a time when I *wasn’t* working on one.

2) Is your current site the first you’ve had? If not, can you mention the others?

Not at all. Quite the opposite, actually. I’ve gone through a dozen blogs over the past decade though none of these were particularly successful. Most of these were personal blogs (basically online diaries) which I soon got bored of while others were moderately successful (by “moderately” I mean, I had a few visitors each day as opposed to a couple a week).

I used to run one called “Eye on East Asia” which focussed on East Asian cultures and languages but I stopped working on it less than 2 years after I launched it as I lost interest and found it hard to compete with similar blogs (you’d be amazed how many China and Japan blogs there are out there). I then shifted my focus towards archaeology and started one called “The Amateur Archaeologist” which was quite similar in scope to “The Archaeology of Tomb Raider” but I couldn’t really figure out where I wanted to go with it. So I ditched that one and started yet another blog, “China Heritage Watch“, which focussed solely on Chinese archaeology and heritage issues in modern-day China. Although I really enjoyed working on this one, I found it didn’t attract as many readers as “The Amateur Archaeologist” due to its narrow scope. I guess Chinese archaeology wasn’t that popular amongst my readers. So after a few months, I put it one on hold while I figured out what to do with it.

And then in March 2013, only a few days after Tomb Raider 2013 was released, I stumbled upon a news article about the real-life search for Yamatai and Queen Himiko’s tomb and this inspired me to finally start a blog that I had had in mind for years: one that combined my passion for archaeology with my love for the Tomb Raider video games. And thus “The Archaeology of Tomb Raider” was born.

3) On any given day, how often do you post on your site? Do you have a post-quota you try to meet each week?

I don’t really have a fixed quota but I try to update the blog at least twice a week, even if it’s just to share some photos or post a short news article. I’ve received a number of guest articles from fellow Tomb Raider fans over the past year but it’s mostly a one-person show. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day…

4) Describe a typical week for you: your responsibilities, usual activities and how you juggle them and working on your site.

I have a full-time job, go to archery training once or twice a week, and have a number of other hobbies and commitments so I’ve had to learn more to juggle all of those with blogging and social networking. My Arte-Factual feature is perhaps the most challenging as I normally have to do quite a bit of research for those articles, so I tend to leave these for the weekend when I have more free time. Thankfully, my partner is quite forgiving and supportive of my obsession with TR and all things ancient. I spend almost 2 hours commuting to and from work each day so I’ve learnt to use that time for to do some background reading and/or social networking…though this always depends on how well the train’s WiFi service is working. All in all, I’d say I spend at least 2 hours every day working on the blog and updating its social media accounts…and I love every minute of it. 🙂

5) Describe the Best experience you’ve had since you opened your site (Blogging/Internet/community related of course)

It’s hard to name just one as I’d had a lot of fantastic experiences ever since I launched the blog. I’ve met a lot of wonderful people from all over the world who share my love of archaeology and/or video games and I’ve found that the Tomb Raider fan community is a very warm and welcoming one. As for personal achievements, I’m quite proud of the two competitions I’ve run via the blog as well as the amazing response I had when I announced my series of fan interviews. I got so many replies back that I had to publish several interviews a week just to clear the backlog. I may not have a massive readership but my readers are the best audience I could wish for. 🙂

6) Describe the Worst experience (or one of the bad ones) you’ve had since you opened your site (Blogging/Internet/community related of course)

Thankfully, I haven’t had any bad experiences since I launched the Archaeology of Tomb Raider. I’ve had a few minor disagreements with people on Twitter (mostly on the subject of the reboot game) but that’s about it. No flame wars or derogatory remarks. And I really hope it stays that way as I have no time or patience for trolls. I’ve got blog posts to write. 😉

I want to thank Kelly for taking the time to answer my questions and I wish her a Happy Anniversary and hope for many more to come!

If you have any suggestions for other things I should ask my guests, please let me know in the comments, but don’t forget to visit The Archaeology of Tomb Raider

Related Articles – The Archaeology of Tomb Raider:

Attic Cleanup – 12-01-2014

Hot damn, 2014!

In case you’re wondering about the Featured Image, yes, that is an Angel Witch with horns riding a mechanized broom. It’s from the anime adaptation of a series of novels caleld Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon (Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere), a fantastic story with one of the most convoluted plots ever conceived. Both the novels and the series deserve a watch, so go see it! Trust me, the witch you’re seeing doesn’t even crack the top 5 weirdest stuff you’ll see in Horizon. Continue reading Attic Cleanup – 12-01-2014

Phoenix Online Studios – Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller

And I’m back! Holidays enjoyed, food devoured, post-bing-detox done! Now let’s start up a year with a nice little Attic Diving, where I take a plunge into other people’s Mental Attics to find out nice stuff about their past, current and future projects. To start the year we have an interview with Phoenix Online Studios, developers of the hit episodic game Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller, which earned top marks on The Mental Attic’s Scoring System! You can read my review here.

I want to thank the amazing Katie Hallahan, Head of Phoenix Online PR and Game Designer, for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer this mammoth list of questions, which will hopefully not be the last list I send her, though I have promised and committed to keeping the interviews shorter from now on!

Warning – Spoiler Alert: The last two questions (19 & 20) contain spoilers, so if you haven’t played the game, please skip them!! Continue reading Phoenix Online Studios – Cognition: An Erica Reed Thriller

Thomas Busse, Order of Dagon – H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon

dagon_logo_transparentH.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon is an in-development Point & Click adventure game by Order of Dagon Publishing, led by Thomas Busse, inspired by the many works of the Cthulhu Mythos, and taking place in one of the most famous locations in the Mythos, Innsmouth, home to the Esoteric Order of Dagon and featuring a very famous character from Lovecraft’s Work, Dr. Herbert West, Reanimator.

Recently, Thomas took some time off his very busy schedule to answer some questions for The Mental Attic.

For more information on H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon visit the Order Of Dagon website and be sure to follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and Order of Dagon? (I, Kevin, mistook the name of the game, so tremendous way to start off, right?

First of all, the name of the game is H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon, unfortunately I confused many people by using the domain orderofdagon.com, so now everyone thinks Order of Dagon is the name of the game. So, the first thing I can reveal about myself is that marketing is not my strong suit 🙂

Development of the game initially started in 2009 as a university project, it was my Bachelor thesis and I worked on it together with two others. Back then, we created a prototype of the first chapter of the story, and the plan was to continue working on it after we finished university. Life came in between these plans however; I moved from Germany to the UK, the others also got fulltime jobs in different parts of Germany. On top of that, I started working for a game publisher, and there it was not allowed to work on private game projects because that was seen as a conflict of interests, and so the game was put on ice for quite a while. I always wanted to continue working on it, but it wasn’t until early 2013 that I found the time and motivation again. I wasn’t too pleased with the old prototype anymore, so I started again from scratch.

Story wise, I have mixed a number of Lovecraft stories (mainly Dagon, Shadow over Innsmouth and Herbert West – Reanimator) and created my own storyline out of this.

The story is set in 1927 in the New England coastal town Innsmouth. The town is secretly controlled by Doctor Herbert West and the Esoteric Order of Dagon; West’s plan is to evoke the old god Dagon and, with his help, take over the world. The player controls two different main characters that end up in Innsmouth for different reasons and the task it to stop West and the Order of Dagon.

2. Previous Cthulhu videogames have been mostly Action Adventure, what made you choose the Point & Click Adventure genre?

There have already been Point & Click adventures in the past, e.g. Prisoner of Ice and Shadow of the Cometh. The reason for me was that I’m an adventure gamer for nearly 30 years now, it’s the genre I love most and so it was natural to me to choose it for my own game. Also, I think it’s still the best genre to transport story, characters and atmosphere, which is what Lovecraft is all about for me. Running around with a shotgun and hunting tentacled monsters doesn’t really do Lovecraft justice 🙂

I hope to be able to recreate the horror in a different, more subtle way, without reverting to simple “kill everything you see” mechanics. There might be a bit of blood though, after all we are dealing with Herbert West!

Hopefully it won't be long before we can click on that!
Hopefully it won’t be long before we can click on that!

3. Will the game feature 3D environments or models?

Sort of, while the game technically is pure 2d, all the backgrounds and characters are built in 3d, but then prerendered. Low-poly real-time 3D is unfortunately too work-and-time intensive for me at this time; if I’d go that route, you could expect the game in 2025 at the earliest 🙂

4. Aside from Lovecraft and other Mythos writers, what games, books, films, etc. inspired H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon, both in storytelling and gameplay?

Gameplay wise Broken Sword comes to mind, the way it handles 2 playable characters will be similar in H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon (it’s mostly linear based on the story, you can’t switch between characters manually most of the time), and I use the same simple yet effective user interface. Apart from that, I guess everything around me influences me a bit, for the part of the game that plays in the Innsmouth Hospital for the Criminally Insane for example, I found the second season of American Horror Story quite inspiring, and I like the atmosphere in outdoor scenes of Silent Hill, so Innsmouth might go a bit in that direction.

5. The story is set in the town of Innsmouth, which has been the setting for previous Cthulhu mythos games, such as Dark Corners of the Earth. What do you think is the appeal of the town and its residents for Mythos Storytellers such as yourself?

The town has quite a history and a colourful array of characters that can be used, and the fact that it’s located by the sea opens up a lot of possible story twists. I like the idea that it was once a rich, prosperous town but has now transformed into a bleak, sad place but the old heydays are still visible below the surface. Its connection to the Deep Ones, the Order of Dagon, the residents in their various degrees of transformation; all that is a great source of stories to draw from.

The Innsmouth Hospital for the Criminally Insane...makes Gotham's Arkham look warm and fuzzy.
The Innsmouth Hospital for the Criminally Insane…makes Gotham’s Arkham look warm and fuzzy.

6. The Town of Innsmouth isn’t the friendliest of places; will there be moments of danger, possibly death, for the player? If so, have you thought of how you’ll implement them?

Yes, while fighting the Order of Dagon the player will face dangerous situations, and death is always an option 🙂

However, I intend to use it in a non-frustrating way people aren’t fond of having to replay hours of gameplay because they died in the game and forgot to save, so the game will take care of that.

7. Sanity, and madness, is one of the recurring themes of the Mythos and its adaptations, will H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon manage the character’s Sanity?

Yes, I don’t want to spoil too much of the story, but one of the two main characters will be directly affected by what’s lurking in the darkness, and this will make him doubt reality.

Poor guy...I bet he's hoping she doesn't have the key!
Poor guy…I bet he’s hoping she doesn’t have the key!

8. You have already revealed Dr. Herbert West as the main villain, are there any other characters, godly or otherwise, we might expect to see in the game?

Yes, Dr. West as well as the Esoteric Order of Dagon are part of the game, as well as a few residents of Innsmouth, for example Zadok Allen. All in all there will be around 15 characters featured in the game.

And there is of course something lurking out there, below the sea, in the shadows …

9. Will we see some of the good Doctor’s reanimating?

You’ll find out once you start roaming through the halls of the Innsmouth Hospital for the Criminally Insane 🙂

Dr. Herbert West - Reanimator!
Dr. Herbert West – Reanimator!

10. How far along are you on H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon, development wise?

The script (story, scenes, puzzles) is more or less finished. I say more or less, because I always make changes here and there, often because things that looked very good on paper don’t turn out to be that much fun when implemented in the game, so I always make adjustments here.

Music and sound are missing completely as of yet, unfortunately that is an area in which I have no talent and need to rely on someone else’s help.

Overall, I would say that I’m about 10-15% done.

No one likes a rat!
No one likes a rat!

11. You mention, on your site, you will soon start your Kickstarter campaign; How soon can we expect it to launch?

I hope to launch the campaign mid to end of January 2014.

12. You have recently participated in the AdventureX event, can you tell us about your experience there? Are there any other events in the near future where we might have a look at Order of Dagon?

Yes, this was the first time that I’ve shown an early prototype to the public, which was quite a bit terrifying in the beginning, but it turned out to be a nice experience. Reception so far has been quite good considering that the game is still in a very early stage of development with many aspects like sound and nearly all animations still missing.

I haven’t planned any other events yet, but should something similar to AdventureX come up again I’d be in for sure, after all there is no better way to get in touch with people who are interested in the game.

Creepy Nurse or Nice Nurse? We'll have to wait to find out...though I'm leaning towards Creepy!
Creepy Nurse or Nice Nurse? We’ll have to wait to find out…though I’m leaning towards Creepy!

13. On the technical side of things, could you walk us through the tools you are using for development?

I’m using the Wintermute Engine, an open source engine specialised for the creation of adventures. It’s a very powerful, flexible and robust engine that was used in quite a number of commercial titles already. Recent additions allow the games to not only run under Windows, but also on Macs, iOs, and lately even under Linux and Android. Since last year, ScummVM is also working on a port for WME, which is part of the stable releases now, so in theory Wintermute games now run on all platforms that ScummVM is available for.

For graphics, I’m currently using Blender, and also started looking into Vue (for outdoor scenes). The 3D modeller that will later come on board is using 3ss Max. For 2D, I’m using Photoshop; and AfterEffects for the planned video sequences.

14. To help put the word out there; What sort of skill sets are you looking for in collaborators/employees?

At the moment, I’m working alone. I already have a potential team in place, depending on whether or not the Kickstarter campaign will be successful I will hire three collaborators (a composer, a 3d modeller and a graphic designer) to help out on a freelance base, and later on a writer who will help me translate the dialogues into proper English based on my own translation (I’m developing the game in German).

So, at the moment I’m not looking for further people, should that change however, I will announce it on my website, Facebook and Twitter 🙂

The Innsmouth Look...wouldn't want to meet this guys in a dark alley!
The Innsmouth Look…wouldn’t want to meet this guys in a dark alley!

I want to thank Thomas for taking time to answer these questions for The Mental Attic, giving you the chance to find out more about the fantastic game he’s making. Again, be sure to visit their site and follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and keep your eyes open for his Kickstarter. When it happens, I’ll be sure to let you all know so you can back H.P. Lovecraft’s Dagon just as I will.