Kate B's picture

Just remembered one thing I wanted to explore a lot when I came here and moved onto smaller more experimental works was multiplayer. I think local multiplayer is pretty underutilised in AAA games. It's still there obviously, but I think it's like... It should be used more, cause it can turn an average game into a very good game, and a short game into a game you play for days at a time. I know I've sunk days into things like Skullgirls, which I otherwise wouldn't if I was playing it by myself.

The other thing I am exploring is multimedia. Games that are like... The stuff you found on old promo CDs or educational CDs back in the old days, and they resembled websites rather than games. I'm not sure what genre I'd categorise them as.

I tried exploring the multimedia genre by looking into long-forgotten genres like "animated storybooks" "activity centres" and stuff like this. I think it's a genre that was always aimed at kids but I reckon you could do more with it. Like that third example is not a kid's game. Anyway I threw this idea for an animated storybook together where I wanted it so there was a room with a few things you could click on.

What I like about these games is it's not clear who the protagonist is or even what the plot is or who you are. Are you playing in the second person, ie A cursor following the protagonist on their adventures? Are you the protagonist controlling yourself with a cursor? Are you just someone reading a book? Are you controlling the reader AS A character? Are you playing in the first person? ARE YOU PLAYING IN THE FIFTH PERSON???

I've been thinking about music too and what I like about the medium of music is that it is THE medium if you want to deal with disparate concepts rather than characters. If you make a song, it doesn't need characters. Otherwise every song would be kind of a novelty song. And thinking about this with relation to video games makes me wonder: Are video games un-evolved as a medium to the point we could be making more games about CONCEPTS rather than characters, but we are still borrowing from film to the point we think they're required?

I feel like... Can you imagine what music would sound like if it only borrowed from literature and tried to tell a story, for example? Is that what we're doing with games right now?

Anyway, I'm thinking of various games that move away from the idea of characters, or even "the player" as a character who exists in a world, and thinking of more weirder structures where it's less clear- using the above examples as my starting point, and I have come up with something. It's something that'll probably be finished just before the year is out- and that's a good time to release it, as it'll be the denoument of the first part of these studies

I'm also not doing it yet- I'm working on a smaller game first, it's called LEGACY OF REALMS I: REALMS OF DARKFYRE and it's as silly as it sounds. It looks like this. I'm pleased with the flat shading it has. I'm also doing music for this game, it's got a bangin' metal soundtrack


Hits of Edutainment

Interesting idea. If the storybook is taking cues from earlier, weirder games like "Museum of Anything Goes", I'm looking forward to it.

thesycophant's picture

I'm looking forward to

Hope you don't mind a big old "OH HEY THAT'S COOL HERE'S MY THOUGHTS" reaction to your post! I found it inspired some real thoughtz.

I'm looking forward to seeing your experiments with multiplayer! I too have a great fondness for local multiplayer games, too. I've made a few of them, both competitive and also cooperative. One of the tricky things for me with designing local multiplayer games is they're hard to talk my own local people to testing them with me and also to find potential players who can also wrangle up a second person (balancing competitive games to be at least nominally fair is sooooo intensive, too). I'm really fascinated with trying to create more asymmetric cooperative game designs.

I'm really fascinated by those old "activity centers" and "interactive storybooks" too! In fact, the first proto-game design tool I got really into was a DOS EGA (there was a VGA version that came later, but I never had that) shareware program called Storymaker+ made by one Elson Embry, who I think was a Christian minister of some sort (there wasn't any specifically Christian content in the program, though). You could draw your own backgrounds, animations, draw up sheet music for your own audio, and a really low-quality synthesized voice would even read the books you wrote out loud! Clicking on words or objects placed in the book would trigger animations and/or additional dialog. (It's on the Internet Archive! I've been meaning to write something about Storymaker+ for a while.

Thanks for writing about the multimedia activity center multimedia things! I love your visual style and would love to play around with an entire CD-ROM's worth of screens like what you posted.

I remember that the ones based on Disney movies and the like were really big for quite some time (or I must assume since they were everywhere), but I remember that even an old PC Gamer demo CD (that had Tomb Raider on it!) from 1996 had a thing where you wandered around a basement "PC Gamer office" with the magazine's Coconut Monkey mascot hanging around. It was something like the point-and-click first person text adventures like Myst or Return to Zork, but there was no goal or things to unlock, just things to click on and discover (I think it might've also functioned as a graphical launcher for the demos on the disc, but that clearly didn't need to be so elaborate). I like what you have to say about the ambiguous positioning of the player's role. (A lot of the old third person point-and-click adventures had shades of this ambiguity, too, which is really interesting!)

I've been thinking about these kinds of multimedia thingies more and more lately. In some of my recent games, I've been having fun putting small things that serve to provide--these were on my mind when I my Temple of the Wumpus game was chock full of hidden stuff, and outside of a couple hints to the game's mechanic-focused quest, most of the thousands of words and lots of locations in the game merely add texture, flavor, and surprise to what's otherwise a pretty straightforward visualization of Hunt the Wumpus. I also messed with a more traditional point-and-click single screen activity room/virtual pet for a Pirate Kart V game a few years back, and keep thinking there's something in that realm I'd love to play with. In the back of my mind, I'm looking for the right project to explore this kind of interface.

REALMS^2 looks nifty as heck. Love those colors/shadings.

Kate B's picture

Yesss! First, thanks for the

Yesss! First, thanks for the compliments on my stuff, you've made me wanna continue working on them! I haven't touched the storybook for a few weeks, but now I think I'm going to try and make time for it at some point.

And no I don't mind a long post, the idea I've inspired someone else is something I love to see.

I have never seen Storymaker before! It looks like a format I'm semi-familiar with, like those educational software that tried to teach kids to understand computers, and, maybe accidentally, stumbled upon new ideas while doing so. And the idea of drawing your own backgrounds and things is inspiring me a lot. I think there was a DIY aspect to a lot of these games- especially in regards to using printing technology, which was fresh at the time, to use the game to print out your own stuff.

And yeah Disney seemed to make a lot of these back in the day, I remember a lot of them vaguely- I also know that they tried making a whole section of disneyworld reflect the idea of multimedia, the now-defunct DisneyQuest, which is really interesting as it takes that sensibility a lot of their games had, of being in a virtual place with lots of interactive objects and minigames, and applied it to real life.

There were also these disney demo discs that were in boxes of cereal that followed that genre of "you're in a room and these objects you click on do things" where they'd like, link to video clips and demos. I can't find any clips of them lying around, but I believe I have the discs somewhere, still.

There were also a lot of websites back then that followed that formula, most of which are now probably gone.

I also have a distinct memory of tons of tie-in software coming out with every kid's movie, with the frequency you'd expect from toys. I even remember an animated storybook based on Star Wars Episode I.

Ooh also I'm not doing much in the way of multiplayer right now, but I explored it in Volcano Island, Top-Secret Neon-Pink Planet, and Clone Fu so far- the former two didn't even need it, they were just explorey games, but I really loved the idea of being able to go exploring with a friend. I think it's something that more games could benefit from, just from this (relatively) simple addition!

Anyway yes! Keep going with your multimedia endeavours! The more the merrier! I wanna see this realm way more explored!


Just a few things that came to mind when I read this.

First off, Legacy of Realms looks very cool! A much more dungeon-y vibe than Flamingo Girl, but still distinctly your style. The green key icon is a nice touch and seems "just right." .:) I'm interested to see more, for certain. (And maybe you can fit in a secret wakeboarding stage in there somehow...)

Secondly, I remember my first computer: for Christmas I received an HP desktop machine way back in the winter of 1995 (now, more than half my life ago). It had a "virtual office" application, which I thought was incredibly cool. You would walk all around the inside of this office space, or lower floor of a house, whatever, in the first person perspective. If you walked up to the typewriter and pressed ENTER or clicked on it with the mouse, MS Word would start up. If you walked up to the television and the stereo receiver, interacting with it would start up Windows Media Player. Visiting the bookshelf would open up the MS reference library, like digitized encyclopedias (remember this was in the infancy of the consumer Internet). The easel would start up MS Paint. There was an answering machine and a fax machine in the office area. Something else opened up the "game center" and you could play all the classics like Solitaire or Minesweeper or Mahjongg and whatnot.

Man, I still remember teaching my mother that you don't have to press TAB to set up the margins in MS Word... I took it upon myself to be the de facto computer educator in my household, and took it pretty seriously.

I think these kinds of interfaces helped acclimate non-computer-savvy people to the many uses and capabilities of these brand-new machines found in their homes. It was more like what I would consider a toy or puzzle than a game. For someone like me, who was already acclimated to video games and "gamified environments," it seemed novel while actually making my interface with those programs more complex and arcane. It didn't make teaching my mother any easier either, unfortunately.

There's a term: "digital immigrant." These multimedia programs seem like an artifact of a time when a bridge was required to connect the older generation to a piece of technology that was vastly more powerful and potentially more efficient than "the old ways" of the typewriter and the encyclopedia set on the bookshelf over there. For younger generations, I think they served to socialize young people to accept that technology would become a fundamental tool for everyday life: both education/reference and entertainment. The thing that made these two generations different is that the older folks had to essentially "drop" a skillset they had used, and "pick up" a completely new one where the learning curve wasn't a physical one, but they wanted to simulate the physical learning curve with a digital environment.

Kate B's picture

Thank you! Yeah, Legacy Of

Thank you! Yeah, Legacy Of Realms will be something you'll enjoy if you enjoyed Flamingo Quest, despite their differences. And while it has no wakeboarding, don't worry, there's a vehicle section, although I won't spoil what it is!.......

Also, thanks for sharing the cool stuff about your experiences with multimedia- I like reading it all.


And you really owe it to yourself to have a look at this:

There were a couple of these make-believe, choose-your-own-adventure, graphics-only games posted on here at GT. I think they're superb, and a low-tech way to achieve an immersive, personally-invested effect that evokes an old skool, child-like vibe.