Adventure-X 2011

On Saturday 17th December, I attended a gaming convention called Adventure-X, which focused on 2D point-and-click wonders such as Doc Apocalypse and Entrapment. I was in for a treat that day, as I soon found out, and I met some really experienced and interesting people along the way.

When I arrived I was greeted by Mark Lovegrove, who organised the event and the special guests, and was presented a crappy little gift bag (his quote, not mine!) to help me get to know what he had in store. Also, to wish me a Happy Christmas. Lovely. Partly sponsored by Lace Mamba Global, this was the first Adventure-X ever, and no-one really had any idea what to expect, least of all myself. Still, you can’t really go wrong with a £4 ticket.

I started off trying out some of the available demos dotted around the room, mainly The Rail, which I soon got stuck into. This title is a release especially saved up for the Ad-X event, created by James Dearden, ‘Technobabylon Games’ (who I met!). Though short in story, The Rail enables the player to customise how they progress, depending on various ways on how to solve a puzzle. For example, I had to move a heavy box onto a loading bay, but heaven forbid, my old enemy friction is in the way (thank you, amusingly sarcastic hint screen). In order to move this box I either had to find a way to pour hydraulic fluid onto the floor, or warm the room up to the extent that the contents melted, making the box lighter.

Next, I met Stuart Lilford, director and designer of Lightbulb Games, who had brought along his little gem Entrapment, run on AGS, for me to try out. With “classic low-res goodness” and pointedly sarcastic comments from the main character, this demo game is well worth the time and effort put into its creation. You wake up in a sleazy hotel, with a corpse in the room you don’t remember, and an essay on the window explaining that there have been episodes of sniper elimination of cheating partners who have tried to escape in the past, hence the bars, instead of a simple “it’s locked”. I really enjoyed the selectable environment that had clearly taken much thought, red herrings and multiple options to make the experience unique every time you play. Hmm, I think there was a reason I didn’t first try the door… oh yes, that’s right. Because of the huge BOMB attached to it.

The first presentation was a pre-recorded slideshow about the working progress S3enses, which relies on written descriptions of what your character sees, through sonar and touch. This may seem a little extraordinary. It is. There was a small demo video, and even I couldn’t decipher it; however once it’s out, I expect this new style of game will be a hit. It’s a ‘modern flat’ in competition with just 3 other games that involve a blind 1st person gameplay, and amongst other problems, due to single-direction sprites, there is a lack of alpha channel support, apparently. But there are limited actions, so there’s a sense of making up for the complicating style by it being simple to control (see what I did there?).

The second presentation was by Neil Rennison, creator and co-owner of Tinman Games, through which he came to talk about the wonders of Gamebook Adventures. I won’t go into this too much just now, as I’m trying to organise an interview with Neil himself, but if you’ve ever played Choose Your Own Adventure, Fighting Fantasy or Lone Wolf, then you’re guaranteed to love this: you can play fantasy gamebook RPGs on your iPhone or iPad, with original stories written by original gamebook writers, and a 3D interactive dice simulator!

Following Neil was a presentation from Chris Bateman (who I interviewed earlier that day, which can be found under “Gaming Industry” on the CG homepage), about his concepts and thoughts on representation within games, amongst his involvement with the fantastic Discworld Noir. Chris’ claims to fame are his book titles found with the interview, 38 other games he’s worked on with Hobo International, and the fact that he helped induce Rob Brydon’s career. Sweet!

Once I’d had a quick chat with some guys working on game coding, which is incredibly complex to the untrained eye, by the way, I made my way from the Labour Club to the train station, a two minute walk. Win. Later that day I received an email from Mark to say thanks for coming along, andthat the raffle ticket he gave me when I arrived had come up. As a prize he sent me a gift code to download the entire 5 episode collection of Telltale Games’ Back to the Future, which is awesome, and well worth having a search for.

I was officially the first person to ever attend an Adventure-X expo, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. I highly recommend anyone who’s interested in games either for fun or with the intent of designing. I’ll send links to anyone who’s interested in coming along to next year’s event.

Next week I hope to have an interview with Neil Rennison for you, which will explain more about his success with Tinman Games, and his fantastic flop, Frootrees.

– Will  : )

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