Contemplate The Montague’s Mount Trailer

By Craig Pearson on June 26th, 2013 at 7:00 pm.

Just hangin'
Despite AAA game developers talking about how more powerful hardware and shinier engines mean you can better experience the character’s emotions, the evidence is clear that they really don’t care about that, or even understand how to do it. If you think about it, they’re saying they need more RAM and HDD space to make you care about characters. That’s ridiculous, and though I do feel emotions when adding things to my PC (the emotion of “squeee!”), I don’t think it’ll help games be more emotional. Meanwhile in the indie space, a place typically divorced from anything even approaching additional hardware, they’re at least attempting to make you care (or feel lonely, or depressed, or other emotions that don’t come from guns). It might not work for everyone, but I’m betting a few people out there will feel something, connect somewhere with Montague’s Mount, “a psychological rollercoaster ride through isolation, desolation and one man’s tortured mind all set against the bleakness of an isolated Irish island.” Which of course means it’s a FPS puzzle game.

You’re allowed to watch the trailer and think “Hmm, it looks a lot like Dear Esther”, btw. The settings, narration and theme are all broadly similar: isolated Celtic island that feels like it hasn’t changed since the dawn of time, a narrator who thinks in prose, and a mystery to unravel. That said, the very brief five-minute play I had at Rezzed made it clear that this is a puzzle game as much as it is a trip through memory and such, so there’s more to do than just wander the landscape feeling like you’re on holiday with my dad.

It’s up on Steam Greenlight, and wants you to be its friend.

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19 Comments »

  1. Syra says:

    Is it a deliberate wholesale ripoff of the style and feel of Dear Esther do you think? Did the developers say ‘hey remember that one controversial “not game” that everyone had a field day about? Can we cash in on that?’…

    I appreciate gaming evolved through iteration but starting the video with an overcast coastline and a forlorn sounding British (with distinct accent – yeah this time it’s Scottish, big difference) bloke narrating; opening with ‘Dear [Female Name]‘ is a bit far imo.

    • rustybroomhandle says:

      What you are witnessing are genre-fiction tropes. I don’t think they ripped off anything or are trying to cash in on anything. Besides, this game seems to be more of a traditional first-person adventure game than Dear Esther is.

    • Eddy9000 says:

      British (with distinct accent – yeah this time it’s Scottish, big difference)

      Never, ever say that in Scotland, they’ll bloody have you for it.

    • Joc says:

      Get te fook, eh?

    • wearedevo says:

      I just hope this sends a message to publishers that traditional FPS isn’t the only genre in which uninspired shameless ripoffs can flourish!

    • popedoo says:

      We played this a bit at Rezzed.

      Looked pretty cool!

      I believe it was a one-man-effort too.

      Not that that would excuse ripping anything off. :)

      Anyway, got my vote on Greenlight, and I felt all warm and fuzzy for doing so..

    • frightlever says:

      When you’re young it’s really easy to fall into the trap that X is like Y so one must be ripping off the other. In reality there’s nothing new. What you’re seeing is a distillation of tropes from movies and literature that weren’t modern, in some cases, almost two hundred years ago.

  2. Viroso says:

    I think more power can help deliver stories and characters we care about more. It doesn’t mean it is the only thing that achieves that, it is just a different path towards that.

    It’s like “oh, those hollywood fat cats think the only way to show us real emotions is with real people, but books that use only words can do that just fine”, which isn’t necessarily a wrong statement but it needlessly pits two things against each other.

    Plus, it isn’t like that’s all they say, I don’t think it’s even something they say all that often. I’ll more often hear about more detail, larger worlds, etc, which is true. More advanced hardware doesn’t just change graphics, it changes gameplay.

    • baozi says:

      I think the critique goes more in the direction that despite all the grandiose words, better hardware isn’t really doing that much to push gaming forward as a medium. It’s different mindsets that would, I think.

      Plus, regarding bigger worlds: Gothic did open world with one single loading screen 12 years ago. I think that again, it has more to do with the will of the developers. Linear shooters will stay linear shooters. (I’m mainly mentioning Gothic here because I will mention it whenever I can. There maybe other open world games that did the same.)

      I could very well be completely wrong, but I can imagine it would be possible to e.g. program a very advanced AI and just make the rest of the game use less resources (so, 2D) to compensate.

      • Viroso says:

        I think hardware and technology are important, and we just mostly don’t notice it. They’re important in ways we take for granted.

        For an instance, draw distance. If my PC wasn’t good enough, I’d have to go with limited draw distance on New Vegas, and that would influence how I played. I was playing hardcore with some realism mods, I had to scout a lot, using the standard draw distance settings I couldn’t see enemies not too far from me, pushing that slider to the top was very important.

        Another example, the resolution, and once again going back to New Vegas. Playing at a decent resolution was important to let me hit very small targets far away, it was what let me see them in the first place.

        Still, these two examples are somewhat shallow. But some more examples.

        Soul Reaver, which was very impressive at the time for having an open world with no loading screens, released in 99, even older than Gothic. That game has a lot of cut content, it was originally planned as a much larger game. Part of why they couldn’t do everything they wanted was because they were doing an open game with no loading screens. They wanted to do this big underground city, but couldn’t, a developer explains
        Well the Undercity just didn’t work technically. We split the streaming into two halves but didn’t have time to reconcile the visibility limitations for playable space. We didn’t have enough memory to do vistas either. It literally got the point where if you looked left you could see half the city and the other half disappeared, and if you looked right the opposite would occur. It is, of course, possible today

        There are a lot more things that we don’t even notice. For an instance, in Wind Waker the sailing speed had to be slowed down so there would be time to render the environment. One of the problems people had with the game was all the time you spent sailing.

        Yes, I know, console games, but that’s how it is.

        Another example is for online shooters, at some point not long ago it was too taxing to simulate actual bullets, or to do that for too many players at once. Instead of having the bullet actually flying its path they just had a kill line where anything in its way got hit whenever you pulled the trigger.

        Also, think about all the fun games that rely on physics. Toribash, Kerbal Space Program, Garry’s Mod. Could they exist 20 years ago? Maybe, but I don’t think a lot of people would be playing them. 2 gb RAM was a lot not long ago, that’s how much Kerbal Space Program asks.

        One thing people say now is that we have reached a point where we don’t need anymore hardware power, but that’s something people have been saying for a while now, and there are still games that push hardware today. Minecraft, for an instance, on the 360 it has to use a smaller world size, and 360 is using hardware from less than a decade ago.

        Another important thing that’s completely invisible to us is during development. Simply cutting the time it takes to test a build, because of better hardware, already makes a difference, it makes development more flexible. The fact that a lot of computers nowadays can handle 3D means a lot of people without fantastic machines can do their own 3D games, which means we see more diversity in games.

        Great games have been made with limited technology, and limits have also made games great. There were many things that cannot be done, or have to be done differently from planned, because at the time it was impossible. Even today that’s true.

        Better hardware isn’t the most important thing, but it is important because it opens doors.

  3. YogSo says:

    “Dear Esther with puzzles” is an alright idea, I guess, but the developers should be more ambitious and go for “Dear Esther with guns”. Now, that would be a real breakthrough ;p

    • Premium User Badge RedViv says:

      I’m afraid the Great Gun Drought is still continuing, making this a futile venture. Ironically it’s caused by the drying up of Great Gun River due to climate change, so we are at least having a lot of exploding arch conservative heads this year!

  4. Bobka says:

    To be fair, more RAM means more stuff can be kept track of at once, which will probably be critically important in the development of AI in games. It can also mean that less optimization is necessary, so more time and effort can be put into those things which are emotionally important.

    Not that developers are actually using all the RAM for AI, though, but they theoretically could.

    • Noise says:

      They COULD use better hardware to make AI better but they won’t. Mainstream games are indirectly designed by focus groups and investors, and aren’t interested in taking any risks at all.

      More hardware just means the GRAPHIX and the POLYGONS and stuff will look better, which actually means the game will suffer as the world must be made smaller to accommodate additional detail and developers spend more time creating detailed levels and models.

      Also people are lazy.

      Imagine if the graphics stayed the same level but the better hardware was used for AI or for more in depth simulation or something like that. But no, all improvements in hardware are immediately sacrificed to the dark gods of graphics.

  5. Premium User Badge bglamb says:

    I played this at Rezzed and there were some really great things about it. The atmosphere was absolutely wonderful, but it was spoiled at times. Sometimes by things that seem fixable (constant ‘achivement’ pop-ups saying “0.5 km walked!!!” etc) and some that may be endemic.

    For instance, within two mins of exploring the island I came across a discarded wardrobe with a glowing red cog inside it. Two mins later I found a door that could only be opened by collecting 3 cogs. That is what I expect to find in a bad puzzle game, not when waking up amnesia ridden on a stormy island. Immersion = 0.

  6. Servizio says:

    Remember kids, you’ll never be lonely or depressed when you’re with a gun! This message brought to by the Ad Council For Mental Health And Firearms.

  7. Hyoscine says:

    “feel lonely, or depressed, or other emotions that don’t come from guns”

    Aren’t those emotions that very well could come from guns?

    • KingFunk says:

      Actually, you can’t feel lonely or depressed with a gun – as John Lennon once sang: “Happiness is a warm gun”. And he got shot to death, so he should know.