At the Develop Conference in Brighton last week, I had the opportunity to sit down for a beer and a chat with Tom Jubert, perhaps most famous for writing the excellent horror adventure series Penumbra. They’re dark and sinister games whose writing, and the structure of their storytelling, were often their strongest asset. Read on for Tom’s thoughts on the writing process, tales of game design tribulations, and his involvement in a major new title.
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Posts Tagged ‘penumbra’
By Lewis Denby on July 22nd, 2010.
By Alec Meer on May 4th, 2010.
Media reportage still has it that Radiohead’s pay-what-you-want experiment a couple of years back was somehow a disaster. Independent gaming has roundly proved the lie: more devs than we can keep up with have offered PWYW deals recently, so clearly something’s going right. It’s good news for gamers too. The Humble Indie Bundle, though, is yer bona fide motherlode. World of Goo, Aquaria, Lugaru, Gish and Penumbra Overture: a collection of the last few years’ finest indies, yours for however many groats you think you can spare. Phenomenal, basically. Better still, a third of the proceeds go to Child’s Play and the Electronic Frontier Foundation apiece. Well, by default, You can request that the whole lot goes to charity if you like. Games and kindness: a winning and natural formula (and one that the shrieking anti-games media will never, ever cover.) The deal’s over here, and below the cut is a knowingly rubbish half-rap to promote it.
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By John Walker on February 17th, 2009.
We’ve been stalking Frictional Games, the developers behind the indie horror series Penumbra, for a while now, trying to find out details about their new project. Along the way we asked them to look back at the process of developing Penumbra, what lessons were learned, which publishers were hated, and why horror is their passion. In a frank interview, two of Frictional’s four-man team, sound director Jens Nilsson and lead programmer Thomas Grip, talk us through the company’s past, all the while dropping a few hints about what’s next, before giving us the first solid details of their forthcoming, castle-based horror game.
By John Walker on September 23rd, 2008.
Frictional Games, they behind the Penumbra series, are beginning to tease their new game. As yet untitled, so far we know it’s a horror game, and using completely new tech.
That last detail is a big deal. Frictional first got noticed when a student project to create a graphics engine ended up being a damn site better than many professional engines out there. Superb lighting and excellent implementation of physics made for a super-fun time. However, just of late it’s beginning to look a bit dated. So far there’s no in-game evidence of what the new tech will be capable of, but there’s good reason to assume they’ll aim for something impressive. More details about the teaser website and game below.
By John Walker on July 21st, 2008.
Tom Jubert is the lead writer on the Penumbra series of games. After Frictional released the tech demo of their remarkable 3D engine, it became clear that creating a fully-fleshed game was the smart move. To do this well, they’d need to plug a weakness: the narrative. So London-based Jubert was brought on board to work alongside the Swedish developers, and the result was Penumbra: Overture. This was originally intended to be the first of a trilogy, which was then shrunk to a two-parter after difficulties discussed below, with the narrative completed in Penumbra: Black Plague. Now, somewhat confusingly, there is to be a third part – Penumbra Requiem – although we’re told it’s not a sequel, but rather an expansion of Black Plague.
In our chat with Tom Jubert, he explains the collaborative process of taking an amateur tech demo into the professional market, the role of fear in games, which publishers we should be slapping, and some juicy tid-bits about the nature of Penumbra: Requiem’s unique design, further taking advantage of the engine’s stand-out implementation of physics.
By Kieron Gillen on April 17th, 2008.
The actual development of Penumbra is proving just as shocking as the horror-games themselves. We thought the series was over, with the planned two parts being crammed into the final Black Plague. Except it’s not true – a final downloadable expansion pack will be available from Paradox namechecked-a-bit-too-much-in-the-last-week’s Gamersgate. It’s called Penumbra: Requiem and it’ll be out in around June and – bar that – we know little. The press release mentions “This time telling what is real and what is not will be even harder and not always trusting your senses will be essential in order to survive,” which is going to be my excuse when the police find Jim’s brutalised body in the Kitchen. The defence via Cartesian Doubt in Existence always goes down well in my experience.
(“It Ain’t Penumbra till the fat lady sings”? – Ed)
By John Walker on November 29th, 2007.
We’re very much looking forward to the second (and now concluding) part of the Penumbra series. The first game was impressive for all manner of reasons, from the self-made and often remarkable 3D engine, to the excellent tension it creates, so we’re keen to see what happens next.
On that note, some screenshots of Penumbra: Black Plague have been released, which tell us… almost nothing. While the first game doesn’t offer much combat (thank goodness – it was best avoided), it does at least have interesting machines, strange puzzles and bubbling flasks of chemicals. Let’s hope these are just a really poor bunch of choices, and that Black Plague isn’t going to be an experiment in walking through barren rooms. The rest of the pics are below the divide – click on each for the full size version.
Worthy of note is the figure appearing in the distance in the above picture. What with the games deliberately not including other people.
By Alec Meer on September 13th, 2007.
Sad and good news at once – kind of like a puppy being born then immediately exploding.
Penumbra: Overture, the creepy indie physics-based adventure game spun out of an impressive tech demo, is to get a sequel, one that ties off its story’s various loose ends. Trouble is, it was supposed to be a trilogy. Now it’s a mere duology, like the Kill Bill films or albums by the UK band behind the best-ever number one single that’s probably about something to do with ejaculation but no-one’s really entirely sure, Frankie Goes to Hollywood.
After the jump: no more unnecessary pop-culture references, promise.
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By Jim Rossignol on August 11th, 2007.
Especially when they’re lists of the best fifty indie games out there, as compiled by TiGSource.
As ever I’m awed by the diversity of the stuff the PC indie scene generates, and I impressed myself with the number of games on that list I’ve actually played. It also reminded me to pick up a copy of Penumbra. I know, I know – your mum has played more games than me.
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