Posts Tagged ‘Inkle Studios’

Learning the ancient language of Heaven’s Vault

heavens-vault-4

“That’s the Ancient word for ‘writer’,” says Jon Ingold, pointing to some indecipherable symbols on his business card. “What it breaks down to is ‘Person-who-speaks-without-speaking.’”

Ingold is the writer for Heaven’s Vault, an upcoming sci-fi adventure from Inkle (the folks behind 80 Days and Sorcery!) You play an archaeologist investigating the remains of an ancient civilisation in an otherworldly “Nebula”. He and some others from Inkle Studios have been watching me waddle around a garden of strange monuments, trying to discern meaning from the faded words I find carved into trees, walls, rocks and reliefs. In creating this game, they’ve constructed a fictional language of over 1000 words. They’re so proud of this new language, they’ve even used it on their business cards.

Ingold examines a card from Joseph Humfrey, the studio’s co-founder and programmer who is sitting nearby. He thumbs over the pseudo-ancient script.

“Joe’s means: ‘Person-who-controls-robots’.” Read the rest of this entry »

Have You Played… 80 Days?

The crown Jules

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day, perhaps for all time.

80 Days [official site] is a great travel game. I don’t mean it’s a good game about a journey (although it is that). I mean it’s excellent to play while on a journey of your own. On a plane, ferry, train, rickety bus. Observant folks might point out the absurdity of absorbing yourself in a tiny screen and its navy facsimile of wanderlust while the real world and its sights pass you by. Well played, observant people. But sometimes you look out the porthole and it’s just 100% precipitation. What then? Read a book? Nah, go to Siberia on a steampunk blimp. Read the rest of this entry »

How Little Choices Make Sorcery! Feel Epic

This is The Mechanic, where Alex Wiltshire invites developers to discuss the inner workings of their games. This time, Sorcery! [official site].

From Warlock of Firetop Mountain on I was pretty much obsessed with the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. Of course I was: they presented richly drawn fantasies in which I could play a part, my imagination spinning on their words and illustrations. (My favourite illustrator? Obviously Russ Nicholson.) Inkle’s Sorcery! series, four text-based games adapted from Fighting Fantasy co-creator Steve Jackson’s original gamebooks, capture all that made Fighting Fantasy special and add a magical extra: the dynamism of videogames.

In fact, Sorcery! often feels more dynamic and alive than videogames. As you progress through the books, your adventure keeps getting richer, the world more responsive to your passage. It’s partly down to the increasing freedom you have to explore, but more, it’s because each book is filled with choices that feel like they have consequence; that the game is watching and remembers your every move. Sorcery! is fluid and feels player-directed, and yet it’s strongly authored. It’s like Steve Jackson is writing it for you as you play, reacting to your every action.

There’s no AI here, though. Sorcery!’s magic is down to a system that’s far simpler, but yet results in at least as much intricacy. This fantasy epic is actually just a lot of:

THE MECHANIC: Little choices

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The RPG Scrollbars: Avoiding Adventures In Sorcery!

Last week saw the release of Sorcery 4 [official site], the final part of what’s technically Inkle Studios’ conversion of the hit-80s books, but in practice is easily the most crazily advanced, ambitious CYOA ever put to page or screen. I won’t go into too much detail here, because you can read John’s WIT of the series as a whole, or maybe my own interview with the devs from the start of the year. Suffice it to say that it’s been one hell of a ride, and I for one can’t wait to see Inkle’s next game – hopefully, like the masterful 80 Days, something else that breaks the mould harder and faster than Smash Mouth fleeing the Mystery Men in favour of the big green Shrek dollar.

But something I’ve been wondering about for a while. With all these choices… what if your choice is not to play? To refuse the adventure. Onwards! Reluctantly!

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Wot I Think: Sorcery! Part 4

With Part 4, Inkle’s triumphant Sorcery! series [official site] reaches its conclusion. It’s still sourcing its core tale from the Steve Jackson classics, but having taken wonderful leaps away to include its own far more elaborate possibilities. And the trajectory of each game being better than the last is not broken in this fourth release, the best yet, and indeed one I now feel comfortable calling one of the finest RPGs ever made. This is spectacular. Here’s wot I think:

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Wot I Think: Sorcery! Part 3 – The Seven Serpents

Earlier this week I allowed myself to catch up on the Sorcery! series, learning wot I think of the first two games. And since then I’ve been mainlining the third, released just last week. Inkle’s latest, Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! Part 3: The Seven Serpents [official site], makes some significant advances on what were already fantastic games – is it for the good? Here’s wot I think:

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Sorcery! Part 3 Catching Up With PC In April

Sorcery! [official site] hasn’t received quite as much attention as its Inkle Studios sibling 80 Days around these parts. It’s mostly been Richard Cobbett praising this new and more open choose-your-own-adventure, which is based on Steve Jackson’s gamebook from the ’80s but has matured into its own thing.

The first two parts have landed on our bigger screens in February, after starting on pocket telephones. Part 3: The Seven Serpents, the largest and most complex yet, will join them on April 5th, bringing PC up to date with the Android and iOS releases. Part 4 should be released within 2016, simultaneously on all platforms. You have the choice of clicking past the break.

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Wot I Think: Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! (Parts 1 and 2)

Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! [official site] has been showing the mobile world what modern gamebooks can be since 2013, and now they’re following 80 Days onto the PC. The first two chapters come as a bundle, with two more on the way. If you’ve played them on iOS, they’re exactly the same games, only you can finally click on things instead of using your filthy sausage-fingers. If not, here’s Wot I Think.

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Inkle’s Sorcery! Adaptation Finally Hits PC In February

Ever since I played globetrotting adventure 80 Days I’ve been looking forward to Inkle’s other adaptation, Sorcery! [official site], finally hitting PCs. Earlier this week we said parts one and two were on the way “very, very soon.” Now we can amend that to a real date: February 2nd.

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The RPG Scrollbars: Inkle Studios On Sorcery!

Inkle Studios’ Sorcery! [official site] has been one of the biggest surprises to hit the iPad in recent years, not simply converting the old Steve Jackson gamebooks like most companies working in the field would have done, but completely redesigning them for the modern era. Finally, they’re on their way to PC – the first two very, very soon, the second two later this year. I had a chat with studio founders Jon Ingold and Joseph Humfrey about turning a very 80s series into a shockingly modern adventure.

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The RPS Advent Calendar, Dec 12th: 80 Days

What is the best writing in a 2015 game? The RPS Advent Calendar highlights our favourite games from throughout the year, and behind today’s door is…

80 Days!

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How 80 Days Adapted The Modernist Spirit Of Verne

80 Days [official site] has finished its journey around mobile platforms and finally arrived at its ultimate destination, the PC. If you read our review earlier this week, you might know I like it.

Back in March, long in advance of the PC version’s announcement or release, I met Inkle founders Jon Ingold and Joseph Humfrey alongside 80 Days writer Meg Jayanth. They told me about adapting the spirit of Jules Verne, their responsibility to be progressive, the importance of writing games with people and dialogue, how to make players trust that their choices matter, what Phileas Fogg has in common with James T. Kirk, and what Verne might have thought had he played the game.

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Wot I Think: 80 Days

Videogames can take you on a thousand different adventures, but few offer the thrill of travel as 80 Days does. It’s a story game adaptation of Around The World In 80 Days, and it’s accordingly full of exciting, exotic locations to visit, with capers to pull, revolutions to incite and derring-do to perform at many of them. Yet it’s in the quiet moments that it best captures the sensation of going on a journey. For me those moments were the mathematician I met, full of hope for the future of her home country, and the air pirate who kidnapped me in northern Europe but then entrusted me with delivering something personal to her. For you, they might be very different – but wherever you go, the appeal is the same. 80 Days is full of romance, and mystery, and intimacy, and a deep, abiding sense of melancholy, because it understands that what make journeys and adventures compelling isn’t only the mutinies you lead, but the people you meet along the way. It is consequently the most human game I’ve ever played.

Here’s Wot I Think.

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