Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Higher Orbit

Manipulating characters would be much interesting with this inventory item. Find the right place and time, then get the items and information you may need from other characters.

Saturday, December 27, 2014


Carter having a little chat with Yolanda in one of Marsi-3's corridors.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Who is Yolanda

Name: Yolanda
Age: 26 Earth Solar Years
Class: 2b
Occupation: Communications Engineer
A.S: Marsi-3
Location: Jupiter Orbit

Yolanda is the communications engineer on Marsi-3. She is responsible for all inter planetary messages sent and received to and from Marsi-3.

Yolanda doesn't have an 'office' aboard the ship. She keeps wandering around Marsi-3's rooms and corridors making sure everything is under control.

Yolanda is a unique character in Epoch. Whenever she's in a room with another NPC, you can always invite her to a three-way chat.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Games And Giving Away Grasp

Thinking outside the box, some adventure games developers add new elements to their games. This article will talk mostly about metrics and meters. Perhaps one of the most famous adventure games using meters is Sierra's Hero's Quest. The usual metrics of games' characters would always be strength or stamina, mana and so on. However in HQ they added more than that. There are fighting skills related metrics and other puzzle-solving oriented metrics such as climbing skills.

Recent point and click games started using more stats for characters. To be fair, this is good thinking and requires a lot of work in game-development terms. However, should the player be aware of how smart the game is? I think this is a critical forked path as some players love to be challenged while others wouldn't really sink into the idea of point and click games introducing such an element and see it as distraction from the main gaming experience.

I think it's a great idea to let the players know they are dealing with a smart game by all means. But there is a fine line between introducing smartness to the player for respecting and challenging their minds, and using smartness solely for showing off. This is the job of good design, which raises the question: What is the part of the game that players cannot see at all?

Code. Put most of the smartness in the background code. Some developers use meters and GUIs to display stats. This could be handy depending on the type of game and the targeted audience as well. But for myself, I can't imagine games such as Space Quest or Day Of The Tentacle having 'character strength' and 'throwing skills' being developed and displayable through out the game.

Since Epoch has many alternative paths; NPCs and dialogues, I had to introduce such elements in the game. But I hid them in the code and left their discovery totally depending on the players' intuitions and actions. One of the metrics I used is an integer variable for each character called characterName_mood. This variable is randomly initialized at the start of the game between -3 to +3 having positive values representing good mood and negative values for upset characters. Your actions during the game can change the values of each character's mood just like in real life. You can be nice to a character or give them an inventory item to add to their mood variable. This of course would make progress in the game and help solving some puzzles. However, other alternative puzzles could depend on upsetting some characters. In both cases, dialog options and replies change due to characters' moods.

characterName_mood is only one variable among many others in the game. It is hidden in the code and can only be sensed when interacting and talking to characters. So instead of having a displayed metric showing the variables' value, you can simply get a rough estimation from the replies of the characters.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

An Object Oriented Alternative

This is a puzzle where you need to reset an emitter in order to send instantaneous messages using quantum entanglement through extremely long distances.

The puzzle can be solved in different ways:

1. Take a spacewalk and find the emitter in order to re-program it.
2. Take a spacewalk, find the emitter and hack it.
3. Program/hack it remotely from the space station.
4. Convince the character responsible of the emitter to do the task by triggering some events, talking to other characters, solving other puzzles...

I should mention a few points here. 'Taking a spacewalk' requires solving puzzles and hiding from some characters. Finding the emitter in space can either be by trial and error (remember the previous video showing how the player can leave marks in infinite maps) or by finding a map. Programming the emitter needs variables and methods that can be obtained. If the player already has a background on coding then this task would be a little easier. The last option 'Convincing another character to do the task' requires solving a lot of puzzles and massive socializing with other characters in order to trigger the right events.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Notebook

Now you can write down your notes in-game style. Passwords are randomly generated in Epoch. Instead of writing them on a piece of paper you can simply use this notebook.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What's a nonlinear adventure game?

When adventure games first started, solving puzzles was restricted. For example, to open a locked door you must have a key. The game won't proceed unless you open that door. Later on, adventure games got a little alternative ways to solve puzzles. So now you can either find a key to open the door, cast a magic spell, or even pick the lock and open the door. Still, the game won't proceed unless you open that door.

Figure 1 illustrates the straight forward puzzle solve. Your goal is to get to the orange circle starting from the purple one on top. You do a couple of interactions, then an event gets triggered allowing you to perform one last interaction that would lead you to your goal. 

However, in figure 2 you get a choice in the process of getting to your goal. After performing one interaction, you can either do one of two tasks, one would lead to the failure of getting to your goal (usually death) and another that allows you to proceed and solve the puzzle. This appears more sophisticated in a flow chart while in reality it is still considered straight forward. Because being stuck figuring out a single task to perform in order to proceed the game is equivalent to dying, at least for me.

Figure 3 illustrates Epoch's approach to a nonlinear adventure game. Starting from the purple circle at the top, you get three branches to go through. The left branch triggers an event and then leads to the goal. This branch is made short and easy intentionally, as for later as a punishment, the triggered event would make it a little harder to solve a future puzzle.

The middle branch starts with a choice, the easy way triggers a 'punishment' event and the hard way doesn't. Then you get to a fork where you are asked if a previous puzzle was completed, if not you'd have to get back solving the previous puzzle or take another branch all at free will. If the previous puzzle was already solved then you would continue to your goal free of punishment.

The branch on the right is a very tricky one, in the figure it seems as if it's the easiest way. In reality it depends on high skills of the player. For instance, if the task is picking a lock and the player knows how to pick locks in real life then this is the branch for you. Or if the player is good at aiming, has quick response time and so on, then these physical skills get to the goal with less trouble what's so ever.

Figure 3 is an actual illustration to obtain an inventory item to perform a specific task in Epoch. To add more depth and free will, the whole task has an alternative solution as well. 

Figure 4 shows that a single goal may be obtained by different approaches. Each approach is unique in its own way. The cool thing is you can hop from one approach to another anytime (unless an approach is written in a specific way to lock the player for example in a room where another approach should be done somewhere else...)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Who is Aziz

Name: Aziz
Age: 35 Earth Solar Years
Class: 4D
Occupation: Technician
A.S: Marsi-3
Location: Jupiter Orbit

Aziz is the pneumatic technician on Marsi-3. Always 'rushing' to fix any problem with the system.
Aziz's boyfriend is hundreds of miles away on Titan. Communications seem to be a problem due to solar activity within the region along with Jupiter's magnetic field. He is coping with this situation by playing his favorite music instrument: The Recorder.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Endless Worlds in Point and Click Games

Since the player in Epoch has the ability to go for a spacewalk outside Marsi-3, it was inevitable that I needed to use an 'endless' room for simulating the infinite space he drifts in. Something like the desert of King's Quest V but with a little twist: you can mark a place you already visited in a specific part of the screen. I've used water for the space map, it vaporizes immediately and then freezes as little water crystals.

On the other hand, the deserts of Titan are marked by little marking flags that the player is supposed to find earlier in the game. Of course due to the non-linearity in Epoch, you can find a map of the worlds in alternative puzzles solves, or make another character do some of the tasks you need to perform on different locations on the maps.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Initial Gameplay Demo

Here's a short [initial] gameplay video making sure not to show any spoilers. As seen in the video, the player may chat with characters individually, or invite whoever is available in the room to a group chat for different topics and more clues. 

Puzzles have more than one way to solve depending on your intuition, and sometimes physical skills like handling the mouse clicks at specific times.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Alien Rage

I don't know where did my mom get this idea from... actually I think she got it from her mom who got it from hers... anyway, she used to 'encourage' us to finish off your plates by threatening us that the remaining food would be dangled off our eyelashes in Limbo!


It worked really good that as I was growing and watching the Alien movies, the alien sometimes used to kill people and leave parts of their bodies... so you know...

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Who is Moon?

Name: Moon
Age: 38 Earth Solar Years
Class: 2A
Occupation: Engineer
A.S: Marsi-3
Location: Jupiter Orbit

Moon is an engineer. Working along with Kat, they make sure the engines temperatures are within nominal ranges.

Despite being diagnosed with Down Syndrome, Moon showed higher IQ levels than his colleagues and aced his Engineering School back on Earth

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Lock Picking

Let's say you are now facing a locked door, a safe or a box... There are several ways to get them opened: If you know that a character has the key and you've been 'nice' to them, there's a chance you can get the key (of course it's not that easy to get them happy to give you the key.. at least not only by talking nice to them...) OR, you can pick the lock. And I'm not doing Hero's Quest lock picking thing, it's real lock picking methods. 

I've made a room specifically for that purpose, of course each lock in the game has a different randomly generated combination so every time the game is restarted the locks are different... Locks usually need a very sensitive ear to hear the soft clicks of the mechanisms inside them, so for those players with hearing problems I am using the shake screen function instead.


Back to Earth, Swenett, the crew of Marsi-3 are kicking back and relaxing after staying for months in space. Carter is busy with his own adventures and investigations.

Carter is chatting with the old deli owner, while Simon is focusing on the meat delights next to him.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Kitten Purrs

Simon Pegg is my real kitten. He is the most playful cat I've ever seen in my life. Notice the dialog with Aziz changing depending on Carter's position whether he is standing next to him or laying on bed. Also Topics responses change depending on characters' moods, in the video you'll notice two different answers when Aziz is asked about his personal life before and after being insulted. The player has the complete freedom to manipulate other characters moods in order to find different approaches to solve puzzles. This doesn't mean you have to be rude or nice to other characters, there is a solution either way.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Camera Position

I always felt this room lacked something. I thought about adding more details but it kept asking for more. So I decided to pull a little trick since the camera is positioned so far near a corner: push the camera a little further as if it was outside a large window. Not only it worked great, but I also have an extra room for the player when floating outside Marsi-3Notice the changes of the game's interface as well here.

Aswan Resort

The week's #screenshotsaturday

The background is still under construction and missing some elements like a boat, the antique store sign and more plants. It is though fully animated: light reflection on water, wind moving plants and awning, little kid swimming.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Who Is Kat

Name: Kat
Age: 26 Earth Solar Years
Class: 2C
Occupation: Assistant Engineer
A.S: Marsi-3
Location: Jupiter Orbit

Kat is the engines coolers assistant engineer. Working along with Moon, they make sure the engines temperatures are within nominal ranges.

Kat misses her son back on Earth dearly. Sometimes childhood behaviors from her coworkers amuse her to a point she gains trust.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Who Is Carter

Name: Carter
Age: 34 Earth Solar Years
Class: 4A
Occupation: Botanist
A.S: Marsi-3
Location: Jupiter Orbit

Carter is devoted to his work. He's been passionate about plants since his childhood years. He graduated from Thinis University. Currently, he is responsible of the 4th oxygen garden at Marsi-3 with his lovely girlfriend of two years Alex.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Milliseconds Thoughts

Why do we tend to think about the weirdest things in life while waiting for the elevator? Carter is standing on a panel right over Ty's bunk thinking about getting out of Titan and heading to Earth. Many issues and relations got messy at this point. Let's just hope everyone calm down a little. Life is much larger than our little problems here. Let's not fo... oh here's the lift.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

New Interface

I decided to change the game's interface. All cursors are colored and fully animated when moving on screen. Panel, buttons and display text boxes are all transparent blue with yellow text. Developed a screenshot of the current location when a game is saved too.

Curse of Nefertiti

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Carter & Alex doodles

Here are two doodles of Carter and Alex. I'm drawing closeups of their faces with different angels to use for cut scenes and animations.

Carter's face is constantly focused since he is trying to understand sciences beyond his occupational knowledge. I have chosen a very light color for his eyes in order to show depth as if he needs to fill a void in his mind.

Alex's features are very warm and always showing what's in hear heart. She doesn't hide much. Always smiling when Carter is around. Her eyes are always focusing on his face while they talk.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What am I doing here?

Left Earth to another world made of fuel. This entire moon is used as a natural gas mine, except it is too cold the gas is in its liquid form. I am not an engineer, I am a botanist for God's sake! Why am I even standing on Titan's surface?

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Mouse Skills in Point and Click Adventure Games

Carter is supposed to sneak into the floating-bike garage. One of the ways he can do that is to hop through the red pipe hanging below the construction. The player here is expected to develop a special sense of timing between mouse clicks (or touch for mobile devices). If the player did not click for a while (a couple of seconds) then Carter's arms would get tired and eventually fall. By clicking on either arrow Carter will hop one 'step' to the corresponding direction. The time between clicks is also vital, clicking too fast would result in a fall as well due to an imbalance issue.

This brings an issue to my mind, about control skills in Point and Click games. I used this feature in anastronaut 1: The Moon Hopper, precisely when the player breaks a window in a spaceship causing an atmosphere leak. He was supposed to be grabbing hard into a dent by keeping the mouse button down at a specific region in the room for a few seconds.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

My God, it's full of GUIs!

Careful Carter! If you turned off the anti-gravity beam that hanging nitro-bike would have a quick meeting with the distant ground.

By choosing a character's name and a topic, you can send messages to the ship's crew.

Use this pneumatic control unit to send and receive carriers with inventory items.

You got mail.

Suited up? Why don't you take a trip and float around Jupiter and its moons?

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Lazy Mechanic

Here's a zoomed gif of a lazy mechanic being distracted by his bad surveillance system.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Epoch - AGS game in production

In our understanding of time, it is the year 20,000 BC where civilizations are about to discover galactic travel through the latest technology of their time. Earth was different back then. The deserts of south Egypt and Ethiopia are green and full of advanced technology.

Carter is a botanist at the space station Marsi-3 orbiting Jupiter. Along with his girlfriend Alex, and your guidance, they might be able to witness their civilization shifting into a higher type.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Anastronaut II on Desura

You can now purchase anastrønaut II: The Dark Side from Desura.com

Anastronaut II: The Dark Side

Monday, March 3, 2014

Color Blindness Issues

An awesome fan emailed me saying she has a little trouble solving one of the puzzles of Anastrønaut II. At first I thought she wanted a solution or a hint which I always provide with no trouble at all. But that wasn't her request. She was stuck at a puzzle requiring the ability to differentiate between close hues of colors. To be honest, it is tricky even for a non color vision deficient player. I edited the puzzle for her using a high-contrast pattern without changing the level of hardness. She was kind enough to hook me up with some of her online friends with similar vision issues and they all blessed me by agreeing to test the alternative puzzle.


I cannot thank you guys enough for giving me this opportunity. I learn everyday to be a better considerate man and will always put all cases in mind for future games and projects. Please feel free to contact me to get this version of the game.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Anastronaut II: The Dark Side ©

Anastrønaut II: The Dark Side

The story continues, after sending Lance into oblivion, it seems he managed to survive and planned his evil revenge by sending his alliances to capture our hero. Anas is imprisoned in cargo ship Athaal-T14E where he is being tortured and barely kept alive until the abandoned ship reaches its destination: Alpha Equulei.

Being captured in a small dark cell inside a huge ship for months has been affecting Anas' mental state. Not to mention the effects of all kinds of physical and psychic torture. He needs to find a way to escape before entering the danger zone of the star. He has limited time to solve puzzles, find a way out, fight his damaged mental state and flashbacks.

His escape is only the beginning; an adventure is waiting for him outside the cargo ship...

640x480 32bit original graphics
Speech and Narration with a special appearance of Space Quest and Space Venture creator Scott Murphy
Over 70 rooms
Special rooms for crafting your own inventory items
2D animated cut-scenes, introduction and outro.
Original Midi music
Space Battle simulation game
24-style Multi angled cameras (in a couple of rooms only)
A short switch-playing with another character

After the purchase, a link will be emailed to download the full version of the game that requires no keys. In case of damaged files due to downloading issues, please send me your invoice code at ajabdin@yahoo.com for a direct link or a refund in a 30 days period only.