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Some Interesting Trivia on "Azrael's Tear" (and "ATEL: Battlespire")

Discussion in 'Adventure Gaming' started by iqzulk, May 16, 2012.

  1. iqzulk Savant

    iqzulk
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    This may be the stupidest idea, I've had in a long long while (that is to post all of this here), but here you go.

    A short Q&A session with Richard Guy.
    Thought you might be interested in that stuff. Don't know if I'll continue with some new questions - as of right now I'm fresh out of ideas.

    Anyways, the source link is THERE (scroll to the comments).

    I'll also dub both 'questions' and 'answers' posts here for the conservation purposes.

    My post with questions goes like this:

    And Richard's post with answers goes like that:

    That's all (as of this moment, anyway). Have a nice read.

    P.S. Oh yeah, and Ken Haywood can be found HERE, if anyone is interested.

    P.P.S. Also made a stupid mistake in naming of Battlespire. It should go like "AESL: Batteslpire", not "ATEL: Battlespire".
     
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  2. SCO Arcane In My Safe Space

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    Azrael's Tear can actually run quite speedly in dosbox if you replace the dos extender for dos32a.

    Very interesting interview. If this place wasn't prejudiced against the nobler genre, i'd suggest it to be cleaned up and put in the main page.

    :eek: Azrael's Tear was created in the next room to a team lead by :hearnoevil:

    Well i don't recall much of the plot but there are things that jump out.

    Why the "byzantine empire"? Templars would probably be aware that the "byzantines" were quite recent.
    2 solutions for the inconsistency that myself and DraQ discussed at the time were straight alternate timeline/world, or just medieval obscurantist theological "metaphor" (they were aliens but their "brothers", paralleling Christians and Orthodox).

    The "hidden" plot of the game is remarkably subtle, with the monster/ghost/banishedknight/spies plots. Very courageous (and rewarding) decision not to spell out most things. I've only ever seen this type of narrative in books, and i think it's possibly a first in games.

    I loved the "twist" of the main villain of the backstory (and the current game really) not even being present in the game!
     
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  3. iqzulk Savant

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    Actually, Battlespire was created that way, not AzT.

    Also, the additional source of confusion is that Ken Haywood (scriptwriter of AzT) and Ken Rolston are both referred to simply as "Ken" in Richard's post sometimes.
     
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  4. SCO Arcane In My Safe Space

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    You could ask him if the ending was supposed to be "for real".
    Even if you think of it as a "true libertarian" ending, besides being repugnant, it doesn't make a lick of sense considering the rate of extinction going on.

    Would the canon of the sequel be that the grail did a number on our archeologist, like it did (evidently) to the templars?
    I suppose it would be kept ambiguous, and it doesn't make sense to ask (whichever the answer is, someone will be disappointed).
    Still.
     
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  5. Crooked Bee (no longer) a wide-wandering bee Patron

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    Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire MCA Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 BattleTech Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    Great stuff!

    Asking him about the ending sounds like a good idea.
     
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  6. Guido Fawkes Defensor Fidei

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    Ask him about kickstarting a sequel and hope for a miracle.

    Not really. This:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantium

    But it actually probably had to do with the limited medieval knowledge of the templars. For a medieval scholar to name an ancient civilization found in the current Byzantine empire "ancient Byzantines" would make sense. The game actually makes a point that this hypothetical civilization did quite a lot of globetrotting as well, right? Being that they had ruins in Scotland. It doesn't necessarily means that they had anything to do with the Byzantines, even though the Templars thought so because they found the original(and bigger) ruins there. The origin of the ancient civilization presented in the game is probably Mespotamia("ziggurat", etc) or maybe Atlantis.

    It makes sense to ask him a little more about the background though. The setting was very well thought off, his explanation might be even more ellaborate than this.
     
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  7. Guido Fawkes Defensor Fidei

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    Yeah, this would be a good question. I wouldn't call the randroid ending "repugnant" though. It made sense in the setting if we consider that the world was overpopulated, though I agree that railroading the player character into getting along was suboptimal. Alternate endings would have been interesting. Joining the other factions, for instance.
     
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  8. Guido Fawkes Defensor Fidei

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    Posted a question there mentioning kickstarter. Fingers crossed.

    (ok, it is stupid and the guy obviously abandoned gaming, but hope never dies.)
     
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  9. Guido Fawkes Defensor Fidei

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    He replied to me, if anyone's interested:

    :)

    I will try to make another comment and maybe get the info on AT some people here requested.
     
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  10. Guido Fawkes Defensor Fidei

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    He replied to the last batch of questions. I won't bug the guy anymore because it would be unpolite, but I got to say this is some very interesting info and that he is certainly a scholar and a gentleman for taking the time to reply.

    :salute:

    If anyone is interested:

    Some notes:

    - I am pretty sure the ziggurat and that old well were stated to be there before the templars arrived and that it was pretty clear in the game, but can't really blame the guy for not remembering after all this time. I think this info is in the botched LP I did here(in the conversations and pages of diaries).
    - What he says about the templars calling the makers of the grail "ancient Byzantines" makes sense. It is kind of what I thought would be the reason.
    - ITT, ambiguous nature of the grail. No wonder every person here that played the game has a different take on it. Awesome.
    - Man I would like to play that sequel...
     
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  11. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    I'd like to hear some answers regarding grailstone and titular "Azrael's Tear".
    I'm guessing there was a lot of background material and lore that never made it into the game, which is a pity as what made it into the game hinted at some nearly Lovecraftian themes.

    I was really hoping to explore that in game and thought that the remainder of the game will revolve around plumbing those obscure depths but instead I got *BAM* libertarians.
    The ending might have been mitigated by the planned sequel, but seemed very jarring and out of character otherwise (plus a really bad animation).

    Yeah, mystery is better than straight reward, but only if it's the mystery that arises as the result of the previous one getting solved. AzT didn't do it quite as well as I expected based on rather stellar majority of the game.

    Also - employing sophisticated sensor, analysis and data storage gear as a storytelling device running in parallel to direct sensory input was a surprisingly clever move. Any insights regarding how this idea came about and maybe what else was planned to be done with it?

    Also, what SCO said.
     
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  12. Guido Fawkes Defensor Fidei

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    Humm, I guess you could post more questions in his blog if you like. I don't know if we wouldn't be abusing the guy's time and good will though, and there must be quite a lot he doesn't know or at least doesn't remember. The original writer of the story/characters was Ken Haywood, and he is pretty much incommunicado.

    Mathew Stibbe answers fan mail too though, we could ask him. He has the original design document and said he could digitalize it and release it, problem is that there is not a single fansite for AT and its admirers are spread throughout the web. I don't know how he could go about it.

    I like that the grail was ambiguous. Every single person that played the game here had a different take on it. I, for instance, thought the grail merely caused evolutionary adaptations and was not necessarily evil. Others that it was pure evil, or that it was actually sacred/magical and that it was the impurity and corruption of the templars that caused mischief.

    "Azrael's tear" came from a prophetic fictional medieval religious text found in the game. It was found in the chambers of Tobias.

    The origins of grailstone are pretty much open game. I like the theory about it being an alien substance coming from a meteor shower(it fit with the religious text found in the game), but it could very well be left-overs from the technology of a forgotten civilization. The game hinted at both.

    I agree, the ending didn't really deliver. It does work in getting everyone that plays the game through wanting more, but since there never will be a sequel...
     
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  13. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    It's been quite some time since I played AzT, but I remember grailstone was rather unambiguously extraterrestrial in origin and was doing screwy things to living organisms and spacetime itself. I expected the game, being sci-fi after all, to drill into its mystery and provide at least some clues for players to chew on, no matter how cryptic.

    I got the impression the game was setting me up (masterfully, I might add) for a gigantic, mind-screwing whoa, which ultimately didn't came.
     
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  14. Guido Fawkes Defensor Fidei

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    I haven't played it in a while myself. Last time it was for the botched lp I did long ago. I'm thinking of doing another LP, this time for realz.

    Sure, grailstone did strange things with time/space and altered living organisms. Thing is the only character with a modern point of view in the setting was the WWII scottish soldier, and he knew just a little of what was going on. So no character in the game actually advocated it being alien in origin because I guess no character would grasp the concept of alien life.

    The prophetic text spoke about something like "salvation falling from the heavens and being harvested" or such, that was the only hint. But there were also several hints of the supernatural, like the prophetic text itself and that very ominous moment were you found that accurate medieval painting of a Raptor suit. Tobias and other knights had visions of the future and appeared to have developed the gift of premonition.
     
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  15. iqzulk Savant

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    BTW, I've just remembered something (a bit of an offtop though, also !!!SPOILERS!!!).

    "Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain" also did just that. The whole "Dark Entity"/Hash'ak'gik twist will come completely out of the blue in the end of the game IF the player doesn't pay attention to this particular book about certain strange cult and doesn't find this particular secret in Avernus during the course of the game.

    Also, the Wahrk worshiping ritual in "Riven: the Sequel to Myst" follows the same pattern. All of the clues are there, but it's up to the player to connect the dots, as the ritual doesn't EVER get mentioned in the ingame texts, if I remember correctly.

    Both of the games were released after "Azrael's Tear" though.
     
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  16. Guido Fawkes Defensor Fidei

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    The writing on those games is not nearly as good as AT's, though. I think it is quite possibly the best written adventure game around. I like Jane Jensen's games, but this just tops it as far as setting/characters/originality is concerned.

    I don't know of any other mix of lovecraftian influences/alernative history/ancient conspiracies. Specially one so well done.
     
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  17. commie The Last Marxist Patron

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    I hate when devs get ahead of themselves and do a 'find out next time what REALLY is going on!' type of bullshit ending. With all the failed and unreleased sequels don't they ever learn that you must have a resolution of the main themes of the current story by the end and perhaps only add a hook that hints at further adventures?
     
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  18. iqzulk Savant

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    Oh boy, here we go...
    I certainly wouldn't go THAT far in my fanboyism. Blood Omen is just a simple and incredibly atmosperic gothic tale with really good voice acting (on par with AzT, I'd say), solid middle_ages_folklore research, some twists and turns along the road AND hidden Hash'ak'gik twist. The writing there does its job and it does it really damn well, I'd say.
    Riven relies HEAVILY on visual clues, but also features 4 awesomely written working journals that FEEL just like that - THE WORKING JOURNALS (as opposed to the sentimental crap that was featured in Exile, Revelation and ESPECIALLY in End of Ages). The actors are also perfectly believable and the lines they deliver are perfectly authentic both to their characters and the ingame setting. Again, the text does its job extremely well as for a game that CLEARLY has no significant accent whatsoever on all that textual and dialogue stuff.
    Actually, IMHO the best written adventure game around is Pathologic. It also has MUCH more textual content (including dialogues), than AzT (even if you count every last bit of nonlinearity in the latter, Pathologic easily surpasses it in scope 3-4-fold). English translation is crap though (or so I've heard, I've only played the Russian original) .
    Frankly speaking, I fail to see, what's so distinctively lovecraftian about this game. Okay, there was a tentacled Sasha. And there was this Grail thing (which, in my opinion, is not lovecrafting, but is just the thing that grants the surrounding people and creatures their true wishes to some extent [as the wish not to die no matter what even in situations where it's actually preferable to die] AND, more importantly, reflects their true natures, some combination of these two; thus Tobias indeed gains some prophetic abilities, hateful Sasha - and Lurka to a lesser extent - turns into hideous monster, cold and intellectual Philip and Geoffrey remain largely unaffected, Tallum, haunted by guilt, turns into bulletproof behemoth and so on so forth; it ALSO ties really nicely with distinctively libertarian - "the strong and talented will prosper, the weak and unworthy can go to hell" - overtones of the ending). Oh, and that Malik's idol (which is easily the most sketchy and unexplained part of the plot). And... Is that all? If that's the case, then WHY consider it to be any more lovecraftian, than, I don't know, Descent Freespace 1-2? Or aforementioned Pathologic game? Or Dreamweb? Or Perimeter? Or Thief: The Dark Project? Or even Twin Peaks series?
    As for your question (historical/lovecraftian/videogame mix) - my answer is Bungie's "Pathways into Darkness" (though the game clearly has a considerably thinner plot and is not as nicely written as AzT). Also, to a smaller extent, Silicon Knights' "Eternal Darkness". Also... "Black Dahlia", maybe (don't know how it would fare on your lovecraftian scale though)?
     
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  19. DraQ Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    I think this interpretation of grailstone is flawed and doesn't work.

    First, it assumes that true wish to not die is universal, which kind of doesn't make sense given stuff like suicides. Much more fitting explanation is that grailstone simply makes all things immortal or near immortal after prolonged exposure regardless. Possible explanation is that it also makes itself guardians from available creatures based on what they'd work best as, but they might just as well be changing without any particular goal.
    It is known that it mutates living beings and that it
    Show Spoiler
    Screws with the spacetime itself
    . It also came from space, we don't know anything about it but what was detailed and it definitely evokes "cosmic dread" - how the fuck is that not lovecraftian? It even resembles The Colour Out of Space somewhat.

    We also have superficial religious elements that then turn into reinterpretation of religious myths on the grounds of cosmic horror.

    Sounds lovecraftian to me.
     
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  20. Guido Fawkes Defensor Fidei

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    You know, I actually played Blood Omen a long time ago. On the playstation... so maybe it's bad memory, its writing just didn't catch my attention that much. Myst was also never really my thing.

    I did become something of an Azrael's Tear fanboy though, I will give you that.

    There is a whole lot. Let's see... lost underground ruins of horrible forgotten civilizations, monsters who dread beyond human imagination, human beings driven insane by powers beyond their scope...

    But like Draq said, the most obvious influence is out of "The Color out of Space". The effects of grailstone, at least in those underground caves, are just very similar to that narrative. It corrupts and it warps. Not only the creatures you find in the depths of Aeternis, but the very people inhabiting it and the vegetation that somehow survives there. Living things tend to become monstruous when exposed to it.

    I have seem my share of weird interpretations of what Grailstone is, but this I wouldn't take. I mean, it being a "magic lamp" of sorts doesn't make sense. All the trapped souls you find in Aeternis certainly want to be free of its effects and leave their corpses. Sasha wanted to follow Oisin out of the caves and was not able to, for instance. Mikhail calls his predictment "an eternity of torment" and certainly wouldn't mind dying as opposed to inhabiting a half-mutilated corpse hanging on a barren and deserted area for all times. There is much more...

    My interpretation is that it is not necessarily evil, it just is. It provokes evolutionary adaptation, it keeps all living things under its influence from dying, and it seems to trap souls on earth. When you play the game you don't know if the the effects it has on living things would be different in let's say... a more "healthy" enviroment than those forsaken caves. The conclusion that the game throws at you is that humans shouldn't mess with such a thing, but then that ending is slapped on your face and you are left wondering.

    The game only throws you scraps. A supernatural explanation wouldn't be out of order being that something like "immortal souls" do exist in the game universe, and that when you play it you know that a devout old man in the 12th century somehow had a vision of the pre-historic event in details on his deathbed. I can see why some people actually see it as a demonic thing, or even as a horrible creation from a not so benevolent God that tests living things relentlessly.


    Thanks, I will check the first two. Can Eternal Darkness be played with an emulator?

    I didn't see nothing lovecraftian about Black Dahlia. I liked that game quite a bit in the day though.

    Pathologic seemed amazing, but I could never get past the horrible translation.
     
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  21. CappenVarra phase-based phantasmist Patron

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    Good news, everyone!

    http://www.badlanguage.net/azraels-tear:

    I downloaded the PDFs but don't have time to read them right now. Will do later, since there could be nice trivia about the game involved...

    In case you don't want to read the blog post and just want the PDF links:

    http://badlanguage.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Proposal.pdf

    http://badlanguage.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Design1.pdf

    http://badlanguage.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Design2.pdf

    http://badlanguage.wpengine.netdna-cdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Design3.pdf
     
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  22. Guido Fawkes Defensor Fidei

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    I put up the links in the LP. I just read through the whole thing, it seems to be a VERY early pre-development document. A lot was changed in the game and the atmosphere, plot and characters are quite different. The most noticeable is the absence of horror influences and none of the paranoia and backstabbing that made the game's atmosphere so great. It was originally much lighter and "myst-like", it seems, with a heavier focus on sci-fi and adventure.

    Still, there are a lot of interesting things there. It is specially cool to see how the game evolved from that into what was released.
     
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  23. tbob Barely Literate

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    Hello! I apologize for bumping this old thread.

    I'm writing an article about Azrael's Tear for a gaming website, and I was hoping to access the PDFs of the game's pitch proposal and design document, which were linked here. However, the original website owner has taken them offline, and hasn't replied to my request that he upload them again. I thought it was worth a shot to ask if someone here had downloaded them and still had them lying around -- there's not really another way I could access them at this point.

    Thanks,
    TBob
     
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  24. iqzulk Savant

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    Here you go.
    These files have survived an HDD failure though, and I don't know for sure, whether any data in them had been damaged or not. They seem to open up pretty okay though (at least, in SumatraPDF).
     
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  25. tbob Barely Literate

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    They work! Thank you so much. This was a huge help.

    TBob
     
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