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Incline Strangeland - new adventure game from Wormwood Studios

Morpheus Kitami

Liturgist
Joined
May 14, 2020
Messages
1,851
I would never push anyone to play (let alone buy) a game that they are skeptical of. There are enough clearly good games, and so little time.

There is a "lights out" puzzle, which can be bypassed entirely with a more straightforward inventory solution. For what it's worth, I think it's actually on-theme for where it is, and I believe it's the only such puzzle in the game. (All of the "minigame" puzzles are bypassable through other means, of course.) I have no idea why it was called a sliding puzzle, but such is life.

Based on a quick Google search, there seem ample avenues to try before you buy, but to me the price point is less of an issue than a game's quality. If you don't think you'll like it, you shouldn't play it. That said, it is almost unimaginable to me that the reason someone might dislike it is the limited inclusion of non-inventory-based puzzles. People might dislike it for theme, narrative approach, P&C elements in general, or length (it's fairly short). If someone enjoyed the plot, art, music, themes, P&C aspects, etc., I'm fairly sure that the inclusion of an optional lights out puzzle won't change that
Its not that I don't care for non-inventory puzzles, its just I dislike the generic puzzles that a lot of games saddle themselves with. Lights Out, sliding tile puzzle, Tower of Hanoi, and I'm sure some others I'm forgetting. They're the kind of thing that the player usually already knows the answer to, so they're just busywork. Still, nice to hear if I ever pick it up, its nice to know that's optional, because so many games make puzzles like that mandatory.
 

MRY

Wormwood Studios
Developer
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Aug 15, 2012
Messages
5,653
Location
California
I share the sentiment. I’m curious whether (if you play it) you will think it is reasonably integrated or not. Obviously I thought it was. :)
 

Jenkem

お前はもう死んでいる
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An oasis of love and friendship.
Make the Codex Great Again! [Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.] I helped put crap in Monomyth
Finished the game playtime on steam says 4.8 hours but actual time was probably 4.5, really enjoyed it but not sure what I think about it yet. I'm going to play through again with annotations and director commentary along w/ trying to get some achievements I missed. The ones I missed were: Sharpest Shooter (which when I first encountered it I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be doing exactly and messed it up, so I assume it's do it the first time or something), Unobtanium and Heads I win are easy to figure out but I also need Big Talker which is weird because I thought I had talked to everyone since I usually have the "click on everything" 'tism
 

just

Savant
Joined
Feb 6, 2019
Messages
886
was too retarded to figure out the phone number puzzle and i still dont understand it even after reading the explanation
cool game other than that
 

Neuromancer

Savant
Joined
Jun 10, 2018
Messages
806
I also bought and finished it.

First I didn't want to, since I am not the hugest Primordia fan (I quite liked the game, it's just, that I personally wouldn't rank it so high as many other members here.) and the graphics of Strangeland seemed to me too bleak at first (which of course was done by purpose).


I mostly bought the game out of solidarity for MRY, who really seems to be relaxed and cool developer.
I may not always agree with him on some points (which IMO is totally OK), but I respect his relaxed and de-escalating way of dealing with other contrarian - sometimes even antagonistic - opinions in this forum.


In the end, I liked the game much more than I thought. The only "complaint" I would say, is that I would have preferred a game with at least a little bit of "reality" in it.


P.S.: It is normal that your ingame achievements get deleted at the end?
 

MRY

Wormwood Studios
Developer
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Aug 15, 2012
Messages
5,653
Location
California
Jenkem Big Talker: Everyone (including me!) misses the talk with Feral Stranger. Sharpest Shooter: You just have to win without hacking the control panel or jimmying open the drawer.

just
Murmur: "You will call for three, wanton one, three."
Raven: (1) Keeps indicating that Murmur's prophecies are homophones with double meanings. (2) On this one, says, "Call 4-3-something something something."
Lost Poster: LOST: Call 431-[missing]

I would say that most players pretty quickly get to: "Oh, he's telling me to call 43...13?" So you have to figure out the middle three digits (US phone numbers having seven digits, which is all the phone takes). The question is how to turn "wanton" into three digits. If you look at the poster, we know that the first three digits of the call are 431, so the first digit from "wanton" has to be a 1. If "wan" = 1 then that leaves "ton," i.e., 10.

The voice actor reads it reasonably clearly as "one-ten one" but many players skip the line or miss the intonation.

Still my favorite puzzle in the game, but so was the kiosk puzzle in Primordia, which caused great rage, too.

Neuromancer That's very kind, though I generally don't think goodwill charity to developers makes sense. I guess you are incentivizing good behavior, but at the end of the day, the best behaved developer of bad games probably should just go into the hospitality business or something. :) It is not normal for your achievements to be deleted. Are you playing on Steam or GOG?
 

Neuromancer

Savant
Joined
Jun 10, 2018
Messages
806
MRY:
Don't worry: I wouldn't have bought your game, if would have thought, that it would suck. :)

As I said, I also liked Primorida and bought it at one time for a reduced price. I probably would have done the same with Strangeland otherwise.

But I agree, that you generally shouldn't confound the developer's personality with the produced game - in a positive but also in a negative direction.
For example: You can think of Phil Fish what you want, but I still think that Fez is a great game.


Regarding achievements:
I installed the GOG version with the standalone installer (so no Galaxy).

I am not completely sure, when exactly the erasure happened, but that's what I did:
1) I saved in the last room before the final decision and than triggered the "bad" ending.
I then watched the ending scene and credits and got the final achievement screen at the end with the usual story and some extra achievements.
2) Then I directly reloaded the last save from the main menu (without quitting the game in between) and triggered the "good" ending.
I got the corresponding ending scene and the credits. And then in the achievement popup all the listed achievements were dark with the exception of the one you get for the "good" ending.

Quitting and restarting the game now only shows this one achievement in the main menu.
So maybe, the achievement wipe happened while loading the last save game?
 

baud

Arcane
Patron
Joined
Dec 11, 2016
Messages
3,849
Location
Septentrion
RPG Wokedex Strap Yourselves In [Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.] Pathfinder: Kingmaker I helped put crap in Monomyth
I quickly discerned the token hints of cancer
Which hints did you find?
I remember a few mentions of crabs and how the woman was bald in one sequence. I came to the same conclusion, but I'd be interested to know if you found more of them
Very nice words from all. It is a little weird for Primordia to go from being whipped by journos to being the whip they use to thrash Strangeland, but so it goes.

The mouse wheel might be used elsewhere but I wasn’t aware of any when proposing it to James. The smoothness compliment is a nice one to hear; it owes a lot to James in the first instance and then our tireless testers.

One slight issue with the mouse wheel inventory is that I kinda forgot to check if there was object combinations available, which are slightly more obvious when using the usual inventory. But that's a minor issue and more down to a player who's not playing a lot of adventure games and I don't see how you'd fix without removing the wheel (which is a good QoL feature).
 

MRY

Wormwood Studios
Developer
Joined
Aug 15, 2012
Messages
5,653
Location
California
One slight issue with the mouse wheel inventory is that I kinda forgot to check if there was object combinations available, which are slightly more obvious when using the usual inventory. But that's a minor issue and more down to a player who's not playing a lot of adventure games and I don't see how you'd fix without removing the wheel (which is a good QoL feature).
We experimented with having an "open inventory" option in the wheel itself, which proved to be more annoying than helpful. In another game, I might have clicking on the main character open inventory. Not sure.
 

baud

Arcane
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Septentrion
RPG Wokedex Strap Yourselves In [Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.] Pathfinder: Kingmaker I helped put crap in Monomyth
RPS describes SL as "marmite-y" and I feel like a phone just rang in my head and Abe Goldfarb hissed, "How do you like incomprehensible references now, you idiot?"

Seems his VA was appreciated:
 

MRY

Wormwood Studios
Developer
Joined
Aug 15, 2012
Messages
5,653
Location
California
Ha, a fan with the nick Meatball made this. Still laughing. Can't really post it elsewhere lest spoilers, but here I can stick it behind a tag at least!

wMWBm3J.gif
 

Jenkem

お前はもう死んでいる
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Make the Codex Great Again! [Steve gets a Kidney but I don't even get a tag.] I helped put crap in Monomyth
one thing that annoyed me, at one point I tried to use the dagger on the lever for the electrical gate and the character commented that "it's not a throwing knife" but then
you have to use a dagger by throwing it at the crab's maw or whatever, I died twice there the first time because I didn't know what to do and needed to be killed by him anyway for the death achievement, and then the second time when I interacted w/ the maw before blinding him it says "I can't reach it" which made me think I couldn't use the knife because previously the game told me I couldn't throw them. I realize they are different knives/objects thinking back on it but still...
 

Twiglard

Poland Stronk
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Strap Yourselves In Codex Year of the Donut
For a game that's purposely introspective and devoid of real characters, the protagonist is characterized in a rather shallow fashion. He can't get over the blonde and has a tiny voice in the back of his head that keeps telling him that he's worthless and can't succeed. I don't think adding more facts about his life would help. But the realizations he comes to, and the complexities of his personality are too little. The last scene is actually nice, but obviously would be way less powerful if you capitalized on that aspect too much.

After all, you can't outrun your own reflection. You can only make it somewhat more palatable. Wouldn't it be nice, if we actually could ever start over?

Other than the obvious comparison to I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream, my favorite psychological media is of course a certain Japanese cartoon about fighting robots (that isn't about robots, of course). 24 episodes of it and a full-length movie.
 

MRY

Wormwood Studios
Developer
Joined
Aug 15, 2012
Messages
5,653
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California
That seems like a fair criticism.

I guess what I would say is that the protagonist (the Stranger) is not the per se the same person as the widower whose mind you're in. I would say that the Stranger doesn't have a personality you learn about; you learn about the widower through exploring the park and all its characters/areas. But that's an obscure point that doesn't really answer the criticism. I agree that the game is something of a cipher protagonist dealing with single-trait NPCs who speak mostly in one-liners.

My own view is that there is a fair amount of complexity, but it's not the kind of complexity that would normally go into a character.
 

MRY

Wormwood Studios
Developer
Joined
Aug 15, 2012
Messages
5,653
Location
California
In some instances, a bit less. If you experiment and a lot and poke around, a bit more. If you replay with commentary and annotations, a lot more. Play time I’ve seen ranges from 3 to 12 hours. My guess is 4.5 is typical.
 

MRY

Wormwood Studios
Developer
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Messages
5,653
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California
I would never advocate anyone pirating anything other than my own game, which is another way of saying, if you genuinely can't afford it, I can also just get you a key, but it's a bit of a hassle for me, and less of a hassle if you pirate it. I'd rather you pirate it and enjoy it than pay for it and complain about being overcharged.

More generally, I laid out my views on piracy here years ago, more caustically and with a bit more profanity than I would use today, but the sentiment is about the same:
I think Croteam's move is less an anti-piracy measure than it is a piece of performance art designed to attract paying customers to the game; of course they know pirates will work around it, and I can't imagine that they think that it will deter piracy. They probably don't even hope that it will cause a single pirate to buy the game, though I suppose some small number of them might in a touche kind of hat-tip. Rather, the audience is people who have already paid, who will feel better about having paid because they can laugh at pirates, and people who haven't bought the game but will hear about it, and/or about the developer, in a way that will make the game and/or developer seem clever. This seeming cleverness could attract customers to the game.

In my view, current technology does not offer a feasible way to stop piracy of traditional single-player games, so I don't think it's worth pretending otherwise if you're a developer. You have to accept piracy and work within a reality in which people can get your game for free almost as easily as they can buy it. That said, I think it's mistaken to believe that piracy harms no one. Pirates also need to accept reality, and reality is that widespread piracy causes major developers to implement DRM that harms the gaming experience in various ways. Even assuming piracy imposes no other costs, it worsens games in that regard. Moreover, the perception -- whether fair or not -- that piracy suppresses sales is probably a significant cause of various trends that have worsened games, specifically increased movement toward: (1) consoles; (2) games with inescapable online integration or at least an online-experience priority; (3) F2P with microtransactions; (4) "early access," crowdfunding, pre-ordering, and other ways of locking in money before piracy can conceivably suppress sales; and (5) using post-release patching (which is to say, premature release) to encourage legal purchasing. It's impossible for me to quantify the effect, and maybe I'm spinning a just-so story, but it certainly seems to me that the two are related. As someone who grew up in the age of standalone, well-made single-player game, it's distressing to see that type of game being relegated to a niche. Of course no individual act of piracy is responsible for this state of affairs, just like no individual purchase is responsible for a developer's financial well-being, and at least in certain circumstances it's hard to be annoyed at someone for pirating a game. Holding all else constant, as between someone pirating Primordia and not playing it at all, I'd much rather they pirate it.

As I get older, I'm slowly coming to the view that the market is the best system for pricing goods but that an individual participant in the market should not give controlling moral weight to the market. In other words, that customers are willing to pay a certain price does not necessarily mean that you shouldn't sell it cheaper, if you can; that sellers are willing to sell at a certain price does not necessarily mean you should offer not a penny more. I wish more developers would stop charging for their games when they can afford to give them away (esp., with older games), and I wish more gamers would not pirate games when they can afford to buy them.

In other words, piracy is inevitable but they are too stubborn to accept that reality
Well, piracy is no more inevitable than DRM;* both are the result of people making decisions, not immutable laws of nature. (* DRM might be easier to stop because there are fewer decision makers, and those decision makers can more easily be held accountable, of course.) All I'm saying is that pirates who say, "We aren't hurting anything!" are factually wrong even if you accept the premise that they would never have bought the game.

Makes me wonder how they even manage to stay in business with such poor decision making.
When successful companies engage in some behavior that seems obviously foolish -- or when large numbers of people make choices that are seem plainly wrong -- I tend to try to second-guess my own assumptions. (For example, if you think, "Disney's decision with respect to Pixar/Marvel/Star Wars is dumb even to me, the company clearly doesn't know how to manage a brand!" -- and who hasn't thought that at some point? -- it's a useful corrective to remember that Disney has long successfully managed brands, while we never have.) So, for example, it seems to me quite possible that companies have gone through an analysis like: (1) DRM makes things worse for our paying customers; (2) DRM also makes things harder for pirates; (3) we've run the numbers and only a small but vocal minority of paying customers will actually stop buying because of DRM; (4) by contrast, a relatively large number of stupid people will be unable to pirate the game. I mean, I haven't run any such numbers or wouldn't even know where such numbers would come from, but it seems possible.

As someone who scrupulously buys products -- since I don't watch/read/play all that much any more, it's not too expensive -- the thing that amazes me most is not gaming DRM but the unskippable shit on DVDs. BBC repays my courtesy in buying their product with a semi-unskippable set of ads, an unskippable FBI warning, an unskippable "commentaries are not our official policy" warning, an unskippable logo sequence, and then slow-ass menus. This is true for basically every company. (Disney is in some ways the most outrageous, announcing that their DVDs are "equipped with fast play" that can be "bypassed by pressing menu"; "fast play" actually means that if you press nothing, you watch a long series of ads, while pressing menu puts you through an unskippable series of warnings.)

At this point I'm waiting for a big developer/publisher to release a good game with no DRM whatoever and enjoy massive success, just to see the faces of all the "b-but it's a necessary evil!" people.
Galactic Civilizations 2 is a decent example, but despite what they claimed, it did have a form of DRM, namely the release of a piece of shit game that required dozens of week-one patches that could only be downloaded with a valid purchase. Of course the patches were themselves ultimately cracked, etc., but as far as a I know, no developer has set it up so that pirates enjoy a game no worse than bona fide customers.

For myself, I've always tried to help Primordia pirates when I see them on Twitter, etc., mostly for the performance-art reason.

But piracy is at least somewhat responsive to pricing and availability -- for instance, I suspect more people pirated music before iTunes was available because there was no quick and easy way to digitally purchase a single song. If iTunes raised its prices to $5 a song, more people would go back to piracy, I'm sure. Not because they couldn't afford the music, but because if they feel like the seller of an infinite good is being too greedy, their already low moral inhibition on piracy will be overcome.

5 usd a tune would be extremely greedy and stupid though. Let's say a normal album has 10 songs, so 50 bucks for an album? That would more than twice the cost of a new LP.

Wikipedia article on iTunes says songs there cost 99 cents and albums 9.99 usd, that's already near (or even equal to) the price of a CD. So their prices are as high as any non-retard would pay as it is, any higher and it would be cheaper to just buy the CD.
Obviously it would be a dumb price point. (Most prices are set to maximize revenue, so it's all greedy.) My point is that people pirating has less to do with actual inability to afford it and more a visceral reaction to whether they are being overcharged. Such small frauds are endemic (like people lying about their kids' age at Disneyland, etc.). Sometimes people cheat because they cannot afford not to, but a great deal of it (including piracy) comes when people think that the party benefiting from the rules is overreaching. "You're telling me that a game that can be won in 3 hours is worth $60? Fat chance!" Etc.
 
Joined
Feb 28, 2011
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3,561
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Chicago, IL, Kwa
I find no fault with the morality or logic of your reasoning, I just worry that you're possibly a little bit naive for your willingness to articulate it on the internet while attached to your actual biographical handle.
 

Atrachasis

Augur
Joined
Apr 11, 2007
Messages
167
Location
The Local Group
I'll be honest, and leave this here as a bit of totally unrepresentative market feedback for Mark: This is one of the very few Wadjet-published games that I feel no incentive to buy at all. This despite the fact that the craftsmanship seems to be as top-notch as ever (although the Giger-esque look is not as original any more as it once was...). Maybe it's just the setting and genre that rubs me the wrong way. I get that it's all highly allegorical and symbolistic and whatnot; perhaps what is rubbing me the wrong way is that, in psychology, such symbolic imagery is highly subjective. But the moment you turn this imagery into a setting for a game with a distinct audiovisual appearance, you are objectivizing the subjective, which is a bit like squaring the circle. It feels like a psychotic setting to explore what is presumably a highly neurotic personality. As a player, I am left stumbling through another person's objectivized head carnival, which I do not enjoy. Am I making any sense?
 

Maxie

Guest
imo Primordia felt more fun to play because it's a grounded adventure of some individual trying to achieve something in a world which may be read allegorically but may as well be not, all the characters are individual personalities who interact, rather than figments of someone's personality, and the achieved goal feels like an actual achievement, rather than some high brow self-realization thing we got in Strangeland
im not keen on 'he was you all along' narratives which in turn made me scoff resignedly first at the crab then at the black thing in the finale
it's definitely one of the most technologically impressive adventure renaissance titles so there's that i guess
 

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