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Development

  1. What is an Adventure Game?
  2. What is an Independent Developer?
  3. What is a Game Engine?
  4. What is Linear vs Non-Linear Game Play?
  5. What are Pre-Rendered Graphics?
  6. How is an Adventure Game Developed?
  7. How Can Someone Make a Million Dollars?

What is an Adventure Game?

The two broad genres in gaming are Action and Adventure. Of the two, Action is more popular. The first-person shooter is an example of classic Action. Action games test and develop the gamer's dexterity with keyboard, mouse or joystick controls.

In contrast, Adventure games involve puzzle and problem solving and completely avoid tests of controls dexterity. Beyond these characteristics, Adventure-Game developers focus on creating an immersive experience by placing the player in evocative environments and casting them as characters in interesting and intricate stories.

Slip Space: The Burma-Shave Analogy is a game in the genre of pure adventure.

What is an Independent Developer?

Clearly, Action games are more popular than Adventure Games. As such, large-scale development operations are likely to concentrate on Action games. There are successful design companies dedicated to Adventure but they are small compared to their Action counterparts. Further, some of these Developers are incorporating Action elements in order to attract gamers from the larger audience.

Independent developers are ultra-small operations, often a one-person enterprise, that create games based on their own personal preference or vision of what elements make up an ideal game. Often their games stand out even though some aspects of their productions are less than state-of-the-art because they contain a much greater depth in regards to the elements that Adventure gamers seek, such as atmosphere, story and puzzle design.

The Burma-Shave Analogy is the creation of the independent developer Dan Markosian.

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What is a Game Engine?

Game development involves both the design of media elements, such as graphics and sound, and the programming of interactive elements, such as navigation, progress status, and save and load functionality.

The game engine is the program that addresses the interactive requirements and the method of handling the changing of graphics and sound.

The game engine for the Burma-Shave Analogy allows for the layering of graphical elements and the application of effects so that things move, lights flash, water ripples and so on. The sound handler of the engine allows the designer to change sound panning and volume and control the looping and layering of music and sound effects so that the sound track seems to go on forever without repetition.

What is Linear Versus Non-Linear Game Play?

Some call Adventure games interactive movies. In a movie, the audience has no control over the sequence of the scenes. In that sense, movies are linear. Some adventure games tell a story one scene, one location at a time. Thus, the player moves through the game in a predetermined sequence.

If the flow of the story allows, games can be designed where the player chooses the sequence. This is possible when any scene provides multiple gateways each of which transport the player into a different scene. To complete the game, the player will ultimately visit all of these scenes but will have done so with a sequence of their own choosing.

The game play in the Burma-Shave Analogy is mostly non-linear. The game opens with an animated cut scene which leads to the first navigation scene located outside the "Golden Age of Advertising" building. Once the player solves the puzzles in that environment, they are treated to two more animated cut scenes and are then transported to The Shave, the central location of the game. From there, the sequence is completely non-linear up to the final location of the game.

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What are Pre-Rendered Graphics?

Immersive environments for the game are created using 3D modeling software. These environments can include anything one would find in the real world and many things not of the real world.

The two available options for presenting these environments are motion and fixed. In theory, motion is more realistic since the point of view constantly changes much like it would with a hand-held video camera. With fixed, the anchor points of the scene hold still until the player clicks to move forward or to look in another direction.

In truth, fixed better emulates the way we view things when we are holding a fixed position. The fact that the anchor points on the screen are not moving around, which they usually are in a motion presentation, does not prevent one from looking around the screen. Further, clicking to view left, right, up or down accurately fashions the way we normally adjust out point of view.

Motion presentations require that the 3D world is rendered on-the-fly. Where as, fixed views are pre-rendered. Inherently, there is a quality advantage to pre-rendering.

To clarify the argument, motion 3D presentations are an amazing technology very well suited to Action games. Nonetheless, pre-rendered fixed presentations offers benefits that fit well with the design goals for Adventure games.

The Burma-Shave Analogy uses the fixed approach with pre-rendered graphics and point-and-click navigation. As noted in the section on the game engine, each view includes environmental effects such as lightning strikes and enveloping fog.

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How is an Adventure Game Developed?

The two stages of development are:

  1. make technical and preliminary decisions
  2. develop content

In the first stage one comes up with a story, chooses or programs a game engine, procures the software needed to create the content, and gets trained in the use of that software.

In the second stage, the designer creates 3D environments and populates those settings with objects such as walkways, foliage and buildings. Next, one creates camera views throughout the environments. These cameras are selected in anticipation of how the player will view and move through the scenes. While still working in the 3D program, one renders all of the camera views. If the plan is to later use layered effects, then several different renders are done for each camera.

The next step is to reconstruct the scenes in layers using a program such as Adobe® Photoshop®. The results of this action are exported to the game engine or the program that hosts the game engine such as Director® (formerly a Macromedia® product now owned by Adobe).

The idea for Slip Space came from a thought experiment that consider the mechanics of adding dimensions to time without time travel. The theory states that our perception of reality is based on the frequency with which we view units-of-now. As the frequency changes, reality changes.

The Burma-Shave-Analogy story pits a clandestine global agency, the Strategic Intelligence Alliance against the inventor of Slip-Space technology, Webster Wotsletter and his five sons.

The game engine was written in the Director host language Lingo®.

3D environments are modeled and rendered in EON® Vue®, reconstructed in Photoshop and Director.

How Can Someone Make a Million Dollars?

Find a job that pays $2 million per hour, work a half hour, then quit.

Presently, there are no positions available with the Slip-Space development team that pay $2 million per hour but feel free to check back frequently.

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