You're at the Heart of A Machine For Pigs

You're at the Heart of A Machine For Pigs

Making a sequel to Amnesia may be more about stripping down the game to what really matters: You.

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So when the hell is this coming out then? Hmm? No joke guys, me and a couple of friends have covenanted to get together with our PCs when it comes out and have a scream fest.

"It's not often that studios let other studios loose on their babies." Yeah, ask Gearbox about that one : )

I'm excited about this game, I wasn't the biggest fan of Dear Esther but I can only imagine how their touches could bring focus upon the horror and make the experience "less gamey" as opposed to "not exactly a game". To be frank, I was kind of relieved to see that Frictional still has a hand in it, but I'm curious about this time constraint that led to them working with thechineseroom in the first place.

Excellent. Huh. I'll be disappointed if I called Mandus' story just from what I've read in the article. It'll still be good, I'll just be disappointed if I've called it and it's another Innsmouth gambit. That said, I sincerely doubt I'll love it any less.

"People were saying lack of tinderboxes wasn't a problem," Pinchbeck remembers, "because you wanted to be in the dark most of the time." They wanted to be immersed in the Amnesia kind of scary, and if resources weren't necessary to that core experience, then out thechineseroom threw them."

Wow, this studio doesn't get it, and it's funny the way they guise their ignorance.
Resource management was an enormous actor in developing Amnesia's psychological landscape - specifically because players DIDN'T want to be in the dark. The scarcity of lantern fuel and tinderboxes beckoned in an almost acute paranoia of being left without them, and enhanced the terror of the dark all the more. I can imagine that spending the majority of a game deliberately ploughing through darkness with mixed repercussions (as opposed to chance events that you had some power to manipulate) would make such experiences less potent in contrast to the original Amnesia. You spent the game attached to islands of light - constantly driven to wet your pants based on preconceptions of what could lie just beyond those lights' edge.

Also, sorry - but I'm finding this rhetoric about developing horror through 'sympathy with the player character' as opposed to ACTUAL trepidation to smell a bit like arse. In that it's difficult to have it work, and only then, should be almost obligated to play a tangential role in contrast to the actual horror-y parts of horror...horror is a mostly sensory experience.

The thing about Amnesia is that it didn't make you replay anything when you die to a monster. As such horror felt fresh throughout.
Because if in a horror game you die and replay same part 10 times you might as well throw this game away because your immersion is dead, you're just fighting with game mechanics.
What was great about Amnesia that it made you paranoid. Monsters were not there, or they de-spawned, yet you still were scared as hell.

Having a character who has family has never given me any motivation, i don't know if it's just me but i don't really care about other peoples kids, putting family in danger in movies and video games annoys me because it tends to pause any sense of progression, the hero character has to stop and i hate that. The blank slate amnesiac that was Daniel worked because of the mystery, the game opens with him actively losing his memory, he starts losing the words he's trying to speak and that gives you the desire to push through the game, to solve the mystery.

Lord_Gremlin:
The thing about Amnesia is that it didn't make you replay anything when you die to a monster. As such horror felt fresh throughout.
Because if in a horror game you die and replay same part 10 times you might as well throw this game away because your immersion is dead, you're just fighting with game mechanics.
What was great about Amnesia that it made you paranoid. Monsters were not there, or they de-spawned, yet you still were scared as hell.

Actually that's why Amnesia didn't work for me.
Everything felt too scripted and all made of smoke and mirrors.

No reason to be scared of anything if you can just turn around and the monsters disappear. No reason to try to stay alive if the game takes care of you and makes sure that nothing can happen. At the same time no reason to play with safety if nothing you do has any effect in anything in the game anyway as it's all pre-scripted anyway.

A Machine For Pigs sounds like the album title for a metal band.

I've heard that some of the game takes place outdoors, which is definitely a welcome change from worming around in a creepy claustrophobic medieval castle. The game is set in 1899 (30 years after TDD), which brings it more in line with the Lovecraft horror oozing beneath. H.P. would have already been 9 years old by this time, probably drawing his first Cthulhu.

Karloff:
You're at the Heart of A Machine For Pigs

I suppose that explains all the blood then.

reading this has now made me worried that they are just going to make another dear esher, just with some drippy walls.

just pressing W till until you reach the end is not a good or engaging game. hell dear esher shouldn't even be called a game as far as I am concerned.

dont screw me on this chinese room people, this is one of the few games i am actually looking forward too this year!

Karloff:
Dr. Dan Pinchbeck is used to making cases to more unforgiving partners than the folks at Frictional. He's a Portsmouth University lecturer, who got a bit sick of dry as dust debates over what games could and could not do. Time and again, Pinchbeck would be faced with academics, positively declaring that games could not possibly [fill in the blank]. Even though academics were often proved wrong by game developers, Pinchbeck found himself rehashing those old arguments again and again. Narrative was a sore point; if a game was purely narrative, would players accept it? Academia was convinced that players wouldn't accept such a thing. "So we made Dear Esther," Pinchbeck laughs, the haunting, story-driven Half Life 2 mod that made thechineseroom's reputation - plus its money back, in the first eight hours of sales - and which allowed it to become a truly commercial enterprise.

The question is, did 90% of the people who bought that game enjoy it or were the sales just a result of the inexplicable hype machine generated by the handful of reviewers who for some nonsensical reason actually said it was any good?

Sorry guys, but not only was there no narrative in your game whatsoever but it was completely forgettable. Generating soundbites to play when the player crosses a particular threshold is not a narrative, particularly when there is zero cohesion in the actual events described thanks to the fact that the map is open, but also because the game spent too much time spouting pseudo-poetic nonsense that pretended like it might have had something to do with anything interesting. There was not even any meta-critique or -commentary present.

The narration was basically just random passages plucked out of an entirely forgettable faux-poetic post-contemporary novel (you know, the kind you study in university that's designed with such "amazing, intelligently crafted metaphoric meaning so well-hidden behind an ostensibly humble face of a forgettable story" that only an academic with a PHD in bullsh- sorry Literary Arts could hope to appreciate it) literally at random and completely without context or weight.

The game would have only been improved had there been absolutely no "narration". A random walk around a pretty looking environment is at least strictly superior to a random walk around a pretty looking environment broken up repeatedly by some narrator prattling on about literally nothing.

what the hell, I used oil a lot and was worried about tinderboxes. I made sure to strategically light my progress without over-using the tinderboxes, it was a big part of the game.

It seems like they're starting to burrow up their own ass.

Iszfury:
Resource management was an enormous actor in developing Amnesia's psychological landscape - specifically because players DIDN'T want to be in the dark. The scarcity of lantern fuel and tinderboxes beckoned in an almost acute paranoia of being left without them, and enhanced the terror of the dark all the more.

Damn right. And often even when you weren't using them you'd still want to stockpile as many of the damn things as you can, just in case. I would scour levels far longer than I needed to just to grab a couple more tinderboxes and a few drops of lantern oil in an almost possessive way. Simple as it as, I don't think any other game's method of resources and how they tie into finding your way around and staying safe has ever affected me in such a way, and this guy dismisses it all as unnecessary and has scrapped it.

The worst part is since the game is very dark and you need to use tinderboxes and the lantern to light your way and stave off insanity, this might also mean the demise of the insanity system. Insanity in Amnesia meant that the dark is a very bad place to stay, but since it's your best way of avoiding the monsters, you really need to work up a balance between hiding in darkness and staying in light to survive, something which can be very difficult and is a huge part of where the real survival horror aspect comes in. Since you have light sources of your own, the game expects you to make the use of them at the right moments rather than having a bunch of lit areas and pools or darkness simply strewn among the level.

Whatever the case, insanity thing or no the removal of the need to manage resources will almost certainly be an unnecessary blow to the game. Not necessarily a dealbreaker, but I really do not see how changing this will be of any benefit at all.

DjinnFor:
snippage

In terms of how they play, or rather don't play, it seems everything these guys have made so far are various renditions of Dear Esther.
I really, really hope that's not the case with A Machine for Pigs, but judging from interviews and the dev commentaries on Amnesia, the Frictional team seem to be pretty smart guys who know their shit and recognize the importance of marrying well implemented gameplay elements with well implemented narrative elements without screwing over one or the other too much to create something really compelling. You'd think thechineseroom must apparently be willing to work with a similar mindset or Frictional would have never collaborated with them on the sequel to something they poured their hearts and souls into... right...?

Somewhat bizarrely, I hope Machine for Pigs is extremely good or extremely crap, one extreme or the other. I'm hoping it's either a very well received sequel that expands on everything the original did well while giving something new, or it turns out to be another unsubstantial pretentious as fuck wankfest and these guys are demonized for screwing up the series.
If thechineseroom prove that they can indeed actually make great games which are both stellar in terms of gameplay and narrative these guys might go on to make all sorts of cool stuff which is both thought provoking and entertaining. If it's pretty bad and it turns out to effectively be a Dear Esther reskin unworthy of the Amnesia title, these guys will be viewed as having effectively ruined one of gaming's most popular horror titles and the gaming community might further question the place of games without actual meaningful gameplay in gaming.

I think the atmosphere they achieved with Dear Esther was both fascinating and incredibly frightening - just because of the music and occasional shadows. Just imagine what they can do with the Amnesia universe!

 

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