Tagged: Amnesia

On April 18 Frictional Games joined Valve to celebrate the release of Portal 2 and wrap up our collaboration which has spanned the last few months. During this period we have worked with not only Valve, but an entire range of talented independent developers, to give gamers a unique gaming experience. Together we created a massive Alternate Reality Game which spanned 13 Steam games, as well as plenty of internet forums and publications, and the real world. Frictional Games’ main contribution to this game was a DLC called Justine and truth be told, it plays pretty damn well even without the other stuff.

Justine has now been repackaged to survive in the outside world and we are happy to announce that we are giving it away to all owners of Amnesia for free. Turn off the lights, put the headphones on and play another story produced by the original team, the multiple IGF award winning, Frictional Games.

But, there is more…

For all our fans who pre-ordered or bought the game through our store, as a thank you for hanging in there and supporting us, we give you Mikko Tarmia’s beloved soundtrack composed for Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Simply log on to our shelf and download it today. For everyone else, who aren’t eligible for a free soundtrack, it can still be purchased from our store.

That still isn’t enough…

A collection of five short-stories set in the world of Amnesia, written by our writer and illustrated by our concept artists, will be included in the update. They are sure to answer some of your questions about our universe, but also have you come up with a few new ones.

Justine and the story collection will be available through the Amnesia v1.2 update, which is available from today. The update also includes some bug fixes and now officially include Russian voice and subtitles (Thanks to Snowball).

Thank you all for playing Amnesia and yet an even bigger thank you to everyone who participated in the mad puzzles of the Portal 2 ARG.

 

After 3 long years of waiting Amnesia : The Dark Descent was finally released today !

Helsingborg, Sweden, 8/10 – 2010

We at Frictional Games are happy to announce that Amnesia: The Dark Descent is now available for instant download! This represent the culmination of the three years of hard work and we are very proud of the final result. We believe it to be a huge improvement over our previous work, the Penumbra series.

One of our goals with Amnesia: The Dark Descent has been “availability”, meaning that the game should be as available as possible for those that are interested in playing it. Because of this, the game is having a simultaneous launch on Windows, Mac and Linux. It also comes with four translations in addition to the original English version, is DRM free and available from most major online retailers in addition to our own online store. Finally, the game itself has also received our utmost attention in areas that affect the ease of use and interaction with the game world.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a first person horror game with a focus on immersion. It is a game where atmosphere and story comes first. We hope that the game will be a breeze of fresh air, in a genre otherwise populated by “one-man-army action hero” sagas. In Amnesia you are almost completely defenseless, something we believe not only makes the game a lot scarier, but also gives a vastly different experience.

Enter an interactive nightmare where reality is a fragile concept.

Do you have what it takes to survive?

Selected press quotes
Few games are able to conjure up an atmosphere this genuinely frightening.
- IGN

Despite its title, Amnesia remembers what the blockbusters of survival horror seem to have forgotten: how to horrify.
- PC Gamer UK

I think it is safe to say that Amnesia is the most successfully frightening game to have been made.
- Rock Paper Shotgun

I must say Amnesia is a masterpiece of horror, something surely all other horror games could take from and in some senses, strive to be.
- NeoSeeker

Details – Amnesia: The Dark Descent

Price: $20.
Available: http://store.frictionalgames.com and most major online retailers.
Platforms: Windows, Mac OS X & Linux.
Languages: English – with localized text for French, German, Italian & Spanish.

Recommended Computer Specifications:
* Windows XP/Vista/7, OS X 10.5.8/10.6.4 or Linux distribution released in 2010.
* NVIDIA GeForce 6 / ATI Radeon HD.• 2.0 Ghz CPU.
* 2 GB RAM.
* 2.5 GB Free hard disk space.

Website: http://www.amnesiagame.com

Frictional Games where kind enough to offer 2 copies of Amnesia to the winners of LGN next contest.
Although LGN had little luck in the previous contests, and as I’ve said earlier I do not want to just giveaway the games on random for no reason, I’ll have to think about something creative; something that more people could take part in.

So in several days I’ll write about the upcoming contest, but if you have more ideas feel free to comment below.

GamingOnLinux are on the other hand are having a giveaway of Amnesia to a random regular poster who registers and participates on their forums, so you got another chance to win Amnesia.

Links
Frictional Games
Amnesia
Buy Amnesia

Amnesia: The Dark Descent has been released !
For more information and upcoming contest read here.

Helsingborg, Sweden, 03/9 – 2010
Today Frictional Games, the makers of the Penumbra series, has released a demo for their upcoming first person survival horror “Amnesia: The Dark Descent”. Players with Windows, Mac or Linux all get a chance to experience a small slice of the dread and terror contained in the full game.

The game begins with Daniel awakening in a desolate Prussian castle, without any memories to explain his situation. A letter written by himself, reveals that the amnesia is actually self-inflicted. The mysterious message urges him to seek out and kill Alexander, a man residing deep below the castle. Hunted by a dark shadow, Daniel can see no other way out than to trust his former self. If he is to save his life and mind, he needs to find out what it is all really about. It is his only hope for salvation. A dark descent awaits.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a first person horror game with focus on immersion. It is a game where atmosphere and story comes first. Amnesia will be released on the 8th of September and can be purchased in Frictional Game’s own online store as well as most major online retailers.

We would also like to seize the opportunity and inform all that there is a 10% discount on Amnesia if you pre-order. For those who are longing for some horror gaming this weekend, the Penumbra series costs 70% less in our own store and at Gamer’s Gate!

Trailer – Developer Walkthrough
Today we also released a new trailer, it’s a developer walkthrough of the physics interaction in Amnesia. If you ever had problems explaining how the interaction in our games work, perhaps this trailer can be of use to you! Watch it on YouTube!

About Demo
The demo can be downloaded from www.AmnesiaGame.com where it is available as both a direct download and as a torrent.

Platforms: Windows, Mac OS X & Linux.

Languages: English – with localized text for French, German, Italian & Spanish.

Recommended Computer Specifications:

* Windows XP/Vista/7, OS X 10.5.8/10.6.4 or Linux distribution released in 2010.
* NVIDIA GeForce 6 / ATI Radeon HD.
* 2.0 Ghz CPU.
* 1 – 2 GB RAM (depends on OS).
* 500mb of free disk space.

For More information please read the frictional games blogpost about the demo.

LGN’s friend GamingOnLinux aka GOL has opened a new GNU/Linux Gaming Forum which is something that we never had before.
Sure, almost every GNU/Linux distribution forum has a gaming section, but it’s usually more about gaming problems that happen to users with that specific distro and rarely about news or general gaming discussion.
We also have the very good FreeGameDev Forums, but it’s goals are different – it’s only for free software and it’s oriented towards the developers and FOSS gaming projects.

So I’m really hoping that the new general gaming forum will become a success, to “help you register and be productive” GOL made 2 more contests (the 1st one is over) :
1. The first user to reach 50 posts will win a full retail copy of Eschalon Book 2 !!! (ended)
2. On September the 25th GOL will choose a random regular posting member of the forum to win Amnesia : The Dark Descent .

So with those prizes, what are you waiting for ?
Register at the forums and start posting !

Links
GamingOnLinux
GNU/Linux Gaming Forum
GOL’s Second Contest : Eschalon Book 2
GOL’s Third Contest : Amnesia : The Dark Descent
Eschalon Book 2
Amnesia : The Dark Descent
FreeGameDev Forums

Amnesia: The Dark Descent has been released !
For more information and upcoming contest read here.

Helsingborg, Sweden, 27/8 – 2010

We at Frictional Games are happy to announce that Amnesia: The Dark Descent has gone gold. We are extremely pleased with our creation and cannot wait to unleash our bundle of madness on the 8th of September. We feel that we have taken a giant leap forward compared to our previous games, the Penumbra series.

Amnesia: The Dark Descent is a first person horror game with a focus on immersion. It is a game where atmosphere and story comes first. We hope that the game will be a breeze of fresh air, in a genre otherwise populated by “one-man-army action hero” sagas. In Amnesia you are almost completely defenseless, something we believe not only makes the game a lot scarier, but also gives a vastly different experience.

On the 8th of September, an interactive nightmare where reality is a fragile concept awaits.

Do you have what it takes to survive?

Details – Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Price: $20.
Available: http://store.frictionalgames.com and most major online retailers.
Platforms: Windows, Mac OS X & Linux.
Languages: English – with localized text for French, German, Italian & Spanish.
Recommended Computer Specifications:

* Windows XP/Vista/7, OS X 10.5.8/10.6.4 or Linux distribution released in 2010.
* NVIDIA GeForce 6 / ATI Radeon HD.
* 2.0 Ghz CPU.
* 2 GB RAM.
* 2.5 GB Free hard disk space.
Screenshots

I’ve received a newsletter from the developers of the Penumbra series Frictional Games that are now working on Amnesia: The Dark Descent :

My hands tremble as I write this and my mind is left weakened by the things I have witnessed. The contents of this message might be too terrible and unspeakable to believe, but I assure you that it is all very real. For the sake of us all, I urge you, dear Reader, to keep an open mind, and very seriously consider the matters which I am about to disclose.

You might be familiar with “Amnesia: The Dark Descent”, a sort of interactive horror experience supposedly run on Personal Difference Engines. Exposure to it is said to induce nightmares, evoke strong sensations of fear and even reports of involuntary hospitalization has surfaced. Foggy details can be found at its electronic net dwelling, www.AmensiaGame.com, but it proved not nearly enough to satisfy my curiosity. I felt an urge to learn more about this stygian binary apprehension and decided to seek out its infamous creator, Frictional Games. To do so I had to travel to the remote port town of Helsingborg, located in the dark southern depths of Sweden.

Upon arrival I was overwhelmed by a distinct sense of discomfort. This feeling escalated as I started to ask the townspeople of Frictional Games’ whereabouts. People seemed to shudder by the mere mentioning of the name, refusing to reveal anything which could lead me in the right direction. Only by bribing a local drunkard was I able to find out more about the creators of “Amnesia: The Dark Descent”. Disturbing details emerged from the old man’s frantic babble, haunting my mind as I followed his directions toward the supposed workshop. Approaching my destination, alleyways grew narrower, edifices more imposing and the townsfolk increasingly withdrawn and repugnant.

After an unnerving stroll I found the sought-for address and faced a derelict building, oozing of decay and eons of neglect. Stepping inside I found the walls filled with strange drawings that grew more and more vexing the further in I got. God knows what drove me, trembling as I was, but my thirst for knowledge was strong and I eventually ventured into the house’s underground quarters. Greeting me there was a picture that truly chilled me to the core. So blasphemous was the eldritch creature painted on the canvas, that a mere glimpse almost put me in a frenzied panic. This was not the work of sane men.

The space opened up into a gloomy room with a row of cells at the far end. I carefully approached one of the barred compartments and lit a match to investigate it closer. An overwhelming rush of fear, so strong that I thought my heart would stop, shot through my veins. The lit match fell from my numb fingers and was immediately snuffed by the damp stone floor. Desperately I scrambled to get out and ran towards the door. In my panic I snatched a few documents and stumbled out of that wicked house, fighting my way through the dark alleys, determined to leave this god forsaken land forever.

As I write this, I am browsing through the documents I found, a couple of which I have attached to this message. I have come across a terrible passage, detailing the date of release for this monstrous creation. On the 8th of September 2010 the stars will align and “Amnesia: The Dark Descent” will be unleashed upon the world. I fear for us all.

You might wonder dear Reader, what startled me so inside that murky cellar. Behind those rotten metal bars, a pair of loathsome eyes stared back at me. The ungodly cellar-room painting was not the work of some twisted mind’s imagination – it was a portrait!

Video :

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bo053hjMkcs&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

Links :
Frictional Games
Amnesia: The Dark Descent
Penumbra series

Today I’ve received an email from Frictional Games whom I’ve interviewed a few months ago about their upcoming survival horror game Amnesia : The Dark Descent :

“Helsingborg, Sweden – 19th of February 2010

From the makers of the Penumbra series comes a brand new survival horror game, Amnesia: The Dark Descent. Today we are happy to announce the release of the game’s web site and a first look at actual in-game footage, in the form of a horrifying teaser.

“We recently finished a massive testing session of the game to much success. With that behind us we now know how Amnesia will play like and what it takes to finish it. This means we feel confident in moving forward and sharing more juicy details about the game. This includes crucial things such as availability, pricing and what the game is all about.”
– Thomas Grip, Co-founder.

Web site
General information about the game, screenshots and a teaser are the main additions to the heavily updated web site . We have also added information about how to pre-order and where the final game will be available for purchase. Check back for future updates with new screens, information and, as release draws closer, a demo.

The web site also features something of a first in the history of computer games – the “pre-order-o-meter”. Watch as blood fill up for every new pre-order placed! If we reach 2000 pre-orders before end of May, new content will be added to the game.

http://www.amnesiagame.com/

Teaser
Take a deep breath and prepare yourself to experience the first real gameplay video released. This teaser gives a first look at what sort of experience we are aiming for when playing Amnesia, it lasts for over three minutes and consists of one single clip. The idea is to convey as clearly as possible that the player is in control of the character throughout the whole game. There are no cut-scenes or any sort of moments where control is taken away to force the narrative forward.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEHPwAvrc_U&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

Status of Amnesia: The Dark Descent
The game is now up and running on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X! All platforms have participated in the recent testing session and performed over expectations. We are pleased to announce that the game will get a simultaneous release on all platforms!

Many companies seem to view the PC as a “dying gaming platform” and we see this as a great opportunity. Amnesia is a modern 3D game that from the very beginning has been created with the PC in mind. It has modest demands on the PC hardware compared to recent console ports and because of this we are able to make sure a broader audience can experience the game as intended.

Release and availability
With an estimated release date of August 2010, you can pre-order it now for USD16 and save 20% on the release price of USD20. The pre-order is available at our own online store and is for the digital download version of the game. At the release in August the game will be available for purchase in just about any of the major online stores. Further details can be found at the Amnesia web site and more information will be released shortly. A boxed version for retail release is also planned and information will be released as it becomes available.

http://www.amnesiagame.com/#buy

About Frictional Games
We are a small independent game developer located in the south of Sweden or, to be more precise, located on the Internet – the company is office-free. We develop unique technologies in form of a game engine and tools that are tailored specifically after the games that we create. Currently with a crew of five in-house and a network of contractors to utilise during production we can be dynamic and efficient, increasing production at key moments. Visit http://www.frictionalgames.com/ for more information.

Also make sure to visit our blog, http://frictionalgames.blogspot.com/, to follow our work in progress and to participate in the discussions about game development, design, horror and other related topics.”

Links
Frictional Games
Amnesia : The Dark Descent
Interview With Frictional Games – Amnesia. (25/11/2009)

Frictional Games the developers of the horror Penumbra series recently revealed the title of their next project – Amnesia : The Dark Descent which I wrote about earlier.
For this special event I interviewed the developers about their next title.

1. Hello Jens and thank you for the interview,
There is a question I ask every commercial game company that already released their previous games to GNU/Linux,  I wonder how where the overall sales of the Penumbra Trilogy per platform ? from the “Thank You” post I feel that there is indeed a market for GNU/Linux, but can you be more specific (at least percentage wise for each game and the trilogy pack)  ?

It’s a bit difficult to give any exact numbers, mainly because for Windows we have a publisher and they in turn use many partners, so even if we get sales figures they are not always detailed down to a unit level for all territories. To make matters worse the first publisher we had for the original Penumbra: Overture release where pretty much a scam and never sent any sales figures at all, so we have only a slight idea of how well that game sold.

I did my best to collect as many figures as I could for online sales of the game for Linux, Mac & Windows. To give some background, the only place to purchase Linux is through our online store, the Mac version is available in our store + 3 other online stores and the Windows version is available in our store (recently added) + all the major stores (Steam, D2D, Gamer’s Gate, etc). I could not get all the figures for the Windows version, it also further weakens the figures that the Windows version is available in retail and that it has had backup by publishers. So it has had a lot of marketing that the other platforms have not had.

Here are the percentage for each platform, based on the total sales of all the games (individual and as the Collection):

Windows: 80%
Linux: 12%
Mac: 8%

A large part of the Linux percentage is thanks to the “Thank You” post you mentioned, that the article it mentions and its readers are what we thank in it for purchasing a lot of copies during the USD 5 weekend sale.

I wish this was all very positive, but in reality our games do not do that well. The only reason the company exists is because we live on what the treasure chest has to offer! So while the Thank You post is obviously a big thanks (it is!), it’s more that it bought us some more time, at a time when we really needed it badly.

We sold 3000 copies for Linux during that weekend, which is a GREAT number of units to sell during a weekend, but for a price of USD 5, you get about USD 13 000 to put in the chest. We are five people in the company and we also have a great guy making the Linux port, so with that in mind you don’t get that many days extra to live on. Here in Sweden the tax rate is above 30% and the employer fee above 30% too, so to put say USD 1 000 in your pocket to buy food for it will cost the company around USD 1 800. That does not include the additional 12% of VAT you have to pay for the actual food! Haha.

There I went on a long trip… It was not to nag about the poor state of being an independent game developer, it is great to be part of a small company that can quite freely work on the type of games we want. But it does have some parts that are a bit of a strain on the creativity.

2. What can you tell us about the upcoming game Amnesia and how would you compare it to the Penumbra series gameplay/engine wise ? (please be detailed)
I’ll leave this question for Thomas, he spends a great deal of time with the design of the game and is properly the man to ask for this question.

Thomas: One could say that Amnesia is a sort of progression from Penumbra. Many of the core gameplay elements have been taken from Penumbra and then refined in Amnesia. This is stuff like the physical interaction system, the way which we design our levels, and so on. Anyone who has played Penumbra will feel right at home when starting Amnesia. What really makes Amnesia different from Penumbra gameplay wise (apart from story and settings) is were our focus have been this time. These are the main areas:

1) To make the player the protagonist. What this means is that the player should to the extent possible be in the shoes of the character he/she is playing as. We will not have any sort of cut scenes, there will be very little text feedback (like descriptions) and the player should be in control from start to finish with no time jumps or anything like that. We feel that this will increase the immersion and emotions experienced during gameplay.

2) Much more effort has been put on the graphics, in terms of details, quality and diversity. As we no longer have text comments that can enhance the environments we want the player to be able to get the feelings by themselves. When entering a room the mood should be apparent and work towards enhancing plot and atmosphere. So instead of the protagonist telling the player what they should think or feel towards something, it is up to the player to decide and hopefully forcing him/her to become more immersed in the game world.

3) To make a more streamlined experience where the player does not get stuck all the time on a puzzle or a gameplay element. We want to have difficulty in the game, but we are designing it in such a way that it should not make break the immersion. Whenever the player restarts from a save or gets stuck at some puzzle for too long, he/she will drift away from the game world and the quality of the experienced will be lessened. This means we are working very hard to get rid of these things and we do not want to throw in a puzzle just to lengthen gameplay time (something that we did in Penumbra).

Engine wise it is quite different and there many parts that have been rebuilt from the ground up. The Penumbra games uses a portal system to do occlusion culling (check what objects not to draw) that placed a heavy burden on the artists. In Amnesia we used a fully dynamic culling system based on a technique called Coherent Hierarchical Culling, which does not give any extra work for the artists and give them more time to make nice graphics instead of worrying about performance issues. Another example is the shadows that were stencil (shadow volumes) based in Penumbra but is done with shadow maps in Amnesia. There are all kinds of new effects added as well, like Screen Space Ambient Occlusion, proper decals, etc. This means that Amnesia will not support as many graphic cards as Penumbra did, but we felt that we had to improve and were forced to draw the line somewhere. Still, Amnesia will be a lot less demanding than most commercial 3D games released these days. If you are looking for minimum requirements, then I am afraid it is too early for that as proper testing on that front has not started yet.

3. Usually I don’t like puzzle games, that’s because I am not so good at solving them – but I really enjoyed playing the Penumbra games because of it’s dark and scary atmosphere, how are the puzzled in Amnesia compare to Penumbra ? more challenging or easier ? can we expect more of the same or the new engine will let you make more complex and interesting puzzles  ?
For Amnesia the puzzles can probably be summed up as being a bit easier, it has been a design goal for the game to be a bit more streamlined in the experience. With Penumbra it was quite clear that as you encountered a puzzle, you had to spend some time trying to solve it, in Amnesia we have tried to smooth it out a bit more. Making puzzles more integrated into the rest of the game, so that we don’t get these “puzzle breaks” in the gameplay.

Amnesia is more about the exploration and horror than Penumbra, we have definitely concentrated on a game where the atmosphere is dense and trying to create an intriguing story. Much of the game is about finding out who you are and piece everything together to get the answers you seek.

So no, the engine is not really going to give any complex puzzles, but it will however give a better interaction with the puzzles. The whole physics interaction, and interaction in general, has been tweaked a lot so it is for example much easier to open doors, turn valves and so on.

4. What tools/libraries/programs have you used to develop Amnesia ? (3D, 2D, programming, platforms, etc…)
Oh, hmm, tons of stuff. Speaking for myself I use a Mac (old PPC model) to do all the work with sounds and video editing, I also use it to write down all my notes about bugs, the todo etc. The programs are quite old, I used to run a sound & music company, so it is Cubase SX 2.0, Spark XL (defunct) and an almost none working version of Peak. I use Windows for the development, which is mainly using our own tools for Level & Model editing in combination with writing the script code for the game, which I do using Notepad++. I do some simple modelling, often placeholders, and some basic image editing, for this I use Blender and GIMP.

Don’t worry, we use Linux too! Our server is Linux and I have a cute Eee with Linux that I usually use to login to the server and also to do some work with when on the run. It’s really great that server wise it does not really matter what platform you are accessing it from, the Mac obviously works out of the box and for Windows you have PuTTY.

Sounds like a ton of computers for a poor independent developer? Well, the Mac was traded for another older Mac + some extra cash in 2006, my PC is home built with some parts dating back to 2001 (damn that SoundBlaster card is really great or not much has happened with sound hardware/software compared to the graphics industry…).

Amnesia it self is built using cross-platform libraries only: OpenGL, OpenAL and Newton Game Dynamics are the major parts and then a slew of various libraries for mixed tasks. You can peak at Penumbra to get a specific list, it has changed very little for Amnesia!

5. At the Penumbra series the player was encouraged to run/hide from monsters , while in the first Penumbra it was possible to kill the dogs, in the second game killing the monsters was impossible (without a patch/mod) , how Amnesia will be compare to those games ? will the player be able/encouraged to kill monsters ? will Amnesia be more action oriented (fighting/climbing/jumping etc…) ?
And if so what weapons or/and skills can we expect ?

If you asked this question a year ago, I would have answered that Amnesia would be more action oriented. We spent about a year creating prototypes and have tested a lot of different approaches, what we originally wanted was to avoid some of the very tedious parts of developing a game like Penumbra. With Penumbra almost every instance of the game is uniquely created, each puzzle has to be done from the ground up, each event and so fort. It’s not like a First Person Shooter where you can put a lot of gameplay hours into having the player shoot enemies and once you have set it all up it can be re-used multiple times.

One idea we had was to add a bit more combat, to go back to the Overture idea that the player would always have a last resort of defence. This time we did the combat a bit easier and worked a lot on how the AI should behave, so that it gave the player a better chance to sneak or do a bit of battling to get out of a tricky situation and then hide again. But during testing we had the same problem as always, half thought it was way too easy and the other half thought it was very difficult. Adding to this we felt that it was not as fun as we had hope, that at best it would be like a poor-mans version of Condemned, as a small developer we really have to try and be unique, we can’t afford having a lot of “well it’s like game X only worse” comments.

So if comparing to the Penumbra games, Amnesia will be most similar to Black Plague. But with the differences that enemy encounters will always be very short, more of an obstacle to overcome, than levels filled with patrolling enemies.

6. Amnesia will use the new and improved engine HPL2, what’s new in this engine ? what new features will it have ?  are you willing to license this engine to other companies ?
Also at this note, is there a chance you will release your older engine HPL under some FOSS license like GPL as id software does with their older engines ?

To make sure you got the best answer to this question I asked Thomas to jump in again, he is after all the programmer.

Thomas: I have already gone through some of the new features in a previous answer, so I will let that be.

We do not plan to release any commercial version of the engine at this point since it would take too much time in support and probably not be worth it. Also, what we want to do is to make games, not sell SDKs / tools.

As for the releasing the old engine, we have talked about it, but it is not all that good and it would take some work to get it into some state that is usable for people (meaning documenting and such). I am also unsure how many people that would do anything useful with it now that engines like Unity can be gotten for free and has a lot better tools and support than the first HPL engine. This combined with the time it would take to make a proper release, makes it quite unlikely that it will happen. But as always it depends on how big the interest is and so on.

7. The community made some mods for the Penumbra games, how mod friendly will be Amnesia ? will you supply modding tools for the community and if so what can you tell me about them ?
Amnesia will be a lot more mod friendly. Developing tools take a lot of time, with Penumbra there was not time to do any advanced tools, creating the engine was time consuming enough. For Penumbra Thomas was pretty much the sole programmer, but for the whole Amnesia project we have had one additional programmer on-board that has concentrated fully on developing tools.

What we have now is a Level Editor, Model Editor, Particle Editor and a Material Editor. The main tools are by far the Level and Model editor. In the Model editor you import a 3D model, say a door and its frame, and then you use the editor to add physics bodies, joints and set properties for behaviour. For example you specify that the door is made out of wood, what it weighs, that it is connected by a joint to the door frame, that is has a gameplay specific value of being a door (which gives it a lot of predetermined behaviour, that is also easy to change) and that the joint will make certain sounds when the bodies connected to it move around. This allows you to create a final door entity, that you then can use over and over in the Level editor. Each time you use it you can give it specific properties, such as if the door should be locked or if it should be opened a bit when the player first enters the level.

The Level Editor is the most fun to use, you build the levels using sets of static graphics, you have pieces for walls, ceilings, railings and other type of main components to create rooms. Then you add in entities that are doors, chairs, items, gameplay parts and so on, all comes with a specified behaviour so in it’s simplest form you already have some gameplay in the level. Then you can continue on and add lightning, decals, particles, fog and other type of effects to spice it all up.

There are a lot of things that you can do in the Level Editor that we previously had to script in Penumbra. This saves a lot of time and also allows the user to do a lot more without having the need for any script knowledge. But of course, when you want to add in some really fun stuff you have to start writing scripts, but it’s at a quite high level so what limits the mod creation will be more about the effort than the requirements on skills.

To summarize, we have created a lot of tools to make the development of the game much more effective for us. But we have had the community in mind while doing it, so the tools will be part of the game and the game itself has a basic support for making use of user created content, more specifically a special option to load user maps.

As it looks now the tools will be available for all three platforms, something that we are very happy about!

8. What can you tell me about the replayability of Amnesia ? will there be several solutions to each quest/puzzle ? what about different paths/ways to end the game ?
We are strong believers of making games that definitely does not necessary need a lot of replayability. Since we make a story driven game that is much about exploring and experiencing the game we feel that it should be one experience that is as good as it can possibly be. We don’t want the player to get stuck too often in the game, so the story and environment often push the player towards a specific goal, but this does not mean you have to take that specific path.

Much like in Penumbra you can explore the world in more than one specific path, there are places you can go and solve parts of a large puzzle in different orders. There are of course events that only occur based on certain criteria, it could be as simple as revisiting a level three times for a spooky event to occur (as a precaution to make sure that if someone goes back and forth a lot there will be some events going on making it a bit more interesting).

There will be story bits and puzzles that are not necessary to complete the game, so depending on how you play there will always be the option to replay to make sure you got all the story bits and puzzles. For the ending we do not want to talk about it really, but there will be some differences depending on what you have done during the game, but it’s not something we would put down as a main feature or talk too much about as it would ruin the final game.

Our type of “replayability” is perhaps conveniently compared to that of films, if you really enjoy it you see it one-two times again to really suck it up all up and notice the details you missed the first time.

9. When could we expect Amnesia to be released ? will the Linux version be released at the same time as the Windows one ? what about preorders ?
Sometime during the summer 2010 is the current goal, it might change, but we usually manage to stay on track. We have had a very confusing time with this project, with publisher involvement planned than then has gone down the drain, close to the closing of the whole company and so on and on, so we have had periods when we have had to concentrate a lot on other areas than the actual development of the game. But since this summer it has been full steam a head and keeping up with the schedule.

The Linux version should be available on or around the same time as the Windows release. We can inform already that Edward Rudd, the Linux porter, have the game up and running on Linux as well as the Level Editor. So things are looking good at the moment!

We will definitely make sure there is an option to preorder before the release, not until next year though. We can absolutely make use of all the support we can get!

10. Is there anything I’ve missed and you want to add to the interview ?  
I think it is all good! Looking forward to be in touch again next year, perhaps with some new gritty details or even playable previews!

Thanks for asking us to do an interview.

And thank you Frictional Games for answering in so much detail.

Links
Frictional Games
Amnesia : The Dark Descent
Penumbra Series

A few minutes ago I got a news letter from Frictional Games the developers of the Penumbra series about their next title :

“During the weekend we finished a demo build of our upcoming game Amnesia: The Dark Descent.

“Amnesia? What’s that?”

Oh, Sorry, “Amnesia: The Dark Descent” is the final name for our project that has previously had the work title Lux Tenebras/Unknown.

The demo sent in to the IGF competition is fully playable and full featured – it has everything that the final game will have, with the exception of some missing voice acting, placeholders and work in progress content. It is not the complete game from start to finish, rather it is the first part of the game with everything in place to give the experience of the final game. So that there is no misunderstanding, the demo is only for the IGF judges.

“Sounds great, when can we see some stuff?”

At the start of the year we decided to fully concentrate on the development of the game and we will continue to do so for the rest of the year. There will be plenty of time next year to show and tell what the game will be about before release! We did however make sure to put up a new site for the game, it has some new content as well, Amnesia: The Dark Descent.”

Even more info on the subject could be found at their blog :

“After lots of work and little sleep Frictional Games have entered into the IGF, an international competition for indie games, with our upcoming horror! The game is still a while from being completed, but the build we sent in to the competition is a very important milestone and the first version that gives of a taste of what the full game will be like. When creating a horror game gameplay needs to be tested over longer periods of time (because atomsphere, etc requires long build up) and testing the IGF version of the game tells us that we are on the right track!

At the start of the next year we will see if we managed to get nominated! In case you are wondering, Penumbra Overture entered the 2008 competetion (no nomination) and Black Plague did not enter in 2009 because we had financial backup from a publisher (i.e. not indie). Now that we are back as full indie we can enter again!

Now its back to work again!”

screenshot01

Needless to say that a GNU/Linux version will be made.
So there is something to look forward to, and apparently it’s coming soon…