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Easy Being Green

The 2011 Penny Arcade Expo is behind us. We’ll always have great affection for PAX; we formally launched both Chromed and March 32nd there in 2010, so it was a pleasure to return to the show and highlight what we’ve done since, introduce the company’s talented new faces, and lay out our plans for where this ambitious project goes next.

We put more than 300 people through their paces in our portable green screen studio, giving them the chance to step into the world of March 32nd and potentially be a character in the game. Why not check out a memorable audition or two?

Plenty of press stopped by our booth, and we talked their ears off about what we’re up to. The Escapist’s Mike Thompson called March 32nd “one of the strangest, most intriguing titles I’ve seen in quite some time.” More coverage is coming, and we’ll link to it here.

What’s next for March 32nd? A playable demo, regular updates from the entire team, and Episode 1 early next year. Watch this space to stay in the loop.

Trailer (homepage header)

Teaser: The Menu

It is with great pleasure that we unveil the latest teaser trailer for March 32nd, the debut game from Chromed!

March 32nd Teaser from Chromed on Vimeo.

This video provides a sneak peek at March 32nd‘s striking art style, as well as hinting at our take on classic point-and-click adventure game play.

This teaser and more, including an opportunity to be a character in the world of March 32nd, will be on display at Chromed’s booth at PAX Prime 2011 next weekend, August 26th – 28th. We look forward to seeing those of you who are attending PAX at our booth!

Free Will on the Narrative Railroad

This enlightening review of Sucker Punch on io9 goes beyond the typical complaints and dismissals in many analyses of the film, now available on DVD. Editor Annalee Newits presents an interesting argument outlining why the movie is a “perfect portrait of storytelling gone wrong.” As she puts it:

What this movie lacked was a belief in its characters’ agency, their ability to choose their actions. Given that human agency is what drives most narratives, this leaves us with a story that bellyflops. In Sucker Punch, choice and freedom are represented by Babydoll’s ability to insert herself into pre-made genre fantasies … these are costume changes, not narrative development.

Movies are wish fulfillment.  They live and die on audience investment in the protagonist, the surrogate self the audience imagine itself as.  But if I believe the protagonist doesn’t actually have the power to affect her circumstances, why am I watching?  How can I care?  We get enough of powerlessness in the real life day to day.

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The Word Has Spoken

Mouth (2)
Creative Commons License photo credit: AlishaV

A little over a month ago, we held auditions for our teaser and demo. We sat at a table on one side of an ample conference room, and watched a parade of talent perform excerpts of scenes we’d written so far for March 32nd. It was a revelation. Presto—character! Voile—story and world!

The destination for dialogue is the mouth that speaks it, and there’s some kind of magical thing that happens when you hear it manifested by a voice. It is, of course, very gratifying to hear it spoken out loud, but it’s also extremely useful in terms of analyzing the work. You can instantly hear if the dialogue is authentic within the context or not. You can get a feeling for continuity and believability of character, or quickly identify where it feels there’s a lack thereof. Even inconsistencies in structure and story often become apparent. How a character speaks and the vocabulary they use can indicate their economic status, their age, their educational level, their mood, among other things. Where a character pauses, what a character ignores, when a character falls silent or interrupts contribute to the authenticity of that character. Dialogue is the most indicative element of character, and character is the root of story. For a narrative-driven game like March 32nd, dialogue is key.

The experience at auditions was so valuable, that we decided to use this kind of method prior to locking our scripts. We sit around the table–the writers–and we divide up the parts. Even though none of us are actors, we can still glean a lot from trying to speak the lines ourselves, and from hearing our colleagues grapple with it.

We’re making our March 32nd demo for PAX right now. In the words of Mary Shelly’s Dr. Frankenstein—it’s alive! And I must say, what a magnificent monster it is.

Pirates!

Sid Meier is best known, and rightfully so, for his line of Civilization games.  But they are far from the only classic strategy games in his resume. My favorite of his works, hands down, was Pirates!, which came out in 1987 and was re-released with updated graphics and gameplay in 2004.

 

The only time in history the frilly shirt has been manly

The appeal of the game lay in its infinite replayability and in the unenclosed nature of the narrative. The game was very much a precursor to the open-ended RPG. But unlike a multi-pronged RPG, you weren’t steering towards one of a set number of scripted endings. In fact, you never quite knew when your game was going to end, or whether that ending would be desirable. More on that later.

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