Amnesia Postmortem

Amnesia postmortem on the Frictional Games Website reflecting on the first week of availability of the survival horror game from the creators of the Penumbra series (thanks joao). The post outlines a good news/bad news situation. The good news is that, as is reflected by comments in the forums here, the game has been very well received, both by critics, and by gamers, as reviews from both have even exceeded their optimistic expectations. The bad news is that sales of the game are trailing a little below the level they need to remain in business, expressing concern that a day 0 pirate version of the game was available 24 hours before its retail release, as apparently some unscrupulous website leaked their review copy. Here's part of their assessment of this situation: "This is of course not all the income we will make from the game, but is still a bit discouraging when comparing to recent XBLA releases and similar. So why is [sic] not sales [sic] higher? Piracy? People waiting for future massive discounted sales? Game too scary / niched? Right now we have not got a clue, but hopefully it will become clearer further on." Here's their conclusion:
On almost all fronts, we area extremely pleased with this release. It has in many ways exceeded our expectations and it makes all the hard work, pay cuts, etc worth it in the end.

The most distressing thing is the sales though. Even though we are far from complaining, it feels like we do not have the financial security we would like to have, to truly be able to focus on making the best game possible. So what should we do? The things we have discussed include: Increase the cost of the game, doing a console port instead of Linux/Mac, do a less niche title and more. Now is too soon to make a decision though and we have to see how the coming weeks and months go.

Finally, I know I say this a lot but we truly mean it: Thanks to all who have supported us by buying the game, spreading the word, and what not. We hope you all will continue supporting us in the future as well! All of Frictional Games sends their finest regards and thanks for this support!
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44.
 
Re: Amnesia Postmortem
Sep 19, 2010, 20:13
44.
Re: Amnesia Postmortem Sep 19, 2010, 20:13
Sep 19, 2010, 20:13
 
Thief 3 had FAR superior horror when you first encounter the Tree Huggers (was it druids?) (which is just plain freaky) or when the silly witch-monster hunts you through the streets. Yes, the Cradle was certainly one of the most impressive displays on how to create mood in a level, but was that Horror? It was scary no doubt, but your survival depended on your skills and it was fun, and not on an arbitrary gameplay gimmick.

You actually proved my point though (albeit i suck at expressing it.. as always ;p)

Thief 3 was Creepy in parts (sneaking through the Druid dens was to me vastly creepier than the Cradle though) but never once put you in an unwinnable fight (or if it did, you got into it because you were just plain careless), or forced you doing things are certain way (like "never look at your enemies") Good Horror does not make good horror by making enemies immortal (if i wanted that, i can just crank the difficulty in games like Oblivion or Fallout 3 to the max). But i admit that example is bad, as the Witch "thing" in Thief 3 is immortal .... for a while.

What i mean to say is anyway, that it does not break the atmosphere when there is good combat, in Thief 3 you were PERFECTLY ABLE to kill and murder in stealth the entire household, but as soon as it got into the open you were vastly outmatched and usually had to retreat. This meant that every attack vector had to be carefully planned and scouted, patrol routes etc. (Which was great fun for the sneaky minded assassins ;p)

And yes, the "being chased through the mazes" sequence in DS was scarier than most.

But i guess you are right, this kind of Survival Horror isn't my thing, i don't really "have fun" blasting stuff away more than usual, but i like being given the ability to *win*

That said, i will give you Kudos for mentioning Thief 3 because not only the Cradle was scary in that, a vastly underrated game, imo
Avatar 54727
43.
 
Re: Amnesia Postmortem
Sep 19, 2010, 20:03
43.
Re: Amnesia Postmortem Sep 19, 2010, 20:03
Sep 19, 2010, 20:03
 
eRe4s3r wrote on Sep 19, 2010, 19:23:
Lmao - except on that blog the first thing that i read was...

"The protagonist enters a seemingly empty room, starts looking around when suddenly a strange sound is heard from outside. Something is about to enter and it's time to hide. At this point the game removes the player's control and a cut-scene is started showing how the protagonist hides and just barely manages to remain unseen by the approaching monster."

This is not done by Amnesia like that - but instead they force the character to lay on the floor, blur vision, make him shake (which removes control and visibility) - In fact Amnesia has cutscenes, without a scene - but they still make cuts - Force your view on things, force your stance to crouch/lie, forbid looking at enemies through actually making you go insane if you do etc.

If some of the players insist on walking up to the man seen butchering his victims then just put them up against him in an unwinnable fight. Next time they should be a lot more careful...

And thats just plain bad game design. In HL2 Raveholm, a level many i know regard as the creepiest level in a game ever (and even after many playthroughs), there is not a SINGLE unwinnable fight.

The rest of that blog post is equally misguided, HL2 combat is fun, yet Ravenholm (and the many desolate zombie infested locations) are still creepy. Dead Space combat is fun, and.. particularly in conjunction with the great audio (thinking of the lullaby singing and other stuff ;p) is just plain mind-wrecking. Was it true Horror? No, it was Action that was Creepy at times, but it sure as hell was a blast to play.

Those Horror games like Penumbra remove too much "fun" from the gameplay. Making them more like work and less like a game. Like removing a minimap , limiting light supply etc.

I have little to no idea what you're talking about. I haven't lost control of my character once in Amnesia. I remember a seemingly empty room with an approaching creature and it was scary as hell but it was ME who had to open a closet door, step in it and close it behind me. Never has my control been taken from me unless I got so insanely scared that I fell on the ground while my brain was rebooting in a high-pitch *beep*.

Forced view only adjusts your view once so that you see something you don't wanna miss and you regain control right after the adjustment. Forced stance? No idea what you're talking about. And as for the looking-at-moster-makes-you-insane/panic gameplay machenic is absolutely amazing and I love it because it increases the scare.

For example: You see a monster coming towards you at the end of a long corridor. You turn around and run around a corner to hide in a dark corner. You hear the enemy approaching behind you but you don't "dare" to look back, hoping it will pass by you. I've had many of those moments, and I literally held my breath. Amazing.

I remember Ravenhold in HL2 and if you speak the truth, and many indeed think it's the scariest moment in a game ever, than it says more about the HL2 public than about that game being scary. Because scary it was not.. as I nuked the hell out of every pseudo-threat in that map.

The Thief 3 [something] Cradle map was scary, though. That asylum. Damn.

As for Deadspace: It was scary in the beginning and then I realized I didn't only move as clumsy as a tank... I actually was a tank.

Not a game comes even close to Amnesia's scare. Granted you follow the developer's tips on how to play it --> Lights out --> Headphones --> correct gamma level --> {and my add} In the middle of the night.

This comment was edited on Sep 19, 2010, 20:13.
Playing: Skyrim, World of Warcraft.
Future: Dead Space 3.
Avatar 15836
42.
 
Re: Amnesia Postmortem
Sep 19, 2010, 19:50
42.
Re: Amnesia Postmortem Sep 19, 2010, 19:50
Sep 19, 2010, 19:50
 
Those Horror games like Penumbra remove too much "fun" from the gameplay.

"Fun" is purely subjective. If "fun" to you requires shooting enemies in the face and feeling empowered, then survival horror probably isn't your genre. It's not bad game design to make players feel vulnerable in a survival horror game. In fact, it's essential. If you can defeat all enemies with sufficient skill, the horror element is greatly diminished. Dead Space was not scary because if I saw a monster, I just dismembered it. The atmosphere was sometimes creepy due to the lighting and sound but the only time I was ever actually scared was when I was being chased by the invincible monster.

The biggest issue with Amnesia is the completely scripted nature of the enemy encounters. When you hear the growl and scary music starts playing, you just run to the nearest room, close the door and wait for the scary music to stop playing. I would have liked much more dynamic enemy encounters where the enemies stick around and make a more concerted effort to find you. In this regard, I think the Penumbra games were scarier than Amnesia.

In HL2 Raveholm, a level many i know regard as the creepiest level in a game ever (and even after many playthroughs), there is not a SINGLE unwinnable fight.

I imagine they don't play a lot of horror games. Even Thief 3, a non-horror game, had a much scarier level in the Shalebridge Cradle.

This comment was edited on Sep 19, 2010, 19:56.
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41.
 
Re: Amnesia Postmortem
Sep 19, 2010, 19:39
41.
Re: Amnesia Postmortem Sep 19, 2010, 19:39
Sep 19, 2010, 19:39
 
The game is pretty damn scary...

It's also very niche and not advertised very well.

I've noticed that niche games tend to make good money over the long-term, they rarely ever enjoy massive release date sales such as titles like Reach.

Perhaps it is a little too soon to blame it all on piracy?
40.
 
Re: Amnesia Postmortem
Sep 19, 2010, 19:23
40.
Re: Amnesia Postmortem Sep 19, 2010, 19:23
Sep 19, 2010, 19:23
 
Lmao - except on that blog the first thing that i read was...

"The protagonist enters a seemingly empty room, starts looking around when suddenly a strange sound is heard from outside. Something is about to enter and it's time to hide. At this point the game removes the player's control and a cut-scene is started showing how the protagonist hides and just barely manages to remain unseen by the approaching monster."

This is not done by Amnesia like that - but instead they force the character to lay on the floor, blur vision, make him shake (which removes control and visibility) - In fact Amnesia has cutscenes, without a scene - but they still make cuts - Force your view on things, force your stance to crouch/lie, forbid looking at enemies through actually making you go insane if you do etc.

If some of the players insist on walking up to the man seen butchering his victims then just put them up against him in an unwinnable fight. Next time they should be a lot more careful...

And thats just plain bad game design. In HL2 Raveholm, a level many i know regard as the creepiest level in a game ever (and even after many playthroughs), there is not a SINGLE unwinnable fight.

The rest of that blog post is equally misguided, HL2 combat is fun, yet Ravenholm (and the many desolate zombie infested locations) are still creepy. Dead Space combat is fun, and.. particularly in conjunction with the great audio (thinking of the lullaby singing and other stuff ;p) is just plain mind-wrecking. Was it true Horror? No, it was Action that was Creepy at times, but it sure as hell was a blast to play.

Those Horror games like Penumbra remove too much "fun" from the gameplay. Making them more like work and less like a game. Like removing a minimap , limiting light supply etc.
Avatar 54727
39.
 
Re: Amnesia Postmortem
Sep 19, 2010, 19:20
39.
Re: Amnesia Postmortem Sep 19, 2010, 19:20
Sep 19, 2010, 19:20
 
Jerykk wrote on Sep 19, 2010, 19:06:
I didn't have problems with the controls in Penumbra or Amnesia.

I was referring more to the games I had mentioned... Aquanox (too much drift), Gothic (Ridiculous keystrokes for combat), and Arx (The draw the gesture spell casting).

As for Penumbra, the clicking / dragging was pretty kludgy to me. Of course that was the demo when it first got released... I don't know if it improved with patching.

As for Amnesia, I haven't installed the Demo yet, so I don't know.
Get your games from GOG DAMMIT!
Avatar 19499
38.
 
Re: Amnesia Postmortem
Sep 19, 2010, 19:13
38.
Re: Amnesia Postmortem Sep 19, 2010, 19:13
Sep 19, 2010, 19:13
 
I played the demo and didn't like it, so I skipped buying the game. I loved the Penumbra games, however. Amnesia had too much of a "forced" feeling to it, like it was dictating when I should be scared. There were plenty of times in the demo when my character was practically having a heart attack and shitting himself at an "unsettling" moment, but I, as the player, was not scared in the least. I was like, "Oh, please... NOT scary." Besides that, it also forces you to hurry through the game because staying in the shadows too long makes you insane. Stupid idea. However, the dumbest idea has got to be the "teeth grinding" effect. Fucking please... that's not immersive people... it's motherfucking ANNOYING.

Trust me, piracy is not the only reason sales is suffering for this game.
37.
 
Re: Amnesia Postmortem
Sep 19, 2010, 19:06
37.
Re: Amnesia Postmortem Sep 19, 2010, 19:06
Sep 19, 2010, 19:06
 
IMO, there should be no "You have to get used to it" when there are hundreds of standardized FPS / FPRPG games that you "don't have to get used to the controls".

I didn't have problems with the controls in Penumbra or Amnesia. Clicking and dragging felt very intuitive to me.

Back on topic, while it's disappointing to see that the game isn't meeting sales expectations, one has to think that those expectations were probably a bit too high. This is an extremely niche game. A PC-exclusive, true survival horror game with minimal marketing. The fact alone that you can't fight or defend yourself (a decision I personally love) greatly limits your potential audience. The general gaming populace play games to relax and feel empowered. They don't mind a creepy atmosphere as long as they can blow away any monsters that pop up. There's a reason why survival horror has turned into horror shooter in recent years.

I hope this doesn't convince Frictional to make more mainstream games.

This comment was edited on Sep 19, 2010, 19:14.
Avatar 20715
36.
 
Re: Amnesia Postmortem
Sep 19, 2010, 18:53
36.
Re: Amnesia Postmortem Sep 19, 2010, 18:53
Sep 19, 2010, 18:53
 
MoreLuckThanSkill wrote on Sep 19, 2010, 13:05:
I played Penumbra: Overture, one of their earlier games, and I was really, really pissed off at the control scheme for moving objects in 3d.

I'm not sure if any of you guys remember the old mid 90s game Trespass, or Trespasser, I believe, some sort of 'virtual reality' wannabe game with an island of dinosaurs, but some of the selling points included no HUD, no ammo counter, aside from the female character counting out loud, and almost the exact same manipulation of objects in 3d space, picking up rocks and tools etc. It was annoying then, and it's still annoying now.


The difference with Trespasser was that you actually had to control her arm (holding shift down took control of her hand/wrist).. move it to an object.. and hope it connected to the grid of the object to grab it. It was indeed horrible.

Amnesia you look at an object and you just click it.

MoreLuckThanSkill... I too didn't like the control scheme in Penumbra but something, somehow, feels different in Amnesia. It works perfectly fluid with a physics system that's scaringly realistic.

Try the demo and you'll buy the game.


As some of you might have read in earlier topics here: I LOVE Amnesia. It was the scariest experience of my life, but gamingwise also one of the best (and trust me, that says something). After reading this post I've arranged to buy the game for a friend's birthday to support them. These guys deserve a solid guarantee to remain in business!
Playing: Skyrim, World of Warcraft.
Future: Dead Space 3.
Avatar 15836
35.
 
Re: Amnesia Postmortem
Sep 19, 2010, 18:09
35.
Re: Amnesia Postmortem Sep 19, 2010, 18:09
Sep 19, 2010, 18:09
 
For the record, they document the improvements made to the control scheme on their dev blog here:

http://frictionalgames.blogspot.com/2010/09/lets-not-forget-about-physics.html

Some quotes:

"In Penumbra, you had to make sure to interact with the door at the right place to open it properly, which made it hard to close / open doors in stressful situations. Not so in Amnesia. Here you can click anywhere on the door and it will easy to control it."

"A further improvement is that doors will now stay closed / opened. In Penumbra they sometimes bounced back at you, but in Amnesia that is all fixed saving the player from many virtual/real headaches."

"Drawers will now react faster to player movements and it is possible to have more control (in Penumbra drawers could continue sliding after you stopped moving). And just like doors, the drawers will get stay open / closed, without any annoying bouncing."

They also discuss a lot of their design decisions in depth on their blog - very interesting stuff.

http://frictionalgames.blogspot.com/2009/11/why-horror-games-suck.html

34.
 
removed
Sep 19, 2010, 17:59
34.
removed Sep 19, 2010, 17:59
Sep 19, 2010, 17:59
 
* REMOVED *
This comment was deleted on Sep 19, 2010, 19:35.
33.
 
Re: Amnesia Postmortem
Sep 19, 2010, 17:55
33.
Re: Amnesia Postmortem Sep 19, 2010, 17:55
Sep 19, 2010, 17:55
 
doing a console port instead of Linux/Mac

if your goal is to make lots of money, then this should seem blatantly obvious

comparing a PC only release to a XBLA release? cmon brother - its 2010
32.
 
Re: Amnesia Postmortem
Sep 19, 2010, 17:49
32.
Re: Amnesia Postmortem Sep 19, 2010, 17:49
Sep 19, 2010, 17:49
 
This seems like a case of an indie/niche game expecting a bit too much from itself.

One of the things about making indie games is that you have to realistically look at your market and costs. Expecting to sell a gajillion copes just because you think you've made the best game since sliced bread should be tempered by some heavy reality checking.

I honestly don't like to see PC games fail, even if they are not my cup of tea...but developers need to know their limits as well.

If you make a game where your intended target audience has to really 'get it' to enjoy it, then please see the results of that from RTW and APB.
31.
 
Re: Amnesia Postmortem
Sep 19, 2010, 17:44
31.
Re: Amnesia Postmortem Sep 19, 2010, 17:44
Sep 19, 2010, 17:44
 
I'll let the cat out of the bag here - the Frictional employee asked me not to mention it and for 2 years now I haven't. I bought the retail version of Penumbra: Overture. It was published by a third-party for Frictional and one of the stipulations was that that third-party was wholly responsible for the patches. So, at the time my version would refuse to run correctly on my machine and there was a patch for the Frictional-store-bought version that would correct the issue. My third-party version did not have the patch available due to *ahem* crappy agreements. So, I posted on the Frictional forums that I didn't give a damn about supporting the developers, the reason I buy games is for support when needed. The Frictional person, outside of channels had me send a scan of my manual/cd so he was reasonably sure I actually did buy Penumbra: Overture. Once I emailed that scan the Frictional person emailed me back a cd-key to use with the Frictional-store patch (the third-party version did not use cd-keys).

The lesson to learn from this is that small shops with few employees are much more concerned about each individual customer. Frictional cares about you. They will do everything reasonable to make you happy - including bending the rules in very rare situations that require it. So, what would you rather have, poor customer support from a "too big to fail" company or a company like Frictional who have proved to *me* that they actually give a damn about you as an individual?

I'm poor at the moment so I haven't purchased Amnesia. When I have $20 however I'm going to pick it up from my local EB Games. You know why? Because when I bought Overture I was supported even though it bent the rules.
30.
 
Re: Amnesia Postmortem
Sep 19, 2010, 17:38
30.
Re: Amnesia Postmortem Sep 19, 2010, 17:38
Sep 19, 2010, 17:38
 
I can proudly say I purchased the game. Worth every penny of the $20. I even bought Penumbra and the two add-ons twice. Once digitally and again when the collection was released on DVD.
29.
 
Re: Amnesia Postmortem
Sep 19, 2010, 17:37
Dev
29.
Re: Amnesia Postmortem Sep 19, 2010, 17:37
Sep 19, 2010, 17:37
Dev
 
CJ_Parker wrote on Sep 19, 2010, 16:47:
So they seriously expect people to buy this game for US$ 19.99 when it's going to sell for US$ 4.99 around Halloween or Christmas at the very latest (knowing Valve's history of fucking people in the ass who buy early)? Really? Well, anyone that dumb deserves to go out of business. I'm not buying this shit until it's part of a Steam sale cuz I'm not into anal and all outta lube, too!
The sales are always by permission of the publisher. Steam can't randomly put games on 50% sale and potentially deprive the publisher of income. Notice how some games like MW2 aren't exactly going on sale? Thats because of the publisher.

Zyrxil wrote on Sep 19, 2010, 14:01:
I don't know what 3D Realms has to do with it. They basically remade DNF from scratch around 5 times. Indie or not, that's bankruptcy.
I explained what it had to do with it in the post. The one where I quoted a question and then answered it. They are an example of a developer putting thier eggs in one basket. Valve has ALSO remade at least one game around 5 times, TF2. Its not an automatic recipe for failure. What it means is that they need another source of income besides living from release to release if they are going to do so.

I listed a very doable and not too resource intensive source of income 3dr could have done that would have likely saved them, casual games. Thats basically what they did in the shareware world years ago. They should have returned to their roots to keep the company alive while working on DNF.
28.
 
Re: Amnesia Postmortem
Sep 19, 2010, 17:30
28.
Re: Amnesia Postmortem Sep 19, 2010, 17:30
Sep 19, 2010, 17:30
 
Never tried this game, but I get the impression with the talk of state of the art graphics and sound, it takes a beefy machine. In general, only 10% to 30% of gamers have beefy machines, probably only 10% state of the art machines.

Absolutely not. It's not a cutting edge 3d graphics heavy game.

Perpetual debt is slavery.
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27.
 
Re: Amnesia Postmortem
Sep 19, 2010, 17:19
27.
Re: Amnesia Postmortem Sep 19, 2010, 17:19
Sep 19, 2010, 17:19
 
I think piracy, lack of media about the game and people not wanting to buy indie games until they're $5 on Steam are ALL factors here, but the biggest factor by far is that this is a niche game. Most people do not like horror games without combat, that's just common sense.

No disrespect to the team, but they should never have planned for this to be more popular sales wise than Penumbra.
Avatar 54622
26.
 
Re: Amnesia Postmortem
Sep 19, 2010, 17:09
26.
Re: Amnesia Postmortem Sep 19, 2010, 17:09
Sep 19, 2010, 17:09
 
Never tried this game, but I get the impression with the talk of state of the art graphics and sound, it takes a beefy machine. In general, only 10% to 30% of gamers have beefy machines, probably only 10% state of the art machines.

Why build a niche game with limited appeal, if your company's life depends on it? The piracy issue doesn't seem to hold up at all, if it's good people will buy it period. Since it's getting good reviews, the problem is it's a niche title and most likely requires horsepower most gamers don't have.

Portal was/is a niche title but they were able to transcend niche due to very accessible controls and story, I don't get the impression Amnesia is as accessible.

My suggestion is make it more accessible by creating a lower graphic setting so more people can run the game, then have a STEAM sale. STEAM monitors the hardware you can check to see what their average gamer can run.

I remember back when Bioshock was released they refused to release a Shader 2.0 version and att STEAM said only 40% of their gamers could run Shader 3.0. Bioshock tried to blame piracy too, instead of the ignorant design choices and DRM.

‘What is this bullshit that you people are doing?’
The worst criminal in human history, undeniably.
Beating and Gassing Americans for Jesus!
Ain't no tweetin, in jail jammies!
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25.
 
Re: Amnesia Postmortem
Sep 19, 2010, 17:02
25.
Re: Amnesia Postmortem Sep 19, 2010, 17:02
Sep 19, 2010, 17:02
 
ASeven wrote on Sep 19, 2010, 15:48:
I often feel PC gamers do get what they deserve, and that is all the shit in the world when all they do is whine and bitch but when it comes to actually put the money where their mouth is they simply don't care.

I'm a consumer. I put my money where my mouth is ALL THE TIME.
In other words, I only purchase things that I think is worthy of my cash, period.

When it comes to PC games, it has been fewer and fewer titles over the years, because they are getting shorter and shittier.

I DO NOT reward crap work nor crap products. If that means the end of PC gaming... then so be it. I rather it would end completely and then I don't have to spend money on hardware upgrades and relatively few good games.

I also do not reward poor Design decisions, if it means I would have a difficult time enjoying the product.

If that's too "critical" for your tastes... well, tough shit. If you wish to pay for MY gaming habbit with YOUR cash... I will gladly stop "Whining".

PS: I'm not specifically accusing Amnesia of "being crap", in this particular rant. This is in direct response to "PC gamers get what they deserve". Whereas I feel Developers / Publishers that put out SHIT PC games get what THEY Deserve from the PC Gamer community. Especially with the no-refund BS that most other industries do not enjoy.

Get your games from GOG DAMMIT!
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