domenica 15 agosto 2010

The Brataccas Asteroid, where it all begun.

Welcome to my blog.
It's the first time I write about videogames.
On the right you'll find the topics for this blog.
It's not an all rounded gaming blog at all.
So you are warned: starting speaking of great games with Brataccas will define the rules of this small blog for sure.
I'm in charge. I decide. Read, approve or leave now.

Brataccas is the first "Mega Game" ever produced.

Imagine software, Liverpool 1983-1984, was a super hyper dream team of game makers. They did earn lots of money producing several blockbusters in a row. They were in a such positive trend that everybody was taliking about'em.
So how did they manage to fail and go bankrupt?

Many people call it bad management, or bad design.
I call it a true, brave artistic need.
The guys at Imagine called it Psyclapse and Bandersnatch.

Here is a beautiful insight by BBC, 1984

As you can see in the video Bandersnatch was a true vaporware, and it did manage to kill imagine, the best of the best of software houses.
Looking at it from a rational standpoint it really doesn't make any sense, it was a mistake. Fullstop.
To me looks more or less like a dream, that the guys at imagine wanted desperately to make come true.
A game that went beyond spectrum limitations, using proprietary hardware to tailor the machine on their needs. A game that was different from any other game around. Even if you could call it the VERY first action rpg sandbox ever made, you must be aware that nobody at Imagine was thinking of it from a game critic's standpoint. They were doing it for their artistic sake and for the players. Game Design was clearly a tool to build the devices they needed to unfold the whole experience.
They wanted to bring you on their world, they were excited by the idea you could meet it's inhabitants.
It's (proudly) no GTAIV (Yep, Dave Jones from Psygnosis/DMA did start it all I know).

Most people thinks Imagine died by a bad stab in the back from it's own fathers.
My opinion is that a seed can't give you anything if it doesn't die.

They actually risked their own company, everything they earned to make it done.
They failed, but such bravery generated one of the most sought after software houses ever.

Bandersnatch and Imagine died, Psygnosis and Psyclapse (a budget game label) were born.

Psygnosis is something very strange in the game producers scenario.

Most expensive games out there. Psygnosis games went for about 5x the standard prices.
More or less it was like paying 200€ for a Playstation game.

Best software house from an artistic stand point ever, starting from their peculiar and distinctive luxury corporate ID and coordinate graphic style of their game boxes and manuals.

Roger Dean, Garvan Corbett, Martin Edmondson, the guys at Traveller Tales, Cormack Batstone, Franck Sauer, Tim & Lee Wright, David Whittaker just to cite the first ones that come to my mind.
Just think of it like a bunch of great geniuses that failed once and will never fail again.
There you have it: the best software house we had outside of Japan.

Speaking of their first game, Brataccas is a very complex task.
First of all, Brataccas was the official commercial release for Bandersnatch.
THAT Bandersnatch.

That out of this world concept.

Well, from a technical stand point Brataccas is weird as it's a strange way between a Spectrum game and an Amiga one.
It suffers the platform transplant for sure, we are speaking of very different beasts, severe 8bit versus opulent 16bit.
It had to solve a controller problem: mouse and keyboard were the only guaranteed peripheral on all the machine it had to run on (Amiga, Atari ST, Mac), Joysticks were not so common (1985, remember) and they decided for a mouse driven control system (that makes most of the first games by Psygnosis very hard to play, just think about Barbarian and Obliterator).
But at the same time it has a TRUE art direction (strong color palette, well defined cartoon flat shade look, outstanding character design), a very specific game vision: merging the boring world of text adventure games to the colorful cinematic arcade ones to get the holy grail of gaming, the first true outstanding arcade/adventure game.

So there you have it: a super large coherent world map, people that actually speak to you and each other, you can fight them, you have a visual inventory, objects that can be taken on and off your character by an on character menu that works more or less like the ultra modern and acclaimed Princess Crown/Odin Sphere one.
A HUD free game like only Another World managed to do (we'll speak of it very soon in another post).
All this devices and efforts were so innovative that nobody could understand they were tasting not only the future of entertainment, but a true pionieristic masterwork of art.

Brataccas was heavily criticized for it's bad interface design, because it suffered from a huge amount of bugs (a video about this can be found HERE), and graphics were more or less hi def spectrum standard.

My opinion is that Brataccas was one of the first game to put the player on top, trying to bring him in the most deep and powerful environment possible to express a vision, destroying any rational reason to stick to older gaming models not for the sake of mere originality: Brataccas is a place you have to go to and see. Brataccas is a full fledged world, with it's peculiar aesthetics. Every technical problem falls apart when it comes to artistic vision. And I'm not speaking about "graphics". I'm speaking about experience.

Come to Brataccas and see what I'm talking about.

7 commenti:

  1. In the words of Warren Spector (author of the very few games that can be considered the legacy of Brataccas vision): "If you want make your game as a movie, you should be making movies. We have to embrace what makes us unique. We are special in that we are different. Other media can evoke emotions, but we can offer the reality of choice, and I think that’s what we’re meant to do. We need to stop telling players what to do. We need to get them to tell their own story...”

  2. I had never heard of "mega games" before, but I can see that they were forerunners to modern-day RPGs and past classics, by Sierra and Delphine Games. Speaking of Delphine, are you familiar with "Flashback" and "Future Wars"? Beautiful games.
    Please keep up with this blog; it's right up my alley!

  3. Ottimo articolo!
    Aggiunto su RSS!

  4. eywè. alcuni videi linkati are no longer available. Lo lessi tempo fu rimanendovi impressionato.

  5. I am so much excited after reading your blog. Your blog is very much innovative and much helpful for any industry as well as for person. I am using Graphic Design Software on Mac OS X like Corel Painter,

  6. Thanks for sharing in detail. Your blog is an inspiration! Apart of really useful tips, it's just really ! Many Graphic tool are available on many site to designing a picture and Image. Clipping Magic also design tool to create attractive Images.