Postmortem of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

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matt
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Postmortem of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

Post by matt » Fri May 23, 2014 2:20 pm

It is an interesting read, and you can find it here.

It kind of rubbed me the wrong way because all of the postmortem is blaming Frictional. I suspect without the Amnesia IP and Frictional's guidance it would have been a worse game. Obviously, I can't know that for sure whether that is true or not. Regardless, I think with a postmortem, you want to own up to your own mistakes, and not point the fingers elsewhere....

I especially find the idea that giving the game to PewDiePie was a MISTAKE?!?! I know indie developers who would KILL to get PewDiePie to play through their game present company included! (Although in all honesty, I don't think I could bring myself to kill anything larger than a bug...)

Thoughts? Would a more difficult A Machine for Pigs have been a better game? I'm not sure. Personally, I don't think there was anything that threatening in the game. There were enemy encounters, but they seemed a little half baked. I still enjoyed the game quite a bit, but I'm not sure I'd agree with them about the shortcomings of the game.
-Matt Gilgenbach
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RightClickSaveAs
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Re: Postmortem of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

Post by RightClickSaveAs » Fri May 23, 2014 8:20 pm

Hah yeah, who wouldn't want the millions of eyes that automatically come with a Pewdie video? That kind of exposure is what marketing departments fantasize about.

This part stood out for me:
The Tunnels level was initially approximately four times the size of the version in the final game, consisting of more labyrinthine networks of corridors and claustrophobic rooms. Players had to retrieve chemical containers and use the vacuum tubes (present in the final game) to send them around the level and eventually back to the centrifuge. However, unlike in the final game, players were consistently hunted in this area by enemies, combining enemy threats with cognitive puzzle solving. The size and complexity of this area were eventually reduced drastically as the initial version did not meet FG's approval. While the intention of the original level was to emulate feelings of confusion, disorientation and of being lost without the frustration of actually being lost, FG felt that even these emulated feelings might result in player frustration.
I'm with Frictional here. The Tunnels were not very enjoyable anyway, and making them more confusing and bigger would have definitely turned me off, so I don't count that as something that was done wrong. Obviously I can't know for sure, but just going on what I saw of the level, I don't think it needed to be made more complicated.

I don't think making the game more difficult would have solved the problems I had with it, but I agree the sense of a threat was missing from most of it. I wouldn't have minded more actual consequences for the monsters getting you. Just sticking you in a corner and leaving wasn't very frightening. It didn't help that once you see the monsters, they lose a lot of their impact, unlike in Dark Descent where the things they came up with were horrific, and you didn't want anything to do with them even if getting killed was mechanically the same basic thing (respawn somewhere else in the map and the monster is gone). That's one thing that did sound more interesting from the original design of Machine for Pigs, the idea of them locking you up and you having to solve a puzzle to escape. That would have helped some.

Dropping the Amnesia name may have been the way to go. Although I can say I wouldn't have played it at launch if it didn't have that association, so they would have lost a lot of the pre-orders from Amnesia fans.

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Re: Postmortem of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

Post by Grabthehoopka » Fri May 23, 2014 10:01 pm

Definitely fascinating, as I still hold that The Dark Descent and A Machine for Pigs are about equal in terms of quality. They're hard to compare because they're so vastly different, although I personally like A Machine for Pigs a little more from the quality of the writing alone.

The What Went Wrong section did seem a little catty, but it seemed to me like it was just two different teams who were used to doing things their own way rubbing against each one another. Then again, I love A Machine for Pigs and I've played through it 4 times, so I'm sorry to hear about all the things that went wrong and all the things they were dissatisfied with, but. You know. Still interesting! And I've yet to see another game rearrange the layout of the level when you aren't looking as subtly as they did. In fact, I never saw anyone else mention it or bring it up, and my third playthrough was just to confirm that I wasn't crazy.

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matt
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Re: Postmortem of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

Post by matt » Sat May 24, 2014 7:04 pm

I'm not sure if removing the Amnesia name would have solved that much. I think it would be compared to Amnesia regardless. Amnesia is a similar game with a lot of similar mechanics (first person, disembodied hand, picking up and throwing objects, etc), so I suspect people would compare it regardless.

I expect people will make comparisons in reviews and whatnot for Neverending Nightmares to Silent Hill, Lone Survivor, Amnesia, Resident Evil, etc. All of which are MORE different than "We are the Pig" (their original game title) and Amnesia. Perhaps less comparisons would be made, but as you said, I bet they would have sold a lot less units.

While I quite enjoyed the writing for the first half of the game, by the second half, I realized that by reading the notes I didn't really gain any understanding of what was going on. The prose was beautiful, but they didn't really say anything other than Mandus is nuts. There are some amazing lines in the game. Some of the best lines are in the soundtrack (which is really good too), and I picked that up in some horror soundtrack bundle, which was a great purchase.

I enjoyed Dear Esther as well, and I am looking forward to "Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture". It'll be interesting to see what The Chinese Room comes up with next.
-Matt Gilgenbach
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Re: Postmortem of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

Post by gagaplex » Sat May 24, 2014 11:25 pm

I heard a lot of negative things about A:AMFP, but I haven't played it yet, so I'll avoid that article for now. That said: Even though I liked Dear Esther for what it was (a somewhat interactive narrative that you had to piece together), I was worried from the start when I heard about the Chinese Room doing the sequel to Amnesia. They are just way too different games!

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Re: Postmortem of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

Post by Harry Sunderland » Mon May 26, 2014 8:42 am

The "What Went Wrong" section surprised me, in the sense that I think a lot of the things they claim "went wrong" really worked for me.

I'm really into the ideas of video games moving beyond reflex challenges and moving into the area of interactive story-telling. That being said, I really loved Machine for Pigs. I didn't care that it wasn't very difficult, or even that there was not a great threat of dying for most of the game. Even without those things, the plot of the game chilled me to the bone. Just the dark atmosphere, the insane mix of engineering/biology/chemistry, Mandus' fascination with the Aztec...I felt like so many parts of the game worked quite well for me.

As I was playing Machine for Pigs, I asked myself, "Would I enjoy this as a novel? Would I enjoy this as a film?" And honestly, I think the fact that the game was interactive made it so much more immersive to me. Even in the moments where you were solving (what I reflect now as) pathetically easy puzzles, it only stood keep me involved in the game even more.

I kinda wish TCR would defend this game a little stronger. I think it's a really powerful work of art. I agree with Matt that the narrative pieces were a bit redundant near the end, but it's really hard to keep momentum like that going for so long. And honestly the whole game left me feeling dirty and disgusting about life, and contemplating my own mortality. So that was fun.

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Re: Postmortem of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

Post by matt » Mon May 26, 2014 8:25 pm

It is strange because I assumed the focus on interactive narrative over gameplay was because that's what TCR wanted since that seems more in line with Dear Esther. Maybe Frictional wanted them to make a game in the same vein as Dear Esther, but that's not what TCR had in mind.

I guess we'll never know how things would have turned out had TCR made the game independently of Frictional. I just think it is strange how the developers see the negatives of the games completely different than the players. I wonder if my postmortem for Neverending Nightmares will be different than the way you guys view it. I guess only time will tell!
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

Harry Sunderland
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Re: Postmortem of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

Post by Harry Sunderland » Mon May 26, 2014 9:04 pm

matt wrote:It is strange because I assumed the focus on interactive narrative over gameplay was because that's what TCR wanted since that seems more in line with Dear Esther. Maybe Frictional wanted them to make a game in the same vein as Dear Esther, but that's not what TCR had in mind.
Yeah, TCR really seemed on the opposite side of the debate as I would've assumed as well. It's funny to think that TCR wanted the game to be more like Frictional's last game, and Frictional wanted the game to be more like TCR's last game.

I'm curious to read the Post-Mortem for NN as well, but I feel like we've been SO updated on the entire process that much of it won't seem new. But who knows, maybe you'll surprise us all.

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Re: Postmortem of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

Post by Grabthehoopka » Tue May 27, 2014 1:10 am

matt wrote:I wonder if my postmortem for Neverending Nightmares will be different than the way you guys view it. I guess only time will tell!
"Neverending Nightmares was originally conceived as a competitive multiplayer cross-hatching simulator with action/rpg elements, but unfortunately, once we had assembled our first prototype, there was an explosion of purplish light, papers starting blowing all over the room, and out of the crackling vortex stepped myself, from the future, who quickly vaporized my computer with a ray gun. He said that the game was simply too good and humanity wasn't ready, and then he stepped back into the time portal. I think we were all taken a little by surprise by that, but you know. You hear stories about it all the time, that's just the kind of stuff you gotta deal with! You either sink, or swim, or your doppelganger from the future destroys your game; that's just the way the industry is in this day and age. So, it was back to square one..."

You just never thought to mention this in a dev diary or livestream cause all the more uneventful development things kind of blend together over time...
matt wrote:There are some amazing lines in the game. Some of the best lines are in the soundtrack (which is really good too)

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matt
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Re: Postmortem of Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs

Post by matt » Tue May 27, 2014 7:20 pm

Interestingly, one of the ideas that eventually evolved into Neverending Nightmares came from was actually a top down twin-stick style shooter. Who would have guessed? I have my notes in the "Designer's Notebook" add on, but the basic idea was trying to explore my depression through the actual mechanics of the game rather than the narrative. I ended up giving up on it because it would probably seem like a rip off of Solace, a shooter exploring the stages of grief. I've never actually played Solace, so it wouldn't actually be a rip off, but it's hard to get press if your innovations aren't too different from another game.
-Matt Gilgenbach
Lead Frightener at Infinitap Games

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