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The Autumn Moon appreciation thread


Udvarnoky
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Everyone likes an underdog, so how about a little sugar for Bill Tiller’s studio Autumn Moon Entertainment, which produced all of two games – A Vampyre Story and Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island – before the funding opportunities went the way of Mixnmojo’s press credentials. That was thirteen years ago.

While these games do not reach the heights of the LucasArts classics they were clearly looking to as a beacon (with Bill’s best known resume entry, The Curse of Monkey Island, being specifically quoted interface-wise), I do think they are a substantial cut above the usual LucasArts Reminder games that the point ‘n click genre turns out so regularly. Whatever their issues, I always thought the games were a pretty auspicious opening salvo and was really eager to see the studio continue to hone its talents…which is hard to do without more projects to do that on.

As of only a few weeks ago, A Vampyre Story got plucked from Steam and GOG to be exclusively hosted on a digital platform called ZOOM. Ghost Pirates, which is reputedly @Remi's favorite game of all time, remains available on Steam. The future of Autumn Moon: still unwritten. Here’s the place to place to discuss Bill’s curtailed efforts at running his own graphic adventure studio. Turns out, it's a tough racket.

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I actually backed Vooju Island, but I still haven't gotten around to playing it. Both it and A Vampyre Story look like gorgeous games. I don't know why I've never got around to playing them... maybe nobody has ever been especially effusive about them. But what if everyone else is doing the same thing!?

Edited by ThunderPeel2001
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1 minute ago, ThunderPeel2001 said:

I actually backed Vooju Island, but I still haven't gotten around to playing it.

 

You probably mean Duke Grabowski: Mighty Swashbuckler!, the bite-sized game that was also a spinoff of Ghost Pirates. Ghost Pirates was a full-length, traditionally published (by the defunct DTP Entertainment) game and came out not long after Vampyre.

 

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16 minutes ago, Udvarnoky said:

 

You probably mean Duke Grabowski: Mighty Swashbuckler!, the bite-sized game that was also a spinoff of Ghost Pirates. Ghost Pirates was a full-length, traditionally published (by the defunct DTP Entertainment) game and came out not long after Vampyre.

 

 

Ahhh... Oops, yep you're right.

 

Here's a video of gameplay from A Vampyre Story to distract us

 

 

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Truly excellent soundtrack by Pedro Macedo Camacho. There was a proper CD album pressed as part of a limited collector's edition of the game that Crimson Cow put out at the time (possibly Germany-exclusive?) that I need to find my backup of. I wonder if Bill has the rights to the score -- it'd be nice to see it up on Bandcamp.

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To answer a question on the Mojo front page, I don't seem to have any Extras for Vampyre Story within GOG, but I cannot tell if they've been removed from my purchases or not. I doubt it, and someone on the dedicated gog forum page for Vampyre Story has saved the previous store page, but I haven't checked that out yet.

 

This Zoom Platform does have these (new?) extras which are fairly interesting to me. What is also interesting to me is that Humongous Entertainment is a publishing partner, as is Devolver. Maybe THIS is where we'll finally see ReMI!!

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In the case of both games the humor is pretty broad for my tastes, but I don't know what there is to object to with regard to design.

 

Having recently replayed the Monkey Island games in preparation for ReMI, and a bunch of other LEC adventures to put DREAMM through its paces, and Thimbleweed Park, and Broken Age, I'm now revisiting the Autumn Moon titles. I ended up starting with Ghost Pirates.

 

It's pretty much how I remember it: budget constraints really denies it that final level of polish (cutscenes suffer especially) and I wish they'd contracted BA Sound, but it's quite solid. I am enjoying it more than Broken Age, which I compare it to because it shares the "switch between characters at will" mechanic and is even similarly divided into two main acts. It's definitely not nearly as polished as the Double Fine title but neither is it as lofty. I like the world more, even with the cheese. Locations like this supplemented by Camacho's music is just money in the bank:

 

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It's been years, so I forget my design issues apart from knowing I lost interest early on. I wonder if it was the writing I bounced off of. 

 

Monkey Island's humour reads like an accident of history—funny people were goofing off and the project lead decided to let it stay. Wadjet Eye's games go easy on the humour but are well-written, so they share that feeling of authenticity. Ghost Pirates in particular is an attempt at emulating a voice. I could be wrong and in dire need of replaying it, though. 

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I don't think I've done a proper playthrough of AVS or Ghost Pirates since my first go when they came out. I remember them being visually good but very heavy on dialog. Still, I backed AVS Year One on Kickstarter despite it not being successfully funded cause I was interested in seeing more of the world. It sounds as though Bill Tiller has finally acquired the rights to do his second part which is exciting. That's probably the game's biggest weakness, it truly does feel incomplete. It also just straight up doesn't start without dgVoodoo, like no menu, nothing, just a hanging item in your task manager. Maybe that's been fixed by now, idk. 

 

Ghost Pirates on the other hand I remember just making me wish I was playing a new Monkey Island game, I feel like doing a pirate comedy adventure game is a pointless endeavour when it's been perfected 5 times over (soon to be 6) in one series; you're never going to do better than the world of Guybrush and friends. I'd actually be more interested in a pirate adventure game that comitted to being more gritty and played completely straight, with all the romanticism stripped out to show a more historically accurate depiction; that would be worthwhile. Ghost Pirates and others like it are just Diet Monkey Island which doesn't interest me, if I want that I'll just play the real deal. 

 

I feel like this post has leaned too negatively for an Appreciation thread, so I'll end on a more positive note; The idea of finding objects that you can't realistically pick up and take with you but will "keep in mind" being added to your inventory is a genius design choice, I love it. 

Edited by OzzieMonkey
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Yeah, I'll do the same. I think that despite its lack of polish, they're still promising games and Bill is a ridiculously talented artist. I can still recall the coconut grove music in Ghost Pirates. I liked the design of the vooju priest a lot. There are fun ideas!

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9 hours ago, OzzieMonkey said:

I feel like this post has leaned too negatively for an Appreciation thread, so I'll end on a more positive note; The idea of finding objects that you can't realistically pick up and take with you but will "keep in mind" being added to your inventory is a genius design choice, I love it. 

This is actually something Bill Tiller has acknowledged borrowing from the unreleased Brian Moriarty/Bill Eaken version of The DIG, in which there was apparently an "idea inventory" for such objects (as well as more abstract concepts like the other crewmembers, for instance).

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