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T'would be nice if Jane Jensen got to read this bit


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(Did I spell her name right? DID I SPELL HER NAME RIGHT?!??!)

 

I am playing through Gabriel Knight 3 again and - although I am the one to often flame J.J. for her approach to storytelling (being as she often borrows places and people and hack pseudohistory from the real world) - I am enjoying myself thoroughly.

 

YET, I have to question the art direction. GK3 has at times amazing animation (although kill me if they used ANY bones in the models - the meshes don't behave like they have bones), and some of the random models themselves were great if you didn't mind the nasty neck seams, amorphic shoulders, and didn't look at them for too long....

 

The surrounding textures and furniture and scenery and buildings, on the other hand, were horrible - even for the 1999 standards. They were mediocre three years before when the production on the game begun. I know that it was supposed to be "based on the real world" - but I seriously doubt that rocks on the walls of the Rennes le chateau hotel repeat like a bad desktop wallpaper - with that single odd brick that makes it easy to locate where one texture tile ends and another begins - and colors are so carelessly matched to make one hurl. It just had no atmosphere whatsoever.

 

Now, that game is finished, done for, over. It didn't do as much to drag us in and trap us as it could have.

 

This whole introduction leads me to the upcoming J.J. game:

 

Knowing what little we know about it, I think it would benefit from a more enthusiastic art director and a caricaturized look. Not too cartoony - just slightly on the grotesque side. Sortof like Tim Burton meets Velázquez... Can you imagine that as vividly as I can? I don't see it as incogruous to have cartoony characters in a deep, metaphysical story. As a matter of fact, all the mumbo-jumbo might be easier to swallow that way. And though a Jim Davis-drawn...

corpse of Jesus (a GK3 spoiler, folks)

...might not evoke the desired effect - something El Greco-ish, or Bosch-ish might elicit an even stronger emotion from the in-box one......

 

Um...

 

Sorry about the rambling tone, I hope the gist got across.

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have you read this article?

 

it talks a bit about the art issues the GK3 team ran into. this is talking mostly about the character models, but i'd assume they ran into the same types of issues with the backgrounds, etc.

 

personally, i prefer realistic-looking art in games with realistic storylines. (maybe that's why i'm such a FMV junkie...) i'm willing to accept "weird" art, but only if the game takes it all the way -- for example, the puppets in The Dark Eye, or the claymation in The Neverhood (which i haven't actually played yet, but the screenshots look cool...) i will never understand how the producers of a game like Law & Order or CSI think they are creating an illusion of reality with their fake-looking characters and backgrounds.

 

but i think in a game that has some fantastic elements, a less realistic art style can work... as long as there's a reason, in the greater scheme, for the art to be the way it is. (i.e. -- let's make the people look a little grotesque to reinforce the grotesque undertones of the story, NOT let's make the people look grotesque because they turned out that way and we're too lazy to fix them.) I wouldn't object to Jane's new game having a unique art style, as long as that choice of a style is somehow supported by the story that's being told.

 

-emily

 

ps yes, you spelled her name right. :)

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Yes that article is very interesting Fov; it's wierd to think that despite all these problems it ended up being a brilliant game. Scott (the author) does praise Jane Jensen's design plan and her work:

 

The design was a major success of the project and deserves special mention. GK3 would have simply fallen over and died if we had had a less experienced and professional designer than Jane Jensen to create it. Throughout the entire development process the one thing that we could count on was the design. It was well thought-out and researched, and had a good, entertaining, engrossing story. Best of all, Jane got it right well in advance – aside from some of the puzzles, nothing really needed to be reworked during development. She delivered the design on time and meticulously maintained it as the project went on.

 

but he does criticise the rest of the projects organisation. For me this is a major encouragment for project Jane J because the one thing that seemed to be right about the developement, jane jensen is involved. The rest sounds like it's down to a deterioating structure at Sierra as it lost all sense of direction. Real pity. I hope Dreamcatcher have talented people who are able to organise and lead the project efficiently so it follows Jensen's design plan.

 

And yeah I agree with you Kingz, the quality of the textures is not as good as it should have been. It's a real let down (I still remember the awful grass textures that just look like scribble). Though I'm not so sure about the graphical style you mean. I'm not very artistic, so i can't see how to meld the work of Tim Burton and Valasquez (both of whom I had to look up on google :D). I agree that she shouldn't go for a realistic look unless she's really trying to give an impression that this story could happen in the real world.

 

And you're right about Jane Jensen borrows ideas from the world around her. But she does it so well doesn't she? She really is a skilled story teller, who is good at putting new spins on old ideas to make them entertaining imo. It's the way she combines them and creates something fresh and orginal from those ideas. I think thats a fairly rare gift, especially when I look at the majority of stories in all media that are simply straight retellings of someone elses story.

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(I knew both of those names. Hmm, maybe the Finnish public school system isn't that bad after all...)

 

I always liked the music & other sounds in GK3 - as well as in any game. If the sounds are OK, everything else's fine. I'm probably in the minority, as most people didn't find the distorted voices and the occasioanlly muffled music in EMI irritating (for example). I'm easily fooled, graphics-wise.

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I agree that she shouldn't go for a realistic look unless she's really trying to give an impression that this story could happen in the real world.

 

i think what makes her stories so good is that they *could* happen in the real world.

 

i had a writing teacher who always said that to make something surreal, you just have to make one element of the story strange, and keep everything else normal. if you make a lot of strange elements it loses its impact.

 

i'd say that in a game like the Dark Eye (which I've only played a little bit of, so i could be wrong here) it's the art that adds that one strange element to the game. Poe's stories aren't surreal, per se... just creepy. by telling the stories through those puppets, the developers added that one element to take the story to the next (surreal) level.

 

in JJ's work, there's always a weird element built into the story -- werewolves, the pseudo-vampire guys, voodoo... sounds like in the new story, the weird element will be more something that goes on in someone's mind, than an external force. add weird graphics to that already weird element and it might be too much. but depending on the story being told an how it's told... i guess i trust Jane to make the right decision, and just have to hope that her team can pull it off. :D

 

-emily

 

ps sorry, i can't think of a better word than "weird"... haven't finished my coffee yet!

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Originally posted by deadworm222

(I knew both of those names. Hmm, maybe the Finnish public school system isn't that bad after all...)

I, on the other hand, did NOT know those names, so maybe the Finnish public school system is pretty bad after all (the other option would be that I didn't listen to what my teacher told me, but that's hardly an option, now is it ;) ).

it's actually the music & oter sounds and the feeling of the real world - characters moving, etc. - that created the atmosphere for me.

Same here. Although I did find the graphics a bit dated, it still was good enough for me and the music and the sounds in GK3 were brilliant imo.

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Originally posted by Mattsius

Although I did find the graphics a bit dated, it still was good enough for me and the music and the sounds in GK3 were brilliant imo.

I noticed the music bit too, and it is unfathomable to me how in the world ANYONE could prefer the graphics of this game to those of the first one. Also, what in the world is wrong with Tim Curry? Why do people have a problem with the man? He is a great actor and he did wonders with the rich southern accent. I also think he would be perfect in a film made after GK - as Gabriel himself. Just bleach the guy and I bet he would give a great "surfer writer dude" performance that is expected of him.

 

Sheesh. I have fallen into this state of mind where I first praise AGs for its impartiality and and THEN read the reviews that are really off the mark and feel downright betrayed... Some of the most of the reviews I have just now read are freakish - as if Jonathan Swift wrote the lot! AAAAHhh!

 

EDIT: that is not to say that Jonathan Swift is freakish, but that anyone who really means what Jonathan Swift says is freakish.

 

You really need to make a little addendum to each review where other people on the team give their contrasting or supportive opinions. "Not too crazy about the soundtrack," for Grim Fandango?! AAAAAHHHH!!!!

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Tim Curry did go a little overboard with the acting at times, but much less than in Gabriel Knight 1. Generally his voice suited Gabriel fine, though.

 

 

But for example in the conversation with Montreaux. "There's something to be said for spontaneity." I mean, I didn't even understand what that meant, but it sounded weird.

 

 

I thought about playing through the GK series yesterday: I started GK1, but the moment the intro animation was started I felt... slightly disgusted. I truly hate the MIDI music in GK1. Am I the only one?

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Thats the sad thing about GK3, it was hyped as the saviour of the genre, ended up disappointing people and getting bad review. It's only now on replay and in retrospect that we realise what a good game it is. Reading some of the reviews at the multigenre games sites, the reason they seemed to dislike it was because it's graphics weren't all that was promised. Thats a shame because once you give it a chance you realise that theres a hell of a lot more to the game. And anyway, the graphics are still pretty damn good; they just aren't as wonderful as the hype promised. I honestly think Jane Jensen is one of, if not the, best adventure game designer around.

 

Now Jensen's back, we should start working on getting Jordan Mechner back because it's time for The Last Express 2 :D

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GK3 may be the least successful game in one of the most succesful adventure game series - although it is still a rather arguable thesis. Big deal.

 

 

<cliche mode on>As for the GF review - or rather the soundtrack "affair". Subjective personal preferences seem to count more than objective values like general sondtrack's aesthetics and critical acclaim and impact in this very review.

 

Call me a GF showinistic freak but why is the fact, that miss Fournier didn't like the music, worth mentioning in a review? I can - although hardly - imagine she's not crazy for it, but I don't care about it! It has really nothing to do with it's real value.

 

One does not have to prove or defend the soundtrack as it stands for itself. It is clearly visible that Heidi's point of view concerning the music in Grim Fandango is simply irrelevant - if not obsolete. <cliche mode off>

 

np Filter - Columind

 

Edit: Oh yeah and since this whole soundtrack deal is a bit cliche I guess it is not even worth mentioning GF's interface scandal, heh? :rolleyes:

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Originally posted by DomStLeger

Now Jensen's back, we should start working on getting Jordan Mechner back because it's time for The Last Express 2 :D

I think we're going to have to settle for the new Prince of Persia. ;) My impression is that getting Mechner to do another TLE would be like getting Radiohead to play "Creep" (which, well, they actually did -- scary) or getting Bobby McFerrin to sing "Don't Worry Be Happy."

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Originally posted by Wajus

why is the fact, that miss Fournier didn't like the music, worth mentioning in a review? I can - although hardly - imagine she's not crazy for it, but I don't care about it! It has really nothing to do with it's real value.

 

Zuh? I think it's perfectly valid to mention that you don't like the soundtrack to a game in a review (after all, one is supposed to review the complete game, which includes the music). But, if you don't like the music to Grim Fandango, you'd better be willing to stick a damn good reason in the review to go along with your outrageous "I didn't like the music" shenanigans.

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So your suggestion is that Grim Fandango should be reviewed by mexican folkloric and jazz music lover?

 

Jake: not only should you mention why you don't like the music - and do it right. When reviewing a product of such fame and reputation as GF you are obliged to mention this fact. Like the statemant that you don't agree with vast majority and you are ready to stand against them :p

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Originally posted by Wajus

So your suggestion is that Grim Fandango should be reviewed by mexican folkloric and jazz music lover?

I don't think those people are as hard to find as your tone implies. I love the Gypsy Kings and I love Coltrane. The music in Grim does wonders for the atmosphere and it blends wicked well with the damn game.

 

If an opinion can ever be wrong, 'I didn't like the soundtrack' is a wrong opinion. 'I didn't like the soundtrack', just sounds narrow-minded to me.

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I'd like to think people's tastes are a little more open than that. I pretty much dig anything that has more than 4 chords, more than melody + chord, and/or encourages improvisation (Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, pretty much any jazz, etc.), so the soundtrack definitely grooves with me.

 

There are two ways to look at this:

1)Consumer advice.

Why would AGers exist if we were content reading reviews of adventure games from people who don't like them? We need some more specific consumer advice, and the people who need consumer advice are the people more likely to buy the CD -- ie, fans of the genre.

 

2)Criticism for criticism's sake.

Who better to examine the subtleties and nuances of the composition than someone who's familiar with the traditions and structures of the genre. Further, can someone who's not even hear those nuances? Listen to some Australian aborigine (sp?) Dreaming songs and see if you can tell any two apart.

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Well this site is for adventure games fans so the adventure specialization of reviewers is more than obvious.

But you cannot be so meticulous when it comes to certain subsidiary elements of game.

All I expect from a reviewer (journalist) in this particular matter is some general, universal knowledge about little more than just computer games. But for christ's sake let's not be sooo specific. It's not like GF can be reviewed only by fan of adventure games, who love jazz and mexican folklore and also appreciates orchestral tune, who is in love in noir style, who has deep knowledge of mexican and mayan culture, who knows something about modern art also and who in addition likes big, orange, talking hamsters.

 

Are those people as hard to find as my tone implies?

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Are those people as hard to find as my tone implies?

They are, in fact, not hard to find. I am one of them (with the exception of the big orange hampster part... sorry Glotty).

 

You don't have to be an expert in all of these things. But it makes much more sense if you're an expert in at least one of these things. Other reviewers will make up for what you lack. Why? For the reasons I already mentioned.

 

What's so wrong about having a review that actually goes into whether it was bebop, son, or huayno that inspired the soundtrack the most? Or a review that covers the way the order of the tracks best conveys the story of the game, and the mixture of themes and characters in it? Or a review that disses it because it uses a mariachi band to play a native Mexican song?

 

I don't mean to be ragging on the review. I don't honestly even remember anything about it. It's the principle of the thing. ;)

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Wait, you guys obviously aren't talking about this. Maybe I should go read the game review and see what you're talking about.

 

edit: Okay, having read the clip:

The one part of the game that did not work for me was the sound track. There were points where I felt the music was perfectly suited to the action going on in the game, but mostly I found it too heavy and not well suited to the game’s theme. The sort of 20’s era jazz used in the first part of Manny’s journey failed to create much ambience or atmosphere, often proving distracting and bothersome. There were points, most especially in the forest where the game blares music that is perfectly suited for cruising in your hot rod, but even then it was over powering, pulling attention away from the action.

It seems Heidi is being gravely misquoted. I still disagree with her argument that the music distracts us from the "action," though, 'cause the music's a definite part of the action. And yes, it's clear that she doesn't like the music, and while that tainted the review, it didn't actually end up in the review, unless you count the "Cons" section up top.

 

edit2: And for completion's sake, I should note that a friend of mine, having overheard the soundtrack as he was watching a football game and I was playing GF (we have more in common than that makes it look, believe it or not), and had the opinion that it was too loud, distracting, and repetitive, and that, were he to play the game, he'd mute the music. (I know, but he'd be able to dodge, and then he'd just take the knife away from me.)

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Originally posted by twifkak

Are those people as hard to find as my tone implies?

They are, in fact, not hard to find. I am one of them (with the exception of the big orange hampster part... sorry Glotty).

 

Honestly. Were you - like me - inspired to dig in search for this after or before playing Grim Fandango? If not than I truly admire your almost renneisance erudition and interests. (no jokes here, really).

But aren't such people as hard to find among video games reviewers as my tone implies? ;)

 

What's so wrong about having a review that actually goes into whether it was bebop, son, or huayno that inspired the soundtrack the most? Or a review that covers the way the order of the tracks best conveys the story of the game, and the mixture of themes and characters in it? Or a review that disses it because it uses a mariachi band to play a native Mexican song?

 

There's nothing wrong with that. It wasn't my point to suggest anything like this. But surely it isn't neccessery for a good reviewer to like anything in particular (like jazz or bebop - rocksteady! ;) ) to be fair and objective in his argument and therefore produce a valid review. Now is it? Surely it can be helpful nevertheless - and with that I agree.

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