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Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Lume: the roots

When you are knee deep in a project, it’s tricky to look back and work out where the seed of the idea has come from. However, I will give it a go. There will be lots of more posts chatting about the different aspects of the design and built of Lume, this one is about our love of the Puzzle Adventure genre.

At State of Play we've wanted to make a Puzzle Adventure game for a while, since we started out in fact. The roots can be traced back to my own love of 80s and 90s Puzzle Adventure games, and with Usbourne Puzzle adventure books.

The combination of a story, lovely illustrations and great puzzles, kept me amused for hours. If you are unfamiliar with these books, the general vibe was two children going to visit a relative and then realising that the nearby village/house/lighthouse/jungle was haunted/had vanished/had been taken over by pirates etc, you get the idea. This was combined with intriguing puzzles on each page, usually involving visual clues, code breaking or maps. The puzzles always seemed the right side of difficult which you had to solve before turning the page.

This had a natural progression on to Puzzle Adventure computer games. My first dip into this I guess was the Dizzy Series, although maybe more of a platform game, but it still had the magic of collecting items and puzzle solving in an exciting landscape.

Day of the Tentacle was another amazingly addictive puzzle adventure game. It got my brother and I completely hooked, and if I remember it clearly it was so difficult, but in a good way, every little bit of a story we managed to figure out was so rewarding. It also had historic elements, and how things were resolved were so random, things like having to freeze a hamster and then warming him up with a jumper you made small by washing it! Someone has uploaded a Day of the Tentacle Speedrun on You Tube - 21 minutes is very impressive.

I think there is a lot of criticism that stories and games don’t mix. But I remember being so involved in these stories, and no book managed to get me as excited as these games did.

More recently, The Professor Layton series on the DS was another huge surprise for me. The stories were great and the effortless way the puzzles were integrated with it really was inspiring. The twists and turns of the narrative made for a real sense of anticipation, a “What’s going to happen next?” factor.

This is where my love of the puzzle adventure has come from, and where the seed was planted, which has led to the tree of ‘Lume’.


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