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ACE Team Board -> About The Malstrums Mansion (1989-2009)

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About The Malstrums Mansion (1989-2009)

Posted by Edmundo Bordeu, Apr 15 2009, 05:29 PM in Features

Maybe you have played our web-based adventure game "The Malstrums Mansion". Here I will explain some of its history, why we decided to release it April 1st, and even show the original design document made in 1989! (spoilers warning)



Many years ago, the only computer Andrés, Carlos and I had was a Macintosh Plus. There we played Shadowgate, a classic adventure game which was later ported to the Nintendo Entertainment System (but I really think the original black and white version was much better). The Malstrums Mansion was the game we wanted to make after playing Shadowgate, but at the time we had no idea how to program and make a game. What we did have was a copy of Superpaint, so we made all the pixellated graphics for the game and stored them in 700kb disks, waiting for the time we would be able to create games.



(click on the image to see the entire document)

Here you can see the entire two-page design document for the game! complete with awful teenager handwriting and spelling. I specially like how someone used the document to write with a green marker a big reminder to buy rice and noodles.

Fast forward to the year 2008: The Malstrums Mansion was never made and we are working on Zeno Clash. We were thinking about what cool content we could give to players who later finished Zeno Clash, like cool achievements or extra content of some sort. Carlos thought of Mansion; it would be a completely unexpected gift to get a whole retro adventure game after finishing the main game. So our team member Juan Briones, who had a lot of experience with Flash, started programming the game, and the idea was to later attach the game to Zeno Clash somehow.

We made many things to preserve our own original experience playing Shadowgate:
-We made Mansion run in a fake 1980s Macintosh operating system (we even recorded the original sounds a Mac plus does when reading a disk).
-Full screen but low resolution graphics.
-Respect the original design document, which was about a difficult adventure game where you can die. (The Shadowgate we played did not have a save option either!)
In retrospect Malstrums Mansion would benefit from having a save option, because we just don't have that much time and patience for some games nowdays. Still our game has much less ways to die than Shadowgate.



We originally thought of distributing this game as an .exe file with Zeno Clash (and maybe add some more playing time to the title), but this didn't feel right for some reason, we weren't sure of how could we tie the game to Zeno Clash or unlock it when Zeno Clash was completed... instead we decided to distribute Mansion for free on our page, it could be more useful as a giveaway viral-marketing kind of game, that would make some more people aware that a studio called "ACE Team " exists making a "Zeno Clash" game.

March 2009, we are nearing completion of Zeno Clash and April fools day is coming. We wanted to release our own bit of fake news. We were thinking several fake news that could be fun, but it still sounded cheap, at some point we figured Mansion would really work as a really elaborate Aprils Fool joke, it was almost ready to be released so it would be easy to hurry it to reach the date. To this date more than 32.000 people have played the game, and the number does grow steadily.
At April fools day (when we said we were only going to make retro adventure games from now on) many people believed it, because making an entire game as a fake news joke seemed to be just too elaborate.

Many adventure game lovers have really enjoyed The Malstrums Mansion (specially nostalgic ones), so I wonder if any other of the games we designed for the Macintosh Plus (1989) would be good today.
You may visit the Mansion forums Here.

Soon I will be posting about other games we have made, some which very few people know. If I have enough time the article should be up tomorrow.



Comments

  Malagate, Apr 15 2009, 06:48 PM

Wow, it's quite amazing to see how much detail you crammed into those sketches from so long ago, and even more so when I see it after I've finished playing the mansion! I too remember Shadowgate, but I got to it late through the Gameboy Colour, it was still very fun just to see how many different ways to die there were (which I also did in your mansion!).
Great job guys, I just hope it doesn't overshadow Zeno Clash! laugh.gif

  HorrorStyle.com, Apr 16 2009, 03:27 AM

That was really interesting and inspiring! Thank you for posting this!
(BTW, your RSS is working fine!)

  Newblade, Apr 16 2009, 05:48 PM

I've been waiting for you guys to write this. Great instrospective!

  Guest, Apr 19 2009, 05:18 PM

Amazing! Really, really amazing. So are all (or most of) the graphics in the game your originals from 1989? Btw, you have one of the most interesting developer blogs ever!

  Guest, Apr 20 2009, 06:03 PM

Hahahahah, you seriously rule!
It reminds me of my youth game plans. También en spanglish wink.gif

I should dig some of those and start coding.

  Carlos Bordeu, Apr 20 2009, 06:46 PM

QUOTE (Guest @ Apr 19 2009, 05:18 PM)
Amazing! Really, really amazing. So are all (or most of) the graphics in the game your originals from 1989? Btw, you have one of the most interesting developer blogs ever!


99% of the art is from 1989... we just finished up a couple of things that were missing. It's actually quite funny having to draw on a modern computer such retro styled graphics. The original images were done on a computer with only B&W, so it feels weird making big pixeled sprites in Photoshop with a Wacom. smile.gif

But, as I said: 99% was drawn 18 years ago.

  Guest, Apr 22 2009, 02:51 AM

I loved it. It reminded me of being six and terrified of the Mac version of Uninvited.

  Guest, Apr 22 2009, 05:46 PM

Nice little retro game smile.gif
But why does the Arrows Code at the End doesn't work with Zeno Clash?

  Hako, Apr 23 2009, 01:04 PM

QUOTE (Guest @ Apr 22 2009, 06:46 PM)
Nice little retro game smile.gif
But why does the Arrows Code at the End doesn't work with Zeno Clash?



It does. I just used it and unlocked the achievement. You have to use it on the main menu.

  Carlos Bordeu, Apr 30 2009, 12:01 PM

QUOTE (Guest @ Apr 22 2009, 05:46 PM)
Nice little retro game smile.gif
But why does the Arrows Code at the End doesn't work with Zeno Clash?


Tip: Use the arrow keys... not the WASD keys...

  TurkeyFried, May 2 2009, 03:51 PM

There's a market for this kind of game, you know.

 
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