thechineseroom is the name of a development research project I run at the University of Portsmouth, UK. We're interested in first person gaming - particularly, using mods to explore questions about gaming that you can't answer by just analysing commercial releases or theorising about them.

Comment History  (30 - 60 of 272)
chineseroom
chineseroom Feb 15 2011, 2:30am replied:

It will be available on Steam - is that what you meant? Dan

+1 vote   game: Dear Esther
chineseroom
chineseroom Feb 11 2011, 1:40pm replied:

rest assure you will NOT be paying 40 bucks for this, not even close :) - Rob

+14 votes   article: Dear Esther remake to get commercial release
chineseroom
chineseroom Apr 30 2009, 4:23am replied:

Wow... thanks for that. That's a really amazing compliment... It's not dead, just slow right now. We need more team members to get things finished, so any suggestions for mappers/coder from anyone would be really, really appreciated.

+1 vote   mod: Korsakovia
chineseroom
chineseroom Feb 2 2009, 1:33pm replied:

This gets the award for coolest comment so far. I b dis dawg, fk yh!

+1 vote   download: Dear Esther - Soundtrack
chineseroom
chineseroom Nov 3 2008, 8:53am replied:

We have got plans (when I have time...) to convert the entities so we can subtitle. Don't know quite when that's going to happen though!

+2 votes   download: Dear Esther script
chineseroom
chineseroom Feb 11 2011, 12:16pm says:

I've always been upfront in interviews in the last couple of years that moving towards an indie model meant we could push ideas forwards in terms of experimental design we just couldn't achieve with modding. Where we can, and where there is funding to do that, great, I'll mod. I love this scene and I've always said that. But there are some directions I want thechineseroom to move in and that takes cash, and commercialisation is ironically the one way I can protect the work from having too many strings attached through public subsidy.

Mods are great, the mod scene is amazing, but there are a lot of gamers out there outside the scene and we want to be able to reach them. Realistically, this is a niche game, it's a small indie title, and we're hoping we make enough to slide a decent living wage at the people who have committed huge effort and talent to it, and maybe a little on top of that to get a new project off the ground. The alternative is we exist purely on donations from within the mod scene to make mods, because somehow the bills have to be paid.

So I'm not going to take the idea we've somehow 'betrayed' the scene or 'duped' fans. And we're not talking about a $50 release, obviously. We'll keep posting updates as we have more information to release. It's still early days.

+4 votes   article: Dear Esther remake to get commercial release
chineseroom
chineseroom Feb 11 2011, 12:16pm says:

OK - the reason we didn't announce it was going indie early on is because we didn't know. License negotiations are long and complicated and we'd have ended up being criticised for going backwards and forwards. So we announced as soon as it was a viable thing to do.

Clearly, the idea we're ripping anyone off is just daft. Going indie means we can access further funds to do things like overhaul all the audio, get the coding really stable and (shock, horror) make sure that the huge amount of time spent on this thing is rewarded - Rob has been on this for two years. I think he deserves payment if we can achieve that. He's done things with Source that a lot of us didn't think were possible, and the remake is absolutely extraordinary - even before we put in the new soundtrack and a whole bunch of re-designed pathways and detail.

+6 votes   article: Dear Esther remake to get commercial release
chineseroom
chineseroom Feb 11 2011, 8:30am says:

A heads-up to everyone I've already spoken to about translations and localisations for the remake of Esther (which will make sense once the news update has gone through authorisation). I'll be mailing all of you next week to explain things in more detail and how things are going to work, so please hold off mailing me until I can get all that information together. You've been fantastic and very patient and I hope it makes sense why it's been a tad difficult to give too many straight answers over the last couple of weeks... but more very soon, promise!

+3 votes   mod: Dear Esther
chineseroom
chineseroom Dec 20 2010, 11:17am replied:

Words cannot describe how much I *hate* that f-ing flashlight noise. It will be the first thing to go, believe me...

+4 votes   mod: Dear Esther
chineseroom
chineseroom Dec 19 2010, 7:38am replied:

Yeah, you know I can say this as Rob gets all the credit for the artwork in the remake, not me, but I think his work completely deserved to be on that list and knocks down a couple of the nominees. Oh well....

+1 vote   mod: Dear Esther
chineseroom
chineseroom Dec 14 2010, 10:02am replied:

We've got an offer of Dutch, but if you are happy to double-check the translation for us, that'd be great- PM me

+1 vote   article: Q&A + MODTY and new media!
chineseroom
chineseroom Dec 14 2010, 10:01am replied:

Hiya, think we have Czech, but if you'd be happy to help out double-checking let me know, that'd be great!

+3 votes   member: chineseroom
chineseroom
chineseroom Dec 14 2010, 6:18am replied:

That's a really, really interesting idea. Hadn't thought of it as I wasn't sure people would want to hear me rambling on. Will talk to Rob and see what he thinks...

+2 votes   mod: Dear Esther
chineseroom
chineseroom Dec 14 2010, 6:17am replied:

Just had an offer for simplified Chinese just yesterday - so yes, there will be!

+1 vote   mod: Dear Esther
chineseroom
chineseroom Dec 10 2010, 6:10am says:

I've just been back over translation offers - this is what we have: Ukranian/Russian, Italian, German, Brazilian (Portuguese), Czech, Finnish, Hungarian and Polish (and possibly Swedish). If anyone else wants to offer, we'd be really happy to have you on board! Please PM me if you are up for it.

+3 votes   mod: Dear Esther
chineseroom
chineseroom Dec 10 2010, 5:17am replied:

We don't have Swedish yet, so if you wanted to, we'd love to have you on board - can you PM me? Thanks, Dan

+1 vote   article: Q&A + MODTY and new media!
chineseroom
chineseroom Dec 10 2010, 5:17am replied:

Hi, we've had an offer of Portuguese, but if you are interested, really happy to put you both together to see if you want to collaborate on it? PM me (Dan)

+1 vote   article: Q&A + MODTY and new media!
chineseroom
chineseroom Dec 10 2010, 5:12am replied:

Hiya, we have German it looks like - but thanks!

+2 votes   member: chineseroom
chineseroom
chineseroom Dec 9 2010, 8:37am replied:

Yeah the symbols and stuff will be there, I just want to add them when all of the geometry is polished up -Rob

+1 vote   article: Q&A + MODTY and new media!
chineseroom
chineseroom Dec 9 2010, 4:47am replied:

Thanks for the reminder - absolutely will do

+2 votes   article: Q&A + MODTY and new media!
chineseroom
chineseroom Dec 8 2010, 8:14am replied:

I still think you'll be able to run it ok, just without Anti-aliasing on and perhaps a lower AF setting. It isnt very demanding on texture memory or RAM, just dont expect it to run smoothly at 1080p with that :P

+1 vote   article: Q&A + MODTY and new media!
chineseroom
chineseroom Dec 8 2010, 5:15am replied:

What's your system, if you dont mind me asking?

+1 vote   article: Q&A + MODTY and new media!
chineseroom
chineseroom Dec 8 2010, 1:54am says:

Update: We've also had an offer of Russian, Ukranian, German, so add them to the list. Btw - if you made us an offer and we haven't got back in a while, do nudge Dan via PM as he's putting together a translation pack to help out with some of the more obscure bits of script over the next couple of weeks. (dan)

+2 votes   article: Q&A + MODTY and new media!
chineseroom
chineseroom Dec 8 2010, 1:53am replied:

We'll be taking care of those. Mostly they were caused in the original by having to retro-fit VOs to a pre-built environment, which was kind of an inevitable problem caused by the way we built the whole thing. Not only has Rob been able to build to the original but avoid these problems, but he's implemented a slightly different way of calling the VOs which enables subtitles and should prevent double-fires at the same time. (Dan)

+1 vote   article: Q&A + MODTY and new media!
chineseroom
chineseroom Nov 15 2010, 2:05am replied:

We are planning on captions - I don't think we have Polish in there yet, but have to go back over all our offers for translations once we know exactly what is going on with release dates, etc

+2 votes   member: chineseroom
chineseroom
chineseroom Nov 8 2010, 5:31am says:

Source has no form of Mesh instancing, so it would take up exactly the same mesh memory as if they were all individually placed

+1 vote   article: Off Limits - Level art polish tutorial
chineseroom
chineseroom Nov 8 2010, 3:01am replied:

Which one?

+1 vote   mod: Dear Esther
chineseroom
chineseroom Nov 1 2010, 4:56am replied:

You can post your question here or the Devblog, i'll be collecting them from both --Rob

+1 vote   article: Slow and Steady – A Brief Update
chineseroom
chineseroom Oct 15 2010, 9:09am replied:

Actually, it's an Orange Box mod, so technically you need Ep2... sorry if I assumed the most recent builds. Most mod followers tend to have the last release in that engine's history, but that is an assumption. Are you really giving it a 1 though? Without playing it?

+2 votes   mod: Korsakovia
chineseroom
chineseroom Oct 15 2010, 9:07am replied:

Nope, you've got another two levels to go.

+1 vote   mod: Korsakovia
chineseroom
chineseroom Oct 5 2010, 5:19am says:

Great work! I'm looking forward to you creating some nice grass and detail objects for the ground.

+2 votes   article: Imposter tech
chineseroom
chineseroom Sep 26 2010, 3:02pm replied:

Hiya,

We have no cashflow at the moment basically, so Korsakovia is likely to stay broken for the time being. I am starting to talk with a funder about a potential re-boot version, but it's very early days...

+2 votes   mod: Dear Esther
chineseroom
chineseroom Aug 30 2010, 12:44pm says:

Looks great, and Denby on script duty? Top call!

+1 vote   mod: Visage
chineseroom
chineseroom Aug 30 2010, 12:40pm replied:

So ultimately, while I'm sorry you found it frustrating and it didn't work for you, I don't think that invalidates the game, just like the fact that I find, say, Red Dead Redemption frustrating and don't like it doesn't invalidate that. This is a big medium with an increasing diversity, and that's completely brilliant for me. I don't expect to get or like everything I play, and I'm glad we're seeing more and more experimentation that's trying to work out where the limits are. But I'm not going to try and persuade you it's not ******** because I'm not so arrogant I think there won't be a percentage of players who will think it is ********, and that's just the reality of making a game. What I hope I have done a little bit is explain why it is the way it is, and that, as an experiment in what you can do with a game, it has a value.

+1 vote   mod: Dear Esther
chineseroom
chineseroom Aug 30 2010, 12:40pm replied:

So should it be another medium. No, because the fundamental issue with Esther is your relationship as a player to the avatar. Even if this is deliberately undermined by the randomisation of the narrative, central to most people's experience of this has been their sense of immersion in the world, their presence and underpinning this is the fact that they are controlling, in real time, the moving through the environment. This relationship, with the story, the avatar and the environment would change fundamentally in an audiobook, a print book or a film, because you use a whole bunch of different cognitive functions to engage with the experience. And much of this is very implicit and subtle. So an audiobook of Esther would be a quite fundamentally different thing.

Finally, entertainment. Yeah, a game should entertain. But what do you mean by entertainment? Is Hamlet entertaining? Or The Road? They are definitely engaging - hardly fun. Games should connect to the player and make the player want to play them. That's about as broad as it comes. Esther didn't connect with you. That's absolutely fine. It did connect with other people, that's fine too. I doubt anyone played it for laughs, thrills or those kind of classic game emotional reactions. But then it's equally valid as an experiment whether games can hit other emotional reactions not traditionally associated with games, that plenty of people have come out and said games CANNOT create. Well, that's a massive challenge for me, it's crying out to immediately try and achieve that.

+2 votes   mod: Dear Esther
chineseroom
chineseroom Aug 30 2010, 12:39pm replied:

OK, well, let's take that a point at a time. First up, you're assuming a direct, explicit connection between action and reaction, which is, you're right, absolutely the traditional form of interaction in a game. But that raises a question that is worth exploring - how non-explicit, non-immediate can that relationship be? Can you take away that call-and-response model of gameplay and retain something engaging. Whether you ultimately like Esther or not, the question has value, as it offers an investigation into whether you can push gameplay in a different direction from normal.

Second, the idea of giving the player something to do along the way. So let's take a classic FPS like Half Life. You're doing a lot more than fighting and puzzle solving and platforming along the way, you're also soaking up huge chunks of passive, background ambience and environment alongside the more explicit story. And that's not often focused on, but it's fundamentally important to the gameplay experience. Games that don't fulfill this less visible swamp of engagement are usually strangely flat experiences, even though it's hard to pinpoint exactly what is missing. So again, this is really important to explore, and see whether stripping back away explicit story and ongoing activities leaves an experience that can still work. And again, that's not going to be to everyone's tastes, but enough people do like Esther to suggest it's really worth exploring further and has something important to say about this kind of passive, environmental story - or the constant activity of thinking about the world, looking at the world, listening to the world, that goes on.

+1 vote   mod: Dear Esther
chineseroom
chineseroom Aug 29 2010, 6:00am replied:

Hey no worries - it was just the length of the exchange was spiralling and taking up the first couple of pages on the comments section, so wanted to cap it. I'm never going to complain about anyone defending Esther, and glad you think it's worth defending, so thanks!

+1 vote   mod: Dear Esther
chineseroom
chineseroom Aug 29 2010, 4:45am says:

_sml, ltfuller, I've deleted these as I don't want this comments bar turning into a flaming session. Constructive debate fine, but this is spiralling out of hand.

In terms of the original criticism. Games are big enough to deal with a wide variety of ideas and forms, and complaining there's no gameplay in Esther is like complaining there's no story in Tetris - it's not the point. The idea behind Esther was to explore an area in gaming that's not usually served by mainstream development. Interestingly, two years after the original release, I'm not sure that's as true. And you need to come back and question what you mean by gameplay too. If you think of it as short cycles of goal-action-reward, with explicitly obvious feedback loops between what you do and what is represented by the game, yeah, Esther has no gameplay.

But you can think of gameplay a different way and talk about an engaging experience that is fundamentally driven by you having to do things in the space. In which Esther does have gameplay, it's just less explicit. The representation, the interpretation of events and responses is not as explicit onscreen and is more about the kind of process you go through when you read a book. And that's interesting to explore in a game, whether you like it or not.

So... put another way. I find Myst boring. And I really didn't get on with Red Dead Redemption. I love Just Cause 2 and my favorite game is STALKER. Lots of people disagree with me and hate the games I love and love the games I hate. And that's OK, cos it's a big ol' medium and there's plenty of space in it. And the more diversity in games we get, the better for gaming in general, but there's more for every type of developer to draw from. Which is where the value in experimental game development comes from, as it expands the vocabulary of the medium.

+2 votes   mod: Dear Esther
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