under the covers

'Redemption' for Point and Click

GameSalad merging graphic novel with puzzle play

By Richard Whittaker, 1:01PM, Tue. Dec. 6, 2011

The point and click adventure is not dead: Not according to Eden Films, who are using the locally-developed GameSalad Creator platform to add a new level of interactivity to their upcoming digital comic Redemption: The Challenge.

GameSalad and their project partners PreCog Studios were showing off the comic's demo for the first time last month at Wizard World Austin Comic Con. Project art director Rolf Mohr explained, "A lot of people think of games now as first person shooters and racing games and fighting games, but the first two games I worked on at Core Design before Tomb Raider were point and click adventures." The idea of Redemption, he said, is to take the best parts of classic games like Monkey Island and Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. "You just point and click, your character explores at your own pace, you discover, unlock hidden items, solve puzzles, interact with characters and it's all much more story-driven. That's exactly where I'm coming from in my approach to interactive comics."

They're not the only companies experimenting with shifting digital comics beyond hi-res PDFs. Project Wonderful was showing off Clown Commandos as well, However, there was a big and highly unsuccessful push on interactive comics a decade ago. This time around, publishers are betting that the ubiquity of tablets, pads and smart phones, plus the current state of touch-screen technology and development tools like the drag-and-drop GameSalad Creator, have been a game changer. GameSalad Austin head of internal game development Billy Garretsen said that, unlike a project like James O'Barr's long-awaited Gothic Western Sundown, "It's not a motion comic, it's not an animation put together with comics graphics that leads you through the story automatically." Instead, the reader will engage with the comic itself. "Let's say I have an alleyway brawl, and there's a fire hydrant. I tap the fire hydrant and it explodes and in the next five panels there's water on the ground."

While the overall story will remain the same for all readers, Mohr said they are already exploring "new elements that have not really been tried in the comic form, such as finding hidden content and reaching milestones." There will also be bonus material, such as reading journals, and the opportunity for the writers to go back and re-tell certain pivotal events from a different character's point of view. "That way," Mohr said, "we can reward you for completing the whole series."

GameSalad plans to have the preview demo and app for Redemption (or whatever the final title is: That may change before the issue 0 teaser ships) up on the Droid market in December, with the iPhone app to follow next year.

write a letter