Where did the year go?

By Gordon Aplin (January, 2006)
As you get older the years seem to pass more quickly. A truism, maybe, but entirely appropriate as 2005 appears to have whizzed by and here we are contemplating 2006 and wondering what the new year will bring. It's hard to believe that this time 12 months ago we were congratulating ourselves on surviving 10 years in the adventure game community and opening our forum. It's probably fair to say that we had high, and possibly unrealistic, expectations for the year in terms of games to be released. Our hopes were dampened somewhat by mid year but we remained cautiously optimistic. So before we wish our lives away in anticipation of the games to come it's probably a good idea to pause and look back at some of the 'highs' and 'lows' of 2005.

In a year where commercial adventure game releases were relatively sparse a few significant 'lows' immediately come to mind. The first was the demise of Microids as an adventure game developer. Microids were responsible for Post Mortem, with the highly regarded Still Life being their last game. Many fans are still bewildered by their closure given that the decision was announced before the game was even released, so lack of sales could not have been a factor.

Another 'low' also involved a last game. 2005 saw the release of Myst V: End of Ages which brought to an end a much-loved series. There are many adventurers who came to the genre through playing Myst and there are many more who will lament its passing. Still we have hope that Cyan, the team behind the Myst games, will bring us something more in the future. Something to look forward to.

Part way through the year we were also saddened to hear that Detalion was no more. This European adventure game developer had been around for many years producing games such as Reah: Face the Unknown and more recently Schizm: Mysterious Journey and its sequel Mysterious Journey 2: Chameleon. Sentinel: Descendants in Time was their last game.

There was also another 'low' in 2005 that became a 'high' by year's end thanks to the efforts of a small group of dedicated developers and the thousands of fans who believed in their project. I am, of course, referring to Phoenix On-line Freeware whose laudable goal of bringing a fan-made King's Quest game to fruition was recently blocked by Vivendi Universal who own the rights to the King's Quest name and series. The 'cease and desist' order, coming as it did so late in the development process, shocked and upset many of us who had followed the game's progress with great interest. Even as Phoenix negotiated with Vivendi behind the scenes the fans of the project surged forward to help and an e-mail campaign was quickly organised. Vivendi, to their credit, responded positively and are now allowing the game to proceed with some copyright-protecting changes. So King's Quest IX: Every Cloak has a Silver Lining has been renamed to The Silver Lining and development continues. The outcry over the original decision illustrated, among other things, the strong support by adventure fans for King's Quest style games. It's good to know that fans can make a difference.

There were other 'highs' in 2005 too. One that comes to mind was the release of Agatha Christie's: And Then There Were None. This much-anticipated game raised a lot of expectations and, in the main, lived up to them. Hopefully the first Agatha Christie game is just the start of a series to be followed by many more because this series has the potential to attract many more new adventurers.

Yet another positive for the year was new developer Telltale Games' delivering the first episode in the Bone series, a game that can be downloaded. This one is a treat for all the family to enjoy, though, perhaps, more oriented towards children with its frenetic action interludes. More Bone episodes are in the pipeline so we are looking forward to more adventures in Boneville before too long.

Moving on to the coming year we still have a lot of games to look forward to including Keepsake, Scratches, Dreamfall, Runaway 2, A Vampyre Story, Ankh, Tony Tough 2 and many more. Some of them have been sitting on the horizon for a while so, fingers crossed, we won't have too much longer to wait.

Copyright © Gordon Aplin 2006. All rights reserved.