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Local game prototype of the week: The Maker’s Eden

The Makers Eden

So it came to my attention recently that 190+ prototypes were posted to the Make Games South Africa forums since January this year. There is a lot of quality amongst this number, so I thought sharing an interesting or fun prototype a week would be a cool experiment. As it’s a prototype I will be cynical and critical as often as possible, as this feedback is more valuable to the developers than a “cool game OMG I WANT IT SO BAD RIGHT NOW!” If you have feedback, post it on the  game’s MGSA forum thread; a link is included at the bottom.

So, to start off this weekly trend, here’s The Maker’s Eden – a “sci-fi noir point-and-click adventure presented in a motion-comic style” being developed by Screwy Lightbulb. There is a free to download and play demo, which contains some of the early chapters and about 15-30 minutes of playtime.

The gameplay is in pretty traditional adventure game style, with you solving puzzles to move forward. What enhances the basic gameplay is the incredible art and narrative direction. Each piece of art that appears is beautifully hand-crafted and the joy the motion comic presentation elicits is quite unexpected. The story starts off very promisingly in the demo, with a very mysterious and alluring introduction that grabs you from the get go.

The only major gripe I have with the game currently is a lack of agency in the short dialogue scenes you have with other characters. You’re  presented with only one option to click and move the story forward. This is highly frustrating as agency in games is hugely important to making you feel immersed and engaged in a narrative. This agency is often an illusion (think about all the choices you made in The Walking Dead only to have the exact same ending no matter what), but that small sense of choice will go a long way to immerse the player in a character they are role-playing. Let them choose how their character responds, even if it has no mechanical affect (which is the developer’s ideal goal I believe).

Gripes aside, The Maker’s Eden looks like it is going to be incredible. You can pre-order the first act for $4.50, which is expected to be out in January next year.

Go play the demo now!

MGSA Forum Thread

Official Website

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  • Ben Myres

    Gleefully, Del (the writer for The Maker’s Eden) has informed me that there is a greater deal of agency in those dialogue sections as the story progresses past the demo phase!

    Sounds like another reason to buy pre-order the first act to me :).

  • Rick de Klerk

    An excellent idea for a column! I’m going to be checking out that thread myself in the meantime, but I look forward to your future write-ups.

    Interesting point about being critical of the prototypes. I’m always struggling between how a particular gameplay mechanic or narrative choice could be better implemented without necessarily allowing my own expectations of how it SHOULD be get in the way.

    • Ben Myres

      Hey thanks for the kind words, Rick! Means a lot! :)

      Regarding critique, I agree that it’s tough to balance. For prototypes I think one should definitely give critique and provide opinion on how something could be better implemented (because you’re a player and thus represent a portion of the game’s market).

      However, with finished products it’s altogether more tricky. I think being ruthless in voicing how you think something could be better implemented is part of how you build trust in your reader. It’s pretty much impossible to establish an objective opinion of a game, so rather embrace the subjectivity of your perspective.

      It becomes tricky, though, when sometimes poor implementation of one mechanic ties into the overall implementation of a game. The clunky controls of horror games are a classic example of this for me. On their own they frustrating, but in combination with the atmosphere and setting, they are significant in eliciting fear in you (it’s hard to do something, so you panic as the monster approaches etc.).



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