Here's hoping: The Neverhood

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gzsfrk
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Here's hoping: The Neverhood

Post by gzsfrk » Thu Dec 15, 2005 9:40 pm

A friend of mine recently gave me his copy of "The Neverhood", a claymation-animated 2d puzzle/adventure game released back in 1996. After some fenagling to get it to work under WinXP, I started playing it and was pleasantly surprised. It's a remarkably fun and beautiful game, and so naturally my first thought was, "Man, SCUMMVM should support this!"

Thus, I started doing some research and discovered that the developers, Neverhood Inc., were no longer together. I did, however, find a website (http://www.neverhood.co.uk/html/site/where/where.htm) that talks about the team and what they were last known to be up to. Using this information, I found e-mail addresses for three of them, and decided to send an e-mail requesting that they consider providing support to the SCUMMVM team to add support of their game to the project. Appended below is the e-mail I sent:

--------------------------------

Hello Doug, Mike, and Ellis!

(Please note that I would have liked to include the
other former members of Neverhood Inc. in this e-mail,
but yours were the only ones I could find listed. If
you all still keep in contact, please feel free to
forward this message on to them if you think it would
be of interest to them.)

First off, let me just say that I'm a -big- fan of
your game, "The Neverhood Chronicles". I've always
been a big fan of claymation, probably starting back
with the old claymation Christmas special that came
out in the late 80s (the one with the California
Raisins singing "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer"), and
then later enjoying the Clayfighters series of
fighting games on the SNES and later consoles.

Thus, it was with much joy several months ago that a
friend of mine gave me his copy of The Neverhood and
introduced me to the incredible world you created, and
all the zany adventures contained therein. (And let me
just say in passing that, in addition to it being one
of my favorite puzzle/adventure games ever, my mind is
blown by just how much you guys put into writing
everything in the Hall of Records. =)

Anyway, aside from thanking you for making such a
great game that was so fun for me, I wanted to also
ask you about the possibility of helping future
generations be able to appreciate this masterpiece of
art. While I was able to get TNC working with some
degree of tweaking on Windows XP (took me a while to
figure out that I had to enable "Windows 95
Compatibility mode" to get it to start without
crashing), it's a shame that probably most casual
computer users who would happen to run across the game
probably wouldn't figure that out.

That having been said, it occurred to me that there's
a possible solution. There's an open source project
that you may or may not have heard of called "SCUMMVM"
(http://www.scummvm.org/). The focus of the project is
to provide a portable engine that can play classic 2D
adventure games. While it started out as strictly an
engine used to emulate the old Lucasfilm
Games/LucasArts SCUMM engine, it has since been
expanded to include several SCUMM derivative engines
(Humongous Entertainment's Putt-Putt and Freddi Fish
games, for example), as well as some non-SCUMM related
2d puzzle/adventure game (such as Coktel
Vision/Sierra's Gobliiins).

As a result of SCUMMVM making these classic (and some
not-quite-so-classic) games once again playable, there
has been a resurgence in sales of many of the
supported titles (primarily through eBay and classic
game re-sellers), especially for those that are hard
to find (good luck finding an original copy of Zak
Mckracken for the FM Towns computer =). SCUMMVM has a
very large following of collectors (such as myself)
who in many cases would have never heard of and sought
to buy games except that they've been supported by the
project. Thus, it's been a boon for those gamers
wishing to rediscover gems that they would never have
been aware of except for their inclusion in SCUMMVM.

And so my point is this: would it be possible, given
the incentive of keeping interest in your remarkable
creative works alive and strong, that you could assist
the SCUMMVM dev team in adding support for The
Neverhood to the SCUMMVM project? I don't know that
there would be any financial disincentive to doing so;
in fact, it could be quite the opposite if you wanted
to begin selling any remaining copies of the game that
you have available. Of course, there have been a
couple of games ("Beneath a Steel Sky" and "Flight of
the Amazon Queen") whose developers have simply
decided to not only provide support for getting
support for their games added to SCUMMVM, but likewise
released the game files themselves to the public
domain. (Of course, any such decision is always
influenced by who holds the rights on teh materials at
any given time, so it IS completely understandable
when the rights-holders choose not to do this.)

Anyway, this has just been my humble way of asking
whether or not it might be possible for you to provide
support (most easily in the form of source code) to
the SCUMMVM team so that they might implement support
for your awesome game. If not, then no harm done--at
least I got to express my appreciation for giving me
many hours of fun and adventure via your creativity
and skill.

Good luck and God-speed in whatever future endeavors
you seek.


Oh, and Merry Christmas! =)

-----------------------

So, no guaranteees... but I'm hoping that they might consider providing the source, if they still have it available, to the team. That of course wouldn't automatically mean we have a driver, but at least I hope it's a potential good first step.

But anyway, I guess the point of this post was just to encourage everyone that has a favorite classic 2D puzzle/adventure that they remember or (like me) recently stumbled across, try doing some research and see if the developers might consider supporting SCUMMVM so that their art can live on. =)

Cheers...

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Jimbob
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Re: Here's hoping: The Neverhood

Post by Jimbob » Thu Dec 15, 2005 9:53 pm

gzsfrk wrote:A friend of mine recently gave me his copy of "The Neverhood", a claymation-animated 2d puzzle/adventure game released back in 1996. After some fenagling to get it to work under WinXP, I started playing it and was pleasantly surprised. It's a remarkably fun and beautiful game, and so naturally my first thought was, "Man, SCUMMVM should support this!"

*Snipped*
This is lovely but we'll still need someone who is willing to look at the source code, understand it and then write a module for it for inclusion into ScummVM. As the devs are already working in their own free time this may take a while.

Jimbob

joachimeberhard
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Re: Here's hoping: The Neverhood

Post by joachimeberhard » Thu Dec 15, 2005 10:36 pm

gzsfrk wrote:But anyway, I guess the point of this post was just to encourage everyone that has a favorite classic 2D puzzle/adventure that they remember or (like me) recently stumbled across, try doing some research and see if the developers might consider supporting SCUMMVM so that their art can live on. =)
Do you have any idea how many great adventures exist? :P

This is never going to end. :D

At least I hope not.... :D

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sev
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Post by sev » Thu Dec 15, 2005 11:22 pm

Very nicely written letter. I like the game myself a lot. Your letter just moved me to check my copy, and I have to disappoint you. My expectations were correct: the game uses Smacker Video. At least that should be those cutscenes used for transition from one scene to another, and to extreme, every animation in the game may be in smaker format.

And when with the first case, it would still be possible to disassemble those big BLB files and recompress cutscenes like we did with Broken Sword games, second case make it quite difficult, as download size will reach several hundred megabytes.

Speaking of developers, it's always possible that some interested dev will join the ScummVM Team and will lead the development.


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gzsfrk
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Re: Here's hoping: The Neverhood

Post by gzsfrk » Fri Dec 16, 2005 6:23 am

joachimeberhard wrote:
Do you have any idea how many great adventures exist? :P

This is never going to end. :D

At least I hope not.... :D
Well, at least SCUMMVM isn't doing it alone. FreeSCI, Sarien, and GrimE, for example. =) Between the efforts of all the projects, perhaps a fair number of the best adventures can once again be available to enjoy (on a phone or PDA, no less).

Just so long as I can play through Day of the Tentacle with my little girl once she's old enough to enjoy it, I'll be a happy daddy. (She's currently 3 mo. old =)

Cheers,

joachimeberhard
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Re: Here's hoping: The Neverhood

Post by joachimeberhard » Fri Dec 16, 2005 12:13 pm

gzsfrk wrote:Just so long as I can play through Day of the Tentacle with my little girl once she's old enough to enjoy it, I'll be a happy daddy. (She's currently 3 mo. old =)
Without any means of violating forum rule #5 "No blatant advertising", I really have to tell you how great Humongous Entertainment children games are.

And they're supported by ScummVM!!!!

They're recommended age 3+, but trust me, they're great fun for both children and parents to enjoy together, and are also great fun for lonesome adventurous souls like me. :D :D :D

From the back of one of my Putt-Putt packages I can give you the following age-recommendations:

Putt-Putt: Age 3-6
Freddi Fish: Age 4-7
Pajama Sam: Age 5-8
SpyFox: Age 6-9

Ahem, did I mention how great Humongous Entertainment children games are? :D :D :D

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sev
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Re: Here's hoping: The Neverhood

Post by sev » Fri Dec 16, 2005 4:01 pm

joachimeberhard wrote:They're recommended age 3+, but trust me, they're great fun for both children and parents to enjoy together, and are also great fun for lonesome adventurous souls like me. :D :D :D
Oh yeah, my 4 year old girls insist on playing Pajama Sam :)


Eugene

gzsfrk
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Re: Here's hoping: The Neverhood

Post by gzsfrk » Fri Dec 16, 2005 5:01 pm

joachimeberhard wrote: Without any means of violating forum rule #5 "No blatant advertising", I really have to tell you how great Humongous Entertainment children games are.

And they're supported by ScummVM!!!!
Oh, I absolutely agree about the HE games. When Putt Putt Joins the Parade first came out, I picked it up for my niece who was about 5 at the time, and she loved it. I later picked up Fatty Bear's Birthday Surprise and then Freddi Fish and the Case of the Missing Kelp Seeds later on. (Admittedly, I -did- in fact play through them myself, and enjoyed them tremendously. :)

So suffice to say, little Lianna will be getting her game on with Putt Putt and friends as soon as she's old enough to use a Microsoft EasyBall.

However, wanting to play DOTT with her is nonetheless a goal, as that stands as my favorite adventure game of all time, and I so look forward to enjoying it again vicariously through her eyes. =)

Oh, and for the record--I have another niece who's 8, and she is absolutely crazy about the original Maniac Mansion--she begs me to bring my laptop everytime we go to have dinner with the in-laws. Of course, she always has to play with the female characters (Razor and Wendy), and before she started wanting to play it all the time, I had only ever beat the game with either Bernard or Michael, so I had no idea about how to win using the "3 Guys Who'll Publish Anything" solutions. So I ended up learning more about one of my favorite games due to her insistence to play it using the girls.

Good times, good times--but I digress... =)

Cheers,

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Re: Here's hoping: The Neverhood

Post by joachimeberhard » Fri Dec 16, 2005 5:26 pm

sev wrote:Oh yeah, my 4 year old girls insist on playing Pajama Sam :)
I'm sure she tells you all day how great song support in ScummVM for Pajama Sam would be.... :D :D :D

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sev
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Re: Here's hoping: The Neverhood

Post by sev » Fri Dec 16, 2005 11:40 pm

joachimeberhard wrote:
sev wrote:Oh yeah, my 4 year old girls insist on playing Pajama Sam :)
I'm sure she tells you all day how great song support in ScummVM for Pajama Sam would be.... :D :D :D
well, they do ;). Unfortunately Russian localization of pj2 uses special trick for voices which is something like external hash table or something like that, i.e. there is an external DLL and data file, so ScummVM played random pieces earlier and now just crashes :(. Hope some day when I'll get more time I'll RE that DLL, but until that we have to play original :cry:


Eugene

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Post by cappuchok » Sat Dec 17, 2005 7:07 pm

sev wrote:Very nicely written letter. I like the game myself a lot. Your letter just moved me to check my copy, and I have to disappoint you. My expectations were correct: the game uses Smacker Video.
Why would that be a problem? Rad Game Tools does provide a free-of-charge toolkit that is able to convert existing Bink/Smacker videos to AVI (allowing you to use any codec you want) and more. Check http://www.radgametools.com/smkdown.htm for details.

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sev
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Post by sev » Sat Dec 17, 2005 7:53 pm

cappuchok wrote: Why would that be a problem? Rad Game Tools does provide a free-of-charge toolkit that is able to convert existing Bink/Smacker videos to AVI (allowing you to use any codec you want) and more.
Heh, think a little about it. Here are 2 routes. Route #1. We convert them. In this case we should obtain rights to redistribute recoded videos which could be not possible, also download size factor will step in, as it potentially could be several hundred megabytes. Route #2. We provide instructions on how to convert to users. Okay, but Rad Game Tools are windows-only. Yes, they could be ran with wine, but anyway that restricts useage to x86 and wine is not for a faint souls.

Any other ideas? We haven't get any so far besides RE'ing the codec which original developer denies. We aren't going to do anything in this area.


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Post by Ender » Sun Dec 18, 2005 3:08 am

While, as sev said, it is possible to reencode the videos... both the distribution and getting permission are big problems.

A few people have asked me WHY we won't RE the codec over the years.
We've asked RAD previously if they would allow us to support just the oldest codecs that we need, but they have refused to allow it.

Also, a lot of the game developers that have been kind to us over the years use RAD software, any kind of fight over it regarding compatibility clauses and so forth could cause friction that we don't want.

It's very unfortunate, maybe someday RAD will change their minds. (E-mail campaign? :)

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Post by Darnn » Sat Dec 24, 2005 6:15 pm

What I always wondered about it: Why not get the individual users to reencode the cutscenes themselves? They do it with RAD's tools, and everybody's happy. A little tutorial, a link to XviD, maybe something like Q+E to help automate the process... voila.

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Post by sev » Sat Dec 24, 2005 6:31 pm

Darnn wrote:What I always wondered about it: Why not get the individual users to reencode the cutscenes themselves?
Reread my post more carefully. RAD Game Tools are Windows-only. ScummVM isn't.


Eugene

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