Turing Adventure: Press coverage / Recortes de prensa


You can download and vote for Turing Adventure here!


Definitely ambitious and experimental

Games Crimes

Imagine trying to negotiate with Siri, or GLaDOS, or C-3PO, just to get them to help you get out of a room.

Indie Game Magazine

I was really captivated by the idea of using chatbot technology to build the NPCs. […] the feeling of being able to write whatever you wanted to say, and getting actual responses from them even if you went out a little out of context (like saying “I’m sad”) was really stimulating. […] this idea of a robot world with AI conversation bots as the NPCs might spawn something cool!

Jordi de Paco, one of the judges of the Adventure Jam, interviewed at Cheese Talks

It has tons of potential, but I just don’t know what the commands are. 🙂 Next!

Jupi Plays Indie games  [Video]


La idea es genial, […] puede ser muy interesante encontrarse ante una aventura entera sólo con esta mecánica.


Estoy imaginando una mecánica de este tipo, con el añadido del reconocimiento de voz, en un título como Mass Effect 4, y sólo de pensarlo me mojo entero […] Tremendamente interesante.

Vadejuegos [Vídeo]

Brillante […], el mero hecho de tener una conversación real con una máquina capaz de respondernos a todo lo que decimos me ha dejado con la boca abierta.



É um jogo de escape the room diferente, pois ele depende da sua habilidade de conversação para se dar bem. […] A graça do jogo é exatamente essa: poder falar sobre o que quiser e, a partir disso, planejar a grande escapada.

Sem Tilt

Balancing Turing Adventure: Dialog AI vs puzzles

First posted on 18/Apr/2015 on the Game’s news feed at Game Jolt.

In pre-lauch tests, people use to complete the Turing Adventure in an average of two plays – which is what I was looking for.

Now, I am observing how some people cannot complete the games in three plays, while others complete the game in just ten lines! This high variance seems to be hard to balance.

However, comparing this data with those of my very early prototype, which no player was able to complete the game in less than three plays, I believe that this is going to work like this: As the robots knowledge database grow thanks to the user inputs, the puzzles will become more and more apparent to first time players. Actually, the puzzle of Turing Adventure is quite simple, so if robots talked close as if they were sentient, most people should complete the game in a single play. This lead me to think that, as robots learn to speak as I want to, I should rework the puzzles to make them harder.

Actually, that would be great news, since the game should revolve around the puzzles. The AI behind NPCs should be just a mechanism to further immerse the player in the adventure, and not to be an obstacle by itself!

For a future full-length game, there would be another factor to consider. As player progress in the game, they will learn what to expect from the chatbots, so talking their way out of the puzzles would be a more straightforward task. Therefore, chatbots from those puzzles should not need to be as polished as robots from the early game. We’ll see.

Designing Turing Adventure Part Three: Turing Adventure: Overview and Design Choices

This is Part Three of an ongoing series of post describing the design of Turing Adventure. You can try the game here.

Turing Adventure box art

Turing Planet box art

Turing Adveture is a ten minutes long point and click adventure in which I tried to address the issues exposed above. We developed it for the Adventure Jam, in two weeks, so the game is short.

I propose a Universe in which there is a robot planet, called Turing Planet, inhabited by a mysterious race of robots that were in war against humans a hundred years ago. Those robots are completely isolated and don’t have any contact with humans, but would kill any unfortunate human being who happen to get close to their planet.

Naturally, the human race is worried about what robots are developing so secretly, and send spies, disguised as robots, to try to find out what they are up to. You are one of those spies, who unfortunately was caught accessing sensitive data. Robots, however, are not very sure whether you are human or not, so they have imprisoned you. This is where the game starts.

Intro comic for Turing Adventure

Intro comic for Turing Adventure

Turing Adventure is a more or less typical graphic adventure otherwise, but there is no dialog lines for the player to choose when interacting with others. Instead, you type what you want to say. That makes the player feel a closer relationship between her and the main character, since the words the latest says are her very own.

This is not like typing commands or trying basic conversations in old conversation adventures. When I say that you can type what you want to say, I mean it. You can question NPC’s about the quest at hand… Or you can chat with them about your job, your hobbies, your dreams… Whatever! They will respond!

This approach forces the player to stop, analyze the situation and, for the first time in graphic adventures, really think: what would I do, and what would I say, if I were actually there?

There are no commands, just chat naturally with the robots

There are no commands, just chat naturally with the robots

Talking to characters that can give you a reasonable conversation about any topic has the risk of inviting the player to try to have fun with the chatbot instead of playing true to her character. That’s why in the game, you have a timing factor to overcome. The countdown on an artifact that looks like a bomb, the music, the light… If you ask the robots about those elements, they will inform you in a casual way: You are dying in five minutes.

All is designed to give the player a feeling of urge and stress, so she won’t mess around and try to focus on the task at hand: escape the prison.

Don't fool around, try to escape before it's too late!

Don’t fool around, try to escape before it’s too late!

I expect all this elements to help the player feel a deeper connection with the main character, since they address the two problems I discussed above.

Moreover, players will empathize with non-playable characters more than usual, thanks to psychological known effects of human-machine interactions, like the Eliza Effect. It is proven that humans tend to feel empathy with machines that show some human qualities: whether it might be a humanoid body, a face or other medium to show emotions, or, in this case, the ability to talk. That opens a new dimension for non-playable characters in games, where they can show their personalities not only in their design, background, and a few dialog lines, but in whole conversations.

We are diving further in this topic in further posts.

Finally, although sometimes surprisingly clever, chatbots, even those that we are using for Turing Adventure, cannot talk as humans. That means that they have limitations, and some responses feel artificial, out of context, or out of place… if you expect to talk with a sentient being.

But you would forgive those weird answer if you were talking to a machine, like a personal assistant (e.g.: Siri, Cortana). That’s why Turing Adventure is set in a robot planet full of robots: When they’ll give you some unnatural response you’ll thing: Well, robots… and won’t feel it out of place. At this point, you may know how much I try to fight things that are out of place.


Robotz! Can be cocky too!

Robotz! Can be cocky too!

And, speaking about digital assistants, I expect them to get much more in fashion during the next couple of years. So I hope Turing Adventure has arrived at the right moment.

Designing Turing Adventure Part Two: How to push the adventure feeling further

This is Part One of an ongoing series of post describing the design of Turing Adventure. You can try the game and vote for it in the Adventure Jam here.

Make the conversation matter

Convincing Glotis in Grim Fandango

Convincing Glotis in Grim Fandango

Once of the things that unnecessarily hurt the “I’m living it” sensation is the classical tree dialog system. Often, the NPC respond to your questions as long as you keep asking, so you don’t worry about what actual question you make. You can always go back in the tree and try other path. There are of course in some conversations some tree leaves that are triggers, but more often than not, they are easily avoidable, at least until you’re sure that there are no more dialog lines.

Some games present you with different options at the same time that are all triggers, but any of those options have the same consequences (with the only possible exception of choosing between several game endings -or between the light and dark side). Players choose between them trying to play true to their characters, but those choices are actually just illusions of freedom.

Other games are slowly innovating in this area. To name one, Kentucky Route Zero often presents the player several choices that have a small but persistent impact in the story. They are triggers, unavoidable, and have consequences fot the rest of the game. For example, you have to choose the name of the dog that accompanies you when you’re asked about its name, and the one you choose will be its name for the rest of the game. It is not a huge consequence, but after choosing poorly a couple of times, thinking that you can go back to explore the rest of the dialog, you start thinking twice the answer you give. It’s a small change, but is a huge deal regarding gameplay.

However, no matter how much we tweak it, the real thing preventing you from impersonating the real adventurer is the mechanic of choosing itself! What if we get rid of it? What if you have to think exactly what you are saying?

Make the timing matter

Timed mission in Far Cry 3

Timed mission in Far Cry 3

Other aspect in adventure games that make the sensation you feel while playing different to what, say, Indiana Jones may feel in the film, is the timing. Don’t get me wrong: a puzzle should be a puzzle, with time to think it over, and it’s ok to combine relaxing events with rush times. However, you don’t think the same way, or more important, feel the same, when a giant rolling ball is about to smash you, than when you know you are safe. That is the reason why in adventure games you do things that are at odds with what a character of a book or a movie would do.

Many players would enjoy exploring the Far Cry world (I certainly do!), or try to complete all the bits of the game. On the other hand, 007 would take a moment to admire that amazing Asian landscape from time to time, but he would never stop the mission just to see what’s there, or to speak with every single citizen of a village. And we want the player feels like 007, right?

I believe a right balance can be achieved, and that includes stressing the player in some parts of the game, according with the necessities of the narrative.

Besides, giving the player a peak to an awesome environment but not letting him explore completely will make her feel that this environment is real and even infinite. Isn’t that awesome?

Designing Turing Adventure Part I: Motivation: Feel the adventure

This is Part One of an ongoing series of post describing the design of Turing Adventure. You can try the game and vote for it in the Adventure Jam here.

Motivation: Feel the adventure

There is something somewhat wrong with adventure games.

You play them to live an adventure. Years after you completed a game, you look back and what you remember is you, incarnating the adventure’s hero, penetrating dungeons, confronting monsters and saving the day. Well, this is what it is supposed to happen, and it works. So, what’s the problem? The problem is that the following comic is funny:

Coming back into a dungeon because the player forgot to check a corner

Jago dibuja

Can you imagine Aragorn doing that in the book? Or Indiana Jones when exiting the Temple of Doom? No, that’s wouldn’t make sense. Nevertheless, it is quite accepted in video games.

So the problem is the game mechanic. The game mechanic is fun, but not always supports the history, and thus, do not support the adventure experience. Current game mechanics not only allow the player to behave in unnatural ways for the history, but sometimes encourage it. At the end, they’re fun, and buy gameplay time. But that is not the adventure. The result is a crossover between a casual pastime and an adventure experience, but, guess what: In some years, you will remember the adventure, not the inventory management or the minigames.

Not convinced? Let me give you a clearer example:

Me/in/game #19 RPG's-So Many Ways to Play!

If you enjoy and play graphic adventures or computer RPG often, tell me that you don’t play them the thorough way. You won’t, because, well, of course you do. This comic opened my eyes. It made me realize that you are doing it wrong (and me too).

In years to come, when you remember the graphic adventure, you won’t remember going thoroughly through the conversation tree, you’ll remember the adventure. And you’ll remember it as something exciting.

Let’s recap a bit: The game mechanics are fun to play, they increase the gameplay time, and if the story is worth it, you’ll get the memories of living an adventure, ala Total Recall.

Then why do I insist that there’s a problem on it? Because, if not for the game mechanic, you’d have the sensation of living the adventure while you are playing it, not in the future. And that would be definitely be better.

Yes, it is true that you have the sensation of living adventure when something happens, but in the meantime, you have the sensation of solving cardboard puzzles: No dangers, no excitement, no rush… no adventure!

We can do better.

Form a Dungeons & Dragons Team for Indie Game Development

Wizard, by Ricardo Padierne

The potential of the indie development

When I was twelve, the teacher started asking the students of my class what we would want to become, professionally, when we grew up. When she asked me, I said something like: Well, I’m not sure… I want to do things for people. To which she answered: Very good, you want to work on philanthropy. But then I replied: Well, not exactly; when I say doing something for people I mean something more like… a bridge!

What I wanted to say but I didn’t know how to put in words was: I want to have a creative job. I want the result of my effort to be something new, something that did not exist before I sit down to it. And I want it to be appreciated by people.

That definition of my perfect job can fit very well with architecture, one of my youth passions. Whilst my knowledge on that area are very limited, architecture is an art that call my attention very strongly. I usually dream with buildings, and I mean buildings that don’t exist, that I design on my dreams and that are so aesthetically, useful and awe-inspiring that I remember them for years. I would have been happy being an architect.

But I ended up studying software engineering. And I could not be happier with that. Software engineering is the most rewarding engineering, since it works only with computers; which, at the same time, are the best machines ever, insofar as they act as an extension of our minds, not of our bodies. That liberate us from the enslavement of the physical realms, allowing our creative impulses to fly wild and free, with no more limitations than the ones imposed by the hardware we work on. Consider that: If I had become an architect, I would have never seen any of the buildings I dream about come to light. However, being a software engineer and a game developer in particular, I can make people have an amazing time while living in them. I do not need a thousand of workers and millions of dollars. I just need a PC. And, if I do my job properly, they will remember this time as vivid as a holiday time. Amazing.

Computers, as a medium, not only allow us to create more with fewer resources. They allow us to reach more people. I didn’t have many occasions while I was a teenager (or even on my twenties) to play –paper and dice- role playing games, but it’s an activity that I love. In particular, I like playing as a game master, writing the plot and bringing it to life for my players. But now, I can do it not only for a few of my friends, but for a virtually endless amount of people, thanks to the advancements on the game technologies and the indie phenomenon. Again, amazing.

Teacher, I love my job.

The limitations of flying solo

When you start making games, however, you soon start realizing that you have many limitations. Video games are a multidisciplinary medium that require mastering or, at the very least knowledge on: programming and technical skills; graphic design, drawing skills, 3D modelling, animation, rigging; music composing and interpretation, voice acting; writing skills, gameplay design, psychology, anthropology and sometimes history; and if you plan to make a living on it, business management, marketing, leadership and networking or PR skills also come very handy. At the very least, you need player to test your game before release.

You just cannot have knowledge on all those areas, and even if you did, you’d do better specializing. As I once heard, if the same surgeon and anesthetist on the world happened to be the same person, you probably would not like her to perform both roles at the same time with you on the operation table.

Yes, there are some indie developers stars out there who are famous for putting a great game together on their own, but in most of the cases, at least in some areas (most usually, music), they had the help of others.

Get empowered by your team

Developing indie games is very much like playing Dungeons & Dragons. You will not get far in the adventure if all the players in your group play as barbarians. You need a wizard to counter the spells of the necromancer; you need a dwarf to deactivate traps, a healer, and an elf with an arc to avoid physical confrontations. If you start a group with just, say, programmers, you will find yourself unable to reach the quality level you desire for your game more sooner than later.

What is better, working in a multidisciplinary group not only compensate your deficiencies. Having people around with other knowledge means having around other points of views. When you focus on a task, you are working on a vision, and at this point you stop being creative. A look on your job from a teammate means a fresh look, free from the blindness associated to concentrating in a task (in game design, this is well known as the designer blindness). Those looks, those ideas, are very valuable. In most cases, you will discover that many of them are actually impossible to get done. But the mere input will produce a spark in your brain that could become an awesome idea of your own making, one that you wouldn’t have come to if not that input. After all, you are the expert in your area. In other words, working in a multidisciplinary team not only make up your deficiencies, but empowers you.

Want to make a good game? Make friends first. Good indie game come from good partnerships.

A word on defining the target audience for your game

Almost all manuals on Game Designing or Game Business recommend you to define the target audience for your game. That’s clever, since it can be really useful in order to define what your game is going to be.

Alas, almost all of them suggest that you define your target audience in terms of demography, with emphasis on age and gender. And that’s not smart. Let’s say, for example, Wii Sport Resort. It’s a game to play with friends, and it’s being played by anybody that can throw a party at home (or even at office): from children to grandpas (grandpas really liked the Wii, do not forget). Male and female alike. Does it means that the target audience of this game was “universal”?. No, it was not. And what about Tetris?

There is a better way. Instead, try to name game genres, real games titles, and platforms. If I tell you that the target audience of this game is Flappy Bird players, PC gamers who play Call of Duty online won’t even come to your mind, even though male teenager are a huge portion of both groups.

Mobile, console, PC; Casual, hardcore; multiplayer, single player; Indie, Tripe A; Arcade, adventure, puzzle… Are better words to define the target audience for your game. And even better are game titles.

Whilst it doesn’t sound very academic, it’s certainly a better way to communicate your ideas and envision your path.

Unity 3D tip: Making transparent GUI buttons (Part I)

Some weeks ago, we received an email from Kameron Bourgeois, a 3D Bird player and Unity 3D novel programmer. He was wondering how was possible to make the transparent and flat buttons of 3D Bird.

So I have a question that I don’t think you will want to answer but I was wondering how you made such perfect buttons with unity for your game 3D bird? I love them cause they are transparent and are large which makes them look super cool and they respond very quickly[…].

3D Bird Screen Shot

I wrote a short tutorial about how the buttons for Kameron, and today we’re sharing it with the rest of the world. Since then, we’ve learn some new tricks, but we’re going to leave them for Part II of this post.


We use GUILayaout object in a script to manage the GUI, so displaying a button is something as easy as, in the OnGui function, write:

if(GUILayout.Button("My Button"))
   //Code to excecute when clicking on the button

To give the button a custom look and feel, we use a GUISkin object. Create it like that:

Creating a GUI SkinIn the script, before declaring the button, you have to declare that you want to use your custom skin:

GUI.skin = MySkin;

Remember to attach the GUI Skin object to the script using a public variable and the editor.
Now, the ‘secret’ for our custom button is using a custom texture. We are using a square png, gray, and a bit transparent. Use alpha is for transparency to make the transparency works. We use Paint.NET to edit png files.

Texture Import Settings
You can also change the texture color by code, including the alpha channel (transparency), but in this case, it was not necessary, since the texture has the alpha channel already set using Paint.Net.
Select the skin you have just created and edit the button properties. Select the aforementioned texture as background.

Setting the GUI Sking in the Editor

And that is!

Thank you Kameron for the question. I hope it will be useful for other people as well!

100 flowers: Getting into the creative mood

Bunch of flowers

Let’s continue with the series of tips for making games.

Today I want to talk about creativity, this elusive lover. I’m going to spare you going through a paragraph talking about confronting a white sheet, and blah blah blah. Let’s go straight to the point: Creativity can be trained, and there are techniques to make your creativity wheels start turning. Today I want to tell you about one of those techniques:

The one hundred flowers technique

This simple exercise can teach you a lot about how creativity works (but please don’t just read about it; Take your time to actually do it). It is quite simple. Grab a piece of paper, a pencil, and draw one hundred flowers. They don’t have to be fancy; take a minute as much for each flower. But you have to draw them one by one, and they need to be different.

After a while you’ll get stuck. But keep going! Soon you’ll start drawing crazy things, out of necessity, and the exercise will began to feel much easier! When you are done, look back to your work. You will be surprised of the result.

You can use this technique to train your creativity, or to wake up your mind a day that you feel that your imagination has left your head for a walk. It does not need to be flowers, it can be, let’s say, robots. But if you prefer robots to flowers, maybe it is better to challenge yourself with the flowers. You can also change the topic from session to session.

So, you are designing a game…

…but today you don’t come up with anything? If you have tried the hundred flowers method before, you can use the same technique here. Grab a piece of paper and a pencil, and draw a hundred characters, or levels, or game ideas… whatever you are stuck with.

The trick here, and the difference to what you are trying to do but don’t quite work, is to make it fast. Don’t bother to make it coherent, do not stop on details, just sketch an idea and get to the next one. Remember, you need to make a hundred!

When you are done, you’ll have a game. I promise you that.

Designing 3D Bird: Achieving innovation

I’m starting today a series of posts sharing tips that we found useful when designing our games. The first one is going to be about how to achieve innovation in games, or other aspects of life.

For the sake of this argument, I’m going to define a metric for being innovative. And, in this case, to be innovative is the same as to be successful: You are being innovative when people using your work find it innovative.

Let me explain myself: Sometimes you do things that, from your point of view, are original, useful, groundbreaking, and in some cases, pure genius. But, since people in your surroundings don’t share your opinion, those things or ideas go nowhere and are eventually forgotten. At least, it’s something that has happened to me many times. However, I’ve done others things, without so much effort, that were just OK in my opinion that, for some reason, everyone seemed to love. We could spend hours discussing many aspect of this -by the way- universal phenomenon. However, since the recognition of other fellow humans is important for the individual in so many aspect, I think that this metric is fair in most cases.

Now, let’s continue:

The way I see it, you can innovate in two ways:

  1. From scratch: Try to think on something that has never been done before. Experiment with it. If it works, try to improve it. After many iterations, if people like it and find it innovative, you’ve achieved innovation.
  2. By copying and mixing: Have a look around you to see what’s in fashion. Select the elements you like. Copy them like the soulless bastard you are, and mix them together. If people like the hybrid monster you made and find it innovative, you’ve achieved innovation.

At this point, you will be thinking that you will be disregarded as a copycat if you use the second technique. But the interesting thing here is that no, it does not happen. People will think something like:

What a simple idea. How is it possible that it didn’t come to my mind before? All the elements were there already, in plain view, but the trees did not allow me to see the forest.

Do you want an example of that? YouTube. I don’t think this one needs much of an explanation.

Do you want another? The iPhone. Really: I saw a video of a phone concept in March 2001 that was, basically, a modern smartphone; six years earlier than the iPhone. Online curated software stores were nothing new either.

A classic example: Who invented the mathematical concept of derivative, Leibniz or Newton? Both of them had a real argument on their time disputing the authorship of such an important innovation. But the reality is that, at the time, the mathematical tools to define derivatives were there, and if none of them would have come up with this concept, another mathematician would have had not so many years after.

My point today is: Both techniques are valid, since both of them can lead to similar results. But the copying and mixing technique is easier.

Case of Study: 3D Bird

We used the from scratch technique to made Photon Rush. It was hard, took quite a long time and experimentation, and I feel proud of the result. Many people I respect said that the game is original in its conception.

We used the copying and mixing technique to design 3D Bird. After some minutes of thinking (because we wanted to make a Flappy Bird clone with some twist), I remembered this video from Freddie Wong:

And so 3D Bird was born. It took just minutes! And after 48h we were pushing the game to the stores. I feel like a copycat here, but really, nobody care about what I think. What is important is what people think, and there are many people leaving us comments like:

I’m tired of so many Flappy Birds clones, but this one is crazy and original!

Original? Well, they say so. So… it’s might be!

And anyway, it’s the game that’s paying the bills. Heck, we need to pay the bills to make games!