Brass Lantern
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Karma Lab Responds

by Stephen Granade

I recently reviewed Adventure at the Chateau d'Or, and reviewed it rather harshly. Kevin Morris, president of Karma Labs and the producer, programmer, and half of the story team behind Adventure at the Chateau d'Or, has asked for the chance to respond publically to the review.

Karma Labs would like to thank Mr. Granade for taking the time to review Adventure at the Chateau d'Or. This review finds that the game is flawed in five different ways. In fact most of these supposed flaws are oversights on the part of the reviewer, so I'd like to point out how we dealt with the design issues that are raised here.

Adventure at the Chateau d'Or does give direction, pacing and feedback. Three specific missions are given to the player during the course of the game. In the event that these missions are forgotten or not understood, the current mission is always available upon opening the Help screen. As for pacing, forty percent of the palace is unavailable unless the player is able to overcome the challenges presented by the game. Puzzles must be solved to open most of the locked doors and all of the puzzles (many of which open doors) adhere to the strict laws of the sensory focal devices. This review does not mention the magical sensory focal devices, but they are a central feature of the game. Most of the sensory focal devices can only be acquired as a reward for solving a puzzle or enigma. Once they are found the gamer must seek out and find the lore surrounding them in order to move forward in the game. The review also indicated that some of the puzzles are flawed or unnecessarily difficult. However, if you take a visit to the tips and tricks section available in the support section at, the appropriate strategy is given for many of the enigmas.

It is quite surprising that the game could be completed in 3 hours without assistance. Anyone else who finds themselves in this situation might want to take another tour of the chateau, because they will surely have missed much of what it has to offer. In any event, we hope that if you are interested in this kind of adventure you will take a closer look at Adventure at the Chateau d'Or.

While I do not contest most of the facts Kevin Morris gives above, I disagree with his interpretation of them. For instance, I agree that there are three missions in the game, and that they are spelled out clearly. But there is a crucial difference between having a mission and having sufficient direction. In one sense, every game has the mission "play it until you win," yet for adventure games we wouldn't call that good direction. The first mission boils down to "wander around and find things until you meet the Duke;" it is not until after that mission is finished and you are well into the second one that the focus of the game narrows.

Similarly, pacing involves more than just having puzzles available to you. How are the puzzles connected to each other? Is there a natural rhythm to them? Within a given puzzle, how do you go about solving it? Can you feel yourself making progress, coming closer to the solution? (This, incidentally, is where feedback is so important in adventure games. Let me know when I'm on the right track, trying solutions that are close but not quite there. Too often in adventure games you either get the solution right or else nothing happens.)

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