TECNO – the Base

By: Derek Yu

On: August 23rd, 2008

TECNO - the Base

TECNO – the Base is a cerebral first-person by Paolo Cosentino, and was released about a year ago. In the game you play Alexia, a worker at the “TECNO BASE” who must escape said base after an experiment turns all the robots inside hostile. Along the way you’ll solve various puzzles and destroy hell of crazy, freaked-out droids.

I have to say, for such an ambitious idea developed by one person (in Blitz 3d, no less), I’m really impressed… and so far I’ve only played through the demo! Though the graphics are fairly dated, they nonetheless look quite pretty – together with the audio they do a more than sufficient job of setting the mood. But what makes the game a diamond in the rough is how well the action and puzzle elements come together and keep the game continually fresh, despite a few missteps.

The demo is pretty linear, so if you get stuck on a puzzle, there’s not much you can do until you can figure it out. And with potentially multiple “puzzle pieces” in your hands at any given moment, sometimes it’s not obvious which lead to follow. There’s one spot in particular that I almost gave up on, and I imagine it’s a sticky point for a lot of players (hit me up in the comments if you can’t find the fourth battery!).

I also would have liked to see more in the way of a narrative. Honestly, had I not read the game’s description on the website I would never have figured out what was going on in the game. Although I do enjoy piecing together a story, I feel like TECNO provides very little in the way of context. A few more clues here and there would have done a lot in the way of establishing the game’s setting.

Overall, I very much enjoyed the demo and am considering a purchase (the full game is $15.99). It’s a clever and well-made title, and there’s a lot of potential in the first part of the game. It’s not on the level of, say, System Shock or Deus Ex, but then again, what is?

TIGdb: Entry for TECNO – the Base

(Thanks, Bad Sector! This one’s for you!)

  • Sigvatr

    I have this theory that barely anyone plays 3d indie games, although I don’t know why.

    This has been sitting around for hours and no one has commented.

    I haven’t played it though, but that’s not saying much because the last game I downloaded from the front page was Dwarf Fortress when it was originally posted.

  • Towerofprostitutes

    I’m stuck at the bridge puzzle, you know, the incredibly convoluted one.

  • Prio

    > I have this theory that barely anyone plays 3d indie games, although I don’t know why.

    Market saturation.

  • Mark

    Sigvatr, it’s probably because they are a lot harder to pirate.

  • AmnEn

    Yeah as if Piracy would have anything to do with it at all. It really has just to do with saturation. With so many 3D Shooters flooding the market, people expect nothing short of perfection.

  • Mark

    AmnEn: “Yeah, AS IF, whatEVERRRR”

    Anyway, it was a joke answer. But also kind of true. Can you find TECNO on btjunkie, etc? :)

  • Dominic White

    I tried the demo, expecting very little going in – I mean, it’s a Blitz game. It can’t possibly be good, right?

    I’m rather pleasantly surprised. It reminds me of some old Amiga games, back when ‘Action’ and ‘Adventure’ weren’t mutally exclusive concepts.

    My only real gripe is that the textures are rather low-res, but for a one-man project, it’s still very impressive. The combat initually surprised me – boom, headshot! Took the top off a security bot in one shot… and it doesn’t stop. In fact, even if I split the bastard in two, its flailing weapon arms can STILL hurt me.

    Oh, and puzzles are harder on Hard mode, which is impressive.

    So, yeah. Tempted to buy it. Anyone know how long the full game is compared to the demo?

  • BeamSplashX

    The game isn’t helped by a rather standard sounding name and inability to show too much character in still images.

    I mean a lot of games can’t, but 2D indie games have an easier time pulling off “charm” than 3d indie titles, meaning they have an easier time attracting downloads.

    Oh and a lot of them are free too. Though that shouldn’t matter…

  • Paul Eres

    I actually think 3D indie games do quite well. MDickie’s games are fairly popular, as is Lugaru, Cactus’s Mondo series, Armadillo Run, Darwinia, Penumbra, The Endless Forest, Mr. Robot (technically 3D even though it’s a fixed perspective?), and (in production) Love. Someone else could probably add the rest I’ve forgotten, but there are a lot of pretty popular 3D indie games.

    I suspect the reason this went a few hours without comments is just coincidence, there are a lot of entries that go a few hours without comments. Either that or it’s because it’s a FPS, and the genres which tend to be most popular in the mainstream tend to be less popular among indies. I personally don’t like any FPS game, the perspective makes me feel dizzy and the gameplay has never appealed to me, although I did like the first few levels of Thief and I admire Deus Ex’s structure and story even while being unable to play it because of the dizziness feeling.

  • Dominic White

    Keep in mind that this game came out around a year ago, and we’re only just finding out about it now. The problem isn’t so much that 3D indie games aren’t ignored – it’s that a lot of indie developers don’t know how to market anything, anywhere. Even something as simple as posting on major gaming forums seems beyond them.

    If it weren’t for Derek stumbling upon this game and posting about it here, I never would have known about it.

  • Bad Sector

    This game is a masterpiece really :-). It might have dated graphics but the gameplay elements are very well thought (more than some other more mainstream games – Overload, i’m looking at you).

    I agree though that the story element could be used better. On the other hand you basically dont know what to expect from the game. You’re dropped in there and you have to figure out everthing yourself.

    Also i agree with Dominic White, most indies don’t know how to promote their games. I’m 100% sure that this one could find its way on Steam if the developer tried to promote it (i mean… Insecticide has more flaws in the gameplay than TECNO Base).

    I mentioned a few months ago in my magazine column about indie games, but i dont know if that helped.

  • Dominic White

    Now there’s an idea for an article – it coudl run on both TIGSource and Indiegamer: A guide on how to promote and distribute your games.

    Provide a list of forums you could post on, sites where you could buy ad banners, blogs you could try and get the attention of – beyond TIGSource and Indiegamer, there’s Rock Paper Shotgun, Kotaku, Joystiq and others.

    Also a list of online publishers to contact that distribute indie games, should you wish to sell your game. Gamersgate, Impulse (formerly Stardock) and Steam are all prime targets, and if you can get your game on all three, that means that there’s a much wider audience likely to stumble upon your game and want to buy it.

    There’s a reason why huge monolithic publishing corporations exist – it’s because that selling games is almost as hard as making them. You could make the best game in the world and nobody is going to know about it unless you make an effort to let people find out. Once the ball is rolling, word-of-mouth will help, but that’s after the initial first step.

    I guide on common sense marketing would probably help a lot of indies.

  • Otaku42

    I’ve only played a little bit of the demo, but I am surprised at how well it works. Even though the graphics aren’t of the highest caliber, they do their job of drawing you into the game’s world.

    Also, Dominic, you’re a genius; I second your idea.

  • Bad Sector

    I also like Dominic’s idea :-). However that article needs to be updated now and then because things change :-).

    (btw i wrote a review in tigDB for TECNO as well)

  • Mark

    Hear hear! I third the idea. That makes it happen, right?

    But really, really, it’s a very good idea. It’s really crazy that we could miss a game like this entirely for an entire year, for the most part.

  • Dominic White

    I’d be glad to help research/write such an article – of course, it’d be semi-publically updated if it’s on both major indie blogs. As much rambling as I’ve done on the subject of games, I’ve never actually attempted anything close to real journalism.

    Might be a fun challenge.

    Also, apologies for typos in my above post(s). I’m rather drunk – apparently I have good ideas when there’s alcohol on my brain.

  • Derek

    Great idea, and it would make a perfect “Part 4” to the Indie Game Guide (Part 3 is going to be about how to make a game)!

  • dumb

    bridge code anyone? good game though

  • Dominic White

    If anything, a full piece on promotion, marketing, publishing and distribution would be a multi-part endeavour of its own, although it could definitely continue on from the end of the Indie Game Guide.

    Such a guide would best be illustrated with examples of how to do things right (see multiplatform indie hits like Everyday Shooter), and some key examples of situations to absolutely avoid, such as…

    The Demon Rush – anyone who saw this debacle now knows the price of self-delusion. A guy produces an atrociously bad RPG, puts it up for sale for $20, and posts it on the Something Awful forums saying ‘Buy my game!’. Poor bastard got torn to shreds. Within an hour of creating that forum thread, he had already dropped the price of the game to $10, but that didn’t do much to help. He was the worlds biggest, juiciest, bloodiest hunk of meat and he just jumped right into a shark tank.

    Eternity’s Child – When repeated redevelopment, outsourcing and ego combine, you get something that looks fundamentally quite nice on the outside, but a trainwreck in practice. The Destructoid review of it was damning, to say the least, and the incredibly unprofessional backlash from the (drunk at the time) designer/artist only made things worse. It’s now practically a meme in indie gaming circles.

    Both of those games could have largely been saved a savaging by letting people test the games and telling the developers that they were terrible and should not be sold. No matter how fantastic you think you game is, if nine out of ten people tell you it’s painful to play, it’s probably not marketable.

    Also note that while the public perception of something like, say, Space Giraffe was generally negative, the majority of reviews for it were quite positive. It was mismarketed, but not a bad game at all.

    Anyway, yeah – I’m just bouncing around a lot of ideas and typing up some notes for myself. And.. Hey, Destructoid – there’s another blog to add to the ‘contact these guys’ list.

  • Derek

    For the bridge code: look around the “office” near the beginning, where you get the pistol.

  • Dominic White

    dumb: In the office room near the beginning of the demo, there’s a computer that’ll activate ten minutes after turning on the power. It’ll cycle the correct number string for moving the bridge once it’s live – you’ll have to write it down yourself though.

    It’s possible to solve it manually, of course, but it’s nice that they’ll give you the solution if you’re stuck.

  • lp

    so any hints on the last battery?

  • Derek

    Check the map for possible hidden passageways! :)

  • name

    This game is very impressive. Especially for a game made in Blitz3D, a software tool made by people who refuse to let go of DirectX7. It easily looks like a game made much later than the level of what Blitz’s outdated technology allows.

    I could only imagine how much more awesome this would be if the developers of Blitz3D didn’t have such a chip on their soldiers over later versions of DirectX. We could easily see a game on the level of commercial shooters like Bioshock, well, almost at least.

  • name

    It kind of makes me wish there was a DirectX9 or even DirectX10 version of Blitz3D. But then again, this game has good gameplay and it’s not the graphics which make this game, although it would certainly help promote it and improve it in some ways.

  • dumb2

    taken the lift and… i’m stuck. so what?

  • Dominic White

    Okay, here’s something VERY useful to know:

    For some ridiculous reason, this game uses 16-bit colour by default, and there’s no option in-game to set it to 32-bit.

    Go into your game directory and edit settings.ini, and change colour depth to 32. Like magic, the graphics will improve a lot – almost anything to do with lighting or gradients in particular will look vastly improved.

    Oh yeah. Turn on mipmapping too while you’re in there.

  • Dominic White

    I’m not sure what the Style option in the settings file is for. Anyone figure out what it does?

  • BeamSplashX

    Well I suppose I should’ve said FPS instead of 3D… duh.

  • BeamSplashX

    On another note, maybe indie devs should use tools like the kind Eskil Steenberg (Love’s creator) make. People like how Love looks, and he has all the tools he used to make it up there…

  • Valkyrie

    This looks pretty sweet. Kinda surprised this was here before Cortex Command’s Build 21, though. I’ll have to try it.

  • sinoth

    I like the demo a lot… reminds me of System Shock 2 :)

  • Dominic White

    Finally cracked the demo! I’ll definitely be buying this. Even if it’s short, it’ll be worth two playthroughs, as Hard mode increases both the number of enemies and the complexity of puzzles.

    I also felt really smart when I figured out how to gain access to Area G.

    The full game looks to have a lot more shooty stuff, if the gameplay videos on the official site is to be believed. I also spotted one shot where the player is controlling a suit of power armor, and fighting a horde of cyborg mutant chainsaw zombies.

    That’s pretty rad.

  • Foppy

    “It easily looks like a game made much later than the level of what Blitz’s outdated technology allows.”

    ??.. a miracle

  • Foppy

    Still, I suppose I understand what you are saying. It does look great and I have to try it soon.

  • Dominic White

    Okay, just downloaded and installed my copy of the full game. The demo is the entire first level, minus the ending cutscene for some reason. The second level switches you to another character on the other side of the base.

    It’s fun so far, although I’m now convinced that the architects of the base are the same lunatics who designed Silent Hill, or perhaps the Umbrella Corp. mansions, as even the simplest of procedures (such as operating an elevator) requires the solving of wildly inappropriate logic puzzles.

    Not that I mind – they’re fun puzzles, but they’re just placed in such a typically videogamish way, I can’t help but laugh.

  • PHeMoX

    You mean the old ‘find three switches to open one door’ kind of thing?

  • lp

    Dominic: how did you buy the game? because i would like to, but it seems that the share-it site have some problems with paypal (the transaction is unsuccessful everytime i try)

  • Dominic White

    PheMoX: No, I mean ‘This elevator has a keycode you need to enter on this panel. The code is randomized. There is no note of the code anywhere. You need to type in estimated numbers until a gauge hits the middle point, indicating you’re in the right ballpark. Then you enter this number. And then do it twice more. And you’re on a time limit before the code resets again.’

    I am not exaggerating in the slightest here. And this is on normal mode.

    Ip: I’ve never gotten share-it to work with Paypal, so I just used my Solo card, which is what my Paypal account draws money from anyway.

    Oh yeah – the game seems pretty long. I’m fairly sure I’m nowhere near the first boss yet, even, and I’m on the fourth (?) level now.

  • Yourfazi

    numeric code plz

  • Hielario

    OH  GOD I’M STUPID. I forgot to post this when i should and i didn’t remember til now.

    Anyway, the answer with the bridge… ¿Remember where you began the game? If my memory doesn’t fail, there’s a room near there where you get the first weapon(pistol). In that same room, there’s a computer with a monitor that shows a sequence of successive numbers. Write those-it’s the answer to the number puzzle from the bridge zone. I don’t remember if the computer showed or not the numbers before or after re-activating the electrical power, so check it both times.

    (And excuse my broken english, it’s been a long time since last time i wrote anything this length)

    ¿But could someone tell me, please, where the %/$· is the “··&/) last battery? I found three and ended up desisting and uninstalling the demo.

  • Shery

    Do you know that the code of the computer in level A2 because I have searched and searched but have not yet found even a single clue. Please help me. Please