Adventure: The Inside Job - Extras

Here is a collection of behind-the-scenes info, in-joke explanations, author's notes and miscellaneous snippets about the game. If you haven't completed Adventure: The Inside Job, don't read any further!

I first came up with the concept for Adventure: The Inside Job in the fall of 2007. I spent a lot of time thinking about it and writing down an outline for the story before I started any real work on it. Since I didn't want to end up with a bland Sierra/Lucasarts casserole, I started researching (and occasionally playing) just about every 2D third-person adventure game I could find.

I intended to play some of the most obscure games in existence, since those were to be the ones that were the safest for CGMS agents could pass through (since the odds of them bumping into the protagonist are pretty low). Characters from those games were also good candidates for CGMS agents, since they're rarely needed in their own games.

Once I had ripped most of the backgrounds and animations that I needed, I started reading up on AGS, and after several months, I finally started assembling the game. As I learned more about AGS, I began putting things together differently -- for example, I found that for complex animations, moving a character to a certain location, making the character invisible, then running an animation with an object worked much better than animating the character.

The room with the oxygen mask (its official title is "the puzzle room") was the most difficult room to complete because of all of its animations. The picture below shows all the various objects that were used.

Thalia's story about being a character from a cancelled game is partially true. I first created her as the protagonist of a Flash adventure game, which had her as a member of the Earth Anti-Encroachment League afflicted with a bizarre disease picked up from a remote planet, which causes her to temporarily (and randomly) swap identities with the nearest living organism with a central nervous system. Fortunately for her, she has never swapped minds with another human...yet.

She has been able to keep this condition under control with the help of her physician, and it is even able to aid her in some of her more perilous assignments, but now it seems as if someone from Earth has learned about her unusual "talent", and is determined to capture her. Her nephew Dylan is one of her only friends, and the role he plays in this game is similar to Suzy-Ann's in TIJ, and Thalia eventually finds out that he is part alien after all: his mother is from a race of people with the ability to see the future.

Unfortunately, after I was unable to find a game creation engine compatible with my woefully out-of-date version of Flash, I dropped this game idea. Fortunately, when I started coming up with the idea for TIJ, I couldn't think of a better character to put in the starring role than Thalia.

One reason I created a protagonist like Thalia was to break a couple of trends I've noticed in adventure games' main characters over the years: Protagonists old enough to be considered middle-aged are somewhat uncommon, and most female protagonists are not only young, but very attractive and perfectly shaped, often with large bosoms. I felt it would be a refreshing change to have a middle-aged woman in a starring role. Incidentally, some of Thalia's features are modelled off the only other middle-aged female adventure game protagonist I know of: Queen Valanice of King's Quest VII (it's no coincidence that Thalia also has to capture that jackalope, and there are two different ways to do it).
It's hard to pinpoint one particular thing that inspired me to make this game. I'd say it was a combination of several things:
1) Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, which includes a vast agency policing books from within. Characters from every book ever written mingle together when their books aren't being read, even characters from unpublished works, and though they look much like real human beings, they are different in many ways. I loved these idea so much that at one point I must have subconsciously thought, "Hmm, what if there were something similar with adventure games?"

2) The interconnectedness of Sierra's adventure game elements. In several of Sierra's adventure games you occasionally bump into a character from another game or at least encounter a reference to a completely different series. You can see Roger Wilco at the bar in Leisure Suit Larry 3, crash into Castle Daventry's moat (from King's Quest) if you do the wrong thing in Space Quest 1, and encounter Cedric the owl from King's Quest V in Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist. It's almost as if the games are all connected, and the characters can pass from one game to another whenever they please.

3) Sierra's Hoyle 3. Though this program is just a collection of board games, it seems to take the concept from the previous paragraph one step further. In Hoyle 3, you can play against characters from a variety of Sierra adventure games, and interestingly, though the program is in VGA, the characters who are from games of a lower resolution (like Arnoid from Space Quest III and Lillian from The Colonel's Bequest, which are both in EGA) still keep their low-res look. This definitely might have had some influence on having the characters in TIJ change their resolution when entering game with a lower resolution than theirs.

4) ZBS's Ruby series. The smart-talking main character and the humorous science fiction elements used in the series have been an inspiration to me for years. Thalia is loosely modeled on Ruby, in both attire (Ruby typically wears a jumpsuit of some kind) and attitude.

Adventure: The Inside Job was the first game I made in AGS, and during the months I spent working on it, I discovered that trying to solve a problem with in AGS was comparable to trying to punch a hole through a wall with one's head: if you keep doing it long enough, you will eventually succeed, but will be too weary from your efforts to revel in your victory.
For those of you who are completely confused about the acronyms that keep getting mentioned in the game, I'll try to explain them:

Low-res EGA:
This is the lowest level of graphics used in the game. The pixels are wider than they are tall, and only 16 colors are used at a resolution of 160×200. Sierra's early AGI games (like King's Quest and Space Quest II) are examples of this.

Hi-res EGA:
Similar to low-res EGA, except the pixels are perfectly symmetrical and at a resolution of 320x200. King's Quest IV and Leisure Suit Larry 2 and 3 use hi-res EGA (and are also known as SCI games).

Low-res VGA:
Uses 256-color graphics, but still uses a 320x200 screen resolution. Many classic games are in low-res VGA, such as Day of the Tentacle, Legend of Kyrandia, Teen Agent, and Space Quest IV.
Hi-res VGA:
Uses 256-color graphics, usually at a resolution of 640x480. Also known as SVGA. King's Quest VII, Leisure Suit Larry 7 and The Curse of Monkey Island are in hi-res VGA.

In case it's not obvious enough, the only original characters in this game are Thalia, Tlotzin, Suzy-Ann, Sidonius, Ichabod, Felicia, Mr. E, the "zen adventure" guy, Clem and the owner of the large reptilian tail.
The character that leaves the futuristic urban scene just before Thalia and Ichabod arrive is Cassima, who appeared in King's Quest V and VI and was going to star in my fan-made version of King's Quest IX. I started that project in 1999 and worked on it for seven years.

It never got off the ground as a game, but was released as an illustrated story instead. The code Cassima enters is almost identical to four notes in the chorus of KQ9's "theme song" (which I partially composed and Liam Barnesdale completed). A very rough likeness of her co-star, Prince Edgar, appears on the top of Thalia's stack of flashcards.

A few of the doors Thalia walks through are sly nods to the game they are featured in, since it's impossible to open them in their respective games. The first door she opens (in the Leisure Suit Larry II scene) is blocked by a man chopping wood, the two doors she passes through in the King's Quest IV scene (the third scene in the intro) are locked, the door to Dr. Slache's office is locked in Rex Nebular, and the "door" in the scene where Tlotzin talks about the toy dinosaurs disappearing is never used, since that room is only featured in a brief cutscene.

The screen where Thalia opens the door to the outhouse is from the recent game Runaway. Since I didn't own the game, I had to search around on the Internet until I found a suitable screen. Much later, I found out that the image had been reduced in size, which wasn't a bad thing, since it turned out to be just the right size as the rest of the backgrounds I was using in the game (640X480).

You might have noticed this right away, but the sounds of the game-to-game "doors" opening and closing are modified recordings of a heartbeat and someone exhaling, respectively.
Some of the rooms Thalia visits really do exist, but can only be viewed by opening a game's resource files in a program like SCUMM Revisited (for LucasArts games) or SCI Resource Viewer (for Sierra games). There are many rooms like this in King's Quest VII, such as the scene where Thalia first meets Ichabod (Pic 1100) and the futuristic urban scene (Pic 101).

The hidden room in which Tlotzin tells Thalia about her second assignment can be found in the resource files of Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Though part of the game takes place in the office adjacent to it, there's no way it can be accessed or seen in the actual game.

The room Thalia visits after learning about the toy dinosaurs disappearing is from the Space Quest IV resource files. If there is a way to access it in the game, nobody's discovered how yet.

The scene with the colorful mansion that Thalia walks through after learning that Joey the robot has vanished is from the Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist resource files. It's Pic 170 (just like the writing near the top of the screen seems to imply).

The animations of the jackalope running and leaping onto the carrot are in the King's Quest VII resource files, but never appear in the game. They're from a series of animations in which he runs up to Rosella, then jumps up and kisses her. You can read about and look at some of the unused material from KQ7 here.
Suzy-Ann's last name was originally going to be Edison, but I realized that Thalia's narration when she first enters Day of the Tentacle ("Time: Day before the Day of the Tentacle. Place: Edison Mansion", etc.) might confuse some players who weren't familiar with that game. I changed her surname to Alva, since Alva was Thomas Edison's middle name.
The insignia on Thalia's right shoulder is an abstract depiction of two planets and their orbital paths.
If you click the Hand icon on the globe in Day of the Tentacle, you'll get a subtle reference towards my first game, Area 50.5.
The various images of Ichabod, the location of the second team meeting and the final scene in the game are all modifications of photographs that my mom took during a trip to the Galapagos Islands. The photograph used for Spindrift was taken at Montaña de Oro State Park, California.
The only piece of completely original music completely written by me is the two eerie notes that play when Thalia walks onto the third Conquests of the Longbow screen. I fail at music.
The light blue book propped up against the wall on the left side of Thalia's room is The Eyre Affair, Jasper Fforde's first book.
The Charles Harper print (his Wikipedia entry labels him "Charley Harper") in Thalia's room is a copy of a print that I have on my wall.
The black-and-white monitors in the "secret lab" are displaying scenes from various adventure games, but a few of them are backgrounds from my KQ9 (put there partly because I didn't feel like hunting down scenic screenshots at the moment).
Since Thalia is from the future, I wanted her to use at least one interjection that was slightly different than a commonly used one from the present. I didn't come up with a specific reason why she uses "gods" instead of "God" as an oath, though. (It's not the same reason why Tlotzin also says "gods", since his religion is polytheistic.)
The words used to "activate" the voodoo doll is a distortion of a phrase that adventurers should often remember, especially if they're playing a game where you can easily die, lose vital inventory items or encounter situations where it is impossible to complete the game. Highlight the space below if you still don't know what this phrase is.
"Save early, save often."
The two items used to defeat Sidonius have a bit of symbolism attached to them. One was inspired by Sierra, the other by LucasArts. Both companies were the two giants of adventure games in their heyday, yet now both have fallen. They were always rivals, and even now there is still a split between Sierra fans and LucasArts fans -- yet here, the items inspired by one game from each company combine their forces to save the genre.
The Black Cauldron is one of Sierra On-Line's earlier games, and the first computer game based on a Disney film.
Sidonius' scream is the infamous "death scream" from King's Quest V and VI. You sometimes hear it when Graham or Alexander make fatal mistakes.
The word "genrecide" spontaneously popped into my head as I was writing the various descriptions of the objects in the secret lab, and not only was it the best made-up word I've come up with in a long time, but it seemed like the perfect term to mean "the destruction of a genre".
I was looking for some really pumped up, kickass music for when Thalia destroys the jammer. Turns out, there's not much music like that in adventure games, and I eventually ended up using an excerpt from the remix of "Girl in the Tower", from King's Quest VI.
The man with the broad hat leading Sidonius through the second-to-last scene is one of the many extras from Freddy Pharkas, Frontier Pharmacist. I don't know if he ever appears in the actual game.
The music in the outro (the scene with Thalia, Ichabod and Felicia) took almost five months to be completed. This was because of the numerous inconveniences that kept popping into the life of the guy I asked to write the music. The wait was partially my fault, but I feel that the end result was worth it.
A lot of old adventure games are hard to acquire using legal means, but Flight of the Amazon Queen, Teen Agent, Lure of the Temptress and Beneath a Steel Sky are now freeware and can be downloaded.
I couldn't make sense out of any of the available AGS credits modules, so I ended up creating a large transparent GIF of the game's credits, making a character that used that image and making it "walk" up the screen.
I wanted some fitting music for the credits, so I went on a lengthy search for songs that had the word "game" in the title. I was lucky to find one as good as the song by Utopia that I ended up using.
The 2D Adventure Game crest (which first appears on the back wall of the room Thalia visits after hearing about the toy dinosaurs) is a combination of the icons used in most of Sierra's VGA games and the SCUMM "crosshairs" used in LucasArts' older games, with a generic mouse cursor in the middle. And as Thalia says when you look at it in the secret room, the text below the crest roughly translates to "Adventure games forever".
In case it isn't entirely obvious, the gray images displayed in the script are some of the most common inventory items found in adventure games. The cup doubles as a reference to AGS.

Have you tried...

...shuffling through Thalia's flashcards (by using them on her)?

...using the Hand icon on various characters?

...using an inventory item on itself?

...using the letter on the "voodoo doll"?

...clicking the Hand icon on the pole in Sidonius' treehouse both before and after releasing Joey?

...using the Talk icon on the only visible portion of Thalia's anatomy in the CommKey closeup?

Explanations of a few of the less obvious in-jokes:

"...I was unable to prevent the the 'heap space' error from occurring..."
--Sidonius, talking with Thalia when they first meet.
Near the end of King's Quest V, an error message reading "Out of heap space" occasionally appears, locking up the game.

"...Unless you want to rewind the cassette tape in Shivers..."
--Tlotzin, talking to Thalia in Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
Shivers takes place in a museum abandoned for fifteen years. In the museum's office, you find a cassette player which plays a recording of the museum's creator speaking for several minutes, then being attacked by a malevolent force. He presumably dies soon afterwards, making it odd that the cassette was rewound to the beginning when the player discovers it.

"Now, if Tlotzin had granted me permission to go HERE on my last assignment, I could've made a tar baby to catch that jackalope with."
--Thalia, Spindrift
This is a nod to Joel Chandler Harris' story of Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby (his stories were what the Disney film "Song of the South" was based on).

"In his last assignment, he nearly stepped on the protagonist of Bad Mojo."
--Tlotzin, talking to Thalia in Leisure Suit Larry III
In Bad Mojo, you play as a human transformed into a cockroach.

"This place could give the guys in Channelwood a run for their money."
--Thalia, looking out the windows/door in Sidonius' treehouse
Channelwood is one of the worlds in the game Myst, and its main landmark is a village of perilously high treehouses.

The random capitalizations in Joey's speech:
This is the way that all the dialogue in Beneath a Steel Sky is written. Words are often written in caps, even if there's no emphasis on them in the character's voice (BASS has both speech and subtitles).

Joey's final words ("Be vigilant"):
"Be vigilant" is the main catchphrase from Beneath a Steel Sky. Many characters say it, and it's displayed whenever the player exits the game.

"I'll answer that once you tell me what in Zork's name you're doing!"
--Thalia, confronting Sidonius)
The Zork series is one of the first adventure game series, as well as one of the most legendary.

"And Sanitarium was inspired by the heartwarming book 'Chicken Soup for the Psycho’s Soul.'"
--Thalia, in the secret lab
Sanitarium is an adventure game that takes place in many bizarre locations seen through the eyes of a madman.

Origins of the various music tracks:

First intro music piece - original
Second intro music piece - Lost in Time
First meeting with Tlotzin - Legend of Kyrandia
Discworld II ambiance - Discworld II
Rex Nebular - The Time Warp of Dr. Brain
King's Quest VII - King's Quest VII
Secret room in King's Quest VII - original
Meeting Suzy-Ann - Opus 68, No. 5., Robert Schumann (a.k.a, Album for the Young)
Passing through doors - Legend of Kyrandia
Meeting Sidonius - original
Second meeting with Tlotzin - Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis
Day of the Tentacle - Day of the Tentacle
Spindrift ambiance - Discworld II
First team meeting - Torin's Passage
Space Quest 4 secret room - The Adventures of Willy Beamish
City scene - Toonstruck
Leisure Suit Larry 7 ambiance - Leisure Suit Larry 7
Passing through doors, part 2 - original
Third meeting with Tlotzin - Leisure Suit Larry III
Puzzle room - original
Second group meeting - Fugue 04, Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 1, Bach
Passing through doors, part 3 - "Funeral March"
Inherit the Earth - Loom (Tchaikovsky)
Conquests of the Longbow ambiance - Torin's Passage
Discovering Conquests of the Longbow vanishing - "Der Erlkonig"
Thalia's room - original
Talking with Suzy-Ann - "Moonlight Sonata"
After talking with Suzy-Ann - original
Descending the stairs - original
Sidonius' real room - Prelude 12 in F minor, Bach
Secret lab - Lighthouse
Talking to Sidonius - original
Immobilizing Sidonius - Torin's Passage
Defeating Sidonius - Torin's Passage
Secret lab, part 2 - Toonstruck
Smashing the jammer - "Squirrel with the Power" (Girl in the Tower remix)
After smashing the jammer - original
Last meeting with Tlotzin, part 1 - Sonata no. 8, Second Movement in A-flat major (Adagio cantabile) - Beethoven
Last meeting with Tlotzin, part 2 - original
Last meeting with Tlotzin, part 3 - King's Quest VII
Confrontation with Sidonius - original
Outro - original
Credits - "Play This Game"

(Titles in green identified by Brainiac -- thanks!)

Concept Art:

Notes, sketches of Suzy-Ann (whose eyes were drawn differently at this stage) and Thalia

Sketches of backgrounds and objects, notes

Sketches of Sidonius' gun and lab, sketches of Tlotzin

Sketches of Thalia and Suzy-Ann

Thalia's character sheet

Tlotzin's character sheet

Suzy-Ann's character sheet

Click here to see my "development journal"

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