Looking at White Chamber

I first played Crimson Room around February, 2004, hearing about it through Nick’s GrandTextAuto post. Viridian Room came out in June of 2004, and Blue Chamber later in 2004.
It has been over a year since we have seen a new locked room puzzle from Takagism/FASCO-CS. Interestingly, the news on the site, dated August 4, 2004, claims the next room is going to be “Pink Prison”, followed by “Tangerine Room”.
(update 26 Jan)

I doubt that White Chamber took over a year to produce, short of some significant setbacks. I can only speculate.
At one point in Viridian Room you can peer into the Crimson Room, establishing a satisfying relationship between the two puzzles. At the end of Viridian Room your “soul”, in the form of a skeleton, is freed from the rooms. The narrative structure of the two rooms is self-contained.
White Chamber is less ambiguous, and consequently less evocative than the Crimson Room puzzle. It takes the “locked in a room” idea as an established cliche. At the same time, it makes less use of forced perspective tricks to hide the items for which you are looking. Previously, these forced perspecive camera views provided most of the challenge — you had to click at the edge of the bed to see that area. Decyphering the navigation was most of the puzzle.
The main prop in White Chamber is a motorcycle. Navigation around this motorcycle is somewhat infuriating, because the different views aren’t always mutually connected. Here is a map of the ten views of the motorcycle, and the navigation (perhaps 90% accurate) between them:
White Chamber motorcycle navigation
There is no way to navigate a path that starts with a black circle. You can’t move from the right side rear tire to the front suspension — not that this path makes much sense in either direction.
White Chamber contains one puzzle that breaks with the “click to solve” convention of the previous games. This is one of the final puzzles, in which you must drag items to the right locations on the screen.
There is nothing unusual about this kind of puzzle in the adventure game genre, but it is not characteristic of the previous puzzles by the creators. (Consider Myst, where the interface was entirely point and click. Drag and drop is a different kind of interface, as is a draggable scrollbar.) In addition, the purple block puzzle is an uninteresting variation on a previous puzzle in the same game, which makes the change in navigational styles even more disappointing.
See also: Algorithm for constructing locked room puzzles
A personal note: As a graduate student, I once got into a bit of hot water when I spent several weeks working on a locked room puzzle. The game used Quicktime VR with a Director plugin, so you could navigate a 360 degree view and click on hotspots within the image. During a critique, one of my reviewers was an architect-turned-3D modeller. When I asked him what he thought of the interactive quality of the project, the only thing he could talk about was the lack of molding (cornice and base molding) in the model I had rendered.

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2 Responses to “Looking at White Chamber”
  1. JAMIE says:

    Any thoughts/suggestions as to why neither my SAFARI nor FIREFOX browsers can connect to http://www.fasco-csc.com? Every time I try to go there to find the ‘room’ games, I get a page stating it cannot connect to FASCO-CSC.COM. I’d be greatful for your ideas – thanks – Jamie

  2. andrew says:

    could i have the links for all crimson room, blue room, veridian room games please, thanks
    a fan =)