Everything but the Game: Behind the Sketchpad of Amanita's point and click Machinarium

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Point and click adventures -- one of classic gaming's most revered and, until recently, most forgotten genres -- have seen a renaissance of late. That's something I'll be exploring more fully in a future column, but, for now, it's a point best proven by what will surely be one of the highest profile indie games released this month: Amanita Design's adventure Machinarium, due for release this Friday for PC and Mac.

Best known for their early web adventure Samorost -- a game that swapped out pixel crafting for a photo-surreal landscape built on rusted cans and gnarled, mossy roots ('samorost', not coincidentally, being the word for 'gnarled' or 'twisted' in Amanita head Jakub Dvorský's native Czech) -- the studio quickly established themselves as the indie forerunners of the then-niche form with Samorost 2, and promotional games for Dallas-area glee-rockers Polyphonic Spree, Nike, and the BBC.

Machinarium looks to be the studio's most ambitious work, here fully hand-drawn as opposed to their former photo-shoppery, and digging deeper into the genre's past with inventory-based puzzling and exploration rather than rote hot-spot-hunting points and clicks.

Presented here, then, ahead of its imminent release, a rare hi-res look into the sketchbooks of Dvorský and fellow artist Adolf Lachman showing the conceptual origins and creation of its rusted iron steamworks world, alongside a selection of images of the completed product.

Machinarium can be pre-ordered directly from Amanita (which comes with a downloadable bonus soundtrack thank-you gift), or for via Direct2Drive (for PCs) and GamersGate (for the Mac), where you'll also find a demo version for each platform.

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