As we in the United States begin a season that focuses on gratitude, I’d like to wish everyone a happy Veteran’s Day.
On the topic of gratitude: despite dire predictions, my immediate neighborhood was treated fairly gently by Hurricane Sandy. Both flooding and wind damage were minimal. (I had been preparing for something similar to the previous year’s Hurricane Irene, in which a creek backed up into our house and the sewer lines collapsed, resulting in a nightmarish and expensive mess.)
As most of you probably know, though, Sandy devastated major portions of the East Coast, with an estimated 40,000 homes lost and some areas still – after almost two weeks – without electricity. Anything you can do to help right now would be great, but I’d especially like to point out that *blood* is a particularly useful gift that money can’t replace. So if you can see your way through to donating a pint, or double-red cells or plasma, that’s the kind of contribution that may prove just as valuable to an ill veteran as to an injured storm survivor.
Our developer, N-Fusion, was right in the storm’s path in Northern New Jersey. Their power was out for a full week (from Monday, October 29th ‘til Sunday night, November 4th). Fortunately for our project, several of the team members had power at home and were able to continue working throughout the week. Today marks N-Fusion’s third milestone on the project, and, due to their extra commitment and push through this past week, it looks like they’re going to make it.
I think I mentioned last time that Al’s choice for musician has been made. The contracts still aren’t signed yet – there’s a lot of negotiation involved because the musician is a monumentally hot industry talent, and we’re on a Kickstarter budget. So I’m still not at liberty to mention a name, but I will as soon as I’m cleared to do so.
Colin has been cranking on the final background art, and both Al and I are completely in love with everything he’s been doing. At this point, the finals we have are:
Lefty’s Back Hallway
The “Secret Room”
The Upstairs Room
Every single one of these is an absolute gem. Al and I were both doing virtual flips over the Cab (Al deemed it “brilliant”) late this past week. The attention to detail is simply incredible. N-Fusion has been providing us with a new build every Monday, so we can see the incremental progress being made. I’m expecting a new build later today that should have all of Larry’s “idle animations” included for the first time, and, also for the first time, they’re loading my messages into the rooms.
With each new Kickstarter update, I’m torn about releasing artwork. On one hand, it’s so unbelievably good that I just want to share it all with you and get you as pumped as Al and I are. On the other hand, Lost Wages is a lot smaller than, say, Morrowind, and every time I share finished background art, that’s one less major happy revelation you’ll get when you play the game. I’m inclined to err on the side of undersharing. It’s not that long ‘til testing starts anyway, and then much will be revealed to many of you.
I don’t want to be miserly, though, so here are three previously-unreleased pieces of art:
• The model sheet for the taxi driver. Love this guy! If we’d known he was going to look this good, we might’ve given him a bigger part (in the game)!
• A rough animation of the clerk (in what we’re now calling the “Come ‘n’ Go”) being paid for something; I love how this guy’s movement is so simple and deft, but reeks of personality.
• A rough animation of the (only) babe in the bar at Lefty’s (she’s been the object of some prurient curiousity). Does Larry have a chance with her? You’ll just have to wait ‘til the end of this sentence, where I say, “No.”
Before I close it out for today, I’d like to turn over the microphone to Corey Cole, who, along with his wife Lori Cole, created one of the most unique game series in history: the Quest for Glory games. As we mentioned last week, they’ve got their own Kickstarter push going on for Hero-U (I am a full and vocal supporter), and Corey had this to say in an interview with AdventureGamers. It’s something Kickstarter supporters, and potential supporters, should read.
Corey: We’re not sure if you realize how much power you have. When we left Sierra, the game industry became mired in an endless succession of first-person shooters. Adventure games died overnight because publishers didn’t want to spend millions of dollars on games that would only sell a couple hundred thousand copies.
Gaming as we knew it died, except for a few decent MMOs. But now there are signs of life, and you’re in charge.
By backing projects you care about, games that have quality and good design, you can help make smaller games possible. Big publishers have so much overhead, they’re only interested in mass-market games that don’t require any brains to play. They’ve abandoned the adventure gamer, and are providing only a watered-down husk of role-playing games.
Nobody has picked up the mantle we discarded in 1999, the idea of making an adventure game stronger by adding role-playing elements. It’s a unique sub-genre that a lot of people found fun in the 1990s, and that most of you will still enjoy now.
But it’s up to you whether these games even get made, and whether they have enough budget to rise to the level of quality of top-tier games. You can’t sit back and wait to see what will happen. If you do, here’s what will happen – Nobody will make hybrid adventure/RPGs. Very few people will make adventure games of any type. The people who started paying attention when Double Fine Adventure and Project: Eternity got their huge budgets will say, “Ah, I thought so. Those were flukes. Nobody really cares about those kind of games. Next shooter! Next endless sports game clone! More action, more special effects, less thought!”
You can stand up for the kind of games you want to play, or you can watch the adventure game renaissance die its second death. It’s all up to you. Please support our new game, Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption on Kickstarter. And support other worthy games such as Shadowgate, ones with quality design that don’t have $50 million advertising budgets. If you don’t, the creative, thoughtful games will die out just as they did in 2000.
Let’s not let that happen this time, ok?
Corey has said it better than I ever have, so I’ll leave it at that for today.