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WLBSWHEAC Post-Mortem — Part One: Concept

November 29th, 2006 @ 8:20 pm
by Vince Twelve

Spooks was a great project to work on. On top of being a stellar artist, writer, and designer, Erin was an amazing project director. She gave me very clear directions, and I did my best to program the game to match her vision.

But I’m a creative person, or at least I like to consider myself so. While my logical, programmy side was being stroked by Erin’s project, my creative side was still spinning, fusing to be left behind. All throughout the six or seven weeks that I worked on Spooks (Erin had put in months of work before I even touched the project) I was considering what to do next.

shower.jpgI do all my best creative work while in the shower. The shower is my temple when it comes to game designing. When I’m sitting in the shower (yes, we have a chair in our shower) ideas for stories and games are constantly being born, tossed against the tile wall, and usually sliding down to the floor and into the drain. Near the end of Spooks’ development, I finally tossed an idea onto the wall that stuck.

I had been thinking about the Nintendo DS — my dear, sweet, glorious, Nintendo DS — and considering what kind of game I would make if I were a professional developer. I thought about the different things that one could do with two screens. Making a game that existed simultaneously in two different worlds seemed natural. I thought about the different game opportunities that that would open up.

Then I thought, “Hey, why not make a proof-of-concept in AGS with a split screen?”

And so, Linus Bruckman was born.

My original concept had a wacky professor demonstrating his new invention: a trans-dimensional portal, allowing him to send items from his world in one screen to another world on the other screen. First, the world was going to be an alternate universe version of himself, but eventually morphed in my head to be something wackier: an alien fast-food restaurant.

Then, I was having a conversation with Dave Gilbert of Wadjet Eye Games who was living and working in Korea at the time. He mentioned his intention to make a game involving some Korean mythology which made me think about my situation. I’m living in Japan, a culture with one of the most interesting historical and mythological backgrounds in the world. I should take advantage of that in whatever way I can.

Suddenly, my game design started moving in a completely new direction. I was keeping the two separate worlds, but instead of having them connected in any way, such as through a trans-dimensional vortex, they would be completely unrelated except through gameplay. No, not just unrelated, but completely discordant!

The wacky professor that I had originally conceived slipped down the drain, and a world of Japanese mythology went up on the shower wall. (Yes, we’re still in my temple.) The alien burger joint was still up there. Our two worlds had been decided. But the rest of the game was still rolling around in my head.

The two different games had to be different in every way. That was an early goal of mine. They needed to feel completely different. I needed unique themes to act as sort of a style-guide for the creation of art, music, and dialogue. I recognized that the alien portion of the game was coming from a place in my brain populated by Saturday morning cartoons. That concept became the defining theme of the alien’s game — it was to feel like a Saturday morning cartoon. Bright art, upbeat music, strange characters, and irreverent humor. To create a nice counter to this, the Japanese mythology portion of the game took on the theme of 1960’s samurai film. It would have a look and sound reminiscent of that type of movie.

The final design concept of the game was finished and prominently, yet figuratively, displayed on my temple (shower) wall. If someone could read my mental design document they would have read about two worlds, completely unconnected except by gameplay, as different as possible in mood, art, sound, and writing. One, a sad film evocative of a Kurosawa classic except rooted in Japanese mythology, the other an upbeat Saturday morning cartoon about an alien working at an interstellar burger joint. The player would play the two games simultaneously. Completing one game or the other would be difficult, but the real challenge would lie in completing both at the same time.

This concept solidified shortly after I had finished work on Spooks. Finally, it was time to take production out of the shower and onto the computer… which we’ll do in part two of the post mortem. Stay tuned.

7 Responses to “WLBSWHEAC Post-Mortem — Part One: Concept”

  1. Erin Says:

    Wow, I had no idea you’d been working on this for so long! Thanks for an interesting read, I look forward to hearing more about the process behind WLBSWHEAC.

    P.S. Thanks for the shameless flattery :D. A good project director? I felt like I was just ordering you around the whole time. ;)

  2. Vince Twelve Says:

    That’s what a good project director does!

  3. mordalles Says:

    great read, vince! i’m staying tuned!

  4. xii games » Blog Archive » WLBSWHEAC Post-Mortem — Part Two: Art Production Says:

    […] (continued from Part One) […]

  5. xii games » Blog Archive » WLBSWHEAC Post-Mortem — Part Three: Development Says:

    […] Part One: Concept Part Two: Art Production […]

  6. xii games » Blog Archive » Resonance Developer’s Diary #1 Says:

    […] Over the course of a month and a half, including many brain-storming showers, I slowly created a long design document that laid out every room, character, plot point, and puzzle for the entire game. I wanted to have this completely finished before hiring anyone to help so that we could be unified in vision and direction during the game’s development. […]

  7. Linus sees Samorost. Gnomes get confused. | Download Free Games, Free Download Games, Download Shareware Games Says:

    […] To put it differently, us gnomes can get terribly (easily also) distracted, and fail to mention important adventure gaming news. Although the reasons of said distraction will not be analyzed just yet, this surely is the proper and divinely foreseen place for a few words on the latest xii games game. Linus, short for What Linus Bruckman Sees When His Eyes Are Closed, is a freeware adventure game (shockingly by xii games), you can get your greedy hands on merely by clicking here. Linus -of course- isn’t any old freeware adventure. This is a highly polished and more importantly highly innovative game, that has been inspired by Nintendo DS’s dual screen layout and let’s you simultaneously experience two different stories with just one mouse. Quite fantastic really. Find out more by reading some of the game’s designer’s thoughts or by waiting for my reviews, that will soon appear both in this modest Lair of mine and in the esteemed Adventure Lantern magazine. […]