Garland's Quest Redux & Stranded
by, 09-07-2012 at 09:12 PM (10092 Views)
Been hard at work at my day job and on the new house. Both have left me not too much time for supporting the PGD community, however it has left me with a little bit of personal time to work on some of my special projects such as Garland's Quest, which recently has been taken on as a budgeted commercial game project. I've already hired a professional artist and musician who have been coming up with some great stuff for the game's complete make-over. The other big project is a comic book or graphic novel, if you prefer. I'm writing, editing and directing the story to which my own sister is penciling and inking. Both projects are something I've had a longtime passion for and I hope that others will be able to enjoy playing and reading them as I am currently enjoying the creating of them.
I have also just recently bought and moved into my new house. Thankfully I was able to find a place that had a fully finished room in the basement which I can use as my new office. Here is a picture of the beginnings of it getting all setup.
Garland's Quest (Redux)
I started the project "Garland's Quest" roughly six years ago. I've actually been working on the game since I was a kid after I had played Adventures of Lolo on the NES for a while and needed something to do on the bus rides to school and home in grade school. So I used to draw my own versions of all these puzzles on grid paper, coloured pencils and all. I had my own enemies and way of completing each level so it was a little different. I believe I called it "Marbal Man" or something like that --hey I was like 8 or something, how was YOUR spelling back then.
So one day about 6 years ago I remembered that and was looking for some kind of neat game idea at the time so I thought it would be easy and fun to make a game like that. After a few months It started to come together and I eventually met Kierren Small who made this neat Wizard character and remade a lot of my original programer's art which I thought looked pretty good. I still think the Drakes are the cutest things!
So Garland's Quest was well into development, I had a Map Maker made with Delphi and DelphiX under Windows and the game it's self had been eventually switched over to OpenGL developing under Lazarus. Then Kierren couldn't take part in it's development anymore and I was left without a full set of sprites for the game. Decision time. Do I keep developing it hoping for a new artist somewhere or shelf it? Well then I changed careers and a whole bunch of other changes over time, but in that time Garland's Quest fell to the bottom of the development trunk.
A couple of years later I get my first iMac, the iPad comes out and the whole gaming world changes. I still want to make a high quality commercial game that people will love and the iPad and other multi-platform indie games have me thinking. What happened to Garland's Quest?
Well I had a new plan for the game, which involved porting the game to Mac OS X while keeping Windows support. Thanks to the help of Mr. Johannes Stein (aka Stoney) I was able to get a working setup of Lazarus on my iMac and he ported Garland's Quest over to the Mac and made it easy to compile for either Mac OS X or Windows 32-bit and 64-bit. (We have plans for iOS later, but that is another huge milestone.) I would later have hardware problems on my iMac and eventually got a MacBook Pro to act as a temporary dev platform for while I was away or should I have any future problems with my iMac. (The screen isn't as nice as a huge 27" screen, nor does it have the nice new Retina display, but at least it has longer battery charge life than the new ones!)
So we got the porting out of the way and it makes for easy deployment and bundling, eventually we got the source uploaded and is now managed by GitHub, which is also very nice to use and share source with other developers and transfer updates while working on code on multiple machines.
After we got the game ported to Mac, I went on a search for a graphics artist. I needed someone to give the game a level of detail and beauty that a volunteer couldn't. More importantly I needed someone who could guarantee that he or she would finish the job without question. I needed a professional and I knew it would cost me. I was planning to make money off it, so I was ok with this.
I eventually found Chris Rallis' portfolio online and fell in love with his work. He was available for work and we made up the contract. Since then he and I have been hard at work coming up with a whole new look for Garland and Nem and designing Garland's new animations. I think you'll love Chris' work on Garland and will like the new "hand-drawn" style we are going with.
I've increased the frame count on the game from 7 to 14 to create a smoother level of detail for animation. He will also be completing the entire set of required animations including death animations and special sequences.
Another part of what we are doing is redesigning the graphics layout for the levels. Currently there is a very simple tiling layout to the level graphics and everything is an 80x80 tile. That'll change as I'm going to have some overlapping and more space for wall tiles and the blocking objects in the game level to help increase the beauty and uniqueness of the look of each level and theme in the game.
We've only gotten as far as Garland and Nem's concepts and the Garland animations primarily, but we are making progress and it will continue until we are ready to show something with the remade version.
Not only did I get a graphics artist, but while I was looking for Chris, I also found Zack Parrish who fell in love with the whole concept of the game and wanted to do the music so very badly. I was so happy for his enthusiasm and really liked his music shared on SoundCloud so he was a shoe-in. We were less formal about it, but made an in-email agreement that he will be scoring the game. His first task, create the theme/title music for the new Garland's Quest. Not too tiny of a task at that. However after a month of hard work and some cross-inspiration sharing graphics and artwork between artist and musician (a experiment I'm trying throughout the development of the project) he came up with this amazing and beautiful track that will go into the final game. It is complete, however I'm waiting until we have the other parts of the graphics ready to show anything off, just yet. There is heavy influence of an orchestra feel and various fantasy elements. The rest of the soundtrack will continue this trend.
He will be doing another track as soon as the first level theme concept is created and we come up with a prototype so he can get a sense of the visuals. I want both music and graphics to have the perfect marriage in this game. A part of that I believe is to add a bit of ambiance, like that of Donkey Kong Country and other games which soundtracks took queues from the level's visuals they were to be a part of.
I have also contacted and got someone for sound effects work, but I'm holding off until the level graphics start going in place. I thought this was key as how things sound will be directly influenced by how they look. And of course the background music which Zack will create.
That's about where the project is now. I'm working towards the completion of Garland's animations and the first level theme, the title music and first level music and sound effects.
Once we have that all complete I'll be looking towards funding the rest of the project as this endevour isn't going to be cheap to continue at this quality. I've been looking at "Kickstarter" type options such as IndieGoGo.com to help in running my funding campaign. Kickstarter is a no-go as they only let US citizens do fundraising through them. Thankfully it's not the site it's self that brings in the fan/funding support. It's the pitch it's self and it's grown popularity.
I'm hoping that the community will also be willing to pitch in by at least being able to spread the word of my game and linking on tweets, blogs, Facebook and other forums about the fundraising campaign. WoM is going to be the biggest asset to me successfully completing the game. Amoung the prizes will be a DRM-Free copy of the game, because DRM sucks! I'll also come up with some pretty nice stuff that will look great on any gamer's wall/shelf. Plus anything else uniquely themed towards the game that I can come up with I'll try to do as well.
So that's what I've been doing with Garland's Quest. I can't wait to show you guys what it'll look like. Since having nothing to look at sucks, I can at least show you this...
Oh you didn't think that I was done did you? No sir! I've been writing like crazy too. So it seems that my creativity has gotten the better of me and I finally sat down to write out some sci-fi fiction. This time instead of trying to fit it into a video game, I'm going the way of comic books. Or graphic novel, the jury is still out on what the "proper" term is, but I used to enjoy and love the medium so this isn't too painful a project for me. Plus having a sister who went to university to learn how to illustrate and draw doesn't hurt it's chances either.
On my last visit back home I sat down with my sister and we came up with the concept; A somewhat "Grey" looking alien pilot crash lands and is stranded on a strange planet and has all these adventures trying to get back home. That's the original premise. As it turns out this was such a great canvas for my own creativity to grow and develop (what I think is) such a great little story that has a few layers of depth. I'm hoping that other sci-fi lovers out there will like it as I've never published or written anything quite at this level before. This is my first.
I am on issue 2, with only a few minor rewrites needed for some of Issue 1. We are into page 2 for drawing. And we have one of the two planned promotional posters for the launch of the comic book series. A good start, but we have lots of work ahead of us.
Originally I was going to just do a couple of issues or something small to help get my sister into it, but as things went along I started to form this great plot and back-story along with the story I'm telling each issue themselves and decided that I want to flesh it all out. I'm planning on keeping it to a limited series for now. We could come back to it and do spin-offs, but that's for us to decide on later. For now however, I want the story to run it's course and come to it's full conclusion. There will be strange monstrous creatures, fighting with other alien races, the things our hero does in his struggle to survive and get rescued.
A really fun element of the series will be the flashback sequences I'm writing for the main character that tells of his past. There will be things that tie in what is happening with him on the planet personally and other events which unfold later. There is also a whole other story involving his people and the major war that there were involved in not long ago that is causing troubles even decades after they happened. I'm having some fun and experimenting with my first trip into the writing world. I hope it comes out well. If you like comic books (or graphics novels) I hope you'll give our series a shot when it's out.
Now I couldn't show too much of my game, but I can show you a small version of the promotional poster we've made up for the comic book series. My sister has done all the artwork save for the all white series title that I did in Photoshop CS5. This scene will appear on the first page of the first issue and there will be a second promotional poster from another scene that will appear in the first issue as well. That one will have the main character in it.
Well that's all I've got for ya, boys and girls. (Are there any girls? Well there is AthenaOfDelphi, of course, but any other?) I'm really sorry for all the distractions taking me from the community, but as you can see these projects take some involvement. That and moving and working the extra hours that I have been really takes you time away even more so.
I hope to get a few more news posts in the near future and potentially do a few more podcasts. (Those were fun!)
Until next time, happy coding!
- Jason McMillen
Pascal Game Development
Co-Founder / Community Leader