When I heared about the Guys From Andromeda teaming up again to make another Space Quest-ish sci-fi adventure game I was thrilled. Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy have been my adventure game heroes since I was 8, and have no doubt influenced my interest in computer game development.
Let’s rewind time to two weeks ago.
I tweeted if they were considering HTML5 as a viable option for their upcoming game (at the time I thought it was going to be another Space Quest). They did, but that was it. So on Tuesday I thought:
"Why don’t I create a small two-screen adventure game in HTML5 together with our artist Richard and send it to them?"
The mission was just to convince the Guys From Andromeda to consider HTML5 as an option and know we exist on planet Earth.
We limited ourselved to two days. Whatever wasn’t in the demo would just be left out.
So we started throwing ideas at eachother and came up with a short story of Roger Wilco (the Space Quest protagonist) working at the Monolith Burger and delivering food to the Two Guys who were relaxing on their tropical in-space-island.
Richard started sketching and I started coding from scratch. After 2 minutes we were discussing this sketch:
I loved it, but I wanted to aim for a more recognizable Monolith Burger from Space Quest 3 which looked more like this:
Richard went back to work and came up with this new sketch:
That was very close to the original but we both liked it. So he went ahead and started working on the original artwork while I was making good progress on the engine.
The engine had a walking avatar (using code from scratch but a sprite from sarien.net’s version of Space Quest II) and definable walking-paths that would limit that avatar from walking all over the place.
I started cutting out pieces of his sketch, like the bay doors and closet doors, and used CSS transitions to smoothly slide them open and closing them - tweaking the pixels using webkit inspector in Chrome.
Artwork was dropped in dropbox again:
We were moving forward at ludicrous speed, and the work I had prepared on the sliding doors really sped up the process of making the actual doors open and close, and adjusting the walking boundaries was a matter of clicking the polygons back together.
The next day we put in text dialogs, cursors, and even came up with an interface for use on the iPad (we were going to send the Two Guys this demo by means of a public pitch - one on the Chrome Web Store and one on the App Store).
Richard started working on the second scene:
And he created a new Roger Wilco sprite to put in the game:
We didn’t have time to put that in, so we stuck with SQ2 Roger and the island sketch. Just for fun, Richard later finished the island scene - here it is:
We also included flickering lights, object transitions and many other details - and the game engine also knew scene states and inventory items.
Richard also did a sketch for the splash screen while I was hacking away:
With this as the result:
We had fun animating the backdrop using hardware accelerated CSS tricks, but didn’t have the time to put in a little loading icon to prevent the screen being built up visually.
But for me, the trick was not hand over the perfect demo, but to illustrate what can be done from absolute scratch with HTML5. And not just canvas and pixels, but DOM manipulations, CSS and a lot of enthousiasm - not to mention a strong belief in the web platform for adventure gaming.
Sending the demo
At that time I was in contact with Chris Pope - one of Guys From Andromeda taking care of public relations and all business-related stuff. We were talking about how my little sarien.net could be used as a promotion, so I told him I had a surprise.
Then he asked me to sign an NDA so he could openly speak about their plans - about the kickstarter campagin and when that would start.
I had just submitted the game to the Chrome Web Store and Apple’s App Store (wrapped as a true app with Phonegap) and wanted to hold off passing it on to them so they could experience it fully on the iPad, but knowing now time was limited I sent Chris the Chrome Web Store URL and he shared it with Mark and Scott.
This is the URL I gave:
Ok, wow.. so first let me say that we have had a ridiculous amount of pitches, resumes, emails, you name it. From the beginning I’ve felt HTML 5 might be the way to go, but thats because I’ve worked on mobile stuff before.. but in saying that, your pitch was the only that actually showed us something real, not to mention brilliant! You guys proved what you could do by creating a demo. You gave me something solid to actually take to Scott and Mark and show them.. and guess what? They loved it!!
Well, it’s two weeks later and we’ve worked on quite some cool stuff together already. And I am still amazed. The goal of this demo was to create HTML5 platform awareness. I didn’t even consider the possibility of working with this team, so being involved in the kickstarter is, well, uhm, I don’t know. It’s beyond awesome and I bet Douglas Adams would’ve had a word for it.
And as I don’t want to reveal what it is that’s coming, I can assure everyone that this Kickstarter is going to be really unique in terms of fan collaboration and updates.
And hey - I’ve CHILLED with Mark Crowe and Scott Murphy!!!!!!!1 ;)
What more can a simple fan want? ;) Oh perhaps hang out with them, invite Tim Shafer, Notch and Al Lowe to the party and put a picture of it on facebook. Now that’s something I don’t think Douglas Adams would have a word for.
(and for fun - try the above at sarien.net :) )