Thu 18 Jun 2009
I haven’t written about Frantic Franko for quite a while, but it doesn’t mean my work on it doesn’t move forward at a crazy pace! I didn’t make it with the demo in May as originally intended, but it is pretty much ready now – just undergoing some testing. The big premiere is next week! It’s quite a large demo by my standards. It covers about 33% of the whole game, has both alternative puzzle solutions and special features not required to finish it. It also offers plenty of opportunity to get to know the main character – the grumpy psycho that he is. Hopefully the experience will be something truly memorable for the players.
That’s no moon – It’s a space station!
(Ben Kenobi – a crazy, old hermit)
So what was that story about the moon, you ask (if you still remembers the last Production Diary entry)? Well, let’s start a bit earlier in the development cycle. At the beginning of April I had a different, much smaller fully working version of the game ready. I thought it was fully working that is. It contained no real animations and the dialogues were kept to bare functional minimum, but I seemed to have all the important bits covered. Yet the key puzzles didn’t survive playtesting from my friends + to me the demo just seemed over before it really began. I mean, that wouldn’t be bad for a game that everybody knows about and that will be released shortly after the demo, but in the case of my game, I felt I won’t make a good enough impression on the player. And these doubts that concerned the game’s quality soon transformed into new goals when I got inspired by a walk in the new location I originally conceived just to transport some of the old stuff into.
In general, while the whole demo is set in a forest environment I didn’t want to cover it with dozens of fungi, sticks and berries for the player to seek purpose for. I wanted the forest to be mostly naked innocent free of puzzles (or with very well hidden ones) and that the puzzles would come from within the characters (sometimes literally) or from the juxtaposition of the character against the surrounding’s seemingly most natural features. And when I compiled the game with the new location for the first time, the prominent picture of the moon instantly reminded me of Rubacava in Grim Fandango where the moon and the attempts at interacting with it provided such a great atmosphere and also of the later subterranean trip to the “moon” in Year Three. I felt the desire to make the moon something special in my game too and so it happened that it fit as a replacement for some earlier puzzles that I wasn’t fond of (but I don’t want to spoil these things here). In the end, this gave Frantic Franko’s design a direction that I always admire in games as a player – the environment seems to be just it – the place where the main characters happen to come by pretty much by accident, and yet its specifics affect how the characters’ proceedings transpire – whether they like it or not.
OK. So I hope you’ll be wanting to check the demo out when it is released next week. And after that and after I’ll, hopefully, receive some feedback about the game, the diaries will go more in depth into my design methods, puzzle spoilers and all.