Archive for January, 2011

'Rattlesnake' Jake

One of my favorite indie gaming blogs,  A Hardy Developer’s Journal, has just published a new interview with me focusing on the development history (and future!) of Rise of the Hidden Sun. Among the topics covered:

  • How the project has evolved from 2002 to present
  • The major game and film inspirations behind ‘Rattlesnake’ Jake
  • What being an indie developer means to me
  • My thoughts on the adventure genre in general
  • How interactive storytelling differs from traditional storytelling

I didn’t do all the talking, though. Mr. Hardy himself had some really nice things to say about Rise of the Hidden Sun, calling it “the most legendary title that’s ever been in development using Adventure Game Studio” and “maybe even the most awaited freeware adventure in existance.” High praise!

To read the interview, head on over to A Hardy Developer’s Journal.

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As I alluded to in my last postRise of the Hidden Sun is a sort of love song to a bygone era of adventure games. Whenever I can work an homage for an old classic into this game, I usually do. And as you can see from the character design above, that sometimes manifests itself in significant ways.

We modeled our main character on this sprite from Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Why mess with perfection?

Personally, I think it’s a great look for ‘Rattlesnake’ Jake Dawson. Indy probably disagrees. I hear he gets a little uncomfortable around rattlesnakes.

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Early sketch of Old Sierra Town by Dan Lee

Although it’s not accessible until the start of our second episode, the town of Old Sierra is actually one of the central locations in Rise of the Hidden Sun. Here’s a brief description of it, lifted from the game bible:

Old Sierra has seen better days. Most of the buildings—saloon, coral, jail, hotel, brothel, train depot, mortuary, etc—are either completely run down or getting there fast, and everyone who could afford to leave has already done so. 

When Jake strolls into town, dusty and dirty from his adventures in episode one, everything about Old Sierra needs to suggest “ghost town.” At the same time, it also needs to look like a place that used to be a thriving boom town. So, providing a sense of scale is key. This place may be virtually empty, but it’s far from small.

That’s the discussion I had with Dan Lee, artist extraordinaire, who took the concept and ran with it in the early sketch above. Then we moved on to the equally important step of establishing a color palette to evoke the desired mood:

It just feels dusty, right?

This one scene sets the tone for all future work on the town area. It also provides the player with that important sense of scale I mentioned earlier. You immediately see several potential areas of interest—a hotel, the sheriff’s office, and a storefront with a wooden Indian on the porch—while at the same time being drawn first to the saloon.

Welcome to Spielburg

Oh, and there was one other thing we wanted this location to evoke in the minds of veteran adventure game players: a subtle, perhaps even subconscious, sense of nostalgia for one of the greats of the genre: Sierra On-line’s Quest for Glory I – So You Want to Be a Hero? by the  husband and wife team of Lori and Corey Cole.

Hey, the town’s not called “Old Sierra” for nothing.

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Spread the news: Rise of the Hidden Sun is now on Facebook! Follow us at: http://www.facebook.com/rattlesnakejake.

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Here’s a look at an original pencil-and-paper background from our first episode. I’ll post the colored version when it’s finished, hopefully next week.

Artwork by John Green based on a concept by Josh Roberts

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A location from episode two

Initial layout sketch of an important area from our second episode. Concept by Josh Roberts, sketch by Marc Fortin.

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As I’ve mentioned previously, we’re re-sizing and touching up some old screens to take advantage of Adventure Game Studio’s scrolling capabilities and fix some coloring discrepancies from scene to scene. We’re also using this as an oportunity to upgrade the game from the original 800×600 screen resolution to a more attractive 1024×768 resolution.

Here’s an example of a “before” (on the left) and “after” (on the right) from episode one:

Much, much better, right?

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